2018 GMC Sierra 1500 – In Depth Review

The full-size Pickup truck market has plenty of versatile options. 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is one of the best pickups with class-leading tow-capacity, impressive payload rating, powerful V8s, luxurious interiors in higher trims and excellent build quality. Those looking for a utilitarian truck will appreciate the $29,000 starting price while luxury rig shoppers are catered to with the $52,000 Sierra Denali.

Engine options include a base 4.3L V6, a throaty 5.3L V8, and an even throatier 6.2L V8 – available with a 6-speed or 8-speed automatic. 4WD is available on all trims and tow rating extends to the segment beating 12,500 pounds. While base Sierra gets optional vinyl interiors that can be hosed down after a hard day’s work, higher trims get exquisite leather upholstery and even wireless charging pad.

In fact, the Sierra Denali also gets the Magnetic Ride Control – right out of Corvette stable. That said, an all-new 2019 GMC Sierra debut is imminent and like its cousin – the 2019 Chevy Silverado, the new Sierra will be much lighter, faster, more efficient, more capable and most importantly – will come with a turbo-diesel engine. However, if you can’t wait that long, the current GMC Sierra is still a great truck.

Things we like

  • Segment-best towing capacity
  • Throaty Naturally Aspirated V8s
  • Exquisitely built interiors
  • Compliant ride quality

Things we don’t like

  • Crew-cab has uncomfortably upright rear seatbacks
  • Quirky off-center driving position
  • Handling not as good as some rivals

What’s new for 2018 GMC Sierra 1500

  • 7-inch infotainment system with 6-speakers is standard now
  • Rear view camera is now standard – a legal requirement

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Pricing and Options

Like all modern full-size trucks, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 has no dearth of body style and powertrain configurations. There are 5-body configurations and three engine options available – 4WD is offered on all of them. The Regular Cab Sierra 1500 with Standard Box, 4.3L V6, and 2WD is the lowest priced model with MSRP of $29,000 (excluding destination fee).

Trims Sierra SLE SLT Denali
MSRP (2WD) $36,895 $42,095 $46,595 $54,295
MSRP (AWD) $40,095 $46,095 $49,795 $57,395
Features Standard features include:

4.3L V6 EcoTec3 engine

6-speed automatic transmission

StabiliTrak with Traction Control

Electronic Trailer Sway Control

SLE includes Sierra standard features, plus these and more:

8″ diagonal Color-Touch Radio

Leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls

Soft-touch instrument panel

4.2″ diagonal color Driver Information Center display

SLT includes SLE standard features, plus these and more:

5.3L V8 EcoTec3 engine with available 8-speed automatic transmission

Available 6.2L V8 EcoTec3 engine with available 8-speed automatic transmission

Leather-appointed, heated front split-bench seat with driver seat memory

Features Include:

5.3L V8 EcoTec3 engine with Direct Injection

Available 6.2L V8 EcoTec3 engine

8-speed automatic transmission

Magnetic Ride Control

The Sierra SLE and SLT also get enhanced driver alert package ($945) bringing a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems and active safety features.  Along with upgraded standard equipment list, the Sierra SLT gets the all-terrain package when equipped with 4WD. Next up is the Sierras Denali bringing with it all the bells and whistles (and a hefty price tag).

Too many to choose from? We help you find the best trim

Since the Sierra caters to a broad base of audience, there is no single fit-for-all trim. If you need a basic works truck, a miserly equipped regular cab long bed base Sierra with the capable 5.3L V8 will cost you approximately $33,000.

However, if you are looking for a value-for-money daily driver truck, we recommend the Sierra SLE Crew Cab short bed equipped with the capable 5.3L V8 and the SLE Value Package ($1,300) that includes:

  • Driver 10-way power seat adjuster (with front 40/20/40 reclining split-bench seat only)
  • Manual tilt and telescoping steering column (V8 engine only)
  • Remote vehicle starter system
  • Thin profile LED front fog lamps
  • Universal Home Remote
  • Rear-window defogger
  • 110-volt AC power outlet
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Trailering Package (includes hitch, 7-pin and 4-pin connectors and locking differential on 2WD models)

In RWD configuration, a Sierra so equipped will cost you approximately $43,000.

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Driving and Performance

With two available throaty and roaring naturally aspirated V8s offering supreme tractability and slick shifting 6-speed or 8-speed automatic, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 powertrain is hard to fault. This combined with supple suspension and high-speed composure makes the GMC Sierra 1500 an excellent freeway cruiser.

However, the Sierra hates curvy roads and some modern trucks offer better handling. The Sierra Denali with Magnetic Ride Control dampers improve things considerably but comes with a hefty price tag. There is a dearth of Heave-Ho though. Equip the Sierra properly, and you can pull segment beating 12,500 pounds. Also, the optional 4wd and all-terrain package makes sierra a capable mountain goat.

“The powertrain in the Sierra Denali is nothing short of impressive. With 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque and an eight-speed transmission, the truck is never short on grunt. But the brakes and the steering show considerably less advancement. The 22-inch wheels do it no help either.” – Edmunds


The GMC Sierra has three available engines – all are naturally aspirated gas engines. If you want a diesel truck, wait a year for the I6 turbodiesel equipped 2019 GMC Sierra. Now, the base 4.3L V6 delivers 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Although it’s capable and up for most of the everyday tasks, the much more capable and charismatic 5.3L V8 is only a bit thirstier – so why not get it?

Models Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

MSRP $36,895 $34,150 $36,195 $33,295
Engine 4.3-Liter

EcoTec3 V6


3.3L Ti-VCT V6 engine 4.3-Liter

EcoTec3 V6


3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT Engine
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Power 285 hp 290 hp 285 hp 305 hp
Torque 305 lb-ft 265 lb-ft 305 lb-ft 269 lb-ft

The throaty 5.3L V8 delivers 355 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Importantly, over 300 lb-ft of that kicks in from as low as 2000 rpm. The 5.3L engine can be mated to a smooth 6-speed or 8-speed automatic transmission.

“The Sierra’s available 5.3-liter V8 fits this truck like a glove, offering excellent power and decent fuel economy. Those who need more can step up to the 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, but they’ll pay a price both at the dealership and the pump.” – Kelley Blue Book

Need more? GMC is willing to plonk in a 6.2L V8 under that large bonnet. The behemoth belts out 420 hp and 460 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to an 8-speed automatic. Fancy burning tires while exiting the parking lot or crave that deep husky V8 truck rumble? The 6.2L V8 has you covered.


With a curb weight that easily tops 5000 pounds, this GMC truck needs plenty of grunts to move with purpose. The Sierra 1500 with the base 4.3L V6 does 0-60 in 7.4 seconds. That’s plenty fast for such a hefty vehicle. However, most of the buyer choose the 5.3L V8 and for good reasons. It hits the sweet spot between performance and efficiency with 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds.

Models Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

0-60 MPH 7.4 sec 6.1 sec 7.4 sec 7.6 sec
Quarter mile 15.1 sec @ 88 mph 14.7 sec @ 95.0 mph 15.1 sec @ 88 mph 15.6 sec @ 87.7 mph
Engine 4.3L 3.3L 4.3L 3.6L

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

8.8 8.0 8.8 8.8

However, if you are ready to pay more to the dealer and even more at the fuel station, the 6.2L V8 is on offer. This throaty GM Small Block V8 can pull the full-size truck from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds making it one of the fastest truck available on the market.

“In our testing, the 5.3-liter managed a 6.6-second run from zero to 60 mph—hardly lackadaisical, as it’s quicker than many family sedans.” – Car and Driver

Ride and Handling

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is a large truck and it doesn’t hide it. Don’t expect any kind of engaging driving experience. Rather, the electrically assisted steering makes handling this big and capable GMC Truck easy. The tractable naturally aspirated engine and good outward visibility further help in negotiating confined city roads.

Like any truck with leaf-spring rear suspension, the 2018 Sierra 1500 has a somewhat harsh ride especially when the bed is lightly loaded. Resist the temptation to get those flashy 20 or 22-inch wheels – they make matter worse. If you are very particular about ride quality, check out the air-suspension equipped Ram 1500.

Alternatively, if you can spend over $50,000, get the GMC Sierra Denali with Magnetic Ride System – the kind of hardware one expects in a Corvette. Its damper is filled with magnetic fluid that can change their viscosity within milliseconds when the sensors sense a change in road condition. This alters the stiffness of dampers and helps the Sierra adapt itself for comfortable cruising or spirited driving – neat.

“Denalis have an extra ace up their sleeves: GM’s Magnetic Ride suspension setup. Like that in the Chevrolet Corvette, Magnetic Ride reacts ultra fast to whatever the road throws at it to either stiffen or loosen the shocks as needed.” – Carconnection

Off-road Capability

All the models in the GMC Sierra come with optional 4WD. To up the rough road capability, locking differentials are also on offer. The Sierra so equipped can handle some moderately tricky situation. However, be warned that it’s not a jeep wrangler. The SLT trim gets two package – the All-Terrain Package adding some touched up bits and the even more extreme All-Terrain X package.


The GMC Sierra 1500 gets 13-inch brake rotors up-front and 13.6-inch brake rotors at the back. These brakes can haul over 5000 pounds, Sierra, to stop from 60 mph in 124 feet. That’s comparable to the Silverado and Ram 1500.

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

Brake Front(in) 13.0 13.8 13.0 13.2
Brake Rear(in) 13.6 13.7 13.6 13.8
Curb weight(lbs) 5036 4529 5036 4945
60-0 MPH (ft.) 124 121 124 123

However, the Ford F150 weighs almost 500 pounds less than the Sierra thanks to its aluminum construction and posts best in class braking performance. Also, the hefty Sierra imposes huge stress on the brakes. After repeated stops, the brakes fade easily – an issue not experienced in the F150.

“The brakes became hot and smoky after five hard stops, the pedal went limp, and braking stamina diminished.” – Car and Driver

Towing Capacity

The GMC Sierra 1500 and its corporate cousin – the Silverado 1500 are the huskiest pullers among full-size trucks with a max towing capacity of 12500 pounds when properly equipped. That kind of capability is not needed by most full-size pickup buyers so it’s okay that the more sensible 5.3L V8 equipped Sierra can still tow a healthy 9400 pounds.

“The GMC Sierra and its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Silverado, offer the largest towing capacities in their class, but the Ford F-150 provides a higher maximum payload rating.” – Car and Driver

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

Drive Train 2WD 2WD 2WD 2WD
Power Train 4.3L 3.3L 4.3L 3.6L
Weight (lbs) 5500 5500 5500 4510

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Fuel Efficiency

The most efficient GMC Sierra 1500 is the one equipped with the base 4.3L V6 rated at 18/24/20 for city/highway/combined. That said, the much more capable and charismatic 5.3L V8 is only marginally thirstier with city mpg rating dropping to 16 mpg and highway rating dropping to 23mpg thanks to cylinder cutoff system that shuts off a bank of 4-cylinders under light loads.

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

MPG (city) 18 20 18 17
MPG (highway) 24 25 24 25
MPG (combined) 20 22 20 20

The Sierra has one quirky detail – while more number of gears results in improved efficiency as engine runs at lower rpm for same speed, the Sierra with 8-speed automatic is actually less efficient than Sierra with a 6-speed automatic. The 5.3L V8 with 8-speed automatic is rated at 16 mpg in city and 22 mpg on highway. The 6.3L V8 engine equipped Sierra 1500 returns 15 mpg in city and 20 mpg on highway.

“The 5.3-liter comes standard with a 6-speed automatic, which is actually more efficient on paper than the 8-speed thanks to a different final drive ratio between the two gearboxes.” – Carconnection

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Exterior

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 looks like a typical full-size pick-up truck – it’s huge, blocky and has a massive grille. The Sierra Denali gets especially chrome heavy grille and huge 20-inch wheels. There is now an All-Terrain X package available in 4WD Sierra XLT with all-black exteriors, dark wheels, and a bed-mounted sports bar.

All Sierra come with standard LED accent lights – a pleasantry for spending a little more than the similar Silverado 1500. Higher trim also gets damped tailgate eliminating the dreaded tailgate slam. However, the now common passive entry with pushbutton start is not on offer in the GMC Sierra – it looks like GMC intends to give you some old-school experience – at least while entering your truck.

“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.” – Kelley Blue Book

Dimension and Weight

Even with the shortest body configuration, the Sierra is a lengthy beast. If you are a first-time truck buyer, check the garage dimension. Also, maneuvering such a large vehicle through tight-city may overwhelm you.

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

curb weight(lbs) 5036 4529 5036 4945
Length(in) 299.50 299 299.50 —-
Width(in) 80.0 79.9 80.0 79.4
Height(in) 74.17 75.6 74.17 76.9
Ground clearance(in) 8.73 8.7 8.73 7.6
Wheelbase(in) 143.50 145 143.50 140


The base Sierra 1500 comes with tough and utilitarian 17-inch steel wheels as standard with a 17-inch aluminum wheel reserved as option. Upgrading to the Sierra SLE gets you 17-inch aluminum wheels. However, the Sierra SLE also opens the floodgate to no less than nine available wheels in size ranging from more modest 18-inch wheels to the larger 20-inchers and the monstrous 22-inch wheels.

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

Size F/R (in.) 17*8/17*8 17*7.5/17*7.5 17*8/17*8 17*7/17*7
Quality Steel Steel Aluminum Steel
Wheel type w/o Alloy w/o Alloy Alloy w/o Alloy

The Sierra SLT gets the 18-inch aluminum wheel as standard and the Sierra Denali boasts standard 20-inch wheels. A word of advice: although the 20 and 22-inch wheels look irresistible, they worsen the already harsh ride quality. If you want both – the 20-inch wheels and a composed ride quality, you have to spend $50,000 for the Magnetic Ride System equipped Sierra Denali.

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Interior

The Sierra has one of the best interiors among full-size trucks – even in base trim. While it costs a bit more compared to the similar Silverado 1500, it does boast better fit and finish and high-quality materials. Higher trims are especially luxurious and the Sierra 1500 Denali can even give a good scare to the product engineers of luxury marques.

“The 2018 GMC Sierra can be loaded up to full-on “Cowboy Cadillac” level… for a price.” – Carconnection

Seating and Comfort

The GMC Sierra Crew Cab can seat up to 6-passengers with the front bench seats (the Sierra Denali seats only 5 though). The front seats are exceptionally roomy with a huge 45.2-inch legroom and offer good support even for a tall frame. However, the driving position is weirdly off-center.

Model Sierra 1500

(Crew Cab)

Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500

(Crew Cab)

Passenger capacity 6 6 6 6
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg)



42.8/66.03/45.27 40.8/66.7/43.9 42.8/66.03/45.27 41/66/41
Rear (Head/Shoulder/Leg)



40.5/65.73/40.93 40.4/65.9/43.6 40.5/65.73/40.93 39.9/65.7/40.3

The rear bench seats also offer generous room even for three large adults with legroom of 40.9 inches. However, they also have a caveat – the backrest is too vertical for long distance comfort. There is plenty of in-cabin storage to stow away small items and the massive center console can accommodate your laptop easily.

“With big buttons and knobs coated in rubber for easy grip even when wearing gloves, GMC’s 2018 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.” – Kelley Blue Book

Payload and Storage

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 comes with three-bed sizes – the Short Box (5 feet 8 inch), Standard Box (6 feet 6 inch) and the Long Box (8 feet). If you are shopping for a work truck that needs to haul plenty of items in the bed, the 8-feet Long Box is available with the Regular Cab.

While the Double Cab only gets the Standard Box, the Crew Cab is available with Standard Box or the Short Box. It comes with spray-in bed liners and access to the bed is made simple with footstep integrated into the bumper and a hand grip. Well placed tie downs, 110V power outlet and LED lights adorn the bed. The most capable GMC Sierra has a maximum payload rating of 2230 pounds.

Model Sierra 1500 (Crew Cab) Ford F150 (SuperCrew) Chevy Silverado 1500 (Crew Cab) Ram 1500 (Crew Cab)
capacity (lbs) 1840 1751 1840 1820

If you want to store your luggage inside the cab out of the elements, you can fold the flip up rear seats. This reveals a flat floor that can easily swallow a weekend worth of luggage. You can also option the Under-seat storage for added convenience.

Infotainment System

While the base 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 gets the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment and Bluetooth, all higher trims get the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Although the GMC Intellilink is intuitive, the icons are on a smaller side. Audiophiles can get the optional Bose Audio system.

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Safety Ratings and Reliability

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 gets the standard rear-view camera. Aside from this, there are plenty of available advanced active safety features and driver assistance systems including:

  • Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking
  • Front and Rear Park Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist

Aside from these, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 also gets following safety features:

StabiliTrak, stability control system with Proactive Roll Avoidance and traction control, includes electronic trailer sway control and hill start assist
Daytime Running Lamps with automatic exterior lamp control
Airbags, dual-stage frontal and side-impact, driver and front passenger and head-curtain and seat-mounted side-impact, front and rear outboard seating positions with Passenger Sensing System
OnStar Delete
Rear Vision Camera (Deleted with (ZW9) pickup box delete.)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Tire Fill Alert (does not apply to spare tire)

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 has got 5-star safety rating from NHTSA. That’s the best possible rating.

Overall Rating 5 star
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver 5 star
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger 5 star
Overall Side Crash Rating 5 star
Side Barrier Rating overall 5 star
Side Barrier Rating Driver/passenger 5 star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat 5 star
Rollover 4 star

However, the 2018 Sierra has not received Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS

Small overlap front driver side Marginal
Small overlap front Passenger side N/A
Moderate overlap front Good
Side Good
Roof strength Good
Head restraints & seats Good

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Competition Check

Ford F150

The F150 is the best-selling pickup and for good reasons – it combines excellent fuel economy with class-leading hauling and towing capacity. It comes with feature-loaded cabin and packs spacious, supportive and comfortable seats. However, Sierra’s cabin quality is a class above the F150’s and it does most of the other tasks almost as competitively.

Chevy Silverado 1500

The Chevy Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500 are corporate twins and are mechanically identical. The Sierra justifies its higher price by exhibiting one of the best cabin quality among trucks. The Sierra looks distinguished too with a sleeker look. So if you need a capable truck and want an American icon, get the Silverado. If you need same capability with more quality and charm, pay more and get the Sierra.

Ram 1500

The Ram 1500 has a significantly lower towing and hauling capacity than the GMC Sierra and other full-size pickups. However, overlook that and you will be amazed with its soothing ride quality when equipped with optional air suspension. It’s also available with an efficient turbodiesel engine.

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Final Verdict

If you want the capability of a modern full-size pickup truck but want something a bit classier, the 2018 GMC Sierra will impress you. Starting with the exterior that’s sleeker looking than any other pick-up in the market, the classy feeling continues all-the-way to the tastefully built and assembled interiors. All these come at a price that’s slightly higher than its corporate cousin – the Silverado 1500.

Like the Silverado, Sierra gets two smooth Naturally Aspirated V8s and the larger 6.2L V8 can pull segment beating 12500 pounds. The transmission is equally impressive but the experience behind the wheel is hampered by the quirky off-center driving position. An even bigger issue is that the all-new 2019 Sierra 1500 will debut shortly.

Like the new 2019 Silverado, the all-new Sierra will surely be more efficient, better equipped, and will have even more towing capacity. However, if you can’t wait for a year to drive home your GMC Sierra, go ahead and buy one – it’s more than capable to meet your needs and desires. Moreover, GMC dealers are offering attracting deals for current outgoing Sierras.

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