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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Extended Cab

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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/7/2011


Although many people consider GMC and Chevrolet's trucks to be interchangeable, GMC has been working hard to establish its own identity, something the company likes to call "professional grade." The 2012 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty (HD) trucks are a good example of this new image, sharing almost all of their parts with the Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks, but adding more upscale features such as the Denali trim line, which has no equal on the Chevy side. The 2012 Sierra HD trucks are a powerful lineup of 3/4-ton and 1-ton models, made all the better by last year's improvements to the frame, suspension and Duramax diesel engine. And, while the 2012 GMC Sierra HD trucks are not the most powerful in the segment, they do take top honors for fifth-wheel and conventional towing, as well as payload.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're a GMC loyalist, the 2012 GMC Sierra HD truck line is bound to keep you coming back for more. Those who worry about dirtying up the inside of their truck will appreciate the heavily vinyl trappings of the Work Truck line.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Although both the Ram HD and Ford Super Duty trucks look nearly identical on paper, the two competitors offer bolder styling and more upscale editions than does the 2012 GMC Sierra HD line.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 GMC Sierra HD sees a few improvements for this model year. A new hard-drive navigation radio is offered, while Work Truck models gain cruise control and lockable spare tire. Denali trims gain as standard equipment heated and cooling front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera and, on 3500 dually models, 17-inch polished wheels.

Driving It Driving Impressions

Thanks to its torque-heavy 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8, we found that towing a 10,000-pound trailer behind the 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 HD truck posed absolutely no challenge whatsoever. The 2012 GMC HD's available Duramax turbodiesel develops 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque (that's more horsepower but less torque than the Ram HD, and less horsepower and torque than the Ford PowerStroke diesel). Despite the difference in power from its main rivals, the Sierra HD still takes top honors in fifth-wheel and conventional towing, as well as payload figures. The Duramax diesel is a bit loud, but you wouldn't know it from inside the passenger compartment. One of our favorite features on the diesel truck is the "smart" exhaust-braking setup. The system works by progressively restricting the diesel's exhaust, depending on speed and grade, to help slow the rig with added compression braking. We tested a number of 2012 GMC Sierra HD trucks, with gasoline and diesel engines, long and short beds, and basic to plush trim levels. We found all exhibited a firm suspension, good steering ability and fairly compliant ride.

Favorite Features

Exhaust braking
This system progressively restricts the diesel's exhaust – depending on speed and grade – to help slow the rig with added compression braking.

Remote starting
A favorite on any vehicle, this available feature is much appreciated on working trucks that operate in hot and cold weather extremes.


For vehicle details and pricing notes… Read More
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