Overview & Reviews
Next time you hear someone refer to the "Sierra Nevada Mountains," please direct them to your state's Department of Redundancy Department. The folks at DORD will immediately inform them that Sierra is, in fact, Spanish for mountains -- it's no different from saying Rio Grande River, ATM Machine or Los Angeles Angels.
Thankfully, the GMC Sierra 3500 made plenty of sense as a heavy-duty pickup. As a near-identical twin to the Chevy Silverado, the Sierra 3500 was a sturdy workhorse thanks to upgrades over the regular 1500 model such as a more rugged frame, a stiffened suspension, more powerful engine choices and the availability of dual rear wheels. Although it certainly could have benefited from better interior materials, the GMC Sierra 3500's reputation for durability and tremendous hauling and towing capabilities made it a long-running favorite.
When GMC redesigned the Sierra 3500 for 2007, it changed the truck's name slightly to "3500HD". Information about that truck can be found here.
Used GMC Sierra 3500 Models
The last Sierra 3500 was sold from 2001-'06. GMC further extended the model's life by one year by calling it the 3500 Classic for 2007. Changes to this truck were minimal during its production run. Updates were made to exterior styling and the interior for 2003, with further exterior tweaks for 2005. These trucks initially came in SL, SLE and SLT trim levels, with the Work Truck added for 2004. That latter year also saw a regular rear axle become available to supplement the dual rear-wheel setup.
The standard engine was a 6.0-liter V8 that made 300 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. There were two optional engines: an 8.1-liter gasoline V8 producing 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque and a 6.6-liter turbodiesel producing 300 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. This diesel was upgraded for 2006 with more power and refinement and fewer emissions -- it made 360 hp and a whopping 650 lb-ft of torque. These engines carried over for the 2007 Classic. A five-speed manual transmission was standard with the 6.0-liter V8, with a four-speed automatic optional. The 8.1-liter V8 and turbodiesel engines came with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. (It became a six-speed for 2006.)
In reviews of the GMC Sierra 3500, we were always impressed by the truck's powerful engine lineup and substantial towing and hauling abilities. It was a reasonably comfortable truck for everyday use, but don't expect the plush ride of its light-duty siblings. Any of the three available engines will provide swift acceleration (for a full-size 1-ton truck, that is) and ample towing power, but the diesel V8 is probably the best choice for those who tow heavy loads -- especially the more powerful 2006 Duramax. Our principal beef with the Sierra 3500 concerned the shoddy interior design, materials and build quality. GMC improved it gradually during its lifespan, but it was never quite up to snuff.
The previous-generation GMC Sierra 3500 heavy-duty pickup ran from 1988-'98 with a significant refresh for 1995. It was known as the Sierra 3500 Classic for 1999 and 2000. This 1-ton Sierra was powered by a series of V8 engines (including a diesel option), with enhancements made in 1994. New gasoline "Vortec" engines debuted for 1996, including a 7.4-liter V8 capable of 410 lb-ft of torque. The 6.5-liter turbodiesel was upgraded for 1998. Strengths of these trucks include strong, durable powertrains, while weaknesses center on sketchy build quality and materials within the cabin.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 32.00
I will never own a GMC product again - 2004 GMC Sierra 3500
By mikep16 - October 6 - 10:24 am
From the Dealer using my truck to tow the owners horse trailer and adding 100 miles to it...to the more than $3000 I had to put into the electrical within 3 months-to the instrument panel stopping to work (speedo, then oil pressure, then battery-which comes and goes) $900 fix it so I just use a GPS for my speedo-to the rattle in the steering because of design issue always going out....to the electric seat positioning clicking 7-8 times before settling into place-to now the heater/AC blower stopped working and a cost of $750 to fix it at PEP Boys. Thanks to youtube the heater fix will only cost me $150 in parts. (my friend just had the same thing happen to his Tahoe and had to pay $750.
Shoulda kept my FORD - 2003 GMC Sierra 3500
By Bob Sutliff - February 13 - 2:00 am
Truck looks great! Fuel mileage (non towing) is not bad for a ton dually at 13 mpg. Towing is another story. Six (6) miles per gallon is the average for this 6.0L engine. Tow mileage is terrible and the truck is at its maximum performance on the interstate at 70mph. It absolutely has no power left.
Duramax Power - 2004 GMC Sierra 3500
By BigIron - October 17 - 10:00 am
I haul a 11'6" Lance Legend camper and pull a 8'x12' trailer with it loaded with ATV's and a motorcycle and the truck does all I want it to. I traded a Powerstroke in and I am pleased that I did. It's quite and rides and handles a lot better then my old Ford. I am getting around 12mpg at freeway speeds with this load.
A Real Truck - 2002 GMC Sierra 3500
By TOW MAN - July 27 - 10:00 am
This vehicle has surpassed all our expectations (except for the dealer who is mediocre). The cabin noise level is lower than most of the cars that I have owned in the last 15 years. Build quality is improved over the 95 GMC that I owned. I tow 10 to 13K pound loads on a daily basis. Hauling horses I routinely discuss trucks with other guys at horse events. I find that I can out haul them, get slightly better gas mileage and the TRUCK IS IN THE SHOP less than my Ford F350 friends (one of whom has sold his to buy a Chevy 3500). If you are looking for a real work rig, this is it.
2005 GMC 3500 SLT DRW - 2005 GMC Sierra 3500
By DREW - January 13 - 1:16 am
The comfort and drivabilty beats the Ford 350. I had an '01 F350 which was a great truck, but had some reliabilty problems and the brakes were not up to the task. The GMC is much better overall with towing and the interior is more car like. My biggest complaint about the truck is the gray steel rims with cheap trim rings. For over $40K the truck should be outfitted with Ford/Dodge similar rims. I almost went for the Ford again because of this.
The Haul Myster - 2002 GMC Sierra 3500
By Walking horse - December 26 - 10:00 am
We upgraded to a heaveier tow vechile. We have a horse ranch and haul 12,000 to 15,000# trailers. If you want a SERIOUS tow vehicle, this is it. Neither Ford nor Dodge can touch it. It is also eztremely quite, but due to the towing capacity a little hard riding. Build quality is great, especially considering this is a TRUCK
Great Truck - 2003 GMC Sierra 3500
By tdorsett_1 - December 2 - 2:00 am
Hauling hay and horses has never been so easy, power to spare, better on fuel mileage that I would have though. Pulling a small 2-horse slant load trailer with two 1200 lb. horses or a twenty-foot trailer loaded with three round bails of hay, I get an average of 18 miles per gallon. Without pulling, I get between 21 and 25 miles per Gallon. (Highway)
WHAT CAN YOU SAY....? - 2003 GMC Sierra 3500
By Big Money - October 21 - 2:00 am
Extremely Satisfied with Fllet Manager Diane Ford, Ironic working for GM with that Name. Excellent Truck! 230K MILES On the Last One and going for 430k On the Duramax/Allison Combonation.
2004 3500 Duramax 6.6 SLT DRW Crew Cab - 2004 GMC Sierra 3500
By Pilot - April 9 - 9:00 am
I've had this truck for almost 4 years, and I have nothing but good to say. I have a 37' 5th wheel, which when loaded is right at 16300 lbs and it pulls it great. Now I'm not going to tell you that I don't know the 5th wheel is back there, but this truck is a joy to drive while pulling. She'll be paid for in a couple of months, and I plan to keep her for a long time.
the worst truck ever made - 2002 GMC Sierra 3500
By pdiddy - April 7 - 10:00 am
just doesn't stack up to the ford at all