2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Review: The People's Truck

by Gabe Beita Kiser

Featuring as number six on J.D. Power's top-ten most popular trucks in America, the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD still soldiers on, despite being desperate for an update. Only available in the Crew Cab specification for this model year, it can be had in either standard or long box lengths (6'6" versus 8'), rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive, and a choice between three powerful engines (including gas, diesel, and flex-fuel variants) - buyers can choose from one of four trims. The heavy-duty offering from GMC has peak outputs ranging from 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque with the standard gas engine, to 445 hp and an almost ludicrous 910 lb-ft of torque with the turbodiesel motor. Competing with Ford and Ram heavy-duty trucks - which incidentally ranked higher and lower on the popularity scale respectively - it doesn't quite keep up anymore. Hopefully, the 3500HD will be updated for the 2020 model year in order to stay relevant as has been the case with its baby brother, the 1500 - and to try to gain some literal and figurative traction against its main rivals.

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2018 Sierra 3500HD?

With a much-needed refresh on the cards for 2020, the 2019 model year of the Sierra HD carries over relatively unchanged, barring the removal of the Regular and Double Cab options from the configurations list. Now only available in Crew Cab body style, the Sierra HD for the current year also has a Flex-fuel engine option to choose from. We look forward to some substantial enhancements for 2020 that will see this popular truck take on big names like the Ford F-350 and the Ram 3500.

Pros and Cons

  • Uncomplicated lineup and configurations
  • Powerful diesel engine
  • Better-than-most driving experience
  • Many standard features on top-end trims
  • Lags behind main rivals in terms of towing capacity
  • Thirsty engines

Best Deals on Sierra 3500HD

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
6.0-liter V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$40,800
SLE
6.0-liter V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$46,500
SLT
6.0-liter V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$51,600
Denali
6.0-liter V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$56,600

Sierra 3500HD Exterior

Big trucks are big trucks - they are built for a purpose, so there's nothing really appealing about the way they look. Well, that's unless you find massive, squared-off blocks of chrome and metal sexy. In that vein, the heavy-duty truck from GMC shows off its large proportions with a generously chrome-endowed grille sporting red GMC lettering, with 18-inch wheels as standard, which drop to 17-inch items if equipping the dual-rear-wheel axle. Xenon headlights are standard, but tinted rear windows, fog lights, and power-folding exterior mirrors are added as you move up through the four trim levels, where you will also find a spray-on bedliner on either a 6'6" or 8' bed length, as well as a power-sliding rear window fitted to the top-spec Denali.

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Exterior GMC
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See All 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Adding the word "big" under dimensions isn't sufficient to describe this monstrous truck that weighs 6,423 pounds in its lightest form, or makes the scale groan under its 8,070 lbs in heaviest guise. Depending on which bed length is equipped, as well as whether single- or dual-rear wheels are selected, the Sierra 3500HD can be either 239.4 or 258.3 inches long. Width in single-rear-wheel setup is 80.5 inches, growing to 96 inches with the duallys equipped. Height ranges from 77.9 inches to 78.3 inches depending on how you have configured your truck and whether you have the four-wheel drivetrain fitted. The shorter box allows for a 153.7-inch wheelbase, while the longer box requires 167.6 inches between the front and rear wheels.

A quick comparison between the Sierra 3500 HD and the Ford F-350 shows that the Ford Super Duty truck is just a tad bigger on almost on points mentioned, with weight burgeoning to over 8,000 pounds in its biggest guise.

  • Wheelbase 153.7 in
  • Height 78.4 in
  • Max Width 80.5 in

Sierra 3500HD Performance

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2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Badge GMC

Engine and Transmission

While there are technically three powertrain options to choose from, the 6.0-liter V8 flex-fuel option is only available on the bottom three trim levels. The standard motor is a Vortec 6.0-liter V8 gas engine that transmits outputs of 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque to either the rear wheels or all wheels via a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. The star of the range, however, is the Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 that churns out 445 hp and a hefty 910 lb-ft of torque. The same drivetrain options are available, while the diesel engine uses an Allison 1000 six-speed auto 'box to manage gear shifts.

The point of a heavy-duty truck is strength, not speed - yet this beast manages to get up to 60 mph in the mid-seven second range, which is better than many SUVs these days. While acceleration is impressive in terms of hauling this immense bulk up to speed, it serves the purpose to tow, carry, and push tremendous loads around, too. And, together with an effective, responsive transmission, it does this really well - while rivals may offer more capability, the GMC truck manages to make the driving experience less dull, at least. In terms of strength, the 3500HD has a maximum towing capacity of 20,000 lbs with dual-rear-wheels fitted, increasing to 23,100 lbs with a fifth-wheel hitch equipped.

  • Engines
    6.0-liter Gas, 6.0-liter V8 Flex-fuel (FFV), 6.6-liter Turbo V8 Diesel
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Piloting a vehicle of this size can be quite a chore, due to its weight and the massive extremities one needs extra care to avoid bumping into other vehicles. Much like most in the segment, the truck has numb steering that serves merely to direct the Sierra - there's not much feedback, but it's easy to point in the direction it needs to go. The steering feel is confidently weighted, at least, and while it does fine in town driving, taking a corner at speed will likely cause you to reach for a grab-handle as it rolls through the twisties. Additionally, for such a brute, the braking could offer a quicker reaction time in emergency stops - while we're confident the big truck will slow down effectively in most casual-driving situations, panic stops saw a full depression of the pedal, which could be a little concerning when you're hauling bulk behind you. The suspension setup is on the stiff side, which is good for heavy payloads and towing, but doesn't result in the most comfortable drive, with large bumps and rough road textures being felt in the cabin.

Sierra 3500HD Gas Mileage

Gigantic trucks don't really make it onto the EPA's schedule, so we will have to settle for real-world figures as reported by Sierra 3500HD owners instead. Earning an average of 11.2 mpg, the Sierra 3500HD is generally on par with segment rivals, although the Ford F-350's V8 turbodiesel has seen combined reports of around 14 mpg, which are slightly more impressive. Still, a 36-gallon fuel tank means the Sierra 3500HD should be able to go for around 403 miles on a single tank of gas, depending on configuration, and what you've laden the truck with, as well.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    36.0 Gallons
* 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD 2WD Crew Cab 153.7"

Sierra 3500HD Interior

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Aux Controls GMC
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See All 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The standard configuration allows for a total of six passengers to be accommodated in the Sierra 3500HD - a 40/20/40 split-folding bench is equipped in front that can seat three across, while the rear seat offers the same. However, a large armrest can fold down in the center of the front bench, cutting occupants down to two, but adding some excellent storage space. Additionally, front bucket seats in leather can be optioned on. One benefit of the Crew Cab body style is the spacious and roomy interior, which allows for class-leading head- and legroom in the front, at 42.8 inches and 45.3 inches, respectively. This is more than what both the Ford F-350 and Ram 3500 provide. In the back, space is still ample, although the Ford Super Duty has just a little more space to squeeze in your tallest pal in full football regalia without worrying about rubbing up too close. Additionally, with large, wide-opening doors, getting in and out isn't too much of a hassle - provided you haven't recently had a hip replacement: shorter passengers may need to hoist themselves up using the grab handles, although assist steps are available for add-on across the range.

  • Seating capacity
    6-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.3 in
  • Front Head Room 42.8 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 40.5 in

Sierra 3500HD Trunk and Cargo Space

Carrying, pulling and hauling is where the Sierra excels, and as such it is designed to cater to your specific cargo needs. You can choose one of two bed sizes for your Sierra 3500HD, either a 6' 6" standard box or an eight-foot-long box, which translates to 61 cubic feet of volume in the smaller bed size and 76.3 cubes at the other end of the spectrum. Payloads range from 3,821 lbs all the way to 6,112 lbs, depending on configuration.

Inside the cabin, the rear seat bench can also be folded up for storage beneath the seats - this is good for smaller items, although a medium-sized duffel bag will also fit without a problem. The seatback can also be folded down for storage of bigger items if you don't need to carry more than three passengers. In-cabin storage for knick-knacks is impressive, too, with two large gloveboxes, door pockets, a center armrest with a big bin as well as small trays for phones, keys, and coins. There are also three cupholders in the front center console.

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Sierra 3500HD Infotainment and Features

Features

From the base model, the Sierra is well equipped with features that include trailer sway control, hill-start assist, and a heavy-duty automatic locking rear differential. Moving up the trim levels sees the addition of remote keyless entry, power-folding exterior mirrors, heated front seats with power adjustment, and ventilated seats for driver and front passenger (on the top-spec Denali). Integrated cruise control and automatic braking are standard on all trim levels, as is the Teen Driver feature that allows for monitoring of responsible (or irresponsible) driving - this is good for fleet purchases too. Various additional trailering cameras can also be fitted for those who intend to tow regularly. A remote locking tailgate is standard on the top three trims, and can be optioned on the base model, too. A stock-fitted rearview camera, and optional assists that include lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, and front and rear park assist, round out the features list.

Infotainment

A seven-inch diagonal color touchscreen is installed to the base model, paired to the standard GMC Infotainment system with radio functionality. This gets upgraded on SLE and SLT trims to an eight-inch unit, while the Denali gets navigation additionally (available to SLE and SLT models as an add-on). Although not available to the bottom trim, wireless smartphone charging can be optioned on to mid-level trims, while coming stock-fitted on the Denali. Although the base model seems a little sparse off the factory floor in terms of on-board tech, SiriusXM and upgraded GMC sound systems can be optioned on. For mid-range trims, a premium six-speaker Bose sound setup can be had for a fee, which includes an additional subwoofer too. A rear-seat entertainment system is also available, which includes a Blu-Ray or DVD player and either a 9.2-inch display monitor, or two seven-inch screens installed into the headrests. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fully supported from even the base model.

Sierra 3500HD Problems and Reliability

One recall was issued for the 2019 model year, pertaining to a potential short-circuit on the engine block heater, increasing the risk of fire. The same issue affected 2018 models, while an additional recall for a fuel leak due to overfilling of the tank was also logged. However, J.D. Power still rated the 3500HD at 84 out of 100 for reliability, and GMC covers the range with a three-year/36,000-mile full warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty (100,000 miles for the diesel or qualified fleet purchases), and roadside assistance for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. For qualified fleet purchases and models fitted with the diesel engine, roadside assistance mileage is extended to 100,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    HD Duramax Diesel: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles; Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    HD Duramax Diesel: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles; Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Sierra 3500HD Safety

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS put heavy-duty trucks through full crash tests, which is actually quite strange, given how popular these vehicles are and the high volume of sales in the United States. Still, the Sierra 3500HD has a list of safety features that should put your mind at ease, including driver and front passenger airbags, as well as side-impact and head-curtain airbags, too. A rearview camera, hill-start assist, teen-driver function, StabiliTrak with trailer sway assist, integrated cruise control, and automatic braking are standard. Additional driver aids include diesel exhaust braking, and the contents of the Driver Alert Package, which equips lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, safety alert seat, and parking assist when added on.

Verdict: 🏁Is 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD a good Truck?

The heavy-duty truck segment remains one of the most competitive segments, unique to the American car market - competition is fierce, with big names like Ford and Chevrolet wrestling for top honors with GMC. And, in this rivalry, sheer brute force is what counts. The GMC Sierra 3500HD isn't a bad truck, but in comparison to those mentioned above, it doesn't necessarily stand out either - it does the basics - and, with the exception of driving with a little more engagement than some of its competitors, there isn't really much to make it rise above them. Ford's range of pickups retains its title of the most beloved pickup in the States, and the Chevrolet Silverado offering makes it to the top of class for sheer strength alone, being able to tow and haul much more than the Sierra. For the 2019 model year specifically, the Sierra 3500HD is soundly outdone by those vying for the top spot - while it achieved a good predicted reliability rating and is relatively well-equipped with features, we'd wait for the 2020 version before making a decision, either way. If you are pressed to buy a 2019 truck - rather check out the Chevrolet Silverado 3500.

🚘What's the Price of the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD?

With a wide range of customizations available, the pricing of the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD can be a little confusing. Suffice it to say that the base Sierra has a starting MSRP of $40,800 in the default configuration with the standard box size, 2WD, and the 6.0-liter gas engine. Moving up a trim level, the SLE has a starting price of $46,500, while the SLT costs $51,600. The top-of-the-range Denali trim has a sticker price of $56,600. Swapping out for the longer box will add $200 on every trim, while 4WD will set you back an extra $3,000. With the longer bed length, dual rear wheels can be equipped in either 2WD or 4WD, and will add a few thousand dollars to the final tally, depending on trim level chosen. Finally, opting for the powerful turbo diesel engine will also require an outlay of an extra $9,295 on the base Sierra, with higher trims requiring a similar outlay (with minor differences in this cost per trim). All prices quoted exclude a destination fee of $1,495 as well as licensing, taxes, and registration.

See All 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Trims and Specs

🚗What GMC Sierra 3500HD Model Should I Buy?

Trucks, much like other commercial vehicles, are more often than not bought for their workhorse capabilities - although, admittedly, there are those who buy pickups for the status, the swagger, and the sheer machismo of it. For the most part, though, buying a truck depends largely on what you need it for - are you planning on towing heavy-duty equipment, trailers or the like regularly? Do you need to get as much cargo-loading space at the back as possible? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you will need to look at the longer bed length, the dual-rear-wheel variants, the turbodiesel motor, and four-wheel drive - this will give you a maximum trailering capacity of 23,100 lbs with a gooseneck hitch equipped. We'd also suggest skipping over the entry-level model, and aiming for the second-from-the-top SLT trim - it comes with a few more standard features such as dual-zone air-conditioning, a larger eight-inch infotainment display, leather seats with heating, and the option to add on the majority of the convenience features on the top-spec Denali anyway.

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Comparisons

Ford F-350 Super Duty Ford
Ram 3500 Ram
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
GMC Sierra 3500HD401 hpTBC$37,000
Ford F-350 Super Duty 385 hpTBC$35,550
Ram 3500 410 hpTBC$35,345

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD vs Ford F-350 Super Duty

America's favorite pickup, the Ford F-350 and its siblings are one of the most recognizable representations of American culture - and for good reason. With a long history of capability, the F-350 comes in various cabin and body styles, whereas the Sierra is only available in Crew Cab form for 2019. With similar powertrain options, however, the Ford produces just a fraction more power from the headlining 6.7-liter turbodiesel - 450 hp and 935 lb-ft as opposed to the 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of the Sierra. Despite what seems like negligible differences, the Ford F-350's maximum gooseneck towing capacity is an impressive 32,000 lbs - 10,000 lbs more than the Sierra's. Finally, the Ford also manages better combined gas mileage, at 14 mpg to the 11.2 consumer reports show for GMC's heavy-duty pickup. So, while in its current model year, we'd be hard-pressed to recommend the Sierra over the Ford F-350, but we're hopeful that the 2020 model might put up a better fight.

See Ford F-350 Super Duty Review

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD vs Ram 3500

Ram's addition to the heavy-duty segment is the similarly titled 3500 - priced around $2,500 cheaper than the GMC Sierra 3500HD, it is also available in Mega Cab and Regular Cab versions, other than just the Crew Cab setup. While much of the body-configuration set up is similar, the Ram 3500 excels in its class-leading 35,100 lbs maximum towing capacity. It is also much better outfitted than the Sierra, with a more user-friendly and modern infotainment system featuring a 12-inch screen towards the top of the range, which dwarfs the eight-inch display installed to the Sierra. The Ram offers a much more plush look in the cabin too, although both offer leather-trimmed seats in the upper echelons of the lineup. Ram also fits many features as standard in its base model, which the Sierra only makes available on the upper trim levels. Overall, the Sierra doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by the Ram 3500 - at least not in the current guise. GMC will have to step up to the plate to remain competitive here.

See Ram 3500 Review

GMC Sierra 3500HD Popular Comparisons

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD Video Review

Check out some informative GMC Sierra 3500HD video reviews below.

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