By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
If you prefer your full-size pickups upright and rugged, as opposed to slickly styled and fad-laden, the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup should be pleasing to your eye. While it shares most of its mechanical underpinnings with the Chevy Silverado 1500, the Sierra brings a bit more upscale styling and features to the mix, not to mention the unrivaled Denali trim with its standard 6.2-liter V8. You can find similar features and style in a decked-out Ram 1500 or Ford F-150, but at the base level, the Sierra is pretty much on par with all of its rivals. Regardless, the GMC Sierra 1500 for 2017 has the muscle to excel in the categories that matter most to pickup buyers, namely payload, towing and horsepower.
GMC’s 2017 Sierra 1500 not only claims most powerful gasoline V8 available, its 12,500-pound max trailering figure for crew-cab pickups is a best-in-class first. The Sierra’s impressive towing ability is augmented by bold styling and new driver-assist features, giving two more reasons to buy.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup gains standard Teen Driver, active aero-shutters and capless fuel fill. New options include tri-mode power steps, while low-speed forward automatic braking is added to the Sierra’s Enhanced Driver Alert package.
The 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup has a rather obvious split personality. At first glance you’ll see a sturdy and capable full-size pickup truck posting excellent towing, payload and people-carrying...
... figures. Look again and you’ll find a rather luxurious cabin so nice you may not want to take it to a job site or muddy off-road locale. The Sierra’s standard 5.3-liter V8 is well suited to this truck, delivering decent fuel economy and excellent pulling and passing power. The interior is amazingly well insulated from road and wind noise and the ride is settled and confident over most road surfaces, although washboard back roads can send a pronounced shudder through the cabin. One of our adventures had us towing a 5,000-pound 1970s’ luxury car to a new home. Not only did the Sierra perform admirably, fuel economy suffered only a few miles per gallon and the trailer-sway control performed exactly as promised.
The full-size 2017 GMC Sierra pickup offers a choice of two IntelliLink audio systems, one with a 7-inch screen and the other, eight inches. Its five USB ports and 110-volt outlet address most gadget needs, as do the 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Built into the Sierra’s lane-departure and forward-collision warning system is a vibrating driver’s seat that helps alert the driver of potential danger. Depending if the vehicle is drifting right or left, a corresponding vibrating pulse is sent through the driver’s seat cushion alerting the driver an immediate course correction is in order.
With big buttons and knobs coated in rubber for easy grip even when wearing gloves, GMC’s 2017 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 bold 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 have standard front-hinged rear doors for easier access.
Even the most basic 2017 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 2017 Sierra lineup. 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 low-speed automatic braking, 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 2017 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 7,600 pounds. The 6.2-liter V8 can pull up to 12,500 pounds. With the ability to tow 11,100 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), 15/20 mpg (4WD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
With the Sierra's wide range of configurations comes a wide range of prices. A base, regular-cab 2017 GMC Sierra has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just shy of $29,500. Double-cab models start closer to $33,500 while Crew Cab models start just under $38,000. Start climbing trim levels and adding options, and prices can climb by tens of thousands of dollars. A fully equipped Sierra Denali can easily break the $70,000 mark. The Sierra's starting price is slightly higher than the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra, while the Nissan Titan Crew Cab starts around $31,000. 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.