2020 GMC Sierra Review
  • Car Review

2020 GMC Sierra Review

By Autolist Editorial | October 2, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • An extensive list of powertrain choices.
  • Good ride quality for a pickup truck.
  • Intuitive technologies.

Cons:

  • Not as luxurious as the price tag would suggest.
  • Gets expensive quickly.
  • Towing capacity down slightly from the year before.

Vehicle Type: A four-door, full-size pickup truck.

Price Range: The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 ranges from $31,195 to $60,690, including destination but before taxes or options.

Powertrain: The base offering is a 4.3-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Optional powertrains include:

A 5.3-liter V8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed automatic as standard, an eight-speed and 10-speed automatic are optional.

A 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque with an eight-speed automatic.

A 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and 10-speed automatic.

A 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and 10-speed automatic.

More Photos

See more 2020 GMC Sierra photos here.


Overview:

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The GMC Sierra was completely revised for 2019 with brand-new styling and updated technologies. The 2020 model's changes are less extensive but still notable. A new MultiPro tailgate enables the owner to open the gate in various ways to allow for easier loading and unloading of cargo and other items. The Sierra can also be equipped with a CarbonPro bed, which GMC says will reduce weight while increasing durability and strength.

The GMC Sierra is targeted at buyers that want the experience and capability of a full-size pickup truck with the benefit of a luxurious interior and a relaxing ride. It competes with the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, and Toyota Tundra. The 2020 Sierra 1500 is offered in six trims: Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali.

The Sierra offers a long list of powertrain choices that include a turbocharged four-cylinder, a V6, two V8s, and a six-cylinder turbodiesel. There are also three transmissions available, depending on the engine and rear-wheel-drive and various four-wheel-drive setups.

Though the current Sierra is still relatively new, after having just been overhauled for 2019, it faces fierce competition from the best-selling Ford F-150 and the also-recently redesigned Ram 1500. The Ford will be all-new for the 2021 model year and should start hitting dealers' lots in late 2020, while Ram is riding high on its excellent interior and superb ride quality. In many ways, Ram has taken the Sierra's traditional role of a more luxurious pickup truck with high-end models and air suspension options. Still, GMC has introduced innovative engine choices, a high-tech bed, and brand new tailgate technology that allows multiple cargo management options.

The Sierra is one of the most customizable trucks on the market today. There are four-door crew cab and double cab options, several powertrains, a handful of bed lengths, and multiple trims to choose from. The related Chevy Silverado was updated alongside the Sierra for 2019 and has many of the same features.

Overall Score: 7/10


Safety Features: 6/10

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2020 GMC Sierra Good in most crashworthiness categories. It earned a Marginal rating for small overlap front: passenger-side crash tests and its headlights were rated Poor. Front vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention was rated Superior with the optional safety equipment on board.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated the Sierra four stars overall, including a four-star rating for front crash protection, five stars for side crash protection, and four stars for rollover resistance.

Standard safety gear includes a rearview camera, six airbags, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation tech, trailer sway control, and hill-start assist.

Available tech includes a high-definition surround-view camera system, trailer view cameras, a bed-view camera, rearview mirror camera, front/rear parking assist, lane change alerts, side blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, following distance indicators, safety alert seats, and rear cross-traffic alert


Value: 6/10

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Value is the Sierra's biggest weakness. Its price tag grows quickly, while the value proposition decreases significantly at each new price and trim level addition. Adding a V8 engine to the mix increases power and makes a great sound, but the price tag jumps exponentially, and the fuel economy suffers as well. The big deal for Sierra buyers is the excellent V6 and four-cylinder engines that are cheaper, more efficient, and powerful enough for most applications.

Safety tech is held back for higher trim levels or added-cost options packages. That increases the already-expensive Sierra's price to get what is considered necessary driver assistance technology in most new vehicles today.

A bright spot is the Sierra's unusually generous customization level with options, engines, and body styles. That makes it possible for buyers to find the exact model they want at a price that is presumably in line with their expectations for the truck. However, getting too carried away with the list of options and customization is the easiest way to make the price balloon. Generous incentives help offset that.


Tech Features: 8/10

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The Sierra comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a teen driver mode, Bluetooth, two speakers, and USB ports for charging and audio connectivity. Available features include an eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, HD radio, voice commands, additional USB inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio, a Bose seven-speaker audio system, wireless device charging, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

General Motors' infotainment systems are among the easiest to use and most intuitive on the market. In the Sierra, the upgraded 8-inch screen can look small against the large cabin's backdrop, but the software runs flawlessly, and the screen is easily visible from nearly any angle in the cab. The infotainment software is colorful, bright, and has menus that are easily understood and clearly labeled for easy use when the truck is moving.


Practicality: 9/10

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Trucks are practical vehicles, regardless of how luxurious and plush they are inside. The Sierra is no exception to this rule and excels in many categories, thanks to its innovative tailgate and bed technologies. The MultiPro tailgate offers various cargo management solutions that allow large items to be propped up with less risk of shifting and falling out. At the same time, the carbon fiber-laced CarbonPro bed reduces the chances of a puncture or other structural damage caused by moving cargo.

The Sierra's interior is spacious and carries several options for small- and medium-item storage. That makes the truck much more accommodating for families with kids and road trips, where more cubbies and storage spaces are always welcome.

With the right engine and configuration, the Sierra can tow up to 12,100 pounds, which is a tremendous amount of trailer. That allows for towing large boats, heavy loads of construction equipment, and more.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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It's hard to call a pickup truck beautiful, but the GMC Sierra's updated style is handsome, modern, and imposing. With all the trappings in place, this pickup truck is a bling machine decked out in chrome and high-gloss surfaces. There's no doubt that the owner is driving an expensive pickup truck.

The interior is handsome, but more of the Sierra's work truck underpinnings shine through than we'd like to see at this price point. Even in the range-topping Denali and AT4 trims, the upright dash and hard plastic surfaces give the cab a utilitarian feel at odds with the GMC's luxury-level price tag.

The Sierra's cabin is cavernous, offering more than enough room for up to three adults to ride comfortably in the back seat. The front-seat room is no different, as the truck has generous headroom, legroom, and shoulder space.

Shorter drivers will find a difficult time with the Sierra's outward visibility. The dash is tall and the hood is long, and when combined with the thick pillars, seeing out of the truck can be a real challenge.


Driving Experience: 7/10

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One of the best parts about the Sierra is that it can be customized in several ways with different engine choices, depending on how the owner plans to use it. The available 6.2-liter V8, for instance, provides roaring acceleration and impressive towing capabilities but suffers in the fuel economy department. The four- and six-cylinder engines deliver improved fuel economy and refined power but don't tow as much.

The Sierra's handling leaves much to be desired. Noticeable body roll and lean become apparent at the first sign of a curve, and the truck's disconnected, numb steering feel don't do much to help out in that department.

Braking is strong, predictable, and helps slow the big Sierra quickly with little complaint. There's less pedal feel than there should be, which can lead to over- or under-braking if the driver isn't used to the truck.


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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With the 4.3-liter V6 drivetrain and four-wheel-drive, the Sierra is rated at 15/20/17 mpg city/highway/combined. With two-wheel-drive, those numbers are 16/21/17 mpg.

With the 5.3-liter V8 and 2WD, the Sierra is rated at 15/19/16 mpg. With 4WD, those numbers shift to 14/19/16 mpg.

With the 2.7-liter turbo four-cylinder and 2WD, the Sierra returns fuel economy of 20/23/21 mpg, and with 4WD, those numbers shift to 19/22/20 mpg.

With the 3.0-liter turbodiesel and 2WD, the Sierra has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 23/30/26 mpg, and with 4WD, the ratings change to 22/26/24 mpg.

With the 6.2-liter engine and four-wheel-drive, the Sierra delivers 15/20/17 mpg city/highway/combined. The AT4 trim with this engine is rated at 15/19/17 mpg.

The Sierra's fuel economy numbers are respectable, but not the best in the segment, especially with the optional V8 engines on board. Ford's line of turbocharged V6 engines offers similar performance with slightly better fuel economy numbers. But between Ford and Ram, which also offer turbodiesel V6 engines, the Sierra is possibly the most efficient.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base Sierra 1500 with 2WD and a Long Box starts at $31,195 MSRP after destination charge, and comes with a 4.3-liter V6, a six-speed automatic transmission, tow/haul mode, cargo tie-downs, a capless fuel filler system, a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, two speakers, a 40/20/40 folding bench seat, rubberized vinyl flooring, a manual-tilt steering column, single-zone climate controls, manual door locks and windows, and LED headlights and taillights.

The Sierra 1500 SLE has a starting price of $39,790 after destination and comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, automatic start/stop technologies, a 220-amp alternator, an eight-inch touchscreen, six speakers, steering-wheel-mounted controls, a 4G LTE hotspot, carpeted floor covering, a compass, cruise control, USB inputs, remote keyless entry, a 12-volt power outlet, single-zone semi-automatic climate controls, rear air vents, 17-inch wheels, and a corner-step rear bumper.

The Sierra 1500 Elevation has a starting price of $42,290 and comes standard with remote start, keyless entry and push-button start, and 20-inch wheels.

The Sierra 1500 SLT has a starting MSRP of $46,290 and comes with a 5.3-liter V8, an eight-speed automatic transmission, an electronically locking rear differential, smartphone app capabilities, voice controls, HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, power-adjustable front seats with memory, carpeted floor mats, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, an in-vehicle trailering app, 18-inch wheels, chrome bumpers, and GMC's MultiPro tailgate.

The offroad-oriented Sierra AT4 has a starting price of $52,895. It comes with a trailering package, a 10-speed automatic gearbox, hill descent control, four-wheel drive, an external auxiliary transmission oil cooler, an off-road suspension system with a two-inch factory suspension lift, dual-outlet exhausts, and 18-inch dark gray wheels.

The Sierra Denali, the top of the line Sierra model, has a starting price of $60,690 MSRP and comes standard with lane change alerts, blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, perimeter lighting, a trailering package, rear camera with hitch guidance and close-up hitch view, and adaptive ride control. Interior technology refinements include a built-in navigation system, a Bose premium audio system, ventilated front seats, wireless device charging, and 20-inch wheels.

If we were in the market for a 2020 GMC Sierra 1500, we'd opt for the mid-range SLT trim and add safety equipment. The price is still reasonable at that point, and the truck gets several improvements that come in the form of luxury and convenience features like the MultiPro tailgate.


More Photos

See more 2020 GMC Sierra photos here.