The Heavy-Duty GMC Sierra 2500HD Pickup Truck

The Sierra 2500HD may be the ideal work truck for your crew.


2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD

Customers have a choice of powerful gas or turbodiesel engines with the GMC Sierra 2500HD.


There are not many types of vehicles that are truly multipurpose, even as some manufacturers make that claim. Pickup trucks, though, can handle a variety of tasks as they’re useful for contractors, great for toting the family, helpful for retrieving lumber or bringing home yard sale finds, and ideal for pulling a camper, trailer, or a boat.

Full-size trucks have greater capabilities, and in heavy-duty form, these models seem almost unstoppable. The 2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD gets the job done, although we concede it may be too much truck for some shoppers.

New for 2021

One year removed from its latest overhaul, the 2021 Sierra 2500HD is essentially unchanged.


2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD Profile


Model Highlights

Large pickup trucks intimidate some people by sheer size alone. For some reason, manufacturers amplify the heavy-duty versions of these models with front fascias that are downright scary. GMC takes a somewhat calmer approach than its Chevrolet Silverado cousin, but it still has an extraordinarily large grille that occupies most of the front end. Everything seems exaggerated in size, including the headlamps, fog lamps, accent lights, and cutouts. A hood intake completes the look, a useful way to keep hard-working engines cool.

Along the profile and to the rear, the look is almost universal with slab sides, large wheel wells, and a high beltline. If you’re small, opt for the available side steps, as these are useful for entering and exiting the cabin. I’m 6-feet and was glad for the additional support.

All models except for the base trim include a nifty MultiPro Tailgate. This one features an inner and outer tailgate that makes it easier to get into the truck bed or serve as an extended load stop, or work area. Keep in mind, though, that the tailgate can hit an installed ball hitch, damaging both. Removing the ball, which is no simple task, will eliminate that possibility.

Inside, the cabin is spacious across all three sizes. The Crew Cab is the bestseller and was also the model we tested. Five adults can sit in comfort or six by swapping out the front seats with a bench seat. This Sierra has more storage compartments than anyone might need, with enough space and connections to serve as an office on wheels.

GMC offers cloth or leather seating choices and a mostly utilitarian look. In this regard, GMC trails Ram and Ford as the competing brands offer higher quality materials and a better design for a refined feel. Chances are, though, that the engine offerings, the choice of 6-foot-8-inch or 8-foot beds, and this model’s overall prowess will clinch the decision for some.


2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD front seats
2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD rear seats


Safety and Tech

Until recently, few pickup trucks offered much in the way of driver-assist technology. A few years ago, Toyota began to change that and the industry followed suit.

Among the available features are automatic high beams, front and rear parking assist, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, a safety alert seat, forward collision alert, a high-definition surround vision system, and a rear camera mirror and bed view camera. The bed camera is amazing as it converts the rearview mirror into a digital display. No passengers or pillars to get in the way of the driver’s vision.

GMC supplies the 2500HD with an 8-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, two or more USB ports, and an audio package. Among the available features are wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto smartphone integration, Amazon Alexa, and wireless phone charging. Any feature that drops the cord is a crowd-pleaser. Shoppers may also upgrade to a Bose audio system, navigation, and the truck bed camera system.


2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD Profile


Sierra 2500HD Performance

A massive truck requires large V8 engines and this GMC has them. Both engines displace 6.6 liters. The first one is a gas engine with 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. Power routes to the wheels utilizing a 6-speed automatic transmission. Most trims offer standard rear-wheel drive and available four-wheel drive.

The second engine is a turbo-diesel with 450 horsepower and a whopping 910 pound-feet of torque. This one works with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The diesel is the engine of choice for people pulling large trailers. With fifth-wheel or gooseneck towing, the 2500HD can pull up to 35,000 pounds. Chances are you will not need that much power to incur the near $10,000 upgrade for this option.

In either form, the big V8s get the job done. Indeed, not only is the 2500HD huge, but it is heavy, weighing just under four tons in some configurations. Fortunately, the engines are well matched and offer steady off-the-mark acceleration and superb passing power, the latter especially noticeable with the diesel. Handling is light to the touch and the ride is comfortable. But it is a chore to maneuver this truck, especially when pulling anything.

Our Recommendation

If the Sierra 2500HD is more than you need, the Sierra 1500 may prove more manageable and affordable. One of our favorites, though, is the midsize GMC Canyon, which is closer in size to the GMC C/K models we remember from the 1960s and 1970s. Regardless of your choice, pickup trucks come with significant discounts, therefore shop around for the best deal.


2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD tailgate


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Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

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