2021 GMC Sierra 1500

2021 GMC Sierra 1500
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Rear View
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Steering Wheel Design

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Showing Its Age

Picking a full-size truck to buy in the USA is a tricky thing. Cast aside the allegiances you might have to your favorite brands and there really are no truly bad trucks in the full-size segment. However, a few have somewhat fallen behind the best, like the GMC Sierra 1500. How can it be that the Sierra 1500 isn't one of the top dogs when it constantly contributes towards GM being one of the biggest truck-sellers in the US? Simple, the competition includes the Ram 1500 and the all-new Ford F-150, both of which have moved the game on substantially since the fifth-gen Sierra debuted in late 2018. But the Sierra isn't a truck without its merits, boasting a broad array of engines including a 3.0-liter diesel inline-six with 277 horsepower, a 4.3L gasoline V6, and your choice of two V8s measuring up to 6.2 liters in displacement. A towing capacity of up to 11,800 lbs is also handy, as are three cab styles and a host of new technologies geared towards making towing easier. But with a relatively drab interior and less comfort and tech than some rivals, can the Sierra 1500 still hold its own against newer trucks?

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500?

Both the 2.7-liter turbo and 3.0-liter turbodiesel derivatives have increased towing capacity for the 2021 model year. The 2.7 can now tow up to 9,200 pounds, while the 3.0 can tow 100 lbs more. GMC's trailering technologies have also been enhanced with a trailer length indicator, jack-knife alert, and an enhanced cargo bed view. The X31 Off-Road and Protection Package is now available on SLE, Elevation, and SLT models, while the 1SA Safety Confidence Package is now available on Sierra trim. Adding further practicality, GMC's Multipro tailgate is standard on SLE and Elevation models. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on specific models, and four new premium exterior colors are available.

Pros and Cons

  • Lots of configuration options
  • Large selection of dependable engines
  • Brilliant 10-speed automatic
  • Useful Multipro tailgate
  • Nice tech features
  • Bland interior
  • Competitors are more affordable
  • Ride quality is below par
  • Missing GMC's latest infotainmen

What's the Price of the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500?

With four model configurations, five engine options, and various trim levels, the price list is longer than a list of canceled celebrities in 2021. Starting things off, the base price of a GMC Sierra 1500 in Regular Cab format with a 4.3-liter V6 and 4x2 is $30,100. Adding four-wheel-drive adds $4,600 to the price, while upgrading to the 5.3-liter V8 adds $1,345.

The Double Cab, standard-box range starts at $34,000 for the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the base Sierra trim. Upgrading to SLE trim costs $7,400 ($41,400 MSRP), while Elevation trim is just $1,700 more than the SLE at $43,100.

Pricing for the Crew Cab with a short box varies greatly, between $36,400 in base Sierra trim with the 2.7L engine and $62,240 for a Denali with the 6.2L V8 and 4x4 drivetrain. Between these ends of the Crew Cab spectrum, a number of models and powertrain options fill every possible gap, including the off-road-focused AT4, which is exclusively available with 4WD. This model starts at $54,700 with the 5.3L V8, increases to $55,695 for the Duramax diesel, and tops out at $57,195 with the big 6.2L V8. For all the Crew Cab derivatives, a standard-length load box is also available, albeit exclusively with the 4x4 drivetrain, adding $300 to the asking price. All prices exclude GMC's destination charge of $1,695.

Best Deals on 2021 GMC Sierra 1500

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
4.3L V6 Flex-fuel (FFV)
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
2.7L Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
2.7L Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
5.3L V8 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.0L Inline-6 Diesel
5.3L V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Unlike the Ram 1500, the Sierra has opted to remain loyal to the traditional leaf spring rear suspension setup. Electro-magnetic Adaptive Ride Control is only found on the top-spec Denali, and there is no air-suspension option like you get with the Ram. Thankfully, GMC has been building trucks long enough to know how to make leaf springs reasonably comfortable. The truck feels stable at high speed, and around town, the light-yet-precise steering is a joy. It would have been better with a completely independent suspension setup, but we think there is some method to GMC's leaf spring madness. We're hopeful GMC might still look into coil springs or air for future models, though, as at present, even in Denali guise, the Sierra lacks the refined ride of the Ram 1500.

As for off-roading, the AT4 model with a factory-fitted two-inch suspension lift, making it the most capable 4x4 of the bunch, but it isn't quite a Raptor or Ram TRX.

Verdict: Is the New Sierra 1500 A Good Truck?

The GMC Sierra still has a few things going for it. Design-wise it still looks good, even though the abundance of chrome may be too much for some. And while most of the engine options are outdated and in dire need of replacement, the 3.0-liter diesel and 6.2-liter V8 are still sweet powertrains. The latter and its ten-speed automatic transmission remain one of the best combinations in the world of trucking.

New trucks like the Ram and the all-new Ford F-150 highlight a bunch of problems, though; not just with the Sierra but with trucks overall. The Ram is proof that a pickup truck can be both comfortable and capable of carrying a load. Ford is out there with many advanced powertrains, proving that large capacity trucks with high fuel consumption aren't necessary anymore.

If an old-school dependable powertrain is important to you, the Sierra is a solid option, especially with the 6.2-liter V8. But if you want a truck that does everything, including being a comfortable luxury vehicle, there are better options out there from Ford and Ram.

What 2021 Sierra 1500 Model Should I Buy?

The new GMC Sierra 1500 range consists of a broad range of models, from a humble workhorse to a fully-specced luxurious Denali. To us, the mid-spec SLT offers all the comfort and convenience features the average customer needs, but without an exorbitant price tag. However, it can only be equipped with the Crew Cab, so if you need a Regular Cab or Double Cab, you'll have to settle for a lower spec. We'd have a 4WD Crew Cab SLT with a standard box and a 6.2-liter V8 engine. Add a Pacific Blue exterior and the safety systems packages, which you can't add separately. This adds the full safety suite and $1,985 to the price. The other option is the AT4, which comes standard with 4WD and lots of off-road ability. This model is only available with the 3.0 Duramax diesel or the 6.2-liter V8. Both are fine engines.

Check out other GMC Sierra 1500 Styles

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Comparisons

Ford F-150 CarBuzz
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Chevrolet

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 vs Ford F-150

This year the Sierra goes up against an entirely new F-150, making things rather tricky for GMC. Compared to the older Ford model, the Sierra had the edge in terms of technology. That's no longer the case. Like the Ram 1500 did a few years ago, the all-new F-150 is redefining the segment. It offers a wide variety of engine options, including a hybrid, and an electric version in the form of the F-150 Lightning, and reviews are looking upon it favorably. The technology is all-new, as are the driver assistance systems. Ford also boasts class-leading towing figures, a modern exterior, and a ride quality that hides its agricultural roots very well.

The only thing the Sierra has going for it is a lower retail price. But the difference in the pricing is so tiny that it doesn't matter. The fact that the Ford F-150 is arguably class-leading makes the price difference insignificant.

See Ford F-150 Review

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 vs Chevrolet Silverado 1500

These two are distant cousins aimed at different buyers. While these trucks are nearly identical in workhorse specification, the gap between them becomes bigger the more expensive they get.

The interiors are similar, but the Sierra comes with several advanced tech features that you can't get on the Chevy. The difference here is quite clear. If you want a no-nonsense workhorse, the Chevrolet is the one to have. If you're in the market for something with a bit more technology and luxury, the GMC is the way to go. Being mechanically identical, you get the same engines, same towing and payload capacities, and same overall ride and ability levels, so your lifestyle will determine which you buy.

See Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review
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