Full-Size Trucking with a 2021 GMC Sierra

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 front fascia
The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 CarboPro Edition.

The GMC brand may live in the shadow of Chevrolet Trucks, but it has long appealed to customers who prefer its premium amenities. Founded in 1911, the brand once built a line of city buses, including the one which Rosa Parks famously took in 1955 and refused to surrender her seat.

Today’s GMC no longer builds the buses, military vehicles, and trucks that once largely defined the brand. Instead, the company now focuses almost exclusively on consumer and commercial accounts, with a line of pickup trucks, vans, and utility vehicles that are typically sold next to Buick-branded models. Its largest models are the Sierra pickups and the Yukon family of utility vehicles.

Our most recent GMC test subject was the 2021 Sierra 1500. This full-size model is available in Regular, Double, and Crew Cab configurations. Up to six trims are available with standard two-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive on tap. GMC prices the Sierra from about $32,000, with fully optioned Denali trim versions topping $75,000. Most customers, though, will find one for around $50,000 and perhaps somewhat less when discounts are taken.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 profile

Sierra Highlights

Most Sierra models sold are Crew Cabs. These come with four full-size doors and ample room for five or six individuals. The Sierra’s exterior features a bold front fascia. Denali models are highlighted with chrome, while AT4 trims feature blacked-out touches, red tow hooks, and a two-inch lift. The Sierra’s long profile features a stepped-up look when equipped with four-wheel drive. Choose the deployable running boards if you are short in stature and need a boost.

You won’t find a roomier cabin with any other vehicle outside of a Crew Cab. Along with the Yukon utility vehicle, these are the favorite of tall folk everywhere, thanks to thick and supportive front seats and excellent rear-seat legroom. Cloth seats are standard, leather upholstery is available. Further, ample storage compartments, including dual glove boxes and a cavernous center console, are featured. The options list offers heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control.

The Crew Cab has the shortest bed, this one measuring 5-feet, 8-inches. A standard bed measuring 6-feet, 6-inches is available and also comes with the Double Cab. Only the Regular Cab has an 8-foot bed.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 dashboard

Safety & Tech

The Sierra offers a long list of safety features, although most are only available through special packages or trim upgrades. These features comprise lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and lane change alert. Optionally, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control can be had. The upgrades list includes front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Finally, a head-up display, surround-view camera system, a rear camera mirror, and a safety alert seat close out what’s available.

On the tech front, a 7-inch touch-screen display is standard, although most models have an 8-inch color display. Bluetooth, satellite radio, smartphone compatibility, and two USB ports are included. Some trims feature a six-speaker audio system with a Bose package available. Wireless charging, additional USB ports, two 120-volt outlets, and navigation are on the upgrades roster.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 cabin

GMC Sierra Performance

The domestic pickup truck manufacturers offer multiple powertrain (engine and transmission) choices, whereas the competing Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra supply just one. Credit huge demand for these kinds of vehicles and from customers who prefer much personalization.

GMC offers four gas engines and one diesel choice. The smallest engine is a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels. Next up is a 4.3-liter V6 engine with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. This basic engine works with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Two V8 engine choices are available. A 5.3-liter small-block V8 develops 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. This one works with either a 6-, 8-, or 10-speed automatic transmission. The larger V8 displaces 6.2 liters with an output of 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels.

Customers also have a choice of a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel six-cylinder engine. This engine is mighty and efficient as it makes 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Depending on how it is configured, the Sierra has a payload capacity of over 2,000 pounds and towing capabilities topping 11,000 pounds. Thus, these numbers are in the thick of what similar trucks provide.

Our test Denali model had the largest of the five engines. This engine offers excellent step-off acceleration and passing power with a transmission seamlessly cooperating. More than enough power for some, the big V8 is ideal for managing full loads of people and cargo, with a trailer pulled behind.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 rear

Our Recommendation

The global semiconductor chip shortage means dealer inventories are sparse. Chances are if you want a Sierra, you will have to order one. If so, a 2022 model is in your future. If you select one with the 5.3-liter V8 engine, you may have the option of forgoing cylinder deactivation. This means the chip that governs the number of cylinders in use at any time (e.g, four, six, or eight) is not present. Thus, in exchange for losing 1 mpg, you may move up your purchase by several weeks, if not months. Lastly, please note that this option does not apply to the other four GMC engine choices.

See Also — The Heavy-Duty GMC Sierra 2500HD Pickup Truc

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

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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