Overview & Reviews
The pickup truck has long been a mainstay of American byways and highways, and GMC has been there from day one. Originally used and respected by farmers, construction workers and small-business owners, GMC's hauler was a basic workhorse known for its reliability and longevity. More recent times have seen GMC's full-size truck adopt the name Sierra. And thanks to a variety of body styles, powertrains and trim levels, the Sierra is as adept at serving as the weekday family car as it is at transporting home-improvement supplies or towing a boat on the weekends.
Older versions of the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup have been praised for their strong work ethic, but soundly criticized for their bland, cheap cabins. With the newer generations, however, fit and finish is notably better. Of course, there are other choices in the full-size pickup truck market, but the Sierra 1500 remains a solid pick no matter what the intended use.
Current GMC Sierra 1500
Redesigned for 2014, the latest GMC Sierra 1500 is both trimmer and stronger than before. The V6-powered regular cab truck, for example, is about 250 pounds lighter this year while the engine lineup, particularly the V6, benefits from higher output and efficiency. Other changes for the new Sierra 1500 include revised suspension tuning for a smoother ride, forward-hinged rear doors on extended cab models and newly available safety features.
This full-size pickup is offered in regular cab, extended (double) cab and crew cab body styles with various bed lengths. Trim levels consist of base, well-equipped SLE, luxurious SLT and off-road-oriented Z71, and there is a choice of either two- or four-wheel drive.
All but the SLT come standard with a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque, enough muscle to tow up to 7,200 pounds. The 5.3-liter V8 (standard on the SLT and optional on other Sierras) makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The new V6 is vastly superior to the old V6, not only in terms of power and performance but also refinement. Of course, the 5.3-liter V8 delivers strong acceleration as long as you're not shy about laying onto the gas pedal when needed -- it has a rather lazy response otherwise. The six-speed automatic provides smooth and timely shifts and the Sierra 1500's towing performance is commendable.
Overall ride and handling dynamics are solid, as the GMC Sierra 1500 feels robust structurally, yet compliant and comfortable over broken pavement. Models fitted with the Max Trailering package, however, have a noticeably stiffer ride that can grow tiresome. The newest Sierra is also very quiet, even at higher freeway speeds. On serpentine roads, the GMC goes around turns in a confident manner and its steering is well-weighted. Off road, the Sierra similarly feels composed.
Used GMC Sierra 1500 Models
The previous-generation GMC Sierra 1500 was produced from 2007 through 2013. There were three body styles (regular, extended and crew cabs), and trim levels ranged from no-frills "Work Truck" to ultra-plush Denali.
Powertrain choices through these years encompassed everything from an anemic 4.3-liter 195-hp V6 to a muscular 6.2-liter V8 with 403 hp. Most Sierras, however, were fitted with either a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8 or a 315-hp 5.3-liter V8. A four-speed automatic was initially standard across the board except on the Denali's 6.2-liter V8, which came with a six-speed unit. Eventually, the six-speed was fitted to the 5.3-liter V8 as well. Either rear- or four-wheel drive could be specified.
Calling cards of this GMC Sierra 1500 include strong performance, a refined and quiet ride (even with the heavy-duty towing package) and a comfortable, sensible cabin. The Denali was certainly plush, though it still didn't have the same space or high-end ambience of its Ford and Ram top-of-the-line rivals. Other potential downsides included minor ergonomic missteps and the hesitant downshifts of the four-speed automatic transmission. We had no such gripe with the excellent six-speed automatic, however, thanks to its smooth and on-point performance.
Potential buyers should be aware of the significant changes made throughout the years. For 2009, the Denali's 6.2-liter, 403-hp V8 with its excellent six-speed automatic became optional on select other trims. That year also saw the debut of Bluetooth, a back-up camera option that didn't require the optional navigation system, and the "XFE" (extra fuel economy) package for the crew cab. The following year, 2010, saw the 5.3-liter V8 get the six-speed transmission and variable valve timing, which both improved fuel economy slightly. The 6.0-liter V8 (367 hp and 375 lb-ft) that had been offered since 2007 was dropped that year while side curtain airbags, front seat side airbags and stability control all became standard across the board. Lastly, USB connectivity (standard on Denali) became optional on the SLE and SLT. For 2012, the navigation system was updated (now hard-drive-based) and trailer sway control joined the safety features list.
Before this was the popular 1999-2006 generation of the Sierra. Underneath the conservatively handsome styling, a family of new V8s debuted, ranging in size from 4.8 to 6.0 liters. They offered output ranging from 255 hp with the smallest 4.8-liter, to 345 hp from the high-output 6.0-liter V8 in the Sierra Denali. A base V6 was also available, but as expected, most Sierras came fitted with one of the V8s. A unique four-wheel-steering option (called QuadraSteer), debuted about midway through this generation and cut the truck's turning circle down significantly to 37.4 feet -- around 10 feet less than a typical full-size pickup – making U-turns and maneuvering in tight spots much easier . Unfortunately, QuadraSteer was discontinued for 2006 due to a low take rate, as buyers were put off by the high cost of this option.
Consumers more interested in function than flash should be happy with a half-ton Sierra from this era. The truck offered plenty of performance and work capacity, but was hampered by a dated cabin design fraught with cheap materials and below-average fit and finish.
The previous generation of GMC Sierra 1500 pickups ran from 1988-'98. Standard cab and extended cab body styles were offered, as was a crew cab, though the latter was actually from the previous 1981-'87 generation. Although six-cylinder and diesel V8s were offered, chances are strong that most GMC trucks from these years will have either a 5.0- or 5.7-liter V8 mated to a four-speed automatic. In keeping with tradition, one could choose either rear-wheel drive (indicated by a "C", e.g. "C1500") or four-wheel drive (indicated by a "K"). Trim levels for these C/K1500 trucks include the bare-bones Special, base SL, midlevel SLE and top-line SLT. Strengths of these trucks include powerful, durable powertrains, while weaknesses center on sketchy build quality and subpar materials within the cabin.
For more information on older GMC pickups, go to our GMC Sierra 1500 history page.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 787.00
Loyal Customer - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500
By Acme - December 27 - 9:00 pm
Bravo! GMC has finally done it. What a truck. After owning over 30 GM trucks in the last 25 years I decided in 2001 that my next truck would be a Ford. Thought I would try one. After checking for recalls on the Sierra and the 150 I was very sceptical about the Ford. Drove them both. No contest. Boy trucks have really changed in the last few years. The improvements and appointments of this truck are far to numerous to itemize here. GMC has redefined the term, "Base Truck". This is the first truck I have ever owned that I was 100% pleased with. It is a good value, fair price, great truck. Ford is way behind this truck, Dodge is a joke. Bravo GMC!
best yet - 2004 GMC Sierra 1500
By underpressureinc - December 20 - 7:40 pm
I bought this truck brand new, actually bought a toyota first but found the mileage and power to lacking for the needs I had. this truck filled the bill alright, she has towed a trailer almost everyday and has been used as a working route truck.I have had not one problem with this truck even the tires have lasted longer than expected for stock run of the mill general tires. I love this truck but its time to move on to a new work truck I think I will do it all over with another short box gmc 1500 ! what a great investment this was for our co.
Nice!!! - 2004 GMC Sierra 1500
By justa25thta - December 18 - 10:00 am
Although I have had the truck less than a week, it is really nice. Nice ride, looks great, gas mileage is already improving (should be about 16 mpg for the first tank and should get better). Big enough for the whole family and groceries in the back. It was this truck or a SUV, like the truck much better. Drove the Ford SuperCrew (Nice interior materials!) and the Nissan Titan. They are both nice, but the GMC had $6000 in rebates! That sealed the deal. Real glad I went with the GM!
Great Truck - 2003 GMC Sierra 1500
By CJB - December 15 - 12:06 am
I bought the truck new in 2003.I needed something for the snow and thought I would try a GMC for once.There have been no problems with the truck until the 4WD module went out at 55k miles.The truck seems to dance around in the rear end in the snow abit.havent had any problems to speak of until 85k miles when the left front hub bearing went out. Tires lasted until 68k miles and still have the original battery in it.The front/rear brakes still have 50% left and should be good until 150k miles.The interior is still solid and everything still works like the day I bought it.
Amazing - 1999 GMC Sierra 1500
By 4eyedfenix - December 2 - 7:16 pm
I got my truck for work. Was going to get it or a Ford. Glad I got this one. More than enough power to get my oversized tires to start spinning. I've pulled my father's 9000 lb boat without any struggle, I would recomend this truck to anyone, it out pulls and performs anything on the road
2004 GMC Sierra 4.8 V8 - 2004 GMC Sierra 1500
By Roger - November 26 - 10:00 am
I purchased this vehicle used. It now has nearly 155,000 miles on it needing a little TLC and routine maintenance. It has needed little things like tune up, brakes, fluids changed, shocks and tires. This truck has exceeded all of my expectations for a higher mileage vehicle. It does not leak fluids or use and oil. I plan to put another 50K on it before even considering purchasing another truck. I have two friend that also own 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 with over 200+K miles on each. They both run very well needing only routine maintenance.
A few items - 2008 GMC Sierra 1500
By John - November 23 - 2:53 am
Active fuel management is a little disappointing. I thought I would get higher gas mileage. I get higher gas mileage with my 2001 5.3l GMC. It could be GMC's choice of tires. I do like the truck's ride and interior comfort. The cup holder and glove box need work. The owners manual barely even fits in the glove box. All in all it is an 8.
GMC Mistake - 2009 GMC Sierra 1500
By Dave - November 22 - 5:23 am
I wish I had never bought this truck. The brakes are noisy, keep having Cruise control malfunctions, heater only works driving down the road, heater even quits going around a corner. Back seat is a nuisance compared to the 05 gmc I had before. Fuel mileage stinks. I wish they had offered the buy back in 60 days when I purchased this one. Won't buy another one.
Top Truck - 2003 GMC Sierra 1500
By Chazz - November 19 - 8:46 am
When I first purchased this truck I thought it was the smothest riding and best handling 4x4 I had ever driven. (Wife has purchased a Yukon 4x4 and it is even smoother riding) It has spent a good deal of time off road. I do not get rough or overly abusive, mostly steep hills, sand, mud under 6-8 inches and a little rock crawling. If yours does not have the locking rear differential it is worth the money. I am sure it has saved me more in tow services than it costs to have installed. I have not had any serious mechanical failures, I did have a u- joint start chirping on me after a week in the hills of western South Dakota. The truck has about 50,000 miles on it and gets serviced regularly.
We love it - 2004 GMC Sierra 1500
By Loretta Bradley - November 16 - 2:00 am
My husband & I have really enjoyed this GMC pick up. I like the extended cab & the extra doors for convenience of accessing the back seat. The dual heat/air control is especially convenient for my husband & I. I love the way the truck handles on the road, the smooth ride & the comfort of the front bucket seats (although I wish the passenger side reclined more for snoozes on long trips. We are SPOILED for regular am/fm radio now that we have XM Radio in the truck! Just generally LOVE this truck (have had it for about 5 or 6 weeks now & already took it on a 1000 miles round trip).