Whether you’re looking to tow a camper, pick up building supplies for a new backyard treehouse, or just helping a buddy move, the GMC Sierra has that capability. The GMC Sierra is a reliable truck for whatever you need to haul and has been that way for years. Since the first modern GMC truck appearance in 1962, it’s proven itself as a truck for everyone, and a used GMC Sierra is still going to be working just as hard as buying one brand new.
As truck manufacturers often do, GMC decided to name its truck after something that would invoke feelings of ruggedness and adventure. Enter the GMC Sierra. A “sierra” is an irregular looking mountain range with jagged peaks that scream danger, adventure, and excitement: a perfect vision for the GMC Sierra. However, the Sierra is just all about toughness.
The Sierra and Sierra Grande were option packages when GMC revamped its original pickup in 1969, and in 1972 they became higher-end official trim levels above the base and second-tier packages. This era of the GMC Sierra added a touch of glamour to this otherwise rugged pickup. This version came with a chrome front bumper, chrome hubcaps, inside mirror, and lower side molding. After over a decade of that same design, in 1988, GMC officially changed the name of the pickup to the Sierra. However, the Sierra as we know it didn’t come out until 1999.
Making a Name
When the Sierra became the flagship GMC truck in 1988, it came in three sizes: a traditional two-door cab, an extended cab, and a four-door crew cab. A 78.7-inch box was standard, but there were also 69.2 and 97.6-inch options. Engine options were a 4.3-liter V6 and V8s in 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter. As the Sierra evolved, the extended cab option added an optional driver’s-side door in 2000, and the next year, the Sierra C3 hit the scene with a 6-liter V8. Two years after that, the C3 morphed into the Sierra Denali. The Sierra Denali continues to be the line’s luxury version.
The next generation of Sierras saw improved aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, as well as options for two- or four-wheel drive. By the time the third generation rolled onto the scene in 2014, it brought with it even more efficiency, largely thanks to the use of aluminum in the hood, engine block, and suspension. In addition, a touchscreen was now standard with both Bluetooth and USB connectivity, with the option to add a Bose sound system and OnStar guidance.
Currently, the Sierra family includes the Sierra, the Sierra AT4, the Sierra Denali, and Sierra HD. In addition, GMC has added the Denali name as an upgrade to its Terrain and Yukon SUVs. While occupying a similar space in the market as other trucks, the GMC Sierra is known for offering a range of models and trim packages to suit every budget and need. While the Sierra adds efficiency, such as a steeper raked windshield, it still retains the classic Big Truck look that most of its owners are looking for.
But How Good is It?
The Sierra is known for its versatility. It has the towing capacity you expect in a half-ton pickup, especially with the larger engine options, while also outperforming its competitors. Some people are fond of saying that the Sierra is “two trucks in one” – one side a typical full-size pickup with strong towing and horsepower, the other a comfortable passenger car with trim packages to meet even the highest of tastes.
As exciting as all the bells and whistles are, however, when you’re looking at buying a used Sierra, you’re looking for reliability. The GMC Sierra has landed on the J.D. Power APEAL Study (U.S. Automotive, Performance, Execution, and Layout) four times in the last five years. For example, in 2015 and 2018, the GMC Sierra HD was the highest ranked Large Heavy Duty Pickup, and the GMC Sierra LD (2015) and GMC Sierra (2018) was tied in the category of Large Light Duty Pickup. Basically, this test shows how attached owners are to their vehicles and where the vehicle may be lacking. Given its ranked status, it stands to reason that the GMC Sierra is a worthwhile truck choice if you want a truck you are going to love.
Sierra drivers are definitely pleased with all aspects of owning their GMC truck. The most important fact when it comes to talking about used GMC Sierra is reliability. The GMC Sierra headlined the 2019 J.D. Power Resale Value Awards for Large Heavy Duty Pickups. These awards are presented to automotive manufacturers to recognize the best resale value across 26 model-level segments following three years of ownership. This list recognizes not just a base resale price but all the benefits of these vehicles. The GMC Sierra 3500 topped the category, and the GMC Sierra 2500 HD took another of the three available slots. If you want something reliable, the GMC Sierra is definitely the truck to choose.
Why So Reliable?
There are several reasons why the GMC Sierra is so reliable. One is its exceptional Variable Valve Timing (VVT). A good VVT helps your engine idle more smoothly and provides power in more efficient ways. This improves fuel economy and allows for superior emissions control.
Another reason the GMC Sierra is so reliable is its direct injection system. Commonplace these days, when GMC introduced direct injection to the Sierra in 2014, it was a game-changer. The EcoTec3 engine was specifically designed for the needs of full-sized truck customers and brought more power and fuel efficiency.
Driver control technology is another point towards the GMC Sierra’s reliability. Current options include backup cameras and hitch guidance, as well as driver alert packages with front and rear park assist, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert. Hill Descent Control is another perk to the GMC Sierra. It can help maintain vehicle speed, so you don’t ride the brake while driving down steep hills. GMC’s Stabilitrak is another safety option for the GMC Sierra. This electronic stability control system will automatically adjust far more powerfully in an emergency than standard traction control.
From 2014 on, the Sierra is built with GM’s patented Duralife rotors. These rotors use Ferritic Nitro-Carburizing technology to harden and strengthen rotors. This technology helps to protect against corrosion and extend the life of the rotors. No matter what GMC Sierra model you find, there are going to be plenty of features to keep you safe and in control of your vehicle.
At the End of the Day
A the end of the day, there is simply no denying that the GMC Sierra is a reliable pickup truck that will meet all of your needs. After all these years of truck building, GMC has the experience to both adapt to and anticipate customer needs. The GMC Sierra has been a steadfast and reliable truck for many years, with options and trim packages to suit any budget. Living up to its rugged namesake, the GMC Sierra is a truck that will remain strong and dependable for all of the years you own it, and many more beyond that.