If you’re looking for a full-size, heavy-duty, commercial-grade truck, there are only a few options on the market. These include the brawny RAM HD, the Ford F-Series Super Duty and the GM twins: the Chevrolet Silverado HD and the GMC Sierra HD. The GM trucks boast the latest and greatest in equipment and capabilities, because they’re the newest. Both were redesigned for the 2015 model year with an eye on improving interiors, adding features and enhancing capabilities.
On the outside, the new Sierra HD is largely similar to last year’s model. That’s not surprising, because a full-size, heavy-duty truck wouldn’t need to change dramatically from year to year. Its design is largely rooted in practicality and function, rather than in appearance and style. Still, there are a few noticeable updates, including new headlights, new front and rear bumper designs, new wheel styles, revised wheel arches and a general look that’s a little more squared off than last year’s appearance. In essence, the 2015 Sierra HD looks a little more muscular than its predecessor.
The Sierra HD makes more dramatic changes on the inside than on the outside. The dashboard design is completely fresh, touting a totally new look and new materials that look more appropriate in a commercial-grade pickup that can sometimes cost more than $60,000. There’s a new steering wheel, a new gauge cluster, redesigned switchgear and updates to just about every surface. While you may have trouble distinguishing last year’s Sierra from this year’s model on the outside, there’s no mistaking updates to the 2015 Sierra HD when you step inside the truck.
The Sierra HD is still offered in the same two versions as last year’s truck: a base-level 2500 model and an upgraded Sierra HD 3500, which boasts especially impressive capabilities and capacities. Engines for both trucks are carried over from 2014 to 2015. That means there’s a standard 6.0-liter V8 that makes 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, while an optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 produces 397 hp and an amazing 765 lb-ft of torque. Both trucks use 6-speed automatic transmissions specially designed for heavy-duty use.
As for capabilities, the latest Sierra boasts only minor increases compared to its already impressive predecessor. Tow ratings increase by 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, depending on the configuration, for instance, while payloads have also risen slightly. But generally speaking, these trucks still offer the same impressive numbers as they always have.
Features & Technology
Although the Sierra HD is a full-size truck that’s primarily designed for commercial applications, it’s surprisingly up to date when it comes to offering all the latest gear and equipment. In fact, the 2015 Sierra HD now boasts GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system along with a series of other features, including GM’s safety alert seat, a forward-collision warning system and lane departure warning. There’s also a new gauge cluster with an LCD screen and a backup camera that’s standard on everything but the base-level Sierra Work Truck.
If you’re used to the outgoing Sierra HD, don’t expect many changes in the 2015 model. Sure, the latest truck is more comfortable, offers a smoother ride and is a little more composed in corners, but we’re still talking about a heavy-duty truck. The formula is pretty well known, and little can be done to dramatically change the overall driving experience. Expect light steering, ponderous dimensions, mediocre acceleration and a king-of-the-road driving position.
In fact, the Sierra HD’s largest change for drivers comes to its interior. Although the truck’s driving experience remains highly similar to last year’s model, interior quality is so vastly improved that the truck boasts a dramatically more impressive experience from behind the wheel. Front and rear passengers will notice similar updates, even if they find the truck relatively similar in most other areas.
The Sierra HD is exempted from government crash tests due to its size. It also isn’t tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which focuses on more mainstream vehicles. But we wouldn’t worry too much about crash-test ratings. This is a big pickup that will likely come out ahead in most collisions.
As for safety features, we’re impressed with the latest Sierra HD’s equipment levels. In addition to last year’s items (standard front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes), the 2015 GMC Sierra HD touts such new options as GM’s safety alert seat, forward collision warning and lane departure warning. Few modern pickups offer as many safety gadgets and features as the Sierra HD.
Don’t buy the 2015 Sierra HD expecting major changes, because you won’t get them. Instead, this truck offers small but obvious improvements over its predecessor in the form of revised exterior styling, a new interior design, slightly improved capacities and some extra tech and safety features. Is it worth the additional price over last year’s model? That’s for you to decide, though we strongly suggest driving both the new model and the outgoing one before signing the papers.