By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
When your towing and hauling needs exceed the limits of a half-ton pickup, a heavy-duty pickup like the 2016 GMC Sierra HD is required. Although still technically a work truck, GMC envisions the Sierra line, especially the Denali, as the vehicle driven by the boss rather than the crew. Offered in 2500 and 3500 models, the Sierra can be equipped with a potent 6.0-liter gasoline V8 or stump-pulling 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8. Naturally, 4-wheel drive (4WD) is an option, as are hundreds of features and configurations including cab size, bed lengths, rear axle and trim levels. In terms of capability, the Sierra’s competition are all within spitting distance of each other, but few can match the Denali’s level of refinement, style and features.
Big jobs call for big trucks, and they don’t come any bigger than the 2016 GMC Sierra HD. Upscale Denali models offer near-Cadillac levels of comfort and convenience.
If you just need the power and capability of a 2500/3500 HD truck, but not the exorbitant price tag, a base Silverado, Ford F-Series or Ram HD makes a far better choice. Both the Ford and Ram diesels have higher torque ratings than the Sierra.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, the Sierra HD gains standard HID headlights and a revised front end. New options include Digital Steering Assist, fifth-wheel prep package with spray-in bedliner, wireless phone charging and a locking tailgate. IntelliLink audio options are now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Most of our time in the 2016 GMC Sierra HD pickup consisted of long drives over vast highway expanses. As a boulevard cruiser, the big Sierra impresses with a spacious...
... cabin plush beyond measure and well insulated from outside wind and road noise. The big 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 pulls without complaint, and even when we had a trailer in tow, the Sierra HD never felt taxed or strained. After exiting the highway, we hooked up a fifth wheel and took our Sierra HD over numerous course conditions to which it responded with amazing ease. Even when towing a 10,000-pound trailer up to a 5,000-foot elevation, the Sierra HD demonstrated an uncanny ability to control the situation. During steep downhill descents, trailer-sway control kept wag to a minimum, while the 6-speed Allison transmission worked in conjunction with the diesel exhaust braking to keep us feeling calm and controlled.
From its upright instrument cluster with large gauges and rubberized switchgear, to the ambient lighting illuminating primary features inside the cabin, the 2016 GMC Sierra HD’s interior puts the driver’s needs front and center.
6.6-LITER DURAMAX ENGINE
As diesels go, GM’s Duramax is one of the best. Powerful, quiet and efficient, it makes one wonder why anyone would settle for the gasoline alternative.
Major styling points go to the 2016 GMC Sierra HD interior. The base model brings basic amenities like a front split-bench seat, air conditioning, and power windows and locks. Move up to the SLE and you'll get features like a leather steering wheel and rubberized vinyl floor mats. The top-tier SLT trim offers everything mentioned plus dual-zone climate control, a high-capacity air cleaner, and a suspension package. Then there’s the Denali trim, which is GMC’s halo trim across the board. It brings things like contrast stitching, perforated leather seats, and aluminum trim on the instrument panel.
Besides the interior, GMC’s 2016 Sierra HD’s exterior styling is a major game changer, especially its massive chrome grille and distinctive HID headlight treatment. Like the interior, the exterior styling of the Sierra HD closely reflects that of its light-duty offering. Headlights with LED running lights, a CornerStep rear bumper, and a raised power-dome hood further distinguish the Sierra HD. Regular-cab 2500 and 3500 models are affixed to an 8-foot bed, as is the 3500 crew cab. The double-cab models can be optioned with an 8-foot or 6-foot 6-inch bed. Dual rear wheels are exclusive to the 3500.
With the base Sierra HD truck, you get a robust V8 engine, anti-lock disc brakes, air conditioning and stability control. An automatic locking rear differential is also standard on all Sierra HD trucks with the exception of the 2500 HD base model. Climbing up the trim ladder brings you leather seats, steering-wheel-mounted controls and Bluetooth. Both Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD models equipped with a Duramax engine also get an electric-assist heater, which helps to warm the cabin quickly.
The 6.6-liter V8 Duramax turbodiesel engine is, without question, the option to get when outfitting your 2016 Sierra 2500 or 3500 HD. Going with the Duramax engine and 4-wheel drive will save you some major headaches in the future. Other notable options for the 2500 and 3500 truck include a touch-screen navigation system, an EZ-Lift tailgate, and a snow-plow prep package. New this year on certain double cabs and crew cabs is GMC’s Digital Power Assist power steering. The DPA system improves stability and steering feel, helping to make hauling and trailering less stressful.
A 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine or a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine provide power to the 2016 GMC Sierra HD. A 6.0-liter V8 powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) is also available, if that's how you roll. Rated at 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, the gasoline engine is stout in its own right, but the Duramax diesel is the real star of the show. Power numbers for the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 check in at 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of twist. The Duramax engine also brings an exhaust-braking system that helps keep the Sierra HD’s speed in check going downhill. A 6-speed automatic transmission reports for duty with either engine, but the Duramax gets the added shift-technology benefits of an Allison 6-speed automatic.
6.0-liter CNG V8
301 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
333 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
360 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm
380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6-liter turbodiesel V8
397 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm
765 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
If you just want to get into a 2016 GMC Sierra HD regular cab, you can do so by spending as little as $32,700 MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re looking to drop some serious coin, go with a Sierra Denali 3500 HD crew cab, long box. You won’t have any issues clearing the $65,000 mark that way. That number may bring a little sticker shock at first, but it does fall in line with the most plush, full-size truck offerings from Ford and Ram. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for a 2016 Sierra HD. The resale value of the Sierra HD is also in line with the competition, but opting to go with the Duramax diesel engine will help keep the resale value up.