Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Sharing virtually all of its key mechanicals and heavy-duty configurations with the Chevrolet Silverado HD, the GMC Sierra HD represents a classic example of badge engineering. Despite its identity crisis, the Sierra HD entices with a set of powerful gasoline and turbodiesel V8s, newly available compressed natural gas (CNG) compatibility, and an exclusive line of premium Denali models.
You'll Like The 2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD If...
If you require a vehicle that can transport over 10,000 pounds without breaking a sweat, the 2013 GMC Sierra HD deserves a spot on your short list. Furthermore, most prospective HD truck buyers who place a premium on luxury will find the Sierra HD Denali worth springing for.
You May Not Like The 2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD If...
Anyone who needs to tow more than eight tons should take a closer look at the 2013 Ram 3500 HD and its colossal 30,000-pound towing capacity. And if you feel styling is the only detractor to the Sierra HD, the Chevrolet Silverado HD offers an identical roster of features and configurations (excluding Denali), but with a unique design aesthetic.
For 2013, extended-cab 2500 HD models equipped with the standard 6.0-liter V8 can be had with a new bi-fuel system that accommodates both gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG). Two new exterior colors (Sonoma Red Metallic and Heritage Blue Metallic) round out the changes.
The 2013 GMC Sierra HD Work Truck (WT), SLE and SLT interiors are designed to function seamlessly with a wide range of conventional truck duties. But despite the cabin’s utilitarian intent, most trims come nicely appointed with adequate materials quality and fit and finish. While it lacks the bounty of storage bins and compartments found in the Ram and Ford HD trucks, the 2013 GMC Sierra HD nevertheless has a number of useful storage ideas for everything from laptops to the errant tool. On the luxury front, Denali variants feature a distinctive brushed-aluminum trim, leather upholstery and soft-touch materials on the upper dash.
The imposing look of the Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD trucks is set off with a massive 3-bar chrome grille flanked by the nameplate’s signature stacked headlamps. For better engine cooling, the raised power-dome hood incorporates a functional set of louvers. The upscale Denali trim is distinguished by its color-keyed bumpers, 4-bar grille with chrome mesh inserts, and matching lower grille design. If you are on the fence between a half-ton and a 3/4-ton truck, it’s worth noting that the load-in height (distance from the ground to the top of the cargo bed floor) is over five inches taller with the HD version, which makes loading heavy items significantly more strenuous.
Thanks to its optional 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8, we found that towing a 10,000-pound trailer behind the 2013 GMC Sierra 2500 HD posed no challenge of any kind. This optional turbodiesel develops 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque (more horsepower, less torque than the Ram HD, less horsepower and torque than Ford’s PowerStroke diesel). Despite the difference in power from its main rivals, the Sierra 2500 HD still takes top honors in 5th-wheel and conventional towing, as well as payload figures. The Duramax diesel produces quite a bit of noise, but you wouldn’t know it from inside the cabin. One of our favorite features of the diesel powertrain is the "smart" exhaust-braking. Depending on topography and vehicle speed, the system works by progressively restricting exhaust output to help slow the rig with added compression braking. We tested a number of 2013 GMC Sierra HD trucks, with gasoline and diesel engines, long and short beds, and basic to plush trim levels. We found that each exhibited a taut yet compliant ride, good steering feedback, and suitable braking power.
In base Work Truck form, the 2013 GMC Sierra 2500 has a Manufacturers’ Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $30,000, with the 3500 series tacking an additional $1,500 to the bottom line. 2500 and 3500 Denali trims come in at around $47,000 and top out close to $64,000. Adding 4-wheel drive to the mix will set you back an extra $3,000. The Ford Super Duty and Ram HD each share a similar price range with the 2013 Sierra HD. To get a better idea of what others in your area paying for the 2013 GMC Sierra HD, take a look at KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page. Like its heavy-duty challengers, the 2013 Sierra HD is expected to maintain average 5-year residual values.
GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD models are available in regular cab, extended cab and crew cab body styles as well as four trim levels: Work truck, SLE, SLT or Denali. Standard across the board is all-weather rubber flooring, a 40/20/40 split front bench seat, and a driver information center. SLE models add a CD player, air conditioning, power windows, and driver’s seat adjustment, while SLT trims feature heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and fog lights. Top-level Denali versions include ventilated and 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a Bose premium audio system, and power retractable side mirrors. Occupant safety consists of six airbags, a full complement of electronic stability systems, and OnStar emergency/concierge services.
Given the Sierra’s limited rear visibility, the optional backup camera tops our list of recommended add-ons. Also on the menu is a feature-laden convenience package comprised of power-adjustable pedals, rear sonar proximity sensors designed to help guide you into tight park spots with audible warnings, and a slam-proof EZ-lift and lower tailgate (SLT only). Seeing as the available touch-screen navigation unit is a bit long in the tooth, technophiles who want the latest and greatest in multimedia will be better-off with the F-250’s optional MyFord Touch infotainment system.
ALLISON 1000 SERIES TRANSMISSIONThis robust 6-speed transmission is designed to withstand the extra torque generated by the Duramax turbodiesel while also delivering improved fuel economy. Plus, the Allison 1000 is manufactured by the same company that produces transmissions for the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams tank.BI-FUEL SYSTEMAlthough compressed natural gas has yet to gain a stronghold in the marketplace, the 2013 Sierra HD lineup embraces this cleaner-burning, domestically-sourced alternative fuel with the newly available bi-fuel system. Though it carries a lofty $11,000 price tag, the bi-fuel system could potentially prove itself financially prudent in the long run, as CNG fuel costs roughly $1.50 per gallon less than diesel or gasoline (depending upon local markets).
Under the Hood
Every 2013 GMC Sierra HD features a standard 6.0-liter Vortec V8 with cam-in-block variable valve timing (VVT), which provides more power at high rpm and better fuel efficiency. For jobs requiring a significant amount of power there’s the recently overhauled Duramax turbodiesel that produces an earth-moving 765 lb-ft of torque. As a bonus, the Duramax powerplant is compatible with B20 biodiesel. Like most of today’s clean diesels, nitrous oxide emissions are reduced by means of a Selective Catalyst Reduction after-treatment system, which uses urea-based Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) as a cleaning agent. While the DEF tank needs a refill every 5,000 miles, urea-based solution or AdBlue, as it’s known, is available at most major auto parts retailers.6.0-liter Vortec V8360 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: NA6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8397 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm765 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
When the task at hand calls for more muscle than a conventional full-size truck can handle, it’s time to summon a heavy-duty pickup. In both 3/4-ton and 1-ton configuration, the 2013 GMC Sierra HD delivers the type of power and utility needed for the most demanding jobs and does it while providing commendable levels of comfort. To that end, the 2013 Sierra HD lineup offers an exclusive pair of high-content Denali variants to further broaden appeal. Motivation comes in the form of a gasoline-fueled V8 or a torque-rich turbodiesel. Since rival HD pickups like the Ford F-250/F-350 and Ram 2500/3500 each offer of the most hauling power this side of a Class 8 semi-truck, choosing the right brand ultimately comes down to personal preference.