Used 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD Double Cab Review
Edmunds expert review
With its considerable capabilities and comfortable nature, the 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD is an excellent choice for a heavy-duty truck.
What's new for 2015
GMC has long been known as the dedicated truck division of General Motors. But it's fairly well known that its vehicles are platform twins to various Chevrolets models, differing chiefly in styling and as such sharing the same good and bad points. As such, the 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD is very similar to the Chevy Silverado 3500HD. So, as with the Chevy, strengths are many and weaknesses are few, making the Sierra 3500HD a serious slugger in a game of heavy hitters. This year's fully redesigned model brings new styling, a new double cab model (which slots in between the standard and crew cabs), advanced safety features and an improved cabin, both in terms of quality and features. Unchanged are the formidable powertrain options.
In short, the Sierra 3500HD is a comfortable truck that boasts strong performance, confident handling and impressive hauling and towing capabilities. If you haven't driven a heavy-duty pickup in years, you may be pleasantly surprised; underway, this GMC is not the loud, stiff-riding brute you might expect. Rather, this workhorse provides a fairly smooth and quiet ride. And drivers will likely appreciate its precise steering, which provides arrow-straight tracking on the freeway. When it's time to work, this rig is ready, as it can haul up to 7,374 pounds and tow up to 23,200 pounds (with a fifth-wheel connection).
The heavy-duty pickup segment has become as hotly contested as "The World's Strongest Man" competition. In addition to their ability to perform heroic feats of brute strength, these trucks provide levels of comfort and refinement unheard of years ago. The 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty and 2015 Ram 3500 are also worth a good look. Within that select group, the 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD stands proud and deserves consideration from consumers looking for one of these very capable workhorses.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD is offered in regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. All cab styles can be had in either single-rear-wheel (SRW) or dual-rear-wheel (DRW, or "dually") configuration. And all come with a long bed (8 feet) except the crew cab, which in SRW form offers a choice of the long bed or a standard bed (6.5 feet).
Trim levels start at the base Work Truck 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 Work Truck trim level includes 18-inch steel wheels (17s for DRW models), chrome bumpers, rubber floor covering, a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench with a fold-down center armrest, power door locks, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a 4.2-inch color display and a four- or six-speaker audio system with USB/iPod ports.
Stepping up to the SLE adds alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, cargo box illumination, keyless entry, an automatic locking rear differential, a heavy-duty trailering package (with integrated trailer brake controller), a rearview camera, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeting, an 8-inch touchscreen with the GMC IntelliLink interface, 4G LTE WiFi, smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls (cell phones and music), OnStar and an upgraded audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.
The SLT trim level further adds 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome trim, foglights, power-folding mirrors, an upgraded tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), heated front seats, driver memory settings, a 110-volt power point and a rearview camera. Some of these features are available as options for the SLE.
On top of the SLT features, the Denali will get you more chrome exterior accents, chrome side steps, a spray-in bedliner, a power-sliding rear window with defogger, a locking tailgate, front and rear park assist, a navigation system, a Bose audio system, a configurable gauge cluster display, front bucket seats, ventilated front seats and a heated and telescoping 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 20-inch wheels, different axle ratios, a bed storage box, various tonneau covers, trailering mirrors, a sunroof, a Driver Alert package (parking sensors, lane-departure alert, forward collision alert, safety alert seat) and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Also available is the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes 18-inch polished alloy wheels, hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers, a different front stabilizer bar and unique styling tweaks. The Sierra All Terrain HD package (for 4WD SLE and SLT) bundles the Z71 package with aluminum underbody shields and special exterior graphics.
Performance & mpg
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. An optional turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8, also paired to a six-speed automatic, produces 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, with four-wheel drive optional.
Properly equipped, a 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD can haul up to 7,374 pounds of payload. It can tow up to 19,600 pounds with its standard ball hitch and 23,200 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch.
Standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard 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 (includes lane-departure alert, forward collision alert, safety alert seat and front and rear park assist).
Whether driven through city streets, on open highways or on twisty mountain roads, the 2015 GMC Sierra 3500 does itself proud. We have to give it top marks for its civility. Yes, compared to the half-ton model, there's a bit more road noise from the HD's beefier tires and wind noise from its larger mirrors. But overall, for a vehicle of this type the cabin is fairly serene.
Around turns, the big truck's steering has a light, precise feel, and body roll is decently controlled. Tight maneuvering situations, such as when parking or negotiating a multi-point turn, can take a hefty amount of wheel turning. But this isn't unexpected from a heavy-duty pickup.
Although we have yet to tow with a Sierra 3500, we have done so with a 2500. Even when pulling a 17,000-pound horse trailer, that somewhat less "heavy-duty" truck didn't seem to care. We imagine that the even burlier 3500 would feel at least the same. The beefed-up suspension underpinnings are intended specifically for these kinds of loads, so a bit of mass helps take some of the stiffness out of the ride. Yet even when the truck is unladen, it's still pretty livable.
Also minimizing stress on long trips with a trailer in tow is the Sierra's cruise control system. Linked into the transmission calibration, it does a fine job of holding your target speed as downshifts happen more readily on descents, providing additional engine braking and keeping speed in check.
The overall quality and design of the Sierra 3500HD's cabin are noticeably improved over the previous generation. Materials are of high quality, and the gauge cluster's crisp graphics are a snap to read day or night. The design is attractive, and top trim levels boast handsome accent stitching atop the dash. Frequently used controls, such as those for the radio's volume and tuning as well as those for adjusting the cabin's climate, are large and well-placed.
The central information display located between the tachometer and speedometer is intuitive to navigate, and its graphics are simple and easily interpreted. On the center stack, both the 4.2- and 8-inch IntelliLink color infotainment displays feature sophisticated (and in some cases reconfigurable) graphics options. Unfortunately, IntelliLink can sometimes be slow to respond to your touch inputs.
The Sierra's front seats are amply sized, supportive and fairly comfortable. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel option in the base trim, however, may make it harder for some people to find an ideal driving position. In the crew cab, there's no need to call "shotgun," as the comfortable backseat is well-bolstered and angled appropriately for solid leg and back support. Although most of our staffers found the seats, front or rear, to be very accommodating, those of slighter builds may find them a bit too wide.
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.