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2018 GMC Sierra 1500 keeps on trucking as a best-selling pickup

GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain concept conquers snow-covered ski resort

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 light pickups remain unchanged from 2017. Like its same-but-for-styling General Motors brand cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, the Sierra doesn’t need to change often to keep its place among the top-selling trucks — and even top-selling vehicles in the U.S.

The Sierra is the fourth best-selling pickup truck in the U.S., following Ford ‘s F-150 perennial sales leader, the second-place Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles RAM pickups. Pre-emptively answering a common question, even if you add the Silverado (574,876) and Sierra’s (221,680) 2016 sales figures, the combined 796,556 trucks falls short of the F-150’s 820,799 sales in the same year.

News and updates

Millennials buy GMC Sierra HD trucks more than overall buying populace as well as Sierra 1500 models, according to AutoTrader.  That preference may be reflected in the Motor Trend 2018 Truck of the Year awards. The 2018 Sierra Denali HD Duramax 3500 dually GM sent for the competition didn’t take home the big prize, that went to Ford’s F-150, but the heavy-duty Sierra did score a finalist spot, along with the 2108 Chevy Colorado ZR2.

2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain Concept
2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain Concept Image used with permission by copyright holder

You won’t see the GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain concept in your dealership lot because it’s a one-off to demonstrate the company’s engineering prowess. GMC’s method of choice? Adding tank-like tracks to the heavy-duty pickup, of course. GMC threw everything from its parts bin into the All Mountain snow-crawler, with the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V8 engine powering the Sierra 2500H Denali 4WD Crew Cab. You can check out the over-the-mountain-top GMC in snowy Vail, Colorado, where it will be on display for the winter season.

Engines and transmissions

Three engines are available with specific Sierra trims — one V6 and two V8s. All three engines have aluminum blocks, active fuel management, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing. In each case, the engine also determines the transmission. The V6 is paired with a six-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and tow/haul mode. Both V8s use an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The standard engine with the base Sierra 1500 and one-step upgraded 1500 SLE is a 285-horsepower 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6. The Flex-Fuel-capable V6 produces a moderate 305 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm.

The Sierra 1500 SLT and Denali trims have a 355-hp 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine as standard equipment. This V8, also Flex-Fuel capable, create a maximum 383 lb-ft at 4,100 rpm but has more than 300 lb-ft of torque immediately available from 2,000 to 5,600 rpm, a wide powerband useful for most cargo loads and towing weights.

For the heaviest towing needs, there’s the 420-hp 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine with a max 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm. The 6.2L V8 is available only with SLT and Denali trims.

Tech features

Various technologies serve Sierra buyers via handling and trailering, infotainment and connectivity, and safety and driver assist features.

StabiliTrak with traction control, antilock brakes, and hill start assist boosts driver confidence and control. Electronic trailer sway control does its part to keep trailering and hauling boring and sedate, just the way you want it — high drama on the interstate when pulling several thousand pounds is seldom enjoyable and can end badly. Sway control can quell towing drama before it begins to build.

GMC’s Infotainment System, available in different levels depending on trim and option selections, combines entertainment, phone, text, and other communications connectivity, as well as on-the-road navigation and OnStar services. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot available with SLE trims and above connects up to seven devices to the internet. The MyGMC mobile app allows you to control the Sierra remotely, find its current location, manage the mobile hot spot, and monitor vehicle systems.

The Rear Seat Reminder uses audible and visual reminders after a second-row door is opened and closed just before or during a trip. The unspoken purpose of rear seat monitoring is to prevent people from forgetting and leaving behind children or pets in the back seat, but it also can save groceries from spoiling or electronics from being stolen.

Like all new GMCs and Chcvys, the Sierra gets GM’s Teen Driver system. The Sierra can be configured to operate within specified parameters using Teen Driver and will report via smartphone on incidents such as speeding and alerts that took place while the teenager, or whoever the system was programmed for, was driving.

The trial-basis GM OnStar suite on most Sierras includes automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, roadside assistance, emergency service links, and remote door unlocking.

Driver-assistance technologies for the Sierra, most of which are available as options or in option packages, include Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and IntelliBeam automatic headlamp high-beam control. Forward Collision Alert, a Safety Alert Seat that alerts with gentle vibrations, and Front and Rear Park Assist are also available. All Sierras have rear vision cameras.

Cab choices and box length

Sierras can be ordered with three-passenger (“regular”) cabs or six-passenger double or crew cabs. Crew cabs have the most rear seat passenger space.

Mixing and matching cabs and cargo boxes can be somewhat confusing. Regular cabs are available with 6.5-foot (standard) or 8-foot (long) cargo boxes. Double cab Sierras are only available with standard boxes and crew cabs can be ordered with short or standard boxes.

Sierra cab and box length combinations also depend on the truck’s trim level and on whether it has two-wheel drive (4×2) or four-wheel drive (4×4). To keep it simple, check out the available combos in the table below.

 2018 GMC Sierra trim  Sierra 1500  1500 SLE 1500 SLT Denali
 4×2  Cargo box length (ft) Cargo box length (ft) Cargo box length (ft) Cargo box length (ft)
 Regular cab 6.5 or 8-foot 6.5 or 8-foot  Not available  Not available
 Double cab 6.5-foot  6.5-foot  6.5-foot  Not available
 Crew cab 5.8-foot  5.8-foot  5.8-foot  5.8-foot
 4×4  Cargo box length (ft)  Cargo box length (ft) Cargo box length (ft) Cargo box length (ft)
 Regular cab 6.5 or 8-foot  6.5 or 8-foot  Not available  Not available
 Double cab 6.5-foot  6.5-foot  6.5-foot  Not available
 Crew cab 5.8 or 6.5-foot  5.8 or 6.5-foot 5.8 or 6.5-foot 5.8 or 6.5-foot

Which GMC Sierra 1500 is best for you?

The difference between the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 trim levels is a linear progression, with more power and luxury as the price goes up. Various options and option packages are available for specific trims, but be careful — if you find you’re adding loads of options, you may save money with a higher trim level with more standard features.

2018 GMC Sierra 1500, SLE

The 2018 Sierra 1500 starts at $30,200 with 2-wheel drive, a regular three-passenger cab, and a short cargo box. The 1500 comes standard with GM’s 4.3-liter V6 EcoTec3 engine and six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and tow/haul mode. The base model includes air conditioning, cloth seats, cruise control, power door locks, and a rear vision camera.

The base model 1500 also has active aero grille shutters, high-intensity discharge (HID) projector beam headlamps with signature LED lighting, cab-mounted cargo area lamps, and a locking tailgate. Passengers stay connected, informed, and entertained via a 7-inch color infotainment control touchscreen display, AM/FM stereo with six speakers, Bluetooth support for streaming audio and smartphones, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and USB and auxiliary inputs for external device content. GM’s Teen Driver feature and tire pressure monitoring are standard.

The Elevation Edition package, available for $2,800 on Sierra 1500 double cab models and $1,455 for the SLE with double or crew cab, is a sport-appearance package with a monochromatic body-color, black-painted 20-inch wheels, and thin profile LED fog lamps.

One step up from the Sierra 1500, the 2018 Sierra 1500 SLE starts at $36,900 with two-wheel drive, a regular cab, and short cargo box. The SLE includes the base model features and adds an 8-inch diagonal color, touch-sensitive GMC infotainment system, single slot CD/MP3 player, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a soft-touch instrument panel, 4.2-inch color driver information display, EZ Lift and Lower remote locking tailgate, and 17-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.

LED cargo box lighting, outside heated power-adjustable mirrors, power windows, OnStar 4G LTE, and illuminated vanity mirrors are also on the SLE standard feature list.

Trim  2018 Sierra 1500 2018 Sierra SLE
Base price $30,200 $36,900
4×4 Optional Optional
Base engine 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 4.3L EcoTec3 V6
Base horsepower 285 hp @5,300 RPM 285 hp @5,300 RPM
Base torque 305 lb-ft @3,900 RPM 305 lb-ft @3,900 RPM
Transmission 6-speed electronic automatic with overdrive and tow/haul mode 6-speed electronic automatic with overdrive and tow/haul mode
Fuel Regular unleaded gas, Flex-Fuel capable Regular unleaded gas, Flex-Fuel capable
Fuel capacity (gallons) 26 gallons 26 gallons
Fuel economy 18 mpg city/ TBD mpg highway 18 mpg city/ TBD mpg highway
Maximum towing weight 7,600 lbs 7,600 lbs
Base wheels 17-inch steel 17-inch aluminum
Cab styles Regular, double, crew Regular, double, crew
Box lengths 5.8, 6.5, 8-foot 5.8, 6.5, 8-foot

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT, Denali

The first of two more luxury-loaded trims, the 2018 Sierra 1500 SLT with two-wheel drive starts at $44,025 with a double cab and standard 6.5-foot cargo box. In addition to the SLE’s features, the SLT includes the 5.3-liter V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission, heated leather front bench seat with driver seat memory, LED fog lamps and tail lamps, and a trailer hookup with hitch and six-pin and four-pin electrical connectors.

The SLT also has standard 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, automatic locking differential, an external transmission oil cooler, outside heated power-adjustable power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a universal home remote garage door and gate opener.

The All Terrain package ($2,880 package price) is available only with the Sierra SLT trim with four-wheel drive. This package adds an off-road suspension, 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, hill descent control, and underbody shielding. All Terrain package trucks have a black interior with red accents, leather heated bucket seats, all-weather floor mats, trailering equipment, and rear parking assistance.

For even more off-road excitement, the All Terrain X package ($4,155 package price) for the Sierra SLT bumps up the regular All Terrain upgrade with off-road 18-inch Goodyear DuraTrac tires, 18-black painted wheels, high-performance LED headlamps, and an optional 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine.

The Denali, starting at $54,100 with two-wheel drive, crew cab, and 5.8-foot cargo box, is the high-end Sierra 1500 trim. In addition to the SLT standard features, the Denali has magnetic ride control, heated and ventilated front bucket seats, and an 8-inch color touchscreen with GMC infotainment system with navigation and gesture recognition. The Denali also has an 8-inch customizable driver display, a Bose premium audio system, and 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.

The Denali Enhanced Driver Alert Package includes GMC’s Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist, IntelliBeam headlamps, Forward Collision Alert, and Safety Alert Driver Seat. The Denali’s feature list includes hill descent control, spray-on bedliner, and 6-inch chrome assist steps. Other upgrade features standard with the Denali trim include a front floor console, wireless charging, and a heated steering wheel,

Trim 2018 Sierra SLT  2018 Sierra Denali
Base price  $44,025  $54,100
4×4  Optional  Optional
Base engine  5.3L EcoTec3 V8  5.3L EcoTec3 V8
Base horsepower  355 hp 355 hp
Base torque  383 lb-ft @4,100 RPM 383 lb-ft @4,100 RPM
Transmission  6-speed automatic transmission  8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel  Regular unleaded gas, Flex-Fuel capable  Regular unleaded gas, Flex-Fuel capable
Fuel capacity (gallons)  26 gallons  26 gallons
Fuel economy 15 mpg city/ TBD mpg highway  16 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Maximum towing weight 12,500 pounds 12,500 pounds
Base wheels  18-inch aluminum  20-inch bright machined aluminum
Cab styles  Double cab, crew cab  Crew cab
Box lengths 5.8, 6.5-foot 5.8, 6.5-foot

Updated with info on the GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain Concept.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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