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- Highs Excellent diesel powertrain, terrific tailgate and trailer-assist features, steering is most responsive of the HD class.
- Lows Can't tow as much as mightiest rivals, Denali doesn't meet luxury expectations, missing some popular driver assists.
- Verdict The Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD are solid workhorses, but they're outclassed by Ford and Ram's heavy-duty trucks.
Don't let the top-of-the-line Denali trim fool you, the 2022 GMC Sierra HD is more workhorse than show pony. Sure, both the 2500HD and 3500HD versions can be covered in chrome and outfitted with rich leather, but even in their fanciest form the GMC twins are tremendously capable. They offer a powerful and refined Duramax diesel, a neat multifunction tailgate, and myriad trailer-assist technology. As good as they are, though, the 2022 Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD are outclassed by the Ford Super Duty and Ram HD. The Sierra 2500 HD can tow up to 18,500 pounds and the 3500HD can haul up to 35,500 pounds, but those max ratings are eclipsed by rivals’. What’s more, those competitors offer nicer interiors or more driver assists—or both.
What's New for 2022?
For 2022, the Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD don't receive any significant changes. The only difference that stands out is that the entry-level work truck is now called the Pro. Previously, the lowest trim level was simply referred to as the Sierra.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd start with start with the crew cab and choose the standard bed on the Sierra 2500HD. We'd steer clear of the rugged AT4 and chrome-laden Denali models despite their enhanced appearance. Instead, we'd recommend picking the SLT trim level and adding four-wheel drive and the diesel V-8. The SLT comes standard with GMC's versatile MultiPro tailgate, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, power-adjustable front seats, and remote start. It also unlocks more options than the lesser SLE trim. We'd pick the SLT Convenience package that includes front bucket seats with ventilated cushions, heated rear seats, and a power-sliding rear window. The Driver Alert packages are also worth adding because they make the behemoth easier to live with thanks to assists such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and front and rear parking sensors.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Sierra HD comes standard with a gas-powered 6.6-liter V-8 that generates 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission and rear- or four-wheel drive. The optional Duramax diesel 6.6-liter V-8 cranks out 445 ponies and 910 pound-feet of twist, and it works through an Allison 10-speed automatic. You can also specify either a single- or dual-rear-wheel axle (known as a "dually"). While we've only driven the diesel variant, we did sample the gas-burning powertrain on the internally identical Chevy Silverado 2500HD and appreciated its dutiful behavior. However, there's no arguing that the Duramax/Allison combination is a highlight of the heavy-duty Sierra, and it's a no-brainer for those who regularly tow substantial loads. The engine is surprisingly refined, and the transmission is very responsive. Together they helped the 2500HD Denali we tested achieve impressively quick acceleration times. The gigantic GMC also has an agreeable ride quality for its breed. Though its steering is vague at highway speeds the Sierra nonetheless feels more agile than its heavy-duty competitors. The trail-ready AT4 model is a more-rugged take on the commonly chrome-riddled rig, with an off-road suspension and a locking rear differential to go with its otherwise blacked-out aesthetic.
Towing and Payload Capacity
The strongest Sierra 3500HD can carry 7442 pounds in its cargo bed and pull as much as 35,500 pounds. However, those massive capacities require the diesel engine, regular cab, rear-wheel drive, and dual-rear-wheel axle. The Sierra 2500HD is only offered with a single-rear-wheel axle, and its burliest version is good for 3979 pounds of payload and 18,500 pounds of towing.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Since the EPA doesn't test vehicles as heavy as the Sierra HD and its gigantic competitors, we can only judge their real-world mpg on our highway fuel-economy route. We've only tested a Sierra 2500HD Denali with the diesel engine, which earned 17 mpg on the highway. For comparison, the diesel-powered Silverado 2500 LTZ crew cab and Ram 2500 Tradesmen regular cab diesels we tested both managed 19 mpg. Those who stick with the GMC's standard gas-fed V-8 should expect to see even worse fuel economy than the diesel option.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD have a huge dashboard that hosts user-friendly switchgear. Most models have a split-folding front bench that can be replaced with a pair of bucket seats and a full center console. The Sierra's interior can also be optioned with a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated-and-cooled front seats, and wireless charging. Unfortunately, the cabin's panel fits and material quality are mediocre at best. While there's an abundance of soft touch surfaces throughout, and most models benefit from durable plastics, the top-of-the-line Denali falls woefully short of its luxury billing. The fanciest alternatives from Ram overshadow the GMC largely thanks to their significantly more upscale look and feel. Still, the Sierra HD will please pickup-truck buyers who prioritize practicality and versatility. Along with extensive passenger space in the crew cab, the GMC is littered with handy interior cubby storage. Its standard and long cargo boxes have built-in steps on both sides of the bed and the rear bumper has them at each corner. The box can be further customized with LED lighting, movable tie-downs, and a 120-volt outlet. The heavy-duty Sierra's biggest showpiece is its innovative multi-function tailgate, which has six different positions that include a work surface and bench. It's a tailgater's dream come true.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every Sierra HD has a standard touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While base models have fewer options, they can still be outfitted with a 120-volt outlet and a mobile hotspot. Most trim levels have an 8.0-inch screen and additional charging ports. All systems include a set of rotary knobs and physical buttons that are easily accessible. The larger touchscreen can be upgraded with built-in navigation, a Bose audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a rear-seat entertainment system. GMC also offers a smartphone app that can be used to remotely control trailer functions. Likewise, the truck's infotainment system allows users to store different trailer profiles to monitor maintenance.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
While the truck can be equipped with various driver-assistance technology, none of it comes standard, and heavy-duty rivals offer even more assists. However, the GMC does have a comprehensive camera system that features up to 15 different viewing modes, including a "transparent" mode that allows the user to virtually see through an attached trailer as if it wasn't there. For more information about the Sierra HD's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available lane-departure
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
GMC provides a competitive warranty plan that matches the coverage provided by its Ford and Ram rivals but, unlike those alternatives, it does include one complimentary scheduled maintenance visit.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first year
2020 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab
front-engine, rear-/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
PRICE AS TESTED
$78,455 (base price: $65,295)
turbocharged and intercooled pushrod 32-valve diesel V-8, iron block and aluminum heads, direct fuel injection
403 cu in, 6599 cc
445 hp @ 2800 rpm
910 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Suspension (F/R): control arms/solid axle
Brakes (F/R): 14.0-in vented disc/14.1-in vented disc
Tires: Goodyear Wrangler Trail Runner A/T, LT275/65R-20 126/123S M+S
Wheelbase: 158.9 in
Length: 250.1 in
Width: 81.9 in
Height: 79.8 in
Passenger volume: 139 cu ft
Curb weight: 8260 lb
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 6.5 sec
90 mph: 14.4 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.7 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.0 sec
¼-mile: 15.0 sec @ 92 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 98 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 207 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.73 g
Observed: 12 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 17 mpg
Highway range: 610 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: not rated
More Features and Specs
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