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2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD: New Car Review

The 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD returns virtually unchanged from last year’s truck, which sported a new Duramax turbodiesel V8, tremendously increasing Sierra’s hauling and towing capabilities.
Sierra walks that fine line between workhorse and everyday people hauler. A truck that can tackle those tough jobs that only a heavy-duty pickup can handle, it still provides passengers with a comfy, quiet environment. Its ride won’t jar the fillings out of your teeth and the handling is as good as any mainstream, big pickup. Inside, the cabin is well-appointed, featuring loads of standard features and connectivity like IntelliLink interface.

Breathing rarefied air, the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD has but two competitors outside of its Silverado cousin: the Ford F-250 and the Ram 2500. Unless a consumer is a die-hard GMC loyalist, some cross shopping is inevitable; but the Sierra 2500HD stands on its own. It does everything it should do and does it well. And the wildly popular Denali grade tosses in a bit of added luxury to boot.

What’s New for 2018?

Backup camera standard on all models with a cargo box and MyLink 7-inch radio system standard on all models.

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?


Fuel Economy

Drivers interested in a 2018 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 horsepower 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 out 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 ($40,195) that actually comes pretty well-equipped. Standard features include 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 backup camera, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a 6-speaker sound system. Also standard is a 7-inch IntelliLink touchscreen that brings with it Bluetooth and Pandora. You have a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery.

Available in option packages for the base Sierra are heated power outboard mirrors, remote keyless entry, remote locking tailgate, 110-volt power outlet, cargo-box lighting and trailering equipment.

Next up is the Sierra SLE ($47,890), which adds alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, keyless entry and a remote-locking tailgate, power windows, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD player, HD radio and an 8-in touchscreen.

Above the SLE is the upscale SLT ($51,695), which adds 18-in wheels, power-folding mirrors, heated 8-way power front seats, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

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.

Then there is the popular, range-topping Sierra Denali trim ($59,190). It adds unique styling elements plus 20-in wheels, spray-on bedliner, 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.


All Sierra 2500HD models boast side-curtain airbags, GM’s StabiliTrak electronic traction and stability control system, a tire pressure monitor, a backup camera and daytime running lights. Options include 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 accustomed 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

2018 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.

2018 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.

2018 Ford F-250 — The F-250 Super Duty was all-new for 2017, with a a stronger frame, more powerful engines, an upgraded cabin and more available features. With that update also came a wider variety of models and trim levels.

Autotrader’s Advice

We suspect anyone seriously considering the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 HD rather than its more affordable Chevy cousin wants a little more — and is willing to pay for it. In that spirit, we suggest swinging for the fences with the Sierra in Denali trim armed with the Duramax diesel. Not only will it give you bragging rights to the segment’s highest diesel-horsepower rating, but you’ll impress the daylights out of the gang at the country club.

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