More choices than you’ll ever need. Configuring your ideal 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 generally requires a mug of coffee and a couple of free hours. Possible configurations extend to seven trims, four engines, three cab sizes, three bed lengths, two transmissions, and two drivetrains. That’s before you start on the options list. You can see why this truck is built at three different factories across America and Mexico.

Whichever model you choose, you’re getting a sturdy-looking vehicle with a giant radiator grille, square wheel arches, and an imposing driving position. The beds range from five foot eight to eight foot two inches in length, and options range from LED lighting and a six-way power tailgate to moveable tie-downs and a carbon-fiber bed liner. We’d skip the steel wheels and unpainted bumpers of base models, though, since they look rather too workmanlike.

A comfortable, spacious cabin. While the Sierra’s external vibe is suitably utilitarian, the interior is pleasingly modern. In the most common Crew Cab configuration, there’s generous head, leg, and shoulder room for five adults. Excellent storage runs to a double glove compartment, center console bins and trays, and storage below the cleverly designed floating rear bench.

More impressive than the storage is the cabin’s overall quality and aesthetics. Flagship Denali models might cost north of $80,000, but they include luxury-sedan features like massaging and ventilated leather seats with 16-way power adjustment. You’ll also find speakers in the tailgate, wireless smartphone charging, and power-retractable running boards. Even mid-range Elevation models (costing $58,495 and up) offer a heated steering wheel and air conditioner, 20-inch alloys, and a six-way tailgate. In truth, prices can spiral as high as you allow them – adding AWD can cost as much as $4,600 depending on the model, while the Crew Cab with a standard bed costs $9,300 extra.

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Interior

Power, but not much comfort. Let’s address the positive aspects of the Sierra’s road manners first. There are four engines available, starting with a 310 hp 2.7-liter turbo capable of towing 9,500 pounds. We’d move up to the 5.3-liter V8, with 355 hp and a superior soundtrack, though the 6.2-liter V8’s 420 hp output offers even more potent acceleration alongside a towing capacity of 13,000 lb. This is improved upon further by a three-liter turbodiesel, though it commands a near-$4,000 premium and only manages 24 mpg combined in AWD guise. The turbo-4 returns 19, while the AWD-only V8’s figure is just 17. There are no hybrid options, though the two automatic transmissions do a fine job of slurring changes and applying power across the rev range.

Despite using leaf springs over the rear axle (compared to the more 21st-century coils fitted to the Ram 1500), the Sierra rides reasonably well despite an inevitable amount of bouncing that worsens when the bed is empty. The steering is responsive and the brakes are strong, but handling is best described as ponderous. At least safety is reasonable – every Sierra receives automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, and auto high beams. The IIHS has yet to express an opinion, but the NHTSA has awarded it a five-star review overall despite concerns about frontal crashes and rollover protection.

What’s it like off-road? The high-riding Sierra has always been a good off-roader in AWD guise, but the introduction of a new model for 2023 has literally and metaphorically elevated it. The poorly named AT4X AEV has everything from front winch capability and boron-steel skid plates to 18-inch wheels clad in 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires. Ground clearance also increases to 11.1 inches on this model compared to the other AWD trims – AT4 and Denali Ultimate – while front and rear locking diffs combine with low-range gearing for go-anywhere versatility.

Final thoughts. Providing you ignore the poverty-spec Pro model with its urethane steering wheel and rubber flooring, every Sierra 1500 is a comfortable and well-appointed truck. The innumerable combinations of body styles, powertrains, trims, and options allow buyers to tailor a vehicle to suit their precise requirements, while high-end models feel more like a luxury SUV than a load-lugger. The Denali is particularly opulent with its massaging ventilated seats and 12-speaker Bose audio system, alongside a head-up display and adaptive dampers. Even if you choose a lesser model, you’ll still be transporting passengers and cargo in comfort, with four excellent engines allied to two syrupy automatic transmissions and a surprisingly pliant ride.

There are drawbacks, of course, quite apart from a stingy manufacturer’s warranty and dismal fuel economy. The Denali costs as much as a dynamically superior Range Rover Sport, while the wealth of available options results in prices creeping up as you work through the configurator. The more luxuries you add, the less the Sierra seems like the workhorse it was designed to be, while safety needs to be augmented with optional cross-traffic detection and parking sensors. It’s also worth noting that the dashboard looks far nicer with a bigger infotainment screen than with a smaller one, and its button-heavy nature is less intuitive than some might like.

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