Five years into its current model cycle and due to be replaced by next year, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 features restrained good looks, a comfortable interior, and a solid choice of engines. But Chevy's Silverado is cheaper, fuel economy is only average, and its design may even be too conventional.

Best Value

Pricing begins at an even $30,000 for a 4x2 base trim V6 regular cab model and gets pricey at over $71,000 for a 4x4 Crew Cab Denali model loaded up with such niceties as the Denali Ultimate Package, rear seat entertainment, and Red Brembo Performance Front Brake kit.

Like the rest of the full-size pickup market, GMC Sierra 1500 buyers are faced with a bewildering array of options: 11 wheel designs, four trim levels, three bed lengths, three body styles, rear- and four-wheel-drive systems, and four engines (a 4.3-liter V6, a 5.3-liter V8, a 6.2-liter V8, and a mild hybrid – called eAssist – version of the 5.3-liter V8). A six-speed automatic is standard with the V6 and smaller V8. Optional on the smaller V8 and standard with the 6.2-liter V8 and models with eAssist is an eight-speed automatic.

Given its mission as an upmarket Chevy Silverado, we'd opt for the Sierra SLT trim with its standard 5.3-liter V8, automatic locking rear differential, and luxury touches that include leather seats (heated in front), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start, LED taillights, power adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, and power-folding heated outside mirrors.

  • Model: 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT Crew Cab, Short Box
  • Engine: 5.3-liter V8
  • Output: 355 hp / 383 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
  • Options:Dark Slate Metallic ($395), Premium Package ($1,345, Bose audio system, 20-inch polished alloy wheels, six-inch chrome assist steps), Preferred Package ($795, front and rear park assist, heated steering wheel, power sliding rear window), Enhanced Driver Alert Package ($945, perforated leather front seats, lane keeping assist, automatic high beam headlights, low speed automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, safety alert seat, wireless charging, heated steering wheel), Spray-on Bedliner ($495), Front Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats ($510, required with driver alert package), Heated and Ventilated Front Seats ($650, required with driver alert package).
  • Base Price:$49,795 (including the $1,395 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$54,535

Performance

GMC Sierra 1500

The Sierra features a smooth ride, accurate steering, and good highway stability, while the top shelf Denali gets GM's Magnetic Ride suspension for an even silkier ride. The base 3.6-liter V6 offers strong acceleration and can tow up to 7,600 pounds. A need for heavy towing or climbing grades would be the only reasons to spend more on either of the V8s.

At the same time, all three engines offer only average fuel economy. EPA numbers with the more expensive eight-speed automatic are lower than the six-speed, while the $1,125 mild hybrid eAssist Package – only available on the 2WD SLT – improves the Sierra's estimated combined fuel economy by only one mile per gallon.

Style

The GMC Sierra 1500's upright grille, functional, integrated rear bumper steps, LED accent lighting, and conservative design set it apart from the Silverado, as well as much of the competition. Inside, the controls are logically arranged and even the entry-level trim looks somewhat upscale with a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and rearview camera.

Conversely, roll-up windows and vinyl seats are standard on the base trim, which lacks the eigh-inch touchscreen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability of the other models. In addition, the extra chrome trim on Denalis can look garish, and, while the seats up front are first class, the crew cab back bench is economy.

The Best and Worst Things

A clean look, comfortable interior, and smooth ride make the GMC Sierra 1500 a solid choice. We just wish the hybrid came with better fuel economy numbers, while some might find its design too conservative.

Right For? Wrong For?

GMC Sierra 1500

The Sierra's wide range of available active safety systems should appeal to safety-focused buyers.

At the same time, it's much pricier than its Chevy Silverado twin, which could prove to be a turn off for value-oriented truck buyers.

The Bottom Line

Despite pricey top trims, a conventional design, and middling fuel economy, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500's smooth ride, comfortable interior, and wide choice of advanced safety features make it a top choice in the full-size pickup class.