The 2018 GMC Sierra is a rugged, handsome full-size pickup certainly worthy of your attention.
It’s hard to call any full-size pickup an off-the-beaten path buy, but the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 comes close. The 2018 Sierra 1500 is a kissing cousin to the Chevrolet Silverado, but it brings more to the table than just chiseled good looks.
With its blend of performance, panache, and, yes, style, the Sierra scores 6.7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, the Sierra sees few changes and is available in base, SLE, SLT, and Denali trim levels; only a newly standard rearview camera and two additional paint colors set the Sierra apart from 2017.
Sierra are basic to start, but hardly bare-bones. They’re meant mainly for work use, while SLE and SLT trims pile on more creature comforts and luxuries. The Sierra Denali brings with it a mountain of added features and tech, to the point where it’s nearly as decadent as the luxury cars it’s priced against. Somewhere in the middle lay a few packages, like the off-roady All Terrain, the stylish Elevation, and the value-laden Texas Edition. For those who need more lugging ability, the Sierra nameplate extends to the Sierra 2500 and 3500, which we cover elsewhere.
The Sierra lineup starts with a 4.3-liter V-6 rated at 285 horsepower before climbing to a 5.3-liter V-8 that checks in with 355 hp. Topping the lineup as an option on Sierra SLTs and Denalis is a 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 420 hp. A mild-hybrid version of the 5.3-liter V-8 called eAssist is also available on Sierra SLTs nationwide (last year, they were only in select markets). A lithium-ion battery provides a little extra scoot but mainly serves to take strain off of the gas engine. It works to save some fuel—to the tune of about 2 mpg over the standard V-8.
A 6-speed automatic comes standard with the V-6 and the smaller V-8. Optional on the 5.3-liter V-8 and included with the eAssist and the big 6.2 is a high-tech 8-speed automatic.
Even the Sierra’s V-6 is strong and smooth, but most buyers opt for the 5.3 and it’s easy to see why. Although it may not offer the mountain of torque seen in Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 or the NASCAR-worthy soundtrack of the Ram’s 5.7-liter V-8, the GM 5.3 strikes a pleasant balance and can run on just four cylinders to save fuel in lighter load situations. The Sierra can be had with either rear- or four-wheel drive, the latter of which becomes a formidable off-roader with a few options selected.
With its separate ladder frame and leaf-sprung rear axle, the Sierra is traditional underneath. It may lack the flashy aluminum body of the Ford F-150 and the smooth air and coil suspension setups available on the Ram, but there’s something to be said about the Sierra’s Goldilocks nature. Moreover, a properly outfitted Sierra is rated to tow a formidable 12,500 pounds.
The Sierra’s conservative style outside is echoed inside with a clean, functional, and comfortable interior. Up front, there’s room for three with the standard bench seat, although a pair of individual buckets with a full center console is optional. Crew cabs provide SUV-like room in the second row with a backrest that’s a little too upright for long-distance comfort. Extended cab models have enough room for short drives in row two, but if passengers are expected to be the norm in your Sierra, you’ll want a crew cab. Three bed lengths are on offer: a 6-foot-6 setup that’s standard on all, a full 8-foot box optional on regular cabs, and a smaller 5-foot-8 available on crew cabs.