Used 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD Review
Edmunds expert review
With its considerable capabilities and comfortable nature, the 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD is an excellent choice for a heavy-duty truck.
What's new for 2016
All pickups are designed to work hard and play hard, but some tasks require more muscle than others. If nothing less than the strongest, toughest truck will do, you'll want a heavy-duty model like the 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD. The big Sierra offers a standard 360-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 engine or an optional 397-hp 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8, and GMC says it can tow up to 18,000 pounds and haul up to 3,534 pounds when properly equipped. Those numbers are slightly different this year, as they're now based on the SAE J2807 trailering standard, but one thing's for certain: That's a whole lot of capability by just about anyone's standards.
Beyond the brawn, the Sierra 2500 HD has plenty to recommend it. Building on the improvements of last year's redesign, the 2016 model gets meaningful upgrades like standard xenon headlights and LED accent lights, an available remote locking tailgate and enhanced infotainment systems with faster processors and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The surprisingly pleasant driving experience carries over, including a relatively smooth and hushed ride that's augmented by an upgraded steering system on fancier models for 2016. Add a choice of three body styles, two bed lengths and a wide range of trim levels and the Sierra 2500HD can be everything from a basic work truck to a classy high-end hauler.
It's worth noting that the GMC Sierra 2500HD is virtually identical to the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, with the exception of minor styling details and a few exclusive standard features and options. You'll also want to check out the rival Ford F-250 Super Duty and Ram 2500, which offer similar strengths and amenities. Ultimately, though, it's hard to go wrong with the 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD if you need a truck that can handle pretty much anything.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD is offered in regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. The regular cab is available only with a long bed (8 feet), while the extended cab and crew cab models can be mated to either a standard bed (6.5 feet) or a long bed. Unlike its 3500HD big brother, the Sierra 2500HD is not available with a dual-rear-wheel (DRW, or "dually") axle.
Trim levels start at the base Sierra and climb to the SLE, SLT and range-topping Denali. The SLT trim is available only on the double and crew cabs, while the Denali is available only as a crew cab.
The entry-level Sierra comes standard with chrome bumpers, 17-inch steel wheels, an automatic locking rear differential, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, air-conditioning, a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench with a fold-down center armrest, rubber floor covering, power door locks, manual crank windows, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a 4.2-inch central display and a four-speaker (regular cab) or six-speaker sound system with a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.
Optional on the base Sierra 2500HD is a 7-inch IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system that includes OnStar, 4G LTE WiFi, Bluetooth, voice controls, satellite radio, Pandora Internet radio and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Stepping up to the SLE adds those optional infotainment features as standard along with an upgraded 8-inch central touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, a remote locking EZ lift/lower tailgate, LED cargo box illumination, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, carpeting, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch driver information display, HD radio and a CD player.
The SLT trim level adds 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, additional chrome trim, foglights, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition and a 110-volt household-style power outlet.
On top of the SLT features, the Denali will get you more chrome exterior accents, 20-inch wheels, chrome side steps, a spray-in bedliner, a power-sliding rear window with defogger, front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system, wireless phone charging, a Bose audio system, a configurable 8-inch driver information display, upgraded interior trim, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Some of the upper trims' extra standard features can be added to the lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights, depending on trim level, include different axle ratios, a bed storage box, various tonneau covers, trailering mirrors, a sunroof, a Driver Alert package (includes front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert and a safety alert driver seat), a gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailering prep package and a rear-seat entertainment system. Also available is the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes 18-inch wheels, hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers, a different front stabilizer bar and unique styling tweaks.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD is offered with a choice of two different engines. A 6.0-liter V8 engine that produces 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque is standard, as is a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can opt for a bi-fuel version of this engine, allowing the truck to run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). When operating on CNG, power output drops to 301 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque. A turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 that puts out 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque, paired to a different six-speed automatic, is available as an option.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, with four-wheel drive optional.
Properly equipped, a 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD can haul up to 3,534 pounds of payload. It can tow up to 14,500 pounds with a standard ball hitch and 18,000 pounds with a fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch.
At the Edmunds test track, a diesel-powered Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Crew Cab hit 60 mph in just 7.0 seconds. That's impressively quick for any heavy-duty pickup, let alone one with a crew cab and four-wheel drive.
Standard safety features on the 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Standard on all except the base trim is OnStar (includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen-vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation). Upper trims also include power-adjustable pedals, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Optional safety equipment includes the Driver Alert package which bundles the parking sensors with lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert and a safety alert seat.
In Edmunds brake testing, the abovementioned diesel-powered Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Crew Cab needed 144 feet to stop from 60 mph. That's on the long side for this segment, even given the test truck's formidable curb weight.
In government crash tests, the Sierra 2500HD crew cab models received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The other body styles had only received side-impact ratings (five stars) as of this writing.
The 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD offers a surprisingly comfortable ride quality for a heavy-duty pickup. Measured against its Sierra 1500 sibling, there's more wind and tire noise, but the cabin still manages to remain pretty quiet overall. Handling is decent, with body roll reasonably well controlled in turns and a light, precise steering feel. The SLE (except regular cabs), SLT and Denali trims also get an upgraded steering system called Digital Steering Assist. That said, as with all big pickups, maneuverability is often a challenge, especially in tight spaces.
When there's a big payload to haul or a sizable trailer to move, of course, the Sierra 2500HD shoulders the load without breaking a sweat, especially when fitted with the optional torque-monster turbodiesel engine. The diesel engine's exhaust brake is a welcome feature when descending long grades fully loaded, particularly since it works in conjunction with the transmission's automatic downshifts. The cruise control system is tied into this loop, helping to better hold your set speed on steep hills.
Inside the 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD you'll find an interior that ranges from work-truck basic on the entry-level model to downright posh on the top-of-the-line Denali. In general, though, materials quality is satisfying, and the design is both attractive and functional. Gauges are easy to see, and important everyday controls like climate and audio knobs are well-placed and dead simple to use. Upper trim levels even feature nice details like accent stitching atop the dash.
The available 4.2-inch and 8-inch information displays located between the tach and speedo are easy to read and reconfigure. The GMC IntelliLink touchscreen displays, meanwhile, offer sharp graphics and intuitive operation, along with handy Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to bring your smartphone fully into the driving experience.
In terms of seating, the various front seat options offer good comfort and support. The only quibble here is that the base and SLE models' lack of a telescoping steering wheel may make it difficult for some folks to find a comfortable driving position (note that the telescoping wheel is optional on SLE). Rear seats on crew-cab models avoid a common pickup pitfall with seatbacks and bottom cushions that don't force occupants into an uncomfortable bolt upright position.
Edmunds expert review process
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.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.