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Used Car Review

2007-2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD Used Car Review

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author photo by Lee Ronson February 2013

The 2007-2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD is the 3/4 ton model. The 3500HD, which includes dually models with four rear tires, takes the 1-ton slot. The GMC Sierra 2500HD has a much stiffer frame and tougher mechanicals compared to 1500 series pickups. Visually, the 2500HD is identifiable by its wider and taller grille, brawnier fender flares, a power dome hood, work-glove-size door handles, big chrome bumpers, larger front recovery hooks, deeper cargo boxes and reinforced bed walls that can be configured with an optional cargo management system. The cab is bigger too, with greater legroom, headroom and hip-room, as well as increased fore/aft travel and recline angle on the front seats.

Why You Want It

The 2007-2013 Sierra 2500HD is a pickup with beefed-up mechanicals designed to go several hundred thousand miles with only simple, routine maintenance. It's a work tool that can handle big payloads (between 2,500 and 4,200 pounds, depending on the model) and can tow up to 13,000 pounds with a ball and hitch -- and up to 17,800 pounds with a fifth wheel. Even though it's made to do work, SLT and Denali versions are available kitted out with amenities, such as leather seating, touchscreen navigation, a Bose premium sound system and more. But the big appeal of the Sierra 2500HD is its no-nonsense, get-it-done features, right down to the optional Duramax diesel, heavy-duty Allison transmission, built-in trailer brake controller and available E-Z Lift torque-rod-assisted tailgate.

Notable Features and Options

The Sierra 2500HD is available as a 2-door Regular Cab that seats two to three passengers, a 5- to 6-passenger 4-door Extended Cab with wide-opening rear-hinged rear doors and a 5- to 6-passenger 4-door Crew Cab with conventional rear doors and 6 inches more rear legroom than the Extended Cabs. All can be equipped with 2-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). The Regular Cab comes exclusively with an 8-feet-long bed and the Extended and Crew Cabs can be equipped with either a 6-feet 6-inches standard box or the long box.

Trim choices include the basic Work Truck, mid-level SLE, well-equipped SLT and, from 2011 on, the top-line luxury Denali. Standard Work Truck items include vinyl/rubber flooring, 40/20/40 split front bench seat with armrest storage, dual glove boxes, A/C, tilt wheel, AM/FM stereo, folding side mirrors, rear step bumper, automatic head lamps, intermittent wipers, low-pressure tire warning, 8-lug steel wheels, 6.0-liter V8, 6-speed automatic with tow/haul mode and 4-wheel ABS discs with Hydroboost. The 4WD Work Trucks come with a floor-mounted range-control lever.

Moving up to SLE trim gains items such as keyless entry, cruise control, heated door mirrors, rear defroster, a CD player, fog lamps, security system, auto dim rearview mirror with compass and ambient temp display, power door locks, windows and mirrors and a choice between an upgrade to a cloth front bench or buckets with driver-side power.

Notching up to the SLT adds standard niceties such as a trailer hitch receiver, turn-signal indicator mirrors, automatic A/C, heated leather power front buckets with memory, a garage door opener, an upgraded audio system and aluminum wheels.

Introduced for 2011, the Denali trim is available on Crew Cabs only. In addition to all the items included on the SLT, it adds standard features such as adjustable pedals, ventilated front seats, a reverse sensing system, back-up camera, heated leather and wood steering wheel and a rear seat folding armrest.

Key options available on the 2500HD include a bed-mounted cargo management system with available dealer-installed accessories such as toolboxes, an integrated trailer brake controller, Ultrasonic rear park assist, rear seat entertainment, power adjustable pedals, tubular running boards, a soft tonneau for the bed and a foldable tubular aluminum bed extender. For 2007 and 2008, Sierra was available with a Hot Shot windshield washer system that heated the fluid to make the cleaning of dirty and icy windshields easier, but electrical issues led to a recall of the system. GM dropped it from the option list in the 2009 model year.

Model Milestones

2008: XM Satellite Radio becomes standard. CD player added to base radio. Regular Cab receives an optional power bench seat. B20 biodiesel can be used in some versions of the Duramax.

2009: Stability control becomes standard. OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation and destination download debuted. Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free calling is available. XM adds NavTraffic feature. Rearview camera is optional on Extended and Crew Cabs.

2010: Console-mounted USB port added.

2011: Denali model debuts. Duramax diesel output upped to 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque. New hill-start assist and smart Duramax exhaust brake offered. Independent front suspension redesigned to handle larger loads. Base tire upped to LT245/75R17.

2012: New chrome grille on SLE and SLT. Heated/cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and rearview camera are now standard on Denali. Cruise control and spare tire lock are now standard on Work Truck. Optional hard-drive navigation radio debuts with AM/FM/XM/CD/DVD/MP3/USB connectivity.

2013: Powertrain grade braking added in normal transmission mode with 6.0-liter V8. 6.0-liter Bi-fuel CNG V-8 is now available on 2500HD Extended Cab.

Engines and Performance

Both gas and diesel power are available. The standard Sierra 2500HD engine is a 6.0-liter gas V8 rated at 353 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque in 2007-2008 and 360 hp and 380 lb-ft for 2009-2013. This Chevy small-block V8 has variable valve timing for improved performance and efficiency. It's mated to a Hydramatic 6L90 6-speed automatic transmission with tap-up/tap-down gear selection on the column shifter. It also has a tow/haul mode which the driver can select for better flexibility and control of transmission shift points when dealing with heavy loads. For fleet use, GMC also offered a 6.0-liter V8 converted to run on CNG. The gas-thirsty big-block 8.1-liter V8 optional on 2006-and-earlier Sierra 2500HD models was dropped.

The big draw of the optional Duramax turbodiesel is its impressive torque at low rpm. The 6.6-liter Duramax is rated at 365 hp on 2007-2010 models and 397 hp from 2011-on, but the really impressive numbers are its rating of 660 lb-ft of torque on 2007-2010 models and big-rig-like 765 lb-ft on 2011-and-later 2500HD models. The Duramax produces this prodigious torque at just 1600 rpm, so it barely works up a sweat handling big loads. During their 2008 Truck of the Year testing, Motor Trend magazine achieved an 8.3-second 0-to-60 miles per hour time with a 6.6-liter Duramax V8 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab.

Beginning in 2011, a fluid aftertreatment system is used to reduce emissions. It requires several gallons of urea-based DEF fluid to be added periodically, usually in sync with recommended oil changes. Failure to keep enough DEF fluid in the system will result in the top speed being restricted until the fluid is replenished.

Adapted from school bus use, the well-respected heavy-duty Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission is mated with the Duramax turbodiesel.

Because Sierra 2500HD trucks have a gross vehicle weight rating over 8,500 pounds, they are exempt from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing and therefore no fuel economy estimates are available.

Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following safety recalls on the 2007-2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD:

2007-2009: On trucks equipped with the optional heated windshield washer system, a short circuit may overheat the washer system's circuit board and result in a fire. The fix is for the dealer to install an in-line fuse.

2011: Intermediate steering shaft bolts may loosen, leading to a loss of steering control. The dealer is to inspect and tighten bolts.

2013: The interlock device between the steering column and transmission may be faulty. Ignition could be turned off without transmission being put in Park position, allowing the vehicle to roll away and crash. The dealer is to inspect and replace faulty steering columns.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did not rate the crash performance of the 2007-2013 Sierra 2500HD. The NHTSA did only partial tests, giving the 2011-2013 2500HD a 3-star rollover rating (out of five stars) and the 2013 2500HD 2WD Regular Cab two stars each for driver frontal impact, passenger frontal impact and side impact performance.

The 2007-2013 Sierra 2500HD pickups receive a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage, the latter with roadside assistance. The corrosion warranty covers body perforation for 6 years or 100,000 miles.

GMC Certified Used Trucks can be no more than five years old and must have less than 75,000 miles to qualify. Each goes through a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that's in addition to whatever is left on the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage, plus a new 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan. Roadside assistance is included as well.

Word On the Web

CarComplaints.com lists a few complaints on 2011 models with the Duramax turbodiesel pertaining to erroneous warnings that the diesel exhaust fluid tank is empty when it is still full, which then restricts the top speed. Fixing this requires a trip to the dealer to reset the DEF system computer.

Pickuptrucks.com gave the 2007-2013 Sierra 2500HD good marks for Duramax diesel performance, the Allison 6-speed automatic, integrated brake controller, large towing mirrors and 4WD independent front suspension. However, they didn't like that the base 6.0-liter V8 wasn't E85-capable and rear bucket seats weren't offered in the top-of-the-line Denali.

MotorTrend.com tested a 2008 Sierra 2500HD with the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel. They lauded the truck's Allison 6-speed automatic for its seamless shifts and gave kudos for the truck's overall distinctive looks and interior quality. But they considered the 171-feet stopping performance from 60 mph to be sub-par.

Competitive Set

Full-size heavy-duty pickup buyers are some of the most loyal around. Unless someone has a bad ownership experience, most buyers find a brand they like and stick with it. By a wide margin, the Ford Super Duty is the best selling heavy-duty pickup, the only HD pickup to offer a V10 gas engine and has the most interior trim combinations, such as the King Ranch and Harley Davidson models. The Super Duty's only black mark is the 2003-2007 6.0-liter Powerstroke diesel (built by Navistar), which is known to have issues with white smoke and is the subject of a class-action lawsuit. The Dodge RAM 2500 Heavy Duty also has enticing interior design as well as the legendary Hemi gas V8 and big-rig-proven Cummins turbodiesel, but unlike its smooth-riding 1500 version with coil springs, the ride quality of the 2500 is on the rough side.

AutoTrader Recommendations

When shopping for a used Sierra 2500HD, don't be put off by odometer readings in excess of 100,000 miles. These generally are work trucks that get a lot of use. With proper maintenance, a Sierra 2500HD should have a service life in excess of 200,000 miles. Those equipped with the fuel-thrifty Duramax diesel are desirable but harder to find because fewer were sold originally. More numerous are Crew Cabs with the 6.0-liter gas V8. You'd be wise to steer clear of customized trucks with lift kits and especially ones with oversized aftermarket wheels, as the trucks were not designed to use these. Keep in mind that this truck's step-in height is more than two feet off the ground, so running boards may be a good idea if the principal driver is vertically challenged.

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.
2007-2013 GMC Sierra 2500HD Used Car Review - Autotrader