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2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The 2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD may look the same as last year's truck, but there's something new brewing under the hood. Packing a mighty 910 lb-ft. of torque and a class-leading 445 horsepower, the heavy-duty Sierra's optional Duramax turbodiesel V8 is all-new and better able to tackle whatever serious towing and hauling tasks you have in store for it. Besides its heftier output specs, there's also a more robust cooling system -- including a new, subtle hood scoop -- and an improved exhaust brake.

Beyond its enhanced towing capability, the Sierra continues to provide truck buyers with an appealing blend of attributes. Its ride is very good for a heavy-duty truck, its handling is reasonably precise and the cabin remains notably quiet. Its styling, especially on the popular Denali trim level, is just flashy enough without being gaudy. The spacious cabin offers a similar aesthetic, with quality materials, abundant feature content and a no-nonsense design anchored by the user-friendly IntelliLink touchscreen interface. As a work truck or a luxury family toy-hauler, it gets the job done.

Now, with only two competitors -- the Ford F-250 and RAM 2500 -- and one near twin -- the Chevrolet Silverado -- it definitely makes sense to do some cross shopping. However, the Sierra 2500HD does so many things well that it's easy to recommend.

 What's New for 2017?

The Sierra HD gets a new turbodiesel engine for 2017 boasting 445 hp and a stump-pulling 910 lb-ft. of torque. That's up from 397 hp and 765 lb-ft., respectively. There's also new cooling system to maintain that power under extreme loads and temperatures. Another noteworthy change is the new All Terrain X off-road model that adds special shocks, tires and styling elements.

 What We Like

Can tow and haul just about anything; muscular engines; user-friendly technology; multiple towing cameras; classy Denali model

 What We Don't

Technically lower maximum tow capacity than Ford and RAM trucks

 How Much?

$34,700-$55,800

 Fuel Economy

Drivers interested in a 2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD can choose between two different engines, both mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard is a 6.0-liter V8 that produces a capable enough 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the optional 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 that pumps our 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacities aren't significantly higher with the diesel, but believe us, all that extra torque makes a serious difference.

Due to the Sierra's size, the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't provide official fuel ratings for the truck, but we expect it will return something in the neighborhood of 15 miles per gallon for combined city and highway driving.

 Standard Features & Options

The GMC Sierra HD comes in a wide variety of trim levels and body styles. In addition to choosing an engine, drivers can pick between regular cab, extended cab and crew cab. Drivers can also choose from regular or long beds and 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. There are base Sierra, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels.

As for trim levels, the Sierra starts with a base model simply called the Sierra ($34,200) that actually comes pretty well equipped. Standard features includes 17-in steel wheels, xenon headlights, LED running/accent lights, power locks, manual windows, cruise control, a front beach seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and either a 4- or 6-speaker sound system depending on whether you get a regular cab or a 4-door model. You also have a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery. To the base model you can specify the 7-in IntelliLink touchscreen that brings with it Bluetooth, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, OnStar and 4G LTE Wi-Fi.

Next up is the Sierra SLE ($39,800), which adds the above tech items along with alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, keyless entry and a remote-locking tailgate, a backup camera, power windows, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD player, HD radio and an 8-in touchscreen.

Above the SLE is the upscale SLT ($47,000), which adds 18-in wheels, power-folding mirrors, heated 8-way power front seats, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and remote ignition.

To the SLT, you can add the All-Terrain HD package. Available only as a crew cab, it adds all-terrain tires, an off-road suspension, underbody protection, side steps, a spray-in bedliner, body-colored bumper trim, parking sensors and a heated steering wheel. The All-Terrain X HD package builds on that with special blacked-out trim, 18-in black wheels, upgraded off-road tires, power-folding tow mirrors, and a sport bar over the bed that includes LED lights.

And there is the popular, range-topping Sierra Denali trim ($55,600). It adds unique styling elements plus 20-in wheels, side steps, a power-sliding rear window, parking sensors, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, wireless smartphone charging and a Bose sound system.

In terms of options, the Sierra 2500HD offers quite a few, including upper trim level features being available on lower trims. In addition to the Duramax turbodiesel engine, Sierra buyers can also opt for a heavy-duty trailer package and high-tech safety gadgets that range from a forward-collision alert system to a lane-departure warning system that vibrates the driver's seat when the pickup drifts from its lane.

 Safety

All Sierra 2500HD models boast side-curtain airbags, GM's StabiliTrak electronic traction and stability control system, a tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights. Options include a backup camera, a forward-collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, parking sensors and a variety of cameras intended to help you hitch a trailer and keep it in your lane.

In federal government crash-test ratings, all Sierra 2500HD cab styles received 4-star overall and front crash ratings, along with a 5-star side rating.

 Behind the Wheel

If you're used to piloting a full-size pickup truck, you won't find any big surprises when you climb inside the 2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD. Expect light steering, a high seating position and huge dimensions that don't make the truck very friendly to drive in the city. With that said, we're especially impressed by one particular aspect of the Sierra: its ride. Although it's still not as smooth as the RAM and its coil-spring rear suspension, it doesn't punish you over bumps or jostle you about as past heavy-duty trucks would. This is even the case when the bed and hitch are unused.

When it comes to engines, the new 6.6-liter turbodiesel is your best choice if you have serious towing and hauling needs -- and isn't that a given in the heavy-duty segment? Its mammoth 910 lb-ft of torque will pull, pull and keep on pulling no matter what you throw at it. It also benefits from a smart 6-speed transmission, extra cooling for extreme situations and a standard exhaust brake that takes stress off the brakes. When towing, we also appreciate the multiple cameras that help you hitch up a trailer as well as help keep an eye on its sides once under way.

Inside, the Sierra's cabin design is a little more functional than its competitors, especially when comparing the popular, range-topping Denali trim to other high-dollar heavy-duty trucks. To some, that should actually be a good thing. We certainly appreciate its no-nonsense functionality, especially in terms of its user-friendly IntelliLink touchscreen controls. Climbing into the back, you will find abundant room for the family and there are plenty of creature comforts available to keep everyone comfortable and entertained.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD -- The Silverado 2500HD is mechanically identical to the Sierra. Although the Chevy doesn't offer the upscale Denali trim, you might be able to get a better deal on the Silverado than the Sierra. We suggest checking out both models.

2017 RAM 2500 -- The heavy-duty RAM boasts some unique features, such as self-leveling suspension and a manual transmission. There's also no denying that its 6.7-liter engine is among the best in the business. However, the Sierra offers far more equipment than the RAM and a newer cabin.

2017 Ford F-250 -- The F-250 Super Duty is all-new for 2017. It gets a stronger frame, more powerful engines, an upgraded cabin and more available features. It's also available in a wider variety of models and trim levels.

 Autotrader's Advice

Since it's the volume-selling model, you should definitely be happy with the Denali model paired with the Duramax diesel engine. It gets the job done and pampers you in the process. If the Denali's a little rich for your blood, at least pony up for the Duramax given its substantial advantages over the standard gas V8.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD: New Car Review - Autotrader