Five engine choices. The domestic pickup truck manufacturers have something in common: multiple engine choices are available with their full-size trucks. The GMC Sierra 1500 and the similar Chevrolet Silverado 1500 have five engine choices or seven if you count how one of the V8 gas engines is paired. The Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 are just behind the GM duo, but well ahead of the offerings delivered by the Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan.
The Sierra has a base 4.3-liter V6 engine with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque and works with a 6-speed automatic transmission. We think it’s best left for fleet duty. A 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic may seem overmatched with the Sierra, but it cranks out 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque, approaching the performance and fuel efficiency of some V8s.
The 5.3-liter V8 makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and works with a 6-, 8-, or 10-speed transmission. At the top of the engine line is a 6.2-liter V8 that’s paired with a 10-speed automatic and makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six makes just 277 horsepower, but it matches the big V8 with its 460 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed transmission routes power to the wheels.
Robust pulling power. Shop for a pickup truck and its trailering capabilities are on the list for many buyers. Payload is important too. The 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four has the lowest conventional towing rating, ranging from 6,600 to 6,900 pounds. Choose the V6 and its range covers 7,400 to 7,900 pounds.
The 5.3-liter V8 pulls from 9,600 to 11,300 pounds, while the 6.2-liter V8 pulls between 8,800 to 12,100 pounds. The turbo-diesel covers a range from 7,400 to 9,100 pounds. On the payload front, the Sierra ranges from 1,740 pounds with the diesel to 2,240 with the V6.
Substandard safety scores. Though the Sierra excels in many categories, its safety scorecard is concerning. Specifically, the Sierra received a “poor” rating for the front passenger’s safety in a frontal crash from both the federal NHTSA and the insurance industry-backed IIHS. That’s unacceptable.
Further, the Sierra doesn’t come with automatic emergency braking, a feature that’s seen widespread inclusion in models across the automotive spectrum. GMC bundles forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian braking within a $615 Safety Confidence Package. Other features such as adaptive cruise control are limited to the top trims and may still cost extra.
Tech for workers and executives alike. The Sierra does a decent job of uniting the needs of blue- and white-collar individuals within one package. You can still find a Regular Cab truck although demand is skewed toward the Crew Cab and to a lesser extent the Double Cab.
The base Sierra comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display and includes two USB ports, Bluetooth, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. A two-speaker audio system is nothing to speak about. Among the upgrades are an 8-inch screen, a 7-speaker Bose audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, wireless smartphone integration, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Moving up through the trim levels and adding packages will get you what you want, but for a price.
Final thoughts. GMC typically offers excellent discounts throughout the year. They’re heavily skewed toward well-equipped Crew Cab models and should easily cover whatever upgrade you have in mind.
Check prices for the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 »