2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD

2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD Crew Cab Review

Comfortable, quiet and capable, the 2017 Sierra 3500HD is a heavy-duty truck that can do it all.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

With considerable capabilities and luxurious interior, the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD is an excellent choice for a heavy-duty truck. The revised, optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 gives the Sierra HD massive towing and hauling power, too.

All heavy-duty trucks are chiefly concerned with towing and hauling, but the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD adds an extra level of luxury and modern tech. Sure, it excels at being utilitarian, but it's also really impressive when it comes to creature comforts. Available with two powerful engines and in several different cab configurations, the 3500HD can be tailored to fit your priorities, whether interior space, cargo room or maximum towing capacity. Ford and Ram also make robust pickups for extreme towing duties, but we think the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD is a strong all-arounder and a truck we'd definitely recommend taking a look at.



what's new

For 2017, the GMC Sierra 3500HD gets an updated version of its optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 engine. It's more powerful this year, boasting a stout 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. A revised hood-mounted air intake for the diesel engine is also part of the deal. Finally, the 3500HD gets a standard Teen Driver mode that allows owners to set parameters for secondary drivers.

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One of the most appealing versions of the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD is the SLT trim level, especially when equipped with the optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine. The SLT comes with items such as leather upholstery and power-adjustable pedals, and with the diesel engine you can tow almost anything you put behind it. Most of the functional items you'll need are standard or optional on the SLT, too, including packages such as the one for the Z71 suspension.




trim levels & features

The 2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD is a heavy-duty pickup truck available in four trim levels. The base version comes with basic equipment such as vinyl flooring and steel wheels but further up the ladder there's the SLE, SLT and the range-topping Denali which offer items such as a remote-locking tailgate, leather upholstery and navigation.

You can choose from three cab sizes: regular cab, double cab and crew cab. All are available with two- or four-wheel drive and in either single-rear-wheel (SRW) or dual-rear-wheel (DRW, or dually) configuration. All 3500 Sierras 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).

For the buyer interested in a pretty basic heavy-duty truck, the base Sierra comes standard with a 6.0-liter V8 engine (360 hp and 380 lb-ft) chrome bumpers, 18-inch steel wheels, an automatic locking rear differential, xenon headlights, air-conditioning, a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench with a fold-down center armrest, power door locks, manual crank windows, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 3.5-inch central display and a four-speaker (regular cab) or a six-speaker sound system with a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.

From the base Sierra on up, you also have your choice of engine. 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.

Optional on the base Sierra 3500HD is a 7-inch IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system that includes OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, voice controls, satellite radio, Pandora internet radio and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

For a truck that feels a bit less bare-bones, you might want to check out the SLE trim level. It gets the base Sierra's optional infotainment items plus an upgraded 8-inch central touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels (single-rear-wheel models only), tinted rear windows, a remote-locking EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, 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, a CD player and HD radio.

Further up the ladder (and our recommended trim level) is the SLT Sierra. On top of the SLE's equipment, it adds more 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.

If you want all the luxury features available on the Sierra, the Denali is the way to go. You get even more chrome accents, 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.

If you want to pick and choose your options, many of the upper trims' extra standard features can be added to the lower trim levels in one of several available packages. 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 warning and a safety-alert driver seat), a gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailering prep package and a rear-seat entertainment system. Only available on the SLT is the All Terrain HD package, which includes 18-inch wheels, the Z71 off-road suspension, skid plates, front-and-rear parking sensors and a heated steering wheel. A separate Suspension package (available on the SLE and SLT) offers hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers and unique styling tweaks.



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 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD (6.6L turbodiesel V8; 6-speed automatic). The Silverado is essentially the GMC Sierra's twin, and the 2500 shares most of its equipment with the 3500, so many of our observations will apply. Since 2015, GMC has updated the Sierra slightly, including this year's new 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine. We've updated our review to reflect those changes.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.5 / 5.0

Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling4.5 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
With 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque, the 3500's optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 is right in line with its top competitors. Overall, the Sierra 3500HD is impressively composed and easy to handle when the road gets curvy.

Acceleration

Even before recent updates, the Sierra's optional diesel engine was the one to get. It had smooth, nearly instantaneous power delivery at all times. We expect this new engine to be even better.

Braking

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In everyday driving, the brake pedal action is pretty linear, but at times the slightly spongy pedal makes it feel as if the brakes aren't all that strong. Our track-tested panic-stop distance from 60 mph — 144 feet — is a bit longer than average for the segment.

Steering

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For such a large, heavy-duty truck, there's good steering, with good weighting (typically it's too light) and some feedback. It's a slow ratio, though, which means it requires several rotations of the wheel to get it around corners on back roads.

Handling

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Handling is aided by precise steering and well-controlled body roll through corners. The suspension reacts pretty well to midcorner bumps. You don't buy a heavy-duty truck for its handling abilities, but it's nice to know that this one isn't a slouch around turns.

Drivability

The six-speed automatic transmission is mostly smooth, but the 1-2 upshift can be abrupt. And it's smart, letting the engine's massive torque do the work instead of downshifting. In town, throttle pedal action is supple and the brakes are never touchy.

Off-road

edmunds rating
With the Z71 suspension package (which our test truck had), you get upgraded shocks, underbody shields, hill descent control and doorsill plates. It's no rock-crawler, but with a competent four-wheel drive and a low-range transfer case it's a very capable off-road machine.

Comfort

edmunds rating
Everyday comfort in the 3500HD is pretty good overall. The seats aren't quite as comfy as those in rival trucks, but they're still quite nice. We are impressed with how quiet the cabin is.

Seat comfort

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Despite thick padding, the front seats aren't all that plush, and the seatbacks in particular are on the hard side. The rear seat cushions feel softer than the front ones and envelop you more. The rear seatback is at a nice angle for all-day riding.

Ride comfort

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Considering the heavy-duty Sierra was designed with towing and hauling in mind, it's a decent-riding truck. You'll get some of the typical jiggling on concrete freeways (especially when the truck's unloaded) and big bumps upset it, but overall it's pretty livable.

Noise & vibration

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This is an impressively quiet truck. The previous-generation diesel had a bit of ever-present clatter, especially when cold and at low speeds, but it was never obnoxious. There's hardly any wind noise, and the big truck tires don't sound like big truck tires.

Interior

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There are high-quality materials, a large amount of space and plenty of storage areas inside the 3500. We love the optional damped tailgate's action, as well as the integrated bumper step.

Ease of use

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The instrument panel is legible and clear, and the IntelliLink touchscreen responds relatively quickly to inputs. Buttons and knobs are generously sized and intuitive. Cruise control can overshoot your desired speed downhill, though, even when the "smart" exhaust brake is invoked.

Getting in/getting out

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As with pretty much any heavy-duty truck, the Sierra sits high. It's a definite step up to get in, but entry is made easier thanks to the optional running boards and the standard grab handles at each door.

Roominess

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Up front, there's enormous amounts of headroom and plenty of space to stretch out sideways. It would be nice if there was a dead pedal as a resting spot for the driver's left foot. There's tons of rear headroom with excellent foot space underneath the front seats.

Visibility

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For a 3500 series truck, the front windshield pillars are refreshingly narrow. But the roof pillar behind the driver and the grab handle restrict the driver's lane-change view, and the rearview mirror and side mirrors could be larger. Otherwise, this is an airy cabin with tall side windows.

Utility

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Few owners will ever get near the theoretical tow limit of a truck as capable of the GMC Sierra 3500HD (in most places, you'd need a commercial license just to tow that much). However, with its newly revised diesel engine it has some of the top towing numbers in the class.

Small-item storage

There's a large center-console storage compartment that doubles as a big armrest, cupholders at every turn, and plenty of pockets for whatever you've brought along. This truck can tow the big things and haul plenty of the small stuff, too.

Cargo space

A large cabin with a fold-up 60/40-split rear seat means there's plenty of room for tools or whatever other precious cargo you'd like to keep locked up inside. There are also a number of optional tonneau covers for the back if that's where you'd rather store your things.

Towing

The Sierra 3500HD with the optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel can tow up to 20,000 pounds with a trailer hitch, or 23,300 pounds with a gooseneck/fifth-wheel — both of which are impressive numbers.

Technology

GMC's IntelliLink infotainment system was improved in 2016 with faster processors and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The navigation display similarly impresses with easy address input and readable graphics.

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.