Used 2002 GMC Sierra 2500HD Review
GMC makes a pretty good pick-'em-up, if powerful engines are your thing. But it has a ways to go to match the Ford F-250 Super Duty when it comes to the quality of the materials and rugged good looks.
Debuting last year with an all-new design, the Sierra 2500HD is one tough truck built to handle the most severe on-the-job duties. Although it does share some engine and drivetrain components with the standard 2500, this heavy-duty model features additional hardware that allows it to boast some of the highest tow ratings of any truck on the market.
GMC prides itself on being called "Professional Grade," so stout drivetrains are a must. The base engine on the 2500HD is a 6.0-liter Vortec V8 rated at 300 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, easily out-muscling Ford's 5.4-liter Triton V8 (260hp, 350 lb-ft) and Dodge's 5.9-liter V8 (245hp, 345 lb-ft). If that's not enough grunt under the hood, the Sierra offers two even more powerful options: an 8.1-liter Vortec V8 or the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel. The Vortec 8100 boasts an impressive 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, higher numbers than even its competitor's V10s can muster. The Duramax diesel also generates impressive power with 300 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque.
All that power won't do much unless there's a sturdy transmission behind it to put it to the ground. All 6.0-liter-equipped 2500s come with the New Venture 4500 five-speed manual as standard equipment, while the 4L80-E four-speed automatic is optional. All Sierras equipped with either the Vortec 8100 or Duramax turbodiesel come standard with a ZF six-speed manual featuring fully synchronized gears, synthetic gear oil and an ultra-low first gear for smooth slow-speed maneuvering. Optional on the big engines is an Allison 1000 five-speed overdrive automatic. This transmission is electronically controlled for precisely timed shifts and will automatically downshift on grades to provide engine braking. It's also the first automatic transmission to feature Power Take-Off (PTO) capability, delivering up to 250 lb-ft of continuous torque to worksite equipment.
Supporting all this heavy-duty hardware is a fully independent torsion bar suspension in front and a semi-floating solid axle in the rear with two-stage leaf springs. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and GM's Hydro-Boost brake proportioning system are standard on all models. Standard tires are E-load range 245/75R16s mounted on eight-lug steel wheels. Maximum towing capacity for 6.0-liter-equipped Sierras is 10,500 pounds while Vortec 8100 and Duramax diesel-equipped models can tow up to 12,000 pounds on a standard trailer.
All Sierras are available in three different trim levels: SL, SLE and SLT. SL trim trucks come standard with a 40/20/40 split bench seat, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, 17 function driver message center and deep tinted glass. Mid-grade SLE models add power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, an AM/FM/CD stereo, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Top-of-the-line SLTs come with power heated leather seats, the OnStar communications system, a self-dimming rearview mirror with a built-in compass and power heated exterior mirrors. With big, comfortable seats and a solid ergonomic design, all Sierras sport roomy cabins with plenty of head, leg and hip room. Extended cab models have a surprising amount of space for rear-seat passengers and clamshell rear doors on both sides for easy access.
While we don't think the evolutionary styling of GM's heavy-duty pickups connotes the brute appeal of a Ford Super Duty or the big-nosed 3500-series Dodge, we do know that they will beat them when it comes to good ol' pullin' and haulin.' Regardless of what configuration you choose, GMC's 2500HD will provide all the power and capability you'll ever need along with a comfortable interior and a smooth ride.
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This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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