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2020 GMC Sierra 1500: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 1/17/2020 U.S. News & World Report
a truck that is driving down the road: 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 © None 2020 GMC Sierra 1500

The 2020 GMC Sierra finishes in the middle of our full-size truck rankings. It's powerful, composed, and comfortable, but it doesn't lead the class in any areas.

The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 is ranked:

Is the GMC Sierra a Good Truck?

Yes, the GMC Sierra is a good full-size pickup truck. It offers several powerful engines, has a maximum towing capacity above 12,000 pounds, and delivers a smooth ride. Inside, it looks good, provides plenty of passenger space, and has intuitive tech features. While there aren't a lot of negative things to say about the Sierra, it's worth noting that no matter what you like about this truck, there are rivals that match or exceed it in most areas.

2020 GMC Sierra Dimensions

Should I Buy the GMC Sierra?

The Sierra is a fine truck, and its reasonable starting price makes it a decent value. However, it sits in the middle of our rankings because it can't quite match the all-around excellence of some competitors. With that in mind, before buying the Sierra, you should see how it stacks up against rivals like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. You could also compare it to the Chevrolet Silverado, but that really won't tell you much, as these two GM trucks are essentially twins.

Should I Buy a New or Used GMC Sierra?

The 2020 Sierra belongs to a generation that began with the 2019 model year. Just one year after a redesign, changes for 2020 are minor. Towing capacity dropped slightly from the 2019 total but still comes in above 12,000 pounds. There are a few new available features as well, including adaptive cruise control, a bed-view camera, and an audio system integrated into the MultiPro tailgate.

The 2019 redesign brought some notable changes to the Sierra. Two new trims (Elevation and AT4) joined the lineup, as did two new engine options: a turbocharged four-cylinder and a turbodiesel. The 2019 model also gained some new available driver assistance features, including a surround-view camera system, pedestrian detection, and a head-up display.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used Sierra, but you'll miss out on the benefits of the redesign if you get a pre-2019 model. If you are interested in a used GMC, check out our reviews of the 2018 GMC Sierra and 2019 GMC Sierra. You should also browse our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on a used vehicle.

We Did the Research for You: 18 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current Sierra generation, which includes 2019 and 2020.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the GMC Sierra Cost?

The Sierra carries a base price of about $30,000. That's a typical starting price for the class. Things can easily get more expensive if you want a higher trim or an upgraded engine. Models with the diesel engine start at around $45,000, while models with the largest V8 start at about $51,000. The top-of-the-line Sierra Denali trim starts at $54,700.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

GMC Sierra Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: GMC Sierra 1500 or Ford F-150?

The Ford F-150 is an annual contender for the top of our full-size pickup truck rankings because it does everything well. Both trucks ride smoothly and offer plenty of passenger space, but the F-150 has higher towing and hauling capacities than the GMC, and it's more upscale inside. The Ford also comes standard with more driver assistance features. Overall, the F-150 is a better truck.

Which Is Better: GMC Sierra or Ram 1500?

The Sierra rides smoothly, but the Ram 1500 probably takes the crown for the most cushioned ride in the class. The Ram can tow and haul more than the Sierra, and it has a more fuel-efficient base engine. The Ram has one of the most upscale interiors in the class, surpassing the GMC's cabin quality, and it features two rows of spacious seats and a user-friendly infotainment system. Basically, anything the Sierra can do, the Ram 1500 can do as well or better.

Which Is Better: GMC Sierra 1500 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

There's not a lot to separate the Sierra from its GM sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado. They have the same available powertrains and features lists, and they're similar in terms of passenger space, fuel economy, and towing and hauling ability. The Sierra is a bit more upscale inside, however. The better choice between these two trucks comes down to personal preference.

Sierra Performance

Sierra Engine: Plenty of Choices

You can choose between five engines in the Sierra: a 285-horsepower V6 base engine, a 310-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, a 353-horsepower V8, a 420-horsepower V8, and a 277-horsepower turbodiesel.

The right engine depends on your needs. The base engine and the turbo-four do fine for daily driving, but they can't match the powerful feel and acceleration you get with the V8s and the diesel. These latter three engines are also better for towing and hauling.

Sierra Gas Mileage: The Diesel Tops the List

With its base engine, the Sierra gets typical fuel economy ratings for a full-size truck: 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Ratings are about the same with the smaller V8: 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The Sierra is most efficient with either the turbo-four (20/23 mpg city/highway) or the turbodiesel (23/30 mpg).

Sierra Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Composed

You certainly won't confuse the Sierra with a sports car, as its massive size makes it a bit cumbersome in some driving situations. Still, it feels stable and composed around turns. It also delivers a cushioned ride and absorbs road imperfections without disturbing occupants.

Sierra Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Sierra can tow up to 12,100 pounds and haul up to 2,240 pounds. That's a lot of capability (certainly enough to pull a boat or a moving trailer), but some rivals have higher capacities.

Sierra Interior

How Many People Does the Sierra Seat?

The Sierra seats three in Regular Cab models and five or six in Double and Crew Cab models, depending on whether you opt for front-row bucket seats or stick with the three-person split-bench. All of the seats are comfortable and roomy, and drivers enjoy good visibility. The rear seats offer plenty of room for adults, particularly in Crew Cab models.

Sierra and Child Car Seats

Sierra models with a rear seat have two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the outboard rear seats, as well as an upper tether for the rear middle seat. This system isn't particularly easy to use, however. The tether anchors are difficult to locate and can be mistaken for other hardware. The lower anchors are too deep in the seat.

Sierra Interior Quality

While this GMC looks good inside and features a lot of quality materials, it doesn't live up to the standards set by some class rivals. Even the high-end Denali trim feels less upscale than the top trims of the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.

Sierra Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system (two speakers in Regular Cab models), Bluetooth, a USB port, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Available features include a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless device charging, an 8-inch touch screen, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, additional USB ports, voice recognition, and navigation.

The Sierra's infotainment system is a reviewer favorite. The controls are within easy reach of the driver, making it easy to adjust settings on the go. The touch screen is responsive, and the intuitive menu layouts are easy to navigate.

Sierra Reliability

Is the GMC Sierra Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Sierra a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five, which is about average for the class but slightly above average compared to the market as a whole.

GMC Sierra Warranty

GMC backs the Sierra with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Sierra Safety

Sierra Crash Test Results

The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 earned a four-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The truck received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Sierra Safety Features

A rearview camera and a Teen Driver system (which lets you set speed and audio limits for secondary drivers) come standard in the Sierra. Available driver assistance features include automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, low-speed forward automatic braking, pedestrian detection, a surround-view camera system, a Rear Camera Mirror, a head-up display, and a safety alert seat, which vibrates in conjunction with the other safety features to alert you to hazards they detect.

Where Is the GMC Sierra Built?

GMC builds the 2020 Sierra in Indiana, Michigan, and Mexico.

Which GMC Sierra Model Is Right for Me?

As with any truck, before you worry about a trim, you need to decide which cab and bed you want. You'll also need to consider the powertrain. Then you can pick a trim that offers the setup you want. This can get complicated in a hurry, because there are six Sierra trims, five engines, three cab styles, three bed lengths, and a variety of appearance packages. Bed length availability depends on the cab style you choose.

The best options for most buyers are the SLE and SLT trims. These two sit in the middle of the lineup and offer a nice array of technology. The SLT comes with a few more infotainment and comfort features, but it also carries a higher price tag than the SLE, so you'll have to judge for yourself whether the added features justify the additional cost.

GMC Sierra 1500 Powertrain Options:

GMC Sierra 1500 Appearance Packages:

GMC Sierra 1500 Work Packages/Options:

GMC Sierra Trims:

GMC Sierra

The Sierra carries a base price of about $30,000 and comes with Teen Driver, a rearview camera, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

GMC Sierra SLE

The Sierra SLE starts at $37,800. In addition to the base trim's features, the SLE comes with keyless entry and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, an additional USB port, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

GMC Sierra Elevation

The Sierra Elevation, which starts at around $41,000, is offered exclusively in Double Cab configuration. Standard features include in-bed LED lighting, remote start, and two additional USB ports.

GMC Sierra SLT

The Sierra SLT sports a starting price of around $45,000 and comes standard with a locking rear differential, a trailer brake controller, GMC's MultiPro tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, two 120-volt power outlets (one in the cab and one in the bed), leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, HD Radio, and voice recognition.

GMC Sierra AT4

The Sierra AT4 starts at $51,000, and it's the best in the lineup for off-road adventuring. Standard features include hill descent control, skid plates, an off-road suspension, a two-speed transfer case, front bucket seats, and ventilated front seats.

GMC Sierra Denali

The range-topping Sierra Denali starts at $54,700 and comes standard with wireless device charging, a safety alert seat, front and rear parking sensors, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and navigation.

Which Sierra Cab Style Is Right for Me?

The GMC Sierra comes in three cab styles: Regular Cab, Double Cab (small back seat), and Crew Cab (full-size back seat).

Regular Cab models have a three-person 40/20/40 split bench seat. This option isn't for people who routinely have two or more passengers. Technically, you can carry three passengers in this setup, but it may be a tight fit.

If you occasionally have people riding in the back, you should consider the Double Cab. It seats up to six and has traditional front-hinged rear doors that you can open and close without first opening the front doors. Still, this cab doesn't offer as much rear legroom as the Crew Cab, so taller folks might feel a bit squeezed in the back.

The Sierra Crew Cab has an expansive back seat that can hold even tall adults in comfort. There's about 43.5 inches of second-row legroom, an increase of about 8 inches over the Double Cab model.  

Which Sierra Bed Length Is Right for Me?

Once you decide on a cab style, you can pick your bed length. The GMC Sierra has three bed lengths available, but not every box can be matched with every cab. The shortest bed is 5 feet, 8 inches, and it's only available with Crew Cab models. The 6-foot-6-inch bed is available with Double and Crew Cab models. The longest bed is 8 feet long and available with just the Regular Cab.

The best combination of passenger and cargo space is a Sierra Crew Cab with the midrange bed. However, that stretches the truck's total length to more than 20 feet. If you don't need all that cargo space, consider going with the smallest bed, which also makes the truck about 10 inches shorter overall. If you're buying the Sierra for a work truck, you'll want one of the two longer beds.

Which Sierra Model Is Best for Towing and Hauling?

To unlock the best towing capacity (12,100 pounds), you want a Sierra that features the available 6.2-liter V8 engine, four-wheel drive, and the Max Trailering package. That configuration fits with the Double Cab, which only comes with the 6-foot-6-inch bed, and prices start at around $51,000.

The Sierra also has a maximum payload capacity of 2,240 pounds, which you get with the Regular Cab model. That cab also only comes with the long 8-foot box, making this combination attractive for those who want a work truck.

Which Sierra Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

There's a clear choice here: The Sierra AT4 comes standard with four-wheel drive, hill descent control, front and rear skid plates, a two-speed transfer case, a locking rear differential, and a traction select system. It has a starting MSRP of $51,000.

The AT4 also features a 2-inch suspension lift, Rancho performance off-road shocks, red tow hooks, and trim-specific interior and exterior appearance pieces. You can choose between standard 18-inch wheels with all-terrain or mud-terrain rated tires or 20-inch wheels with all-terrain rubber. The AT4 is available with the 5.3-liter V8, the 6.2-liter V8, or the turbodiesel.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

The Final Call

The 2020 GMC Sierra does a lot of things well. It's powerful and capable, with a smooth ride, easy-to-use tech features, and ample passenger space. It doesn't lead the class in any notable areas, but it also doesn't have any major shortcomings. That's why it earns a spot in the middle of our full-size truck rankings and makes a solid buying choice.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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