2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Review
2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Travis Langness has worked in the automotive industry since 2011. He has written thousands of car-related articles and tested and reviewed hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career.
- Prodigious torque from optional diesel engine
- Quiet cabin for a workhorse truck, even when diesel-equipped
- Solid build quality and high-end feel
- Some versions don't offer a telescoping steering column
- Thick roof pillars create large blind spots
- Behind class leaders for towing and hauling capability
- Regular-cab Sierra 3500HD is no longer available
- Short-bed Double Cab model also removed from 3500HD lineup
- Part of the third GMC Sierra HD generation introduced for 2014
The 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD is a big truck with big capabilities. It's available with two powerful engines — a standard V8 and a turbodiesel option — and both can pull massive trailers or haul monster payloads. On the inside, the Sierra is generously equipped on its base and SLE trim levels and gets lavish on the top-dog Denali model. This GMC is a comfortable and quiet truck that can get the job done.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD 4dr Crew Cab SB (6.0L 8cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of N/A undefined in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Not Available for Sierra 3500HD Base
Sierra 3500HD Base
Avg. Large Truck
The Sierra HD isn't alone in its class, however. The Ford and Ram heavy-duty trucks can tow significantly more. They also have interiors with more modern aesthetics along with updated tech interfaces and safety features. A redesigned 2020 model promises to put the Sierra HD back on a competitive footing. Even so, there's still enough good here to make the 2019 Sierra 3500HD worth checking out.
Edmunds' Expert Rating
The optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel is an impressive engine that gives the 3500HD big towing numbers and impressive acceleration. Steering and braking are less impressive, but objectively this truck performs well by most standards that matter to truck buyers.
The 6.6-liter diesel makes massive torque and more than sufficient power, which give it a surge of acceleration off the line. Surprisingly, it does 0-60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. In-town acceleration is more reserved, but there's still plenty of power to get up to freeway speed.
The brake pedal feel is strong and consistent in everything other than full panic-stop scenarios. During Edmunds testing, we were able to press the pedal all the way to the floor, which is far from ideal.
The steering is well-weighted, but it takes several full revolutions of the steering wheel to turn this rig. There isn't much of a connection between the steering wheel and the tires, but that didn't factor too heavily into our score since most vehicles in this class feel similar.
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 for a dual rear-wheel setup, but this truck won't be your grocery-getter.
: The low-end torque gives plenty of off-the-line acceleration, and shifts from the six-speed automatic are smooth even under full-throttle acceleration. The cruise control and the exhaust brake keep a good handle on the 3500's downhill speed. Out in the open country, this truck is very drivable.
There are several laser-focused full-size trucks with specific tires, suspension and clearances designed for going off-road. This 3500HD dually is not one of those trucks. Four-wheel drive will help with inclement weather, but the stiff suspension and its sheer size limit its dirt-road capabilities.
Overall comfort isn't the Sierra 3500's strong suit. Trucks in this size range aren't exactly bastions of comfort, but this one is particularly rough on the senses with a combo of stiff seats, lots of wind noise and a rigid suspension. A big payload, however, settles things down a lot.
The front seats are well-padded and well-bolstered on the sides for lateral support, while the rear seats are relatively flat. The seat padding in both the front and rear is overly firm, though, and will take some serious breaking in to get comfortable.
The stiff leaf-spring suspension means the 3500HD has a rigid, uncomfortable ride when unladen. Load it up with a heavy payload or a big trailer, though, and the ride quality is significantly better. We're giving the latter more weight because we assume a dually is unlikely to be an "air hauler."
Noise & vibration
While there isn't as much road noise as you'd expect from the dual rear wheels, there is quite a bit of wind noise from the square front end and big mirrors. The diesel engine rumbles a bit, too, but it isn't particularly grating or abrasive and it's relatively smooth while cruising on the highway.
The interior is likable and user-friendly. Hop in and you'll operate almost all the controls without busting out the manual. It has a no-nonsense vibe, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in this segment.
Ease of use
The dashboard is about as basic and user-friendly as they come. The buttons are large and readable, within arm's reach and easy to operate. The solid switchgear contributes to ease of use.
Getting in/getting out
The proper grab handles and side steps help with entry, but it's still a tall truck. Most adults will have to do some climbing to get in. Keep in mind that this is pretty standard for the segment. It's not any harder to get in and out of the Sierra than any of its main rivals.
The optional power-adjustable pedals, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and highly adjustable driver's seat mean you can pretty much get the position you want. As with most trucks this big, seating position may be a bit high for shorter drivers, but it isn't a deal-breaker.
Pick any seating position in the 3500HD, and you'll have plenty of room to spread out. Headroom, legroom and shoulder room are all extensive inside this massive cabin. Pretty much every crew-cab 3500-series truck provides lots of space, and the GMC is no exception.
The massive windshield and door pillars give the 3500 big blind spots. The large towing mirrors help with lane changes, but knowing where this truck's corners are can be tough. A rearview camera is standard, but competitors offer surround-view cameras and the GMC doesn't.
The body panels and interior pieces are well put-together, without any rattling, shaking or malfunctioning during our test.
By most standards, the 3500HD certainly is utilitarian. It can tow and haul massive loads, and it has abundant interior storage. However, redesigned offerings from Ford and Ram outclass it by pretty much every measurement. And in the arms race that is towing capacity, it falls behind by a few tons. Next year's Sierra HD should do better.
There's an abundance of pockets in the front and rear — doors, center console, two gloveboxes. If you can't find a place for your stuff in this truck, you just have too much stuff. Some competitors have smarter slight storage solutions for phones and devices, but only by a small margin.
As with pretty much every other heavy-duty truck, the Sierra 3500HD 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 accommodation
The 3500 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. The trick, of course, is hoisting the kids up into their high perches.
The 6.6-liter turbodiesel has massive torque and power, but the towing capacities are significantly lower than those of its Ram and Ford competitors. Cruise control, exhaust braking and transmission logic are all very good while towing.
When you're not towing your fifth wheel, you can haul any variety of beds, dressers and various household furniture pieces in the back of the 3500HD. The payload rating is only a few hundred pounds below class leaders.
Using the Sierra's infotainment interface is pretty simple, but we had several usability issues with our test vehicle. The finicky voice controls and subpar device integration made for a frustrating user experience.
Audio & navigation
The menu logic on the touchscreen system is easy to understand, but it's not the most elegant in the class. The touchscreen responses are slower than with class leaders. While we like the optional 8-inch touchscreen, it doesn't stand out much from rival systems.
Our experience with smartphone devices was poor, with many dropped connections over the course of the test. We generally like the interface when it's working, but even then it takes quite a bit of time to load music. It's best to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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.
Which Sierra 3500HD does Edmunds recommend?
If you're looking for a capable heavy-duty truck with an impressive amount of equipment, we recommend the midlevel Sierra SLT. It has a wide range of available option packages along with lots of standard gear such as leather upholstery, heated front seats and power-adjustable seats. And if you want Denali-level creature comforts, you can get most of those as packaged or stand-alone options. For towing heavy trailers, we'd advise getting the 6.6-liter diesel V8.
2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD models
The 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD heavy-duty pickup truck is available in four trim levels: base, SLE, SLT and Denali. All come in a crew-cab body style, with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive and in either a single rear-wheel (SRW) or dual rear-wheel (DRW, or dually) configuration. Two bed lengths are available: standard 6.6-foot short bed or 8.2-foot long bed.
The base Sierra comes standard with a 6.0-liter V8 engine (360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission, 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 and windows, cruise control, and a tilt-only steering wheel. Also standard are a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, a USB port and a six-speaker stereo.
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 available, also paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Many options are available for the base Sierra. Highlights include a remote locking tailgate, LED bed lighting, a 110-volt power outlet, satellite radio, and OnStar services with 4G LTE Wi-Fi.
The next rung up on the trim-level ladder is the SLE, which adds to the standard equipment with an 8-inch touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels (single rear-wheel models only), tinted rear windows, a remote-locking EZ-Lift tailgate, remote keyless entry, carpeted floor, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD player, satellite and HD radio, and most of the base Sierra's options.
Next up is our recommendation, the SLT. Building on the SLE's equipment, the SLT adds foglights, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver-seat memory functions, power-adjustable pedals, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote start, and a 110-volt household-style power outlet.
For a luxurious take on your hard-working truck, there's the top level with the Denali. It adds 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, an upgraded driver information display, upgraded interior trim, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Many of the standard features on upper trims can be added at lower trim levels in grouped packages. Other optional highlights depend on trim level and include different axle ratios, a bed storage box, tonneau covers, trailering mirrors, a sunroof, a gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailering prep package, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a Driver Alert package, which includes front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a safety-alert driver's seat.
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 the SLT) offers hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers and unique styling treatments.
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
The designers and engineers should drive it more
Mike Langford, 01/16/2020
2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali 4dr Crew Cab 4WD LB DRW (6.0L 8cyl 6A)
The Nav system is almost useless as far as address input, The 4 wheel selector knob doesn't need to above the very similar headlight knob, Why not put a DEF gauge in it? When DEF warning triggers the DIC, no other information is available until the DEF tank is filled! Entertainment system (CD, books on disk and downloaded library books) startup again when I approach the vehicle … (phone in my pocket) and the engine is running. I have lost my place in many books many times because of this. The backup camera surely came from a Cracker Jacks box, substandard quality. The center display will ruin your night vision when put in reverse (it could use a dimmer/off switch). And why not allow full time use of the back up camera and back up lighting? (I live and work on my farm). Steering wheel buttons could be a little more intuitive, It's easy to turn on the steering wheel heater when the intent was to reduce the cruise speed. My truck has the 6.6 Duramax (awsome!) and I drive about 10k miles/mo. Needless to say, I'm in it a lot. Don't misunderstand, I love my truck but like I said in the beginning, the design and engineering people should have to drive their creations for a month or so. How did someone devise the notion to put the DEF filler neck under the hood and on the passenger side firewall? A common problem and more future problems will occur as the caustic DEF fluid splashes out of the filler neck, it drains down on top of and puddles in the wiring harness on the bottom of the DEF tank where the wires go into the bottom of the tank. It's happened once and it damaged the DEF tank heater... thingie. Luckily it was under extended warranty. And one thing Edmunds, I couldn't find the 6.6 Duramax option on your drop down menus. There all 6.0s
4 out of 5 stars
I love my truck
Jon ellis, 08/18/2016
2016 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali 4dr Crew Cab LB DRW (6.0L 8cyl 6A)
I have a 2015 gmc 3500 dually with the durmax. I also put 24 inch 18 wheel style wheels with larger tires. My truck rides great and i had as much as 21 mpg on the hwy. I average about 15mpg but i do a lot of stop and go and sitting in Atlanta traffic. I have a 26 foot trailer and when i pull it it doesnt even feel any different. I had a ford f350 prior and i had nothing but … issues. I also have new a ls460 but i rather drive my truck.
5 out of 5 stars
Had every brand of truck. This is the BEST!
2016 GMC Sierra 3500HD SLT 4dr Crew Cab 4WD LB (6.0L 8cyl 6A)
First of all Edmunds doesn't give the Duramax / Allison option to review. That is what mine is so it might not compare to other reviewers. The some of previous reviewers must have been driving a completely different truck then I was. Some of those reviews just didn't make sense to me. This is an awesome truck. It's more "luxury car" like then any truck I've ever driven. And now I have … had 40,000 miles of trouble free use. My wife enjoys driving it because she has great visibility and it is so easy to handle for the "beast" that it is. It easily handles my 39 ', 15,300 5th Wheel toy hauler with a 2 700lb. mototcycles. You actually don't even know all that load is back there. As it has gotten more miles on it the MPG has improved. I know this is hard to believe but at 40MPH I've gotten over 30 MPG. At interstate speeds of 70-75 MPG it averages over 21 MPG. Pulling my 17,000lb 5th Wheel trailer I get 11.5. One of the problems for GM is that they build such a good truck that I can’t even consider a new purchase. This truck is all I need and the new enhancements don’t add much to what I already have. I have had one mechanical issue. A bad injector came up on my “check engine” light. I didn’t notice any difference in performance. Took it to my dealer and the 5 year drive train warranty paid for the repairs.
5 out of 5 stars
2016 GMC Sierra 3500HD SLE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (6.0L 8cyl 6A)
The ride is harsh empty (but not like a F450 F550). The suspension is great with a load. The gas engine tows well - I pull horses, boats and campers. The fuel economy is 13-14 empty (highway) and 6-8 towing any trailer (2000-8000 lbs) Update - after 38000 miles including over 15,000 towing heavy trailers I give this truck a great rating. It loves its fuel - but it is a reliable … workhorse. Never a complaint and a flawless service record! Not a single issue. Now at 50,000 miles and nothing other than normal maintenance. Great vehicle!
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD, so we've included reviews for other years of the Sierra 3500HD since its last redesign.
2019 Sierra 3500HD Highlights
|Engine Type||Flex-fuel (ffv)|
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Max Towing Capacity||13,000 lbs.|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the Sierra 3500HD models:
- OnStar Telematics
- This optional system adds items such as roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen-vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
- Lane Departure Warning
- Alerts the driver when he or she is drifting out of the lane, which is especially helpful on a large truck like this.
- Teen Driver Mode
- Uses custom vehicle settings to limit certain driving features such as vehicle speed and radio volume for secondary drivers.