by Adam Lynton
Those who loved the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 will be happy to know that the 2019 Sierra 1500 Limited is essentially a carryover of that model. It's cheaper than the all-new Sierra 1500 that came to the US this year and is available only in extended-wheelbase double-cab form and in two trim levels only. Now rumbling beneath the hood of the Sierra 1500 Limited is a sole powertrain option, a 5.3-liter V8 engine that powers either the standard rear-wheel or available all-wheel-drivetrain with outputs of 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission services both models. The Sierra 1500 Limited carries an appeal in that it's moderately comfortable, capable, and without the overabundant option checkboxes typical of the class - but those can be pitfalls too, with the only slightly more expensive all-new Sierra 1500 and its core class rivals, including the Toyota Tundra and RAM 1500, offering more overall modernity and refinement. Some would argue that there's no real reason to opt for the Limited over the latest iteration, while others might say the Limited represents true bang for your buck.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is fundamentally a carryover model of the 2018 model year Sierra 1500. Its configurations have been reduced to just two trims, to offer buyers the option of the base-spec or top-spec model of the old version at a lower price than previous years, and in comparison to the all-new Sierra 1500.
As a continuation of the old model, the Sierra Limited is a familiar face for Sierra fans. Both models are fitted with active aero grille shutters with chrome grille surrounds and chrome front and rear bumpers. HID headlights with GMC signature LED lighting is standard across the lineup too, and while the base model is fitted with solar-absorbing glass, manually-adjustable side-view mirrors, and black exterior accents, the SLE boasts deep-tinted rear glass, power-adjustable heated side-view mirrors, and body-color exterior accents. The base model is also equipped with 17-inch painted steel wheels, while the SLE model gets 17-inch machined-face aluminum wheels. There's a handful of 20 and 22-inch aluminum wheels varying in style available for the SLE as well.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is a typical hulking all-American full-size truck. It stretches 229.5 inches in overall length and has a wheelbase spanning 143.5 inches; it rides 8.5 inches from the ground and measures 73.9 inches in overall height. Its width is 80 inches with the side-view mirrors folded. The cargo bed measures 78.9 inches in length, 51 inches in width between the wheel housings, and 21.1 inches in depth - making for a cargo volume of 61 cubic feet. Models equipped with the rear-wheel-drive setup carry a curb weight of 4,863 lbs, while the all-wheel-drive models tip the scales at 5,114 lbs.
There are seven exterior color options available for the base model Sierra and eight for the SLE. Onyx Black, Summit White, and Cardinal Red are the only price inclusive colors and are available for both models. For $495 either model can be optioned in any of the metallic hues, namely Deep Mahogany, Dark Slate, Stone Blue, or Quicksilver. The SLE has the option to a $595 Red Quartz Tintcoat exclusively which is the option we'd recommend for it as the only color that nicely contrasts with the truck's black exterior accents. For the base model, we like either the Onyx Black or Dark Slate Metallic.
With the Sierra 1500 Limited's configurations cut down to just two models for the 2019 model year (as it's a runout model), its potential capabilities have also been somewhat cut down to a rather middling degree. It's now offered solely with the 5.3-liter V8 engine coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox, with the choice of either 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains to manage the 355 hp and 383 lb-ft. When properly equipped, the GMC truck is accorded a maximum tow capability of 9,400 lbs, which is far below the 11,430-pound capability offered by the class leader, the RAM 1500. Where the Sierra 1500 Limited does impress, though, is in its maximum payload capacity: the 2WD equipped model can take a total of 2,137 lbs of cargo in its 61 cubic-foot cargo bed while the 4WD model can take up to 2,086 lbs. The latter is more than 200 lbs over that which the RAM 1500 manages, with its 1,820-pound max payload capacity.
The Sierra 1500 Limited's 5.3-liter V8 engine is fittingly robust for the hefty truck and reasonably fuel-efficient too, but it's not the most refined engine out there either. Its 355 hp and 383 lb-ft are enough to suitably propel the full-size truck around at any speed, and do accord it with decent capabilities, but the throttle responses, along with the six-speed automatic transmission to which it's mated, can be somewhat slow and uncoordinated. The accelerator pedal has to be floored for effectual use of the V8's abundant levels of torque, otherwise, pulling away from a standstill is a gradual affair. With the pedal to the metal, acceleration off the line is strong, and getting up to highway speeds and initiating highway passes are reasonably easy.
The gearbox doesn't feel very refined, however, as its shifts are often clunky and aggressive. It's also configured with fuel-efficiency in mind, which means it often shifts too early - robbing the driver of some power. Overall, the truck's powertrain is adequate enough, but it lacks the refinement of newer full-size trucks.
When driving the Sierra 1500 Limited, it actually feels more car-like than it does a truck, at least on straight roads. With its powerful engine countering its heft, it moves about the streets with conviction and competence. It's only around corners and sharp bends where it exhibits body roll like one would expect from a full-size truck, along with slow steering. It doesn't maintain its composure very well at all and inspires very little driver confidence; mid-corner bumps easily unsettle the chassis and taking turns or initiating passing maneuvers on the highway call for a lot of care. Nevertheless, the Sierra 1500 Limited feels more composed and gathered than the Chevrolet Silverado, even considering that more prominent road imperfections and typical undulations do resonate throughout the cabin. The brakes are at least a little more confidence-inspiring as they're capable and easy to modulate around town; the stopping distance from a higher speed isn't exceptional, but the truck remains stable and exhibits no notable nose-dive. The Sierra 1500 Limited carries decent approach and departure angles, a relatively high ground clearance, and has available 4WD - making it a fairly capable off-roader.
The Sierra 1500 Limited's gas mileage estimates are middling for the class: the 2WD-equipped models return EPA estimates of 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined while the heavier 4WD-equipped models are little less fuel-efficient on the highway, returning 15/21/17 mpg. The Toyota Tundra is a little less fuel-efficient with estimates of 13/18/15 mpg; the RAM 1500 is a little more fuel-efficient though, managing 17/23/19 mpg. The Sierra 1500 Limited's 26-gallon gas tank accords it with a range of 442 miles on a single full tank.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is a well-built truck, its doors close with a solid feel, there are no persistent squeaks or rattlings, and all fixtures and fittings feel firmly attached. Material quality is, however, somewhat under par compared to some class equivalents, although quality does improve significantly with the SLE model with its leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeted flooring, and front and rear vinyl floor mats. The visual and tangible in-cabin impression is neither premium nor low-grade but somewhere suitably in between, it's simple, comfortable, and of moderate quality. There's plenty of space provided throughout the cabin and all the seats are well-cushioned, nicely supportive, and ergonomically laid out for exceptional all-day comfort.
A total of six occupants can comfortably occupy the Sierra 1500 Limited with standard bench seats in the front and rear. Headroom is ample all-round, but with very limited adjustability offered on the front bench seat without the driver-seat power-adjustability upgrade, legroom can be a bit cramped for taller passengers in the rear. This is also due to the Sierra Limited 1500 being a double-cab as opposed to a crew-cab. The driver is positioned suitably behind the steering wheel and controls with a commanding view of the road ahead. The high hood makes it easy to know where the front of the vehicle is distance-wise, and rearward visibility is good too, thanks to large side-view mirrors and a full-size back window. Ingress and egress are as easy as can be thanks to the high seating position and large, wide-opening doors. Assist steps are optional for both models if needed.
The inside of the Sierra 1500 Limited is a reasonably pleasant place to spend time, though most of the materials used are predominantly mid-grade, they're nevertheless comfortable to the touch and visually well integrated. The base model Sierra 1500 Limited comes standard with Dark Ash cloth-upholstered seats with Jet Black interior accents and a rubberized-vinyl floor covering; vinyl seat trim featured in the same Dark Ash hue is optional. The SLE comes standard with Jet Black coth-upholstered seats with faux-wood interior accents, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeted flooring, and rubberized-vinyl front and rear floor mats.
A 61 cubic-foot cargo box comprises the rear half of the Sierra 1500 Limited, equipped with an EZ-lift and lower tailgate, and corner steps located on either side of the rear bumper for easy cargo loading. That's the only cargo box length available for the Limited, and it offers a maximum payload capacity of 2,137 lbs with 2WD models and 2,086 lbs with the heavier 4WD models. There are various cargo bed tonneau covers available for both models as standalone options.
In-cabin small-item storage is covered by large door pockets and bottle holders on all four doors, there are dual passenger-side glovebox compartments, and a decently sized front center backrest console also with three cupholders - only accessible when the seat is not in use. Both front seats feature seatback map pockets. The SLE model is fitted with a large under-seat storage drawer.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is nothing impressive when it comes to features. The base model comes standard with only what could be considered the essentials, such as power door locks and windows, a manual tilt-only steering column, a 3.5-inch monochromatic driver information center, and standard air conditioning. Standard across the lineup is cruise control, a rearview camera, teen driver settings, and a tire pressure monitor. The SLE adds on with only remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a 4.5-inch color driver information center, LED cargo box lighting, and floor mats. The front-row seats in the base model are 40/20/40 split-folding and the rear bench seat is flat-folding, the SLE gets an under-seat storage compartment beneath the front seats and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat bench. Heated and ten-way power-adjustable front seats, a tilt and telescoping steering column, and dual-zone automatic climate control are optional for the SLE only.
The base model Sierra 1500 Limited is fitted with a seven-inch diagonal color infotainment touchscreen which is tethered to a stock AM/FM stereo with a six-speaker sound system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are included as standard along with Bluetooth audio streaming and smartphone voice-command pass-through. The SLE is fitted with an eight-inch high-resolution diagonal infotainment touchscreen with an AM/FM/MP3-capable stereo and a single CD player, and with functionality in gesture recognition, and radio and smartphone voice-recognition. It also gets HD radio connectivity and a three month SiriusXM radio trial. Both models provide device connectivity and charging capabilities via USB and auxiliary jack inputs. There is no onboard navigation system available for any model, however, but Google Maps is accessible via the Android Auto application.
There have been only two recalls issued for the 2019 Sierra 1500 Limited for a passenger airbag module which may have been damaged during the vehicle's assembly, potentially inhibiting the airbag from properly deploying in the event of an accident, and the other for the fact that with the deployment of the seat belt pretensioners, the chances of a fire increase. J.D. Power gave the 2019 model an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five. GMC covers new Sierra 1500 Limited models with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Safety ratings are relatively good for the 2019 Sierra 1500 Limited with the NHTSA affording the model a four-star overall rating out of a possible five stars. The IIHS evaluated the 2018 year model of the GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab which shares the base underpinnings of the Limited model: in five specified crash tests, it scored top results of Good in four.
A safety consignment of six airbags is standard in the Sierra 1500 Limited, along with a few active safety measures including a StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a rearview camera. Both models also come standard with cruise control and teen driver control settings. Unfortunately, there are no advanced driver assists standard or optional for any of the Sierra 1500 Limited models, a major drawback considering that class rivals such as the Toyota Tundra and RAM 1500 come standard with or with the option to features such as forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is a simple truck offering suitable everyday usability, moderate work-horse capability, and reasonable ride and passenger comfort. The simplification of its trims and body configurations for this year may also appeal to some, but to others, the restriction of options may turn them away. Of course, being a runout of the 2018 year model Sierra 1500, the Limited won't have the latest design, technology, and safety equipment that'll be found in the all-new model and its redesigned rivals. It does, nevertheless, have an appealingly rugged aesthetic, an intuitive and highly functional infotainment system, and a reasonably comfortable cabin - along with an affordable price tag. It's an ideal vehicle for someone who will be using it as a daily workhorse or as a fleet buy, as it is capable, frugal, and affordable. It's not ideal for a family though, as its utter lack of active safety and advanced driver-assist features, mediocre safety ratings, and questionable handling dynamics all don't do much for driver confidence, let alone safety.
The base Sierra 1500 Limited is available for purchase at an MSRP of $35,100, the SLE model comes in with a sticker price of $40,300. That's excluding any tax, registration, and licensing fees, and GMC's destination charge of $1,495. Optioning the base model in 4WD will cost an extra $4,000 on top of the base price and $3,400 for the SLE. It'll cost roughly an additional $7,000 to fully equip the SLE model with its most expensive available package and all of its possible standalone options.
There are only two models of the Sierra 1500 Limited available for the 2019 model year, the base-spec Limited and the top-spec Limited SLE.
Equipped on the base model are 17-inch painted steel wheels, manually-adjustable side-view mirrors, solar-absorbing glass, and a manual locking tailgate. On the inside, it features a vinyl steering wheel, a 3.5-inch monochromatic driver information center, and rubberized-vinyl flooring. The rear seats feature up-folding bottoms. A seven-inch touchscreen is allocated to the base model; compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it allows for Bluetooth audio streaming and smartphone voice-command pass-through, and is tethered to a AM/FM capable stereo.
The SLE is equipped with 17-inch bright machined aluminum wheels, and gets LED cargo box lighting, power-adjustable heated side-view mirrors, deep-tinted rear glass, and a remote locking tailgate. Upgrades including a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a 4.5-inch color driver information center, and carpeted-flooring with rubberized-vinyl front and rear floor mats are available. An under-seat storage compartment is installed beneath the front seats and the rear seat bench is 60/40 split-folding. An eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen bedecks the dash of the SLE tethered to an AM/FM/MP3-capable stereo and a single CD player. It gets functionality in gesture recognition, radio and smartphone voice-recognition, HD radio connectivity, and SiriusXM radio capability.
There's a decent array of optional packages available for both models of the Sierra 1500 Limited.
For the base model there's an Elevation Edition Package which for $1,950 puts it on par with the SLE by throwing in 20-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, body-color exterior accents, deep-tinted glass, thin profile LED fog lamps, heated power-adjustable side-view mirrors, LED cargo box lighting, black recovery hooks, carpeted flooring with rubberized vinyl floor mats, remote locking tailgate, locking rear differential, 110-volt AC power outlet, remote keyless entry, and OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
The $835 Convenience Package adds outside heated power-adjustable mirrors, remote keyless entry, remote locking tailgate, 110-volt AC power outlet, LED cargo box lighting under the bed rails, and deep-tinted glass.
For the SLE, there is a $1,180 SLE Value Package which contains a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column, remote vehicle starter system, thin profile LED front fog lamps, universal home remote, rear-window defogger, 110-volt AC power outlet, dual-zone climate control, trailer brake controller, and the content of the trailering package (includes hitch, seven-pin and four-pin connectors and a locking differential on RWD models).
There's a $1,295 Essentials Package available for both models, which adds four-inch round chrome tubular assist steps, a soft-folding tonneau cover, and all-weather floor liners.
The SLE is certainly worth the $5,000 price premium it carries; it comes standard with higher-quality interior and exterior cosmetics, and with a lot more convenience features than the base model and with a whole lot more options too. We recommend ticking the box for the SLE Value Package for the driver's seat power-adjustability upgrade, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the trailering package to improve overall comfort and convenience and avail it with the best potential towing capability. We also suggest equipping the 4WD system for the all-weather and rough-terrain handling improvements, which fortunately doesn't minimize the towing capacity or payload too badly.
The Tundra has occupied the segment for a venerable amount of time, but over the years it's become clear that it hasn't managed to keep up with the Joneses in many regards. In comparison with the Sierra, the Tundra delivers a rougher ride quality, has fewer base-level features, and lower gas mileage. The powertrain is more powerful than the Sierra's, which accords the Tundra with considerably greater capability in towing, 700 lbs more than the Sierra, but is significantly less fuel-efficient with EPA returns of 13/18/15 mpg. The Tundra didn't get great safety ratings but does come with more driver assists at the base level. However, with the Sierra 1500 Limited being a runout model, it's available only in one configuration - there are numerous body styles, trim levels, and greater feature availability within the Tundra lineup. There's a whole lot more value in the Sierra's standard infotainment setup, however, and standard features in general, the Tundra may suite those who require more of the capability and ruggedness of a pure work-horse truck while the Sierra offers more civility on the road.
The base model of the 2019 Ram 1500 is around $3,000 more affordable than the Sierra, while the top-spec model is around $7,000 more expensive. However, it's equipped with a more powerful and more refined 5.7-liter V8 engine that's more fuel-efficient too, returning 17/23/19 mpg on the EPA cycles. The Ram rides better than the Sierra, too; it's more comfortable and quieter and has a more spacious cabin on top of that, thanks to its ten-inch longer wheelbase. While the Ram is capped with a max payload capacity of 1,820 lbs, about 300 lbs less than the Sierra's, it boasts the segment's best maximum tow capacity of 11,430 lbs which is 2,000 lbs on the Sierra. The Ram is also rated as the safer vehicle by both main authorities and comes with more driver assists. There are a lot more body styles, trim levels, and feature options available for the Ram 1500 as well, which may prove favorable to some, but even in base guise the Ram out-specs and surpasses the Sierra in feature quality and value.