KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
For several decades, GMC products represented little more than rebadged versions of their Chevrolet counterparts. Beginning in 2007, GMC began a concerted effort to distinguish itself from its divisional sibling. With the 2009 GMC Sierra HD trucks, GM's engineers have also made a concerted effort to increase the differentiation between the Heavy Duty pickups and their lighter-duty 1500 counterparts. With improvements in refinement, engines and capabilities, the GMC line of trucks are easily a match, and in some cases superior, to their peers from Dodge and Ford.
You'll Like This Car If...
Whether purchasing for commercial construction, agriculture or recreational towing, if your needs are truly "heavy-duty" you'll likely find those needs met with the 2009 GMC Sierra HD, which offers all of the virtues, with few of the vices, normally associated with a "heavy-duty" truck.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The Heavy Duty's principal mission is to haul or tow big and heavy things. If you don't need this sort of vehicle and its "heavy-duty" attributes, you'll probably be happier with something not quite so robust.
What's New for 2009
Technical upgrades include the addition of Bluetooth hands-free communication technology to OnStar 8.0, as well as Destination Downloads for vehicles equipped with DVD navigation. Extended and Crew Cab trims offers a rear backup camera, while a stability enhancement system is made standard on the 2500 HD with single rear wheels.
Given the number of drivetrain, cab and chassis variations in the GMC lineup, it's difficult to provide one set of observations regarding drivability. However, everything GMC's engineering team did to enhance the driving experience has worked. A rigid frame, in combination with a wide track and retuned suspension (Z85, standard on 2WD and 4WD models; and Z71, the optional Off-Road suspension), supplies the needed capability without imposing the typical vices of a heavy-duty platform. The ride is composed, handling stable and steering accurate with good on-center feel. With the 6.0-liter gasoline V8, performance might be described as "almost recreational." The Duramax does what diesels do best, pulling a lot of load (up to 13,000 lbs.) in an authoritative manner.
This transmission has two overdrive gears to provide relaxed cruising with lower engine speeds and a first gear that's intended to enhance off-the-line response. Of importance to those towing is both Driver Shift Control (tap up and down) and standard Tow/Haul Mode.
Gen-IV 6.0L V8 (Gasoline)
For sheer day-in, day-out driving pleasure the 6.0-liter gasoline V8 is terrific, offering extraordinary response for a vehicle this large.
With the 2009 GMC Sierra there are two available interiors. The base and mid-level Sierra HD standard interior is all about functionality, with an instrument panel focused on ergonomic ease, specific door panels offering larger door pulls and handles, a specific center console and two glove boxes. The "luxury" interior of the SLT trim level offers a driving environment straight out of a top-of-the-line Yukon. With a distinct instrument design, large center console and other specific trim elements the end result is decidedly upscale.
"Upmarket" might be a kiss-of-death descriptive for a heavy-duty pickup, but it will work for the 2009 GMC Sierra HD. The grille is framed by a large chrome or black surround, with the GMC logo as its centerpiece, and is flanked by large headlamps. Corner lights wrap into the flared front fenders, which complement the bulge atop the hood, and there is a sleek profile by virtue of a 57-degree windshield angle. Functionally, large door handles are "grab-style" (for ease of operation while wearing work gloves), doors extend over the rocker panels and, on Extended Cab models, the rear doors open 170 degrees.
Notable Standard Equipment
For truck-oriented capability few things beat power; GMC's standard 6.0-liter Gen IV V8 delivers 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission meshes perfectly with the engine's capability. Standard safety features include seat-belt pretensioners, tire-pressure monitoring and OnStar.
Notable Optional Equipment
For many, selecting the diesel is a no-brainer; GM's Duramax turbo-diesel provides plenty of power and is a lot quieter and smoother than diesels of the past. Those carrying lots of random cargo might better organize it with GM's cargo management system, those living in either excessively cold or warm climates will benefit from remote starting on certain trim levels and those wishing to be entertained will enjoy an enhanced DVD system and CD/MP3 audio. Finally, people who worry about getting lost should opt for the available touch-screen navigation system.
Under the Hood
GMC offers two engine choices. Base power is the 6.0-liter gasoline V8 which delivers 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. Although the EPA doesn't provide a rating for vehicles in this category, past experience suggests GM gasoline engines deliver competitive fuel economy. For those wanting more, the 6.6-liter Duramax provides 365 horsepower and a remarkable 660 lb.-ft. of torque
6.0 liter V8
360 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
380 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6 liter V8 Turbo Diesel
365 horsepower @ 3200 rpm
660 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The 2008 GMC Sierra HD has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $26,000 for the 2500 Regular Cab in Work Truck trim, while the 3500 WT costs a few hundred more. The diesel option adds another $7,000 to the total and and one could easily spend $50,000 for a heavily-optioned SLT Crew Cab. These numbers are fully competitive with Ford's Super Duty and slightly less than a Dodge Ram. Slowing truck sales make this a buyer's market so be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. Also, be sure to click on the Incentives tab to see what discounts GMC may be offering. As for resale values, the Sierra's numbers are not high, but in its segment the 2009 GMC Sierra HD holds values slightly below those of its competitors from Ford, and just above those of Dodge.