The GMC Sierra 3500HD is designed to tackle tough jobs that would humble lesser pickups. Even so, it's a civilized beast that can handle comfort-hungry passengers as easily as it can haul a trailer and cargo. Of GMC's three Sierra versions, the 3500HD is the heaviest-duty, while the 1500 is lightest.
What's New for 2017
For 2017, GMC boosted the available Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine to 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. Trucks with the diesel engine get a functional hood scoop. Fleet buyers can order a version of the gasoline V8 that’s converted by Power Solutions to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
Choosing Your Sierra 3500HD
Like all full-size GM pickups, the 3500HD is available as a three-person Regular Cab, a Double Cab with a full-length backseat and narrow rear doors (hinged in front), or a Crew Cab with full-size rear doors and extra rear legroom. Dual rear wheels are available for each version. Regular and Double Cabs come with an eight-foot cargo bed, while the Crew gets a 6.5-foot bed. The eight-foot bed is available as an option on single-rear-wheel models. Rear bumpers feature corner steps for easier access to the bed.
The standard 6-liter gasoline V8 produces 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. For maximum muscularity, GMC also offers a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8, boosted this year from 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque to 445 horsepower and a stump-pulling 910 pound-feet of torque. The turbodiesel gets a six-speed automatic transmission and exhaust braking. All 3500HD models come standard with rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available across the board.
To assist with towing, all models come with a heavy-duty trailing package, an automatic-locking rear differential, trailer sway control, automatic grade braking, and integrated cruise control that automatically adjusts to load weight. Properly equipped, the 3500HD can tow a startling 23,300 pounds and haul 7,153 pounds in the bed.
The 3500HD is available in four trim levels: Base, SLE, SLT, and luxurious Denali. Standard equipment is similar to that of the 2500HD series.
All versions except the base model are available with the Driver Alert Package, which includes forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and a vibrating safety alert seat.
Base Sierras aren't nearly as austere as they used to be, so the lower-priced version is a suitable – if enormous – personal vehicle, especially with a few options added. Still, the step-up SLE remains the best overall value for mixed use. Not too many buyers really need all the posh extras found in the pricey Denali edition.