By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
If you like big and blocky, GMC’s 2016 Sierra 1500 pickup truck’s got your name written all over it. Sharing its mechanical foundations with the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC adds more styling and features to elevate the Sierra 1500 above the average full-size pickup. Although the Ford and Ram can be decked out with features that easily rival the Sierra, the same cannot be said for the Toyota Tundra or Nissan Titan. Of course, this description applies only to the upper SLT and Denali trims; the base work truck is just as pedestrian as its competitors’ base models. What matters most to pickup buyers, however, is the ability to tow, haul and accelerate. To this end, the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 excels in every category.
GMC’s 2016 Sierra 1500 has bragging rights for the most powerful gasoline V8 in its class. The Sierra 1500 boasts a larger-than-life exterior, impressive 12,000-pound trailer rating and such uncommon features as available lane-departure warning and auto high-beam dimming.
If you need maximum towing power and fuel economy, the Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan offer a diesel engine option not available on the Sierra. If all you need is a truck to haul personal items, a more manageable midsize, like the GMC Canyon or Toyota Tacoma, makes a better choice.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 receives some major front-end styling revisions, as well as the addition of an 8-speed automatic on SLT and Denali models with the 5.3-liter engine. Other new options include lane-keep assist, power-articulating-assist steps and two new audio systems featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
GMC’s full-size 2016 Sierra pickup seems almost at odds with itself. On the one hand, the Sierra is a rugged and capable full-size truck. On the other,...
... it’s a luxurious ride so nice you may not want to get it dirty, let alone take it to the work site. The 5.3-liter V8 is probably the best engine for this type of truck, being both powerful and somewhat economical. At highway speeds, we found the Sierra’s cabin remarkably quiet and comfortable, while the truck’s suspension easily absorbed minor road distortions. We did find that over larger bumps and washboard surfaces, the Sierra’s body-on-frame design showed its limitations, sending some rather unpleasant shuddering through the passenger cabin. In the towing arena, the Sierra displayed little fuss while towing a 5,000-pound Airstream trailer, and the lane-departure warning and assist proved a valuable option worth every penny.
For 2016, GMC’s Sierra full-size pickup features two IntelliLink audio systems, one with a 7-inch screen and the other, eight inches. Both systems can be equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi and are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Five USB ports and a 110-volt outlet are super handy.
As part of the 2016 GMC Sierra’s lane-departure and forward-collision warning, this vibrating driver’s seat alerts the driver of potential danger. Depending on the direction of the vehicle’s drift, the system sends vibrating pulses through the seat cushion’s left or right side.
With big buttons and knobs coated in rubber for easy grip even when wearing gloves, GMC’s 2016 Sierra's roomy interior is built with work in mind. Yet it also can be luxurious, with features such as ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and communication ports that will outnumber most drivers' devices. Cab configurations include regular with a 3-passenger bench, double cab with seating for five or six, and crew cab with the most room for five or six. As should be expected in a big truck, the front seats are massive. Flip-up rear seats offer more cargo versatility.
We dub GMC’s latest styling experiment "contemporary macho." Like previous GMC trucks, this full-size pickup features blocky styling highlighted by swollen fender flares and a grille that would do a semi-truck proud. With the new styling come practical innovations like corner steps built into the rear bumper. These provide a foothold for bed access, and by design are covered to mitigate slipping in wet environments. Handgrips and available bed-mounted LED lights are other features we like. Bed lengths range from 5-feet-8 inches to eight feet. Double-cab models now have standard front-hinged rear doors for easier access.
Even the most basic 2016 GMC Sierra includes features like air conditioning, cruise control, cloth seats and a 7-inch touch-screen AM/FM radio with USB/SD inputs, but no CD player, Bluetooth or telescoping steering wheel. Step up to an SLE trim and you'll get a rearview camera, 6-speaker audio and 17-inch wheels made of premium aluminum instead of steel. SLT trims bring features like the 5.3-liter V8 engine, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touch-screen command center, power-adjustable pedals and leather-appointed seats. Foremen will appreciate the Sierra Denali's 20-inch chrome wheels, navigation system, Bose audio and leather-clad front bucket seats.
Add-ons are available across the 2016 Sierra lineup to make it more functional and comfortable. All Sierras can be ordered as 2-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel (4WD), while those seeking the most power and towing capability should look to the 6.2-liter V8 available on Sierra SLT and Denali models. Options include the Driver Alert Package with lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, IntelliBeam headlights and forward-collision alert, plus front and rear park-assist. The All-Terrain Package features off-road suspension with Rancho shocks, an underbody shield and 18-inch wheels. Interior comforts include heated and cooled front seats, navigation, a power sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Three engine choices are available for the 2016 GMC Sierra: a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and the top-dog 6.2-liter V8 available for SLT and Denali models. The V6 is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter employ an 8-speed automatic, but only when ordered with the SLE and Denali trim. All three engines have laudable towing capacity, including the V6's max of 7,200 pounds. The 6.2-liter V8 can pull up to 12,000 pounds. With the ability to tow 11,500 pounds and a highway rating of 23 mpg, the 5.3-liter V8 is the middle child in GMC's engine lineup. All engines use direct injection and Active Fuel Management, which allows them to run on fewer cylinders and thus use less fuel.
285 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm
305 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 mpg (2WD), 17/22 mpg (4WD)
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (2WD), 16/22 mpg (4WD)
420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg (2WD), 14/20 mpg (4WD)
With the Sierra's wide range of configurations comes a wide range of prices. A base, regular-cab 2016 GMC Sierra has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just shy of of $28,500. Double-cab models start closer to $32,000 while Crew Cab models start just under $37,000. Start climbing trim levels and adding options, and prices can climb by tens of thousands of dollars. A fully equipped Sierra SLT or Denali can easily break the $50,000 mark. The Sierra's starting price is slightly higher than the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra, while the Nissan Titan (King Cab and Crew Cab only) starts around $30,000. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Sierra's resale value is projected to be in line with that of its domestic rivals and the Nissan Titan, but behind that of the segment-leading Toyota Tundra.