2021 GMC Sierra Review: Every day for everyone

The 2021 GMC Sierra has big looks, big tow ratings, and deep beds. The Sierra 1500 is a full-size truck that shares its underpinnings with the Chevy Silverado. It’s up against the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. When it comes to capacity, performance and getting what you want, the Sierra excels.

The Sierra’s smallest engines, a 2.7-liter turbo-4 and 3.0-liter turbodiesel-6, get boosts in towing capacity thanks to better-than-expected test results. Advance trailer technology improvements make it easier to tow the heavy load when properly equipped, and a six-way power tailgate is standard on all but the base model. Offered in base, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 and Denali trims with five engine sizes, three cab sizes and three bed sizes, it would take an algorithm to figure out all the configurations of the 2021 GMC Sierra. From the boxy wheel arches to the clip-on headlamps and fog lights, the Sierra wears its conservative square cut with pride, like in a military graduation parade.

The base V-6 is forgettable, but the four V-8 powertrains drive most of the sales. Between them is a 2.7-liter turbo-4 with as much towing capacity as a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that gets up to 30 mpg on the highway and can tow up to 9,300 pounds, though not at the same time. A 6.2-liter V-8 maximizes towing capacity to 11,800 pounds with standard all-wheel drive. It comes with a silky smooth 10-speed automatic transmission used on a 5.3-liter V-8 and the turbodiesel. The V-8s with the 10-speed, as well as one with the 8-speed, also have fuel management that shuts down half the cylinders to save gas, though with a top of 21 mpg highway, or 23 mpg with rear-wheel drive, it is neither the most efficient V-8 on the market nor the most efficient Sierra. Leaf springs in the rear can make the big truck bounce around when unloaded, but the size dampens most road warts; The adaptive dampers standard on Denali trims make it ride like a luxury SUV.

GMC equips the Sierra with spacious regular, extended, and crew cabs, with the latter being the most popular. It seats five passengers comfortably, and the large storage spaces can handle double duty as a mobile office or family room. The longest and deepest beds in the class also have some of the easiest access points and storage solutions, just be sure to measure the garage before you buy. The rich Denali upholstery wraps the cabin in luxurious leather with wood and aluminum accents. The 2021 GMC Sierra ranges from about $32,000 in base Sierra models to more than $64,000 in top-of-the-line Denali models. Bed and cab sizes, engine and powertrain all affect price and decision-making, but if a Denali is too rich, we recommend the Elevation trim with a crew cab for less than $50,000.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 cuts to a cinder block design. Coming at you head on or in the rearview mirror, you could call it something else, but this big block of a truck wears its conservative cuts with pride. From the boxy wheel arches to the attached main and fog lights, the Sierra has the boxiest of geometries. It is a jarhead in the best sense of the word, with a flat face and a bulging square hood to match its square jaw and stiff lower lip. Certain details get body-colored surrounds on the slotted grille, while the Denali trims the body and bumpers in chrome.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 comes with a potent turbo-4, a turbodiesel, or a range of V8 powertrains. With options ranging from a capable turbo-4 to a battery of V-8s, as well as a turbodiesel inline-6 ​​and a smart 10-speed automatic, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 balances performance with efficiency and capability. GMC’s Sierra comes standard with rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive that adds between $3,300-$3,500, depending on trim. The AT4 model comes standard with all-wheel drive, as do the 6.2-liter V-8 and 5.3-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic transmission.

Of the four V-8 options, there are essentially six powertrain options. The 5.3-liter makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, but can be had with a 6-speed, 8-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission. The 10-speed only comes with all-wheel drive and an 11,000-pound tow rating; the 8-speed comes standard with rear-wheel drive and an 11,300-pound rating. The 5.3-liter with 10-speed in SLT, AT4 and Denali models has plenty of grunt and can handle any job. The 6.2-litre is spectacular for those who value top numbers, as is a louder roar and a touch more throttle response.

The 6.2-liter V-8 tops the Sierra spec by making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft, the same as the turbodiesel, but it can tow up to 11,800 pounds to the diesel’s 9,000 pounds with all-wheel drive. It’s a beautiful beast of a truck that can almost have too much power bouncing around town unloaded. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 ​​makes just 277 hp but excels at highway efficiency and towing up to 9,300 pounds with rear-wheel drive. The diesel costs about $1,000 more than the 5.3-liter V-8 with the 8-speed, and the upgrade is worth it for owners who log mostly highway miles.

2021 GMC Sierra Review

There’s a 2.7-liter turbo-4 that makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft, and it’s capable enough by towing up to 9,200 pounds and carrying up to 2,060 pounds. But it’s not much more efficient than the V-8s with fuel management, and can be even worse when towing. At the bottom of the Sierra’s pecking order is the base 4.3-liter V-6 that makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft. of torque with a 6-speed automatic. The 10-speed automatic’s top gears act as an overdrive to optimize efficiency or help with heavier loads, but they’re mostly imperceptible. Shifts in the lower gears are quiet and seamless enough to be imperceptible as well, but it can get busy when towing a trailer or in challenging downshifts, such as going down and up hills.

The top Denali trim comes standard with adaptive dampers that soften the truck’s ride like a three-row SUV, even on 20-inch wheels. The available 22-inch wheels provide more road feedback. The Ram 1500’s optional air suspension might be a little more elegant, but the Denali also rides like a lap of luxury. Other models have more traditional coil shocks at the front and leaf springs at the rear. The Sierra steers well enough for a truck, with an electric rack and pinion that doesn’t resemble the vague boat-like steering of older trucks. Five drive settings ranging from sport to tow/haul mode allow drivers to adjust throttle and steering response. In Denali models, the suspension properties relax in Tour mode for quieter cruising or stiffen in Sport mode for increased cornering flexibility. An available two-speed transmission facilitates off-road crawling on Denali and AT4 models with 4WD. The AT4 trim appeals to the off-road set with a 2.0-inch factory lift for nearly 11 inches of ground clearance and better approach and departure angles, an Eaton locking rear differential, Rancho shocks and red towbars, of course.

Turbo options and an active fuel management system help the big 2021 Sierra match capability with relative efficiency. With four V-8 options, the Sierra can only be so efficient, even when it shuts down half the cylinders when they’re not needed. The 5.3-liter V-8 is the most popular choice, and the 8-speed and 10-speed get an EPA-rated 16 mpg city, 21 highway, 18 combined with all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive increases it by 1 mpg. The most efficient Sierra is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6, at 23/30/26 mpg. All-wheel drive gives it 22/26/24 mpg. That’s good highway rating for a full-size truck and justifies the $995-$2,400 average top-up if most of your miles are on the highway. The 2.7-liter turbo-4 isn’t efficient enough to justify the reduced capacity compared to the V-8. It gets 20/23/21 mpg, or 2 mpg less with all-wheel drive. The same can be said for the base V-6, which is 1 mpg less efficient than the 5.3-liter V-8. Although the 6.2-liter only gets 16/20/17 mpg, the V-8 with the old 6-speed performs worst, at 14/18/16 mpg with all-wheel drive. Our 3.0-litre diesel all-wheel-drive AT4 test car averaged an impressive 24.7mpg during its week with us.

NHTSA gave it a four-star rating due to four-star ratings across the board with the exception of a five-star side impact rating, which is not uncommon for trucks. Meanwhile, the IIHS gave it a “Good” rating across the board, except for “Marginal” protection for small-overlap occupant testing and “Poor” headlight ratings that keep it from being a Top Safety Pick. Unfortunately, GMC doesn’t equip its truck with standard automatic emergency braking, even on the top Denali trim, where it’s still part of an optional $1,045 package. It is standard on the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.

2021 GMC Sierra Review

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is a cut above the competition in comfort and cargo. Inside, the blocky elements carry over with chunky vents that swallow the available 8.0-inch touchscreen. Black and plastic chrome bits give a poor tuxedo impression, but Tony Denali trim dresses it up right with leather upholstery, wood and aluminum accents, and soft touch elements throughout. The Sierra 1500 can be equipped with a regular cab with a long 8-foot-2 bed, an extended cab with a 6-foot-8 standard bed, or a crew cab with a 5-foot-10 short bed or the standard bed. All but the base Sierra come with a 6-way tailgate that makes it easy to get things—including yourself—in and out of the bed, and there are still corner steps. GMC offers up to a dozen moving mounts, LED lighting in the bed, and a 120-volt outlet to help the truck’s cause.

Although those beds are more voluminous than the competition, the Sierra 1500 crew cab excels inside by fitting five passengers in comfort. Manual 40/20/40 split front seats with armrests are standard, and all but the base model have rear underseat storage. Higher trim crew cabs have heated rear steering and multiple USB charging ports. A deep center console with a flat phone holder on top can transform the truck into a mobile office or family cabinet, along with compartmentalized door pockets, dual glove boxes and other clever storage spaces.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500’s equipment appeals to both the working man and the boss. The base model comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; two USB ports; 17-inch wheels; LED headlights, taillights and DRLs; electric windows and locks; and manually operated cloth seats. As a basic work truck with a regular cab and long 8-foot-2 box, the Sierra 1500 costs $31,695, including $1,695 destination. The most popular crew cab configuration with the short bed is about $6,000 more on the base model. The Elevation trim looks good with a black grill and 20-inch black wheels, and it adds a locking rear differential, trailer package, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual climate control, and a power driver’s seat for under $50,000.

The flagship of the GMC brand, the Denali trim with the largest 6.2-liter V8 costs just under $64,000. It has comfortable leather front buckets, adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels, blind spot, parking sensors, Bose audio, heated outer seats front and rear and cooled front seats. But even at this price, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control cost extra with the $1,045 Driver Alert Package II. Add that and some 22-inch wheels or a bed storage unit and it’s $70,000. Surprisingly, it’s not the most expensive light truck on sale right now.

The 2021 GMC Sierra offers an incredible array of configurations, powertrains, trims and options to choose from. On top of that, GMC offers an efficient turbodiesel engine, a trailer viewing system with more cameras than the federal reserve, a carbon fiber composite bed, and a flexible multifunction tailgate. With all the choices, it would be impossible not to find the perfect configuration to suit your needs and therefore deserves a trip for anyone looking for a full-size truck.

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