By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/14/2011
While many rightly consider the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup to be the twin of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, there are a few subtle differences in styling and equipment. For the most part, the two share identical mechanical and interior layouts, making them essentially the same vehicle. And, while Ford may lay claim to the F-150 being the best-selling pickup in America, combined Sierra and Silverado sales actually beat out the F-150. Like the Silverado, the 2012 GMC Sierra half-ton truck is a strong work horse, offering a number of engines, bed configurations and cab sizes from which to choose. There is also a Hybrid model, something no other truck manufacturer offers. But, while fuel economy figures may vary by a few mpg between competitors, it's really a truck's ability to tow and carry great weight that is of primary concern. With this is mind, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck can tow up to 10,700 pounds when equipped with the Max Tow Package and 6.2-liter V8 engine.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need to tow or haul big loads, a compact pickup just won't do the job. The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck offers a wide range of trims, from basic Work Truck to the ultra-luxurious Denali, while those seeking better fuel economy can chose the 23-mpg Hybrid model or the 22-mpg XFE.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you don't have big towing and big hauling needs, you don't really need a big truck. A Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier or even the GMC Canyon can probably fit your needs and save you some big bucks.What's New for 2012
The 2012 GMC Sierra sports a new four-bar grille and offers heated and cooling seats on the SLT trim. StabilitTrak stability control gains Trailer Sway Control and hill start assist, while cruise control is made standard on the Work Truck. The 2012 GMC Sierra Denali truck gains heated and cooling front seats, a heated steering wheel and a rear backup camera.Driving It Driving Impressions
Ample power and an unexpectedly civil ride are two the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck's best attributes. A fully-boxed ladder frame provides the Sierra with a rigid chassis, while the coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering give the big Sierra truck the ability to respond to driver input with impressive speed. Over the course of a few days, we traveled along smooth highways, narrow back roads and unpaved washboard tracks. Even over the roughest surfaces, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck's cabin remained calm, bothered neither by noise or vibration. While the 4.3-liter V6 is adequate for most light jobs, we prefer the pulling and passing power provided by the 5.3-liter V8. The ultimate source of power can be found in the Denali, which has a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. All of the Sierra's V8 engines can run on E85, and the 5.3-liter V8 includes Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology for maximum fuel efficiency.Favorite Features
Heated and Cooling seats
Standard on the Denali and available on SLT trims, these seats guarantee to keep the front occupants cozy in winter and summer.
Active Fuel Management
The Active Fuel Management system available on the 5.3-liter V8s cuts the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded and thus enhances fuel economy.
The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck offers two distinct interiors aimed at satisfying two distinctly different customers. On Work Truck, SL and SLE trims, GMC's "pure pickup" interior theme includes more use of vinyl on the floor coverings, as well as larger door handles and instrument-panel knobs that are easily operated when wearing work gloves. There's also a double glovebox design for maximizing the places to toss cell phones, note pads, spare tools or lunch. The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT and Denali trims borrow the same luxurious upscale interior found on the GMC Yukon, providing plenty of soft-touch surfaces, wood-grain trim on the dash and console and, on Denali models, a heated steering wheel. GMC mounts the Sierra's instrument panel low and far forward for an increased feeling of spaciousness. Cab space up front is generous, but Extended Cab models offer somewhat cramped rear seating. If you plan on carrying your crew in comfort, the Crew Cab's theatre-style elevated rear seats are the way to go. The Crew Cab's rear seat features a 60/40-split design and a folding center armrest, as well as the capability to fold up the seat bottom and thus create a large, uninterrupted load floor.Exterior
Although its frame and mechanical parts are basically the same as the Silverado's, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck displays a bolder grille design, more expressive front and rear fender flares and more stylish wheels. A new four-bar grille plays home to the massive GMC red lettered logo, while big chrome bumpers and available 20-inch polished chrome wheels give the Sierra the upscale look its "Professional Grade" design philosophy promotes. The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck features a large box area with high walls to maximize cargo capacity, although this same design can make it difficult to reach the center of the bed, as is required when accessing a bed-mounted tool box. Another feature we like are the Extended Cab's rear access doors that swing out 170 degrees, making it easy to load people or items into the rear of the cab.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 truck is offered in seven trim levels, from basic to sinfully luxurious. The base model is the WT (Work Truck), and then, ascending the food chain, the SE, SLE, XFE, Hybrid, SLT and Denali. In fact, the Sierra Denali is virtually a distinct model unto itself and includes as standard a 6.2-liter all-aluminum V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. Cloth seats are standard on WT, SE and SLE models, and leather seating is available on SLE models. SLT models include standard leather seats, the "luxury" instrument panel, 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, 6-disc audio system with Bose speakers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and heated windshield washer system. The crew-cab SLT version is even more luxurious with rain-sensing windshield wipers and a rear-seat audio system. Even the base trim level includes a 4-speed automatic transmission, tire pressure monitoring system, cruise control, power rack-and-pinion steering, anti-lock brakes (ABS), air conditioning, tinted glass, full instrumentation, XM Satellite radio, side-impact and head-curtain airbags and two auxiliary power outlets. StabiliTrak stability control with Trailer Sway Control is standard on all 1500 models.
The multiplicity of trim levels should allow you to fine-tune your Sierra to the equipment level you want, but options abound as well. Convenience features offered on SLE and SLT models include touch-screen navigation/sound system, power-operated moonroof, rear backup camera and a power-sliding rear window. The Denali trim offers heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and rear backup camera as standard. The 2012 GMC Sierra offers five distinct suspension systems, each tailored to suit specific driving requirements. They include Z83 for a solid, smooth ride; Z85 for enhanced handling and trailer towing; Z71 for enhanced off-road capability; Z60 for street performance with 20-inch wheels; and NHT for maximum towing capacity. A choice of 2- and 4-wheel-drive models, various cabs and bed lengths and a variety of axle ratios are also offered.Under the Hood
While we expect the 4.3-liter V6 and 4.8-liter V8 to be more than adequate in Work Truck applications, we recommend the 5.3-liter V8 engines, most with cast iron blocks and some with aluminum, but all with Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing. And for those who want more power or towing capacity, the 6.2-liter V8, available only on the Denali trim level, is tops in its class, offering significantly more power and torque with very little penalty in fuel economy. The 2012 Sierra Hybrid truck features a 6.0-liter Vortec V8 with an electric motor/generator built into the transmission. The two-mode system employs two 60-kilowatt electric motors, three planetary gearsets and four hydraulic wet clutches, providing continually-variable operation with four fixed gear ratios.
195 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/18 (4WD)
302 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
305 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 13/18 (4WD), 10/14 (E85, 2WD), 10/13 (E85, 4WD)
5.3-liter V8 Flex-Fuel
315 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm (E85)
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
348 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (2WD, E85), 15/22 (XFE), 11/16 (XFE, E85), 15/21 (4WD), 11/16 (4WD, E85)
403 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
417 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (2WD), 12/18 (4WD), 9/13 (E85, 2WD), 9/13 (E85, 4WD)
6.0-liter V8 hybrid
332 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
367 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/23
The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500's starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $22,000 delivers a capable but plain Work Truck. The SLE trim level with substantial equipment starts closer to $28,000. The SLT Extended Cab model begins at an MSRP of about $36,500, and a fully-loaded all-wheel-drive Denali approaches the $55,000 mark. Be sure to check the Incentives tab to see what savings may be on the table. We advise that you check the kbb.com Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers are paying in your area. The Sierra offers good projected resale values for its segment, higher than those for the Ram 1500, on par with those of the Nissan Titan, but below those of the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra.