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2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

Steven Mitchell

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is a handsome and comfortable worker that needs some updating. Let’s see what it can do.

What’s New for the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500

The GMC Sierra 1500 may play second fiddle to its Chevrolet Silverado twin in sales, but it beats it in interior comfort and quality. The Sierra’s handsome exterior and style fit its working heritage, but the interior treats you like you’re in business class. But is it worth the extra money over a Silverado? Let’s see what we can expect for it this year.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 – media.gmc.com |  Shop 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $30,100

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

RWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

16 City / 21 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 6

The Breakdown

The exterior looks great

It has a strong carbon-fiber bed

Still enjoying the innovative tailgate

The interior might need an update

Not too different from the Silverado

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Specs

Trims & Pricing

Base - $30,100
SLE - $43,095
Elevation - $44,795
SLT - $49,195
AT4 - $54,700
Denali - $55,800

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Powertrain

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 3.0L I6 Diesel - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 3.0L I6 Diesel - carsforsale.com

Like the Silverado, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 gives you quite a few engine choices depending on your need. The 310 horsepower 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque and serves as an excellent base engine. The strong 3.0-liter turbo-diesel 6-cylinder with 460 pound-feet of torque is good if you want to pull and haul with your driving around. But then there’s the V8s. The Sierra has a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and the big 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

The available V8s are powerful, quick, and barely heard in the Sierra’s quiet interior, but that’s no sign of weakness. The 6.2-liter V8 will send the Denali to 0-60 in a little less than 6 seconds. However, we live in a time of significant and fast pickups like the TRX and the Raptor. So, while the GMC Sierra 1500 may not seem that quick in comparison to those beasts, it still is a fast, large, and comfortable pickup. And if you’re towing, we’d recommend staying with the turbo-diesel or V8s. GMC has their 2500 and 3500 HD pickups for the heavy towing work with the 3500 being capable of towing up to 36,000 pounds when properly equipped.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 6.2L V8 - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 6.2L V8 - carsforsale.com

You’ll need to enjoy the classic pickup feel when riding in the Sierra, because it has a bouncy and sometimes harsh ride. Compared to its competition, it’s different. We liked the steering and cornering, but feel we’d get tired of the ride after a while. Maybe it feels better when the bed is loaded with stuff.

Also, like it’s Chevy brother, the 2021 GMC Sierra has an off-roader. The AT4 has a two-inch lift off-road suspension, skid plates, Hill Descent Control, and automatic rear locking differential. The body style makes it suitably menacing for off-road work too. We love this aggressive look.

Towing & Payload

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 can pull up to 11,800 lbs with the available 3.0L Duramax turbo-Diesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. GMC also boasts the most cargo volume of any competitor’s pickup. If you’re looking to tow more, check out the 2500 and 3500 models that can tow up to 36,000 lbs.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Fuel Economy & MPG

The Sierra, SLE, SLT, and Elevation get up to an EPA estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg highway, depending on your engine choice. The off-roading AT4 will set you back with 16 city and 21 highway, and the Denali gives you 17 city and 23 highway.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is GM’s best-looking truck, but the interior lets it down compared to the updated Ford and Dodge offerings. If you’ve been in any previous Sierra over the past five years, you’ll be comfortable with the way things look. Big knobs are easily accessible and everything is in a logical place. Over the years, the interior quality has improved, and technology has been added to assist trailering and loading. We particularly like the 15 camera views accessible on the 8-inch screen. The GM Pic-N-Pic side view and transparent trailer view are also a bonus when towing. Maybe it’s the instrument panel design with the screen inset inside the dash, but we thought the touchscreen looked small.

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Regardless the screen size, the interior was still comfortable with heated and ventilated leather seats, plus the Bose audio system has a quality sound. The rear seat seems enormous compared to its Ram competition. The bench has a cushion that fully supports your thighs, and the legroom is fantastic. We also like the 60/40 split with a versatile foldable platform when storage is needed inside the cabin. Overall, the GMC Sierra 1500 is a comfortable place to do your driving, but it’s due for an update and has been showing its age for quite a while.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless charging becomes standard with the Denali trim. There’s nothing to brag about in tech unless you tow. The camera system and optional carbon-fiber bed are excellent. GMC says the CarbonPro bed is an industry first, and it’s stronger and lighter than a standard bed.

The Denali comes with an adaptive ride control that’s similar to the one in GM’s Cadillac models. It makes the jittery ride of a regular Sierra feel like butter. Cornering doesn’t suffer and the big truck becomes easily controllable. That’s a fantastic piece of technology.

Safety Features

Like other GM pickups, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 has driver assistance features like pedestrian braking, pre-collision warnings, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. GMC provides the essential safety systems, but requires extra money from you for the more advanced features.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Trims & Pricing

2021 GMC Sierra Base - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra Base - carsforsale.com

Base Sierra – $30,100

The base trim GMC Sierra 1500 includes a rearview camera, Teen Driver safety system, manual seats, 7-inch touchscreen, and Bluetooth. Also included are one USB port, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Extra value, convenience, and safety packages are available.

2021 GMC Sierra SLE - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra SLE - carsforsale.com

SLE – $43,095

The SLE has the Sierra package plus a remote start, two more USB ports, and in-bed LED lighting.

2021 GMC Sierra Elevation - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra Elevation - carsforsale.com

Elevation – $44,795

The Elevation adds to the safety package with front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Inside, you’re treated with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control. An upgraded audio system with an 8-inch screen is also standard.

2021 GMC Sierra SLT - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Sierra SLT - carsforsale.com

SLT – $49,195

The SLT has GMs innovative MultiPro tailgate, trailering package, locking rear differential, and the 120-volt power outlet in the bed and dash. Added are leather upholstery, power, and heated seats. Plus, an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen.

2021 GMC Sierra AT4 - media.gmc.com
2021 GMC Sierra AT4 - media.gmc.com

AT4 – $54,700

The Sierra AT4 is the line’s off-road king. A 2-inch suspension lift, skid plates, a two-speed transfer case, and an off-road suspension help you on the trail. Inside are added front bucket seats that are heated and ventilated.

2021 GMC Sierra Denali - media.gmc.com
2021 GMC Sierra Denali - media.gmc.com

Denali – $55,800

The big dog is the Sierra Denali. Added are wireless device charging, more safety alerts, parking sensors, and an upgraded Bose seven-speaker infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

Warranties

There’s nothing too special here. You have GMC’s standard 60,000-Mile/5-year Powertrain Limited Warranty and 3 years/36,000-mile limited warranty coverage on everything else. GMC doesn’t offer free essential maintenance for multiple years you get from some other automakers, but you get one free oil change.

What we think

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 - media.gmc.com

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 – media.gmc.com |  Shop 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 on Carsforsale.com

Compared to its Chevy Silverado twin, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is the one you should choose. The interior quality is better and, if you want to tow heavy loads, the same 2500 and 3500 chassis are there for the taking. If you’re willing to wait though, hopefully we can expect a refreshed interior and updated technology features to really pull our interest.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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