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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Regular Cab

Overview
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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Regular Cab Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.5

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 the Sierra 3500 HD Regular Cab

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.

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.

2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Regular Cab Details
Interior

The 2012 GMC Sierra HD Work Truck (WT), SLE and SLT interiors are designed to work in conjunction with the trucks' duties, yet are still nicely appointed and on Denali trims, downright opulent. While there are not as many storage bins and compartments as in the Ram and Ford HD trucks, the 2012 GMC Sierra HD nevertheless has a number of useful storage ideas for everything from laptops to the errant tool. The 2012 GMC Sierra HD truck's cab makes for the perfect mobile office, with such options as mobile Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and navigation, as well as SiriusXM NavTraffic updates and the OnStar suite of telematic aids. Denali models feature specific brushed-aluminum trim, heated and cooling 12-way power seats, power-adjustable pedals, and a Bose premium surround audio system.

Exterior

The 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD trucks sport a large, 3-bar chrome grille resting atop a full-size chrome bumper to create as imposing a sight as you'll ever want see in your rearview mirror. The Sierra HD's massive power dome hood is decked out in powertrain badging and features functional louvers for better engine cooling. The upscale Denali trims can be spotted by their 4-bar mesh design grille and color-keyed bumpers fitted with a mesh-style lower air intake surrounding the front tow hooks. Other features unique to the Denali include chrome door handles and accents, and polished forged-aluminum wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and Intelligent Brake Assist and a 6-speed automatic transmission are standard on all models, while StabiliTrak electronic stability control, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist (but not Hill Descent Control) are standard on single-rear-wheel (non-dually) models, and a "Smart" Exhaust Braking comes with the available Duramax Diesel. Also standard are chrome front and rear bumpers, engine- and transmission-oil coolers, a driver information center, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, automatic headlights and front tow hooks. Standard safety features include front-seat airbags and a new high-strength tubular steel-frame crossmember that improves crashworthiness.

Optional Equipment

Optional (or unavailable) on base 2WD GMC Sierra Work Trucks are power locks, windows and mirrors and a rear-window defroster. The next-level SLE trim provides those plus remote keyless entry, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, and a CD player, but not the rear-window defroster. The top-of-the-line SLT trim (available on Extended and Crew Cab models) adds leather, power seats and much more, while Denali models are fully loaded. Option packages are available, and other major options include navigation, a CD changer, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, remote start, premium wheels, a sunroof, a rearview camera, an integrated trailer-brake controller and pelvic/thorax and head-curtain airbags.

Under the Hood

The 2012 GMC Sierra HD features as standard a heavy-duty Vortec 6.0-liter gasoline V8 with a cast-iron block, aluminum heads and cam-in-block variable valve timing (VVT). The VVT system allows the engine to use late intake valve closing to improve efficiency and achieve an optimal balance of low-rpm torque and free-breathing, high-rpm horsepower. The 2012 Duramax turbodiesel offers plentiful power and torque, improved strength and durability, and a "smart" exhaust braking with the Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission and full B20 biodiesel capability. Its NOx emissions are reduced by 63 percent via a Selective Catalyst Reduction after-treatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in a 5.3-gallon tank that needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles.

6.0-liter V8
360 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA

6.6-liter turbodiesel V8
397 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm
765 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA

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Buying this car?

2012 GMC Sierra 3500 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 735 Ratings for the 2007 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    9.0/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Great truck runs strong

By on Saturday, July 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 151,200

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "All wheel drive fun to drive"

Cons: "it doesn't have a a back massager in the seat."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"this truck has 22" wheels with low profile tires, has a spray in bed liner, rear dvd video screen for the back seat, many things to list"

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Excellent

By on Monday, July 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "quiet, powerful, great fuel mileage"

Cons: "pricey"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Best driving truck I have ever owned. Large fuel tank (36 gal)and excellent fuel mileage (20 mpg/hwy) are also a great improvement over previous trucks. Navigation system "learns" routes not in the database. Quiet interior and engine make it pleasant to drive, smooth ride (even on oil well lease roads)."

11 people out of 23 found this review helpful

Outstanding Truck, well done GMC !

By on Thursday, July 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power, comfort, tows great, looks great, quiet"

Cons: "If I had to get picky I would want power seats"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is the best truck I have ever owned. I have just driven it from Massachusetts to Georgia and it was the best ride in a truck I ever have done. And that was towing a 12 foot landscape trailer with a load on! Powerful 5.3, quiet cab, pulls with ease, comfortable seats and interior setup, looks good and even gets decent millage for a full size truck. I'm happy."

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

has served me well

By on Saturday, July 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fair priced for a work truck, handles a plow easy"

Cons: "need manual locking rear end like fords"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"has done a good job for me for 6 years, used mostly for plowing snow and highway mileage, had some issues with front end as far as wear and tear which is expected, need to put a cover on console so when you bring a 3rd person into the cab, you don't have to empty console when flipping up. has served me well."

19 people out of 38 found this review helpful

many compliments of this truck. Sonoma Red Metalic

By on Thursday, July 03, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Truck looks and runs like new. Used as a 2nd vehicle. The Sonoma Red Metalic paint looks like new. Has bed and tail gate liner, 3" BOSS CHROME RAILS. 20" BRIGHT CHROME WHEELS & TIRES. RIDE IS EXCELLENT WITH THE 20" TIRES."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Best truck I've ever owned

By on Sunday, June 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Turns over once and cold starts at 30 below zero without the block heater. Absolutely the best truck I've ever owned. Balanced, comfortable ride and POWERFUL."

32 people out of 63 found this review helpful

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