2020 GMC Sierra: More is More Heavy Duty

GMC engineers who designed the 2020 Sierra 2500 pickup truck were clearly not students of the “less is more” school of thought. In fact, for the new Sierra 2500 heavy-duty hauler, more is more.

The Sierra 2500 has lots of more. Redesigned for 2020, the Sierra heavy duty truck is taller, longer, and stronger than the model it replaces. This new truck is a workhorse of a pickup that can do the day’s chores on the farm, clean up, and head for the valet line at the club.

GMC says the 2020 Sierra HDs — 2500s and 3500s — are the most capable trucks the company has ever offered. The Sierra HD diesel with a fifth-wheel can tow up to 35,500 pounds. With a receiver hitch, the truck can tow up to 20,000 pounds. Payload is up to 7,442 pounds with a dually, and it can carry 4,534 with single wheels.

GMC offers a pair of capable and strong engines in the new Sierra 2500: a 6.6-liter V-8 that develops 401 horsepower and 464 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 6.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8 that cranks out 445 horses and a whopping 910 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is a new 10-speed automatic.

The Sierra HD models are offered in base, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali, with 4WD available in all trims. Cab styles include regular cab, double cab, and crew cab. Short beds (6 feet, 7 inches) and long beds (8 feet, 2 inches) are available. The 3500 is available in single- or dual-wheel models.

My test truck was the diesel AT4, which is designed for off-road performance. The AT4 has special exterior features like body-colored bumpers, a black chrome grille, and red recovery hooks. Off-road performance extras include a special suspension, Rancho shocks, skid plates, an Eaton locking rear differential, 18- or 20-inch wheels, a traction control system with an off-road mode, hill descent control and hill start assist, a 15-inch heads-up system with an off-road inclinometer, and cool HD surround vision cameras that give the driver a look around the vehicle during low-speed driving.

With lots of diesel trucks, you can annoy the heck out of people by sitting at idle in a parking lot or drive-through. But my Sierra diesel test truck was surprisingly quiet inside and out. On the road, the truck had plenty of acceleration (GMC says it can hit 60 mph from a standstill in 7.4 seconds), and a smooth-shifting Allison 10-speed transmission. The ride is, of course, truck-like but still pleasant in the huge cabin. Sierra HDs outfitted with the diesel engine also have exhaust brakes.

I didn’t have anything heavy to tow during my test week, but I was able to check out the HD camera system that allows up to 15 different views of the truck’s exterior, including several views of the front, back, sides, bed, and hitch area. Most new trucks are installing fantastic camera systems that make hauling and towing vastly easier, safer, and more convenient.

I took the truck for a spin around the pasture at my farm, and from that small amount of light off-road driving it was obvious the AT4 is capable after the pavement ends.

Also available on the Sierra HD is GMC’s Multi-Pro tailgate, a six-function tailgate that allows easier loading and unloading of the bed. Multi-pro started a revolution in tailgate technology, and you can look for the “tailgate wars” to continue as manufacturers seek to make tailgates — the business end of the truck — easier and more accessible.

Inside the truck is where drivers live though, and the new Sierra has a roomy and comfortable cabin, especially in the popular Denali trim. Because it’s designed for off-road performance, the cabin of my AT4 trim wasn’t as luxurious as the Denali version, but it’s still a huge, comfortable space with durable materials, Bose sound, and top technology. Connectivity is made easy and convenient with AUX, USB, 12-volt, and even a 120v outlet located at the bottom of the center stack. — Steve Wheeler, Motor Matters

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