They're big, imposing, posh, and expensive. Are we talking about pricey German imports? No sirree - we're talking about the full-size pickup, a segment which has slowly transformed from farm implements with heat to genuine Texas Cadillacs. Few rigs better represent this modern luxo-truck era than the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD. The Sierra is a near-identical twin to the Chevrolet Silverado, but being a GMC means it has a heaping of extras not found on it's more affordable sibling. This truck means business - the business of luxurious capability.

Best Value

Despite the top-shelf Denali getting the brunt of the marketing attention, there's a number of other worthwhile trims to consider for the 2500-series Sierra. Personally, we'd go with the SLT guise. It includes amenities like heated seats, remote start, adjustable pedals, and dual-zone climate control, as well as an eight-inch touchscreen and 4.2-inch driver information display - all for $6,100 less than a base Denali.

There's a number of frivolous packages that do little other than jack the price up, but one must-have grouping is the $845 Driver Alert Package, which includes literal life-savers like emergency braking, park assist front and rear, and lane departure warning. Choosing this package, though, means mandatory upgrades to leather-wrapped heated and ventilated bucket seats and a heated steering wheel. All told, it brings the total price to $2,155, though we imagine most buyers wouldn't leave the lot without those doodads anyway.

To top it all off, we would configure our 2500-series as a Crew Cab with four-wheel-drive and the standard-length 6'5" bed. With this combo, we could easily use it as both a U-Hauler or as a family hauler, all depending on the day of the week.

Here's our Sierra as it would look all dolled up on delivery day:

  • Model: 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT
  • Engine: 6.0-liter V8
  • Output: 360 horsepower / 380 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel-drive
  • MPG: N/A (HD trucks are not rated by the EPA)
  • Options: Driver Alert Package ($845; includes lane-departure warning, emergency braking, front and rear park assist, and safety alert seat), leather-appointed front bucket seats ($510; also includes wireless charging pad, 10-way power adjustment, and floor console), front heated and ventilated seats ($650), heated steering wheel ($150)
  • Base Price: $54,795 (including destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $56,950

Performance

GMC Sierra 2500HD

Normal performance figures like acceleration, top speed, and even fuel economy fall away once you enter the realm of heavy-duty full-size trucks. In this playing field, there's only two important metrics: torque and towing.

Let's take a minute to talk about the two sacred Ts. The 6.0-liter gas engine can muster up to 380 lb-ft of of torque, but that's ho-hum compared to the eye-watering 910 lb-ft of twisting force that the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel can pump out. This translates to a maximum towing capacity of 18,000 pounds for the oil burner, while the gas motor can drag up to 13,000 pounds aft of the tailgate. Both engines utilize a six-speed automatic.

The Sierra doesn't disappoint in the payload department either, even if the raw numbers aren't as astonishing to behold. The top payload rating is 3,233 pounds, possible in gas-powered Crew Cab, 2WD, standard-length bed format. The lowest payload is a relatively paltry 2,356 pounds, which is the max rating for a diesel Crew Cab with 4WD and the eight-foot bed.

Underneath the Sierra's bed lies a tried-and-true leaf-spring suspension, which does an admirable job of maintaining a pleasant ride for when the truck is hitched up or fully laden. Empty the bed or unhitch your trailer, and the lack of refinement from this old-school design becomes apparent, making you question why the air-spring suspension in the Ram trucks isn't more widely plagiarized.

Style

Brazenly butch always seems to be the philosophy behind a pickup's styling motif, and this GMC is no exception. Everything is squared off and straightedge-linear, from the fender cutouts to the big and imposing grille that dominates the truck's visage. Move into Denali territory, and there's enough chrome to make a big-rig driver look on with envy. It's all unabashedly proud and arrogant - in other words, a true American truck.

One of the big selling points of the GMC-grade trucks is the additional available creature comforts over their less-ritzy Chevrolet siblings. The Sierra keeps this tradition intact; across all trim levels, there's ample equipment both standard and optional. For instance, even a base truck - normally the closest thing to a farm-spec work truck you can get nowadays - includes niceties like power windows and locks, a 7-inch touchscreen, a cloth-upholstered 40/20/40 bench seat, and a 3.5-inch driver information display. By the time you reach Denali stomping grounds, you'll find standard luxuries like navigation, heated and ventilated leather bucket seats, HID headlights and LED lighting, dual-zone climate control, and a host of active-safety features.

Whether you're bouncing along in a base model or riding high in a swaddling Denali, the Sierra is comfortable and quiet. Even the diesel models - which 90% of the Denali-trim trucks are equipped with - are impressively silent and refined in operation.

The Best and Worst Things

910 lb-ft of torque means that there's nothing a diesel-powered Serra can't pull. Between that and the generous amount of standard features, there's a compelling case to be made for this truck.

Unfortunately, all that comes at a cost. Most buyers will be leaving the lot with their pockets about sixty-thousand dollars lighter. If you're not careful, that number could creep towards seventy large without much too much warning. When did pickups get so expensive?

Right For? Wrong For?

GMC Sierra 2500HD

Anyone who does significant amounts of long-range interstate towing would do themselves a favor by checking out the well-appointed Sierra HD.

If you find yourself doing more local driving or just the occasional tow, stick with the light-duty trucks. They're easier to maneuver, less ponderous over the road, and better on gas, too.

The Bottom Line

The Sierra HD is big, capable, and luxurious, and comes with a standard bench seat, V8, and column shifter. For all intents and purposes, this glamorized Chevy is a modern-day Oldsmobile 98 or Buick Electra. It trumpets the qualities that made those old-school American cruisers so unbeatable when it came to comfort and style while mixing in modern-day safety and technology. If you're looking for lavish trappings and impressive towing capacity that's topped off with a heaping of American Patriotism, be sure to swing by your local GMC dealer to eyeball the Sierra HD.