2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD

2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab Review

The 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 is a heavy-duty truck with some added luxury touches.
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD is a highly capable heavy-duty truck with lots of extras. It can tow over 14,000 pounds, seat six and it's wrapped up in an attractive package. If you need more capability than the Sierra 1500 but don't want the added expense or size of the 3500, the 2500 is the obvious choice.

For 2018, the Sierra 2500HD doesn't change much, and that's not necessarily a negative. A previously optional 7-inch touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) is now standard but there are no updates to powertrains, suspension or features availability. That means that the 2500HD is still well-built and high-class and as utilitarian as it needs to be. It also means you can still get tech items such as the user-friendly Intellilink infotainment interface or the optional Driver Alert package, which adds parking sensors, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.

Of course, you'll also want to check out its corporate sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500. It's mechanically the same, but it's priced lower and with less luxury equipment. For buyers who can do without the luxury gear, the Silverado is certainly worth a closer look. On its own merits, though, the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD is certainly a desirable truck with a lot to offer, even to the most demanding of truck owners.



What's new for 2018

A 7-inch center touchscreen and a rearview camera are now standard on the base 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 HD, otherwise, the rig carries over from the previous year.

We recommend

Yes, the maxed-out Denali trim level of GMC Sierra 2500 is appealing, but not everyone buying a truck needs all that luxury equipment. A sensible compromise is the SLT trim level with the optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine. The SLT is still plenty upscale with features such as power-adjustable pedals, an 8-inch center touchscreen and leather upholstery, but it's a bit less ostentatious. And, for the most part, you can equip the SLT with any individual options you want, including towing packages, off-road suspension or high-tech driver-assistance features.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD is a heavy-duty pickup truck available in four trim levels. The base (Sierra) version comes with basic equipment such as vinyl flooring and steel wheels, but you'll get a lot more if you pick the SLE, SLT or the range-topping Denali. On upper trim levels, items such as a remote-locking tailgate, leather upholstery and navigation become available. There are three cab configurations: regular cab, double cab and crew cab. All are available with two- or four-wheel drive.

The regular cab is available only with a long bed (8.2 feet), while the extended- and crew-cab models can have 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. The SLT trim is available only on the double and crew cabs, and the Denali is available only as a crew cab.

The base Sierra comes standard with a 6.0-liter V8 engine (360 hp and 380 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission, 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, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, rubber floor covering, a rearview camera, power door locks, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 7-inch IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system and a six-speaker sound system with two USB ports, an auxiliary audio input jack, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth phone and audio, Pandora radio, and voice controls. Optional tech equipment on the base Sierra 2500HD includes OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi and satellite radio.

From the base Sierra on up, you have your choice of engine, too. A turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 (445 hp and 910 lb-ft) is also available, and it is paired to a different six-speed automatic. Buyers can also add a bi-fuel option to the 6.0-liter engine, allowing it to run on gasoline or compressed natural gas.

If the base truck isn't your flavor, then step up to the SLE. It gets most of the base trim's optional tech features plus an upgraded 8-inch central touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, a remote locking EZ Lift & Lower tailgate, LED cargo box illumination, remote keyless entry, carpeting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, HD radio and a CD player.

With a few more luxury items, the SLT trim level feels a bit better equipped than our standard work truck. It adds 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, additional chrome trim, foglights, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable and heated front seats (with power lumbar adjustment), driver-seat 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.

For a plush and upscale vibe, choose the Denali trim. It will get you even more chrome on the outside, 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.

Most 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 gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailering prep package, and a rear-seat entertainment system. There's also a Driver Alert package, which includes front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a safety-alert driver seat. The Z71 suspension package adds hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers and unique styling tweaks. Also available (on SLT crew-cab models only) is the All Terrain HD package, which includes off-road tires, the spray-in bedliner, a skid plate, the Z71 suspension and a heated steering wheel.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Crew Cab Long Bed (turbo 6.6L V8 diesel | 6-speed automatic | 4WD | 8-foot-2-inch bed). The Silverado is essentially the GMC Sierra's twin, so many of our observations will apply.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall

Driving

The 6.6-liter diesel V8 gives the Sierra 2500HD big towing numbers and impressive acceleration. Steering and braking are less awe-inspiring, but objectively this truck performs well by most standards that matter to truck buyers.

Acceleration

The 6.6-liter diesel makes massive torque and more than sufficient power, giving it a surge of acceleration off the line. In our testing, it covered 0-60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. In-town acceleration is more reserved, but there's still plenty of power to get the Sierra 2500HD up to freeway speed.

Braking

These brakes don't offer much confidence. Under hard braking, the pedal can go all the way to the floor. Braking distances are long, but in traffic they seem to work well enough if you leave some distance. You just don't feel very connected to the action.

Steering

The steering is well-weighted and provides stability when cruising straight, but it's hard to judge what the tires are doing around turns. The low steering ratio adds stability when towing, but it results in busy hands when parking or making U-turns.

Handling

The big surprise is how well this gargantuan vehicle takes turns. There's minimal body roll around corners unless you're going way too fast. In parking lots and tight spaces, it maneuvers well enough considering its size.

Drivability

If you live in a city, drivability will be low with any 2500 series pickup truck. Otherwise, the diesel's low-end torque and abundant features make for a pretty approachable truck.

Off-road

Our test vehicle had plenty of ground clearance and the Off-Road Z71 package, which is a great deal for the price. You won't be taking this truck on any tight trails, but it will conquer your average dirt road.

Comfort

It has a harsh ride from the stiff and bouncy suspension, but as heavy-duty trucks go, the Sierra HD is relatively comfortable. Put a big load back there and you'll have a road-trip-ready vehicle. But day-to-day comfort suffers, so you might want a 1500 if you don't need the 2500's extra towing capacity.

Seat comfort

You'll find big, well-bolstered and comfortable seats no matter which seating position you're in. The seats are wide with sufficient contours to hold you in place, and they provide great road-trip comfort.

Ride comfort

This truck bounces, shimmies, shakes and jumps over the slightest road imperfections. That's forgivable in the 3500 class, but this 2500 should be a bit better. Load it up with a heavy payload or a big trailer, though, and the ride quality significantly improves.

Noise & vibration

While road noise is subdued, quite a bit of wind noise comes from the truck's square front end and big mirrors. The diesel engine rumbles a bit, but it isn't particularly grating or abrasive while cruising on the highway.

Climate control

The big knobs and easy-to-read layouts are a plus. The air conditioning blows cold. The split-operation for the heated seats is a neat feature — you can heat your sore back without cooking your behind as well. The vents are vertically mounted, which isn't ideal, but they're easy to direct.

Interior

While it might not be the most luxurious vehicle in the class, this 2500HD has a totally livable interior. The overall design is dated, but the materials quality is sufficient.

Ease of use

The 2500HD's controls are easy to use with large, readable buttons and quick response times from the touchscreen.

Getting in/getting out

A grab handle and side steps make it easier to get in and out of the Sierra 2500HD, but some climbing is still involved. Still, getting in or out isn't any harder than usual for the HD truck class.

Driving position

Adjustable pedals, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a generally good view over the hood combine for an excellent driving position. You've got a commanding view of the road however you position the seat.

Roominess

Call all your NBA player friends and have them stretch out. You can be tall, wide — or both — and fit with no problem in this truck. It's big on the outside; so, there's lots of space for five people on the inside.

Visibility

All of the Sierra's roof pillars are wide and thick and obstruct your view. The big towing mirrors and the rearview camera help the situation, but knowing where the corners of the truck are is tough.

Quality

Body panels and interior pieces are well put-together. We didn't notice any rattling, shaking or malfunctioning during our test. The interior materials aren't the nicest in the class, but they certainly suffice for such a utility-focused vehicle.

Utility

The 2500HD can tow and haul massive loads, and it has abundant interior storage. But offerings from Ford and Ram outclass it in a couple key categories.

Small-item storage5.0

Massive pockets are everywhere. A giant center console, a split-open glovebox, multiple cupholders in each door, both front and back. If you're looking for more small-item storage, the only place you'll find it is in the Ram equivalent, which has small, in-floor cooler boxes in the rear seat.

Cargo space

Mirroring its rivals, the Sierra 2500HD is available with a standard bed (6 feet 6 inches) and a long bed (8 feet 1 inch). Our test truck had the long bed, which allows for a massive amount of cargo space. The rear seats fold up for big interior storage as well.

Child safety seat accommodation4.0

The 2500 can fit three car seats in the back without much fuss. There are two sets of easily accessible lower latch anchors and three shelf anchors that are a bit harder to reach. But this truck's sheer altitude makes it less than desirable unless lifting kids is your workout program.

Towing

The 6.6-liter turbodiesel has massive torque and power, but the Sierra's towing capacities are a bit lower than key rivals. The max trailer weight behind the 2500HD is 14,500 pounds; it can tow 18,100 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer.

Hauling

All full-size truck beds are a similar size. This one can be accessed by corner bed steps built into the rear bumper corners. Payload maxes out at 3,204 pounds — lower than the class leaders, but only by a few hundred pounds.

Technology

Using GMC's IntelliLink interface is pretty simple upfront for the most part, but we had several usability issues with our test vehicle. Finicky voice controls and subpar device integration made for a frustrating user experience.

Audio & navigation

Menu logic on the GMC system is easy to understand, but not the most elegant in the class. Touchscreen responses are slower than class leaders. We like the look of the optional 8-inch touchscreen, but it doesn't stand out much from rival systems.

Smartphone integration

Our experience with smartphone devices was poor, with many dropped connections over the course of the test. When it worked, we generally like the interface, but even then it takes quite a bit of time to load music. Best to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Voice control

Several attempts to use the built-in voice controls fell short, with a success rate of about 50 percent. It was easier to use the physical knobs and touchscreen controls. That said, Siri and Google Voice can be accessed if you've paired your smartphone by holding the talk button longer.

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.