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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Regular Cab

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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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2012 GMC Sierra 3500 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 792 Ratings for the 2007 - 2014 models.

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

This rig is a highway hog, loves the road

By on Sunday, January 10, 2016

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
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "priced well, and it will get you down the road."

Cons: "Typical 2500 ride, no sliding rear window"

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

"Moved, changed jobs. Time to sell the Duramax. This rig has only pulled an enclosed car hauler, no 5th wheels. All highway miles. Gets 18-20 MPG on road. Clean, leather, nav. And most accessories. I bought new. Great pickup up truck. This is just another "Bullet Proof" 2011 GMC Duramax, thanks"

12 people out of 21 found this review helpful

I bought this vehicle 45 days ago

By on Sunday, November 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I bought this truck at a dealership with low mileage ,it runs great and had to bring it back because it sat for a while and the rotors were warped. They fixed the problem and the truck runs and looks great. My Silveroedo had 280 thousand miles on it and it was wrecked and still running. I love my 2009 Sierra. I kinda miss the 5.3 motor.My new truck has the 4.8 motor .I miss the low end tourge, but if if you put your foot into it you will get about the same performance.It seems quicker when you punch it,I dont know why but it backs down when quick when you let off of it,I love this truck, I hope I dont blow up the motor trying to make up for the 5.3 It sounds great when you work it. It handles really good for a big heavy truck.It is a nice truck !"

20 people out of 51 found this review helpful

Best vehicle i have ever owned

By on Thursday, November 19, 2015

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

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Very reliable and strong"

Cons: "Emissions system still needs a little reengineerin"

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

"I have a 2013 Denali Crew Cab Dual. In first 85,000 miles, very few problems. Just brake hydro-boost replaced. Otherwise perfect vehicle."

6 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Great truck but has issues

By on Monday, October 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 171,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great for pulling"

Cons: "eats glowplugs"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Love the truck and the power it has but i really don't like how it likes to have glow plugs go out so often. I keep replacing them regularly."

8 people out of 15 found this review helpful

I have had no problems or warranty issues at all!

By on Sunday, September 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,120

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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

"My Sierra 1500 has 20 inch wheels and rides very well and is comfortable.I have had no problems or warranty issues just change the oil and rotate the tiresetc.The gas mileage could be better but I like the get up and go effect so I can't complain."

21 people out of 38 found this review helpful

This truck is awsome!!!

By on Wednesday, September 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,000

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
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "depenable"

Cons: "dosen't turn real sharp"

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

"This is one of the best trucks I have ever owned. Almost 100k and is still going strong. I have never had one problem with this truck, I pull a 30 foot fifth wheel (13,000 lbs) and you don't even know is back there."

16 people out of 27 found this review helpful

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