Sunshine Digital Network, LLC.

2017 GMC Sierra

April 18th, 2017

For 2017 the GMC Sierra glides along nearly unchanged. It brings a few minor upgrades such as active grille shutters that reduce aerodynamic drag, a capless fuel-filler neck and some enhancements to the infotainment system. Otherwise, this remains the same trusty and widely competent pickup that it has been for the past few years.

pros

  • Strong combination of fuel economy and power
  • Comfortable, quiet cabin
  • Compliant ride quality makes it suitable for daily use
  • Many available configurations and trims

cons

  • The six-speed automatic gear ratios are spread too far for towing needs
  • Cabin not as spacious as those of rivals
  • Spendier than otherwise-identical Silverado

what’s new

For 2017, the GMC Sierra 1500 receives only minor updates such as a capless fuel-filler neck, active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics, low-speed automatic braking and a driver monitor system.

we recommend

If you need a regular cab, go with the SLE trim level for its added convenience items. We recommend ticking the box for the 5.3-liter V8 over the V6 because it provides a big boost in capability with minimal impact on fuel economy. For those needing a double cab or crew cab, the SLT hits the spot, with more standard equipment and an available eight-speed automatic instead of the standard six-speed. SLT trim also allows access to useful option packages. Avoid the larger optional wheels; they do little other than degrade the ride quality.

trim levels & features

The 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 is available in four trim levels: base, SLE, SLT and Denali. They are available in various cab and bed configurations.

The base is available only with a regular or a double cab and is sparsely equipped, though options are available. We recommend buyers look to the SLE trim level at a minimum because it has features beyond just what you’d find in a work-only truck. The version that strikes the best balance between amenities and functionality is the SLT trim level, while the range-topping Denali‘s luxury will appeal to buyers who want it all.

Configurations are as follows: Regular cabs are offered with a 6.5- or an 8-foot bed, double cabs come only with a 6.5-foot bed, and crew cabs are available with a 5.8- or a 6.5-foot bed. Be aware that not all trim levels are available with all configurations. All cab configurations are available with four-wheel drive.

Base Sierras are fairly bare-bones, which is fine if you’re looking for a work truck. It comes with a 4.3-liter V6 (285 horsepower, 305 pound-feet of torque), though a 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque) is optional. For any kind of regular use, you’ll want more creature comforts than the base Sierra delivers as standard.

The SLE trim level adds a backup camera, an upgraded infotainment unit, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with an optional telescoping column.

Stepping up to the SLT, our trim level of choice, nets you the 5.3-liter V8 engine, towing hardware, power-folding and heated mirrors, and heated leather seats. The SLT’s standard V8 engine paired with the available eight-speed automatic forms our preferred Sierra powertrain. A 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque) becomes an option at the SLT level. Parking alerts become available, too, and they’re terrifically handy in a full-size pickup.

At the top of the range is the Denali, which comes with most of the features available on lower trim levels and has all of the available driver assistance features. It adds exclusive Magnetic Ride Control dampers, 20-inch wheels and unique interior appointments.

driving

our rating
GM’s optional 6.2-liter V8 is impressive at full throttle. Otherwise, it offers slow response to small throttle openings. This is still a big truck, and it handles like one. Our truck’s 18-inch off-road tires diminished cornering grip on pavement but enhanced off-road performance.
 
acceleration
When fitted with the 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, the Silverado/Sierra is among the quickest-accelerating full-size pickups. The eight-speed automatic doesn’t shift particularly fast; it’s also not remarkably responsive to manual shifting.
braking
In normal use, the Silverado/Sierra’s brakes are predictable and easy to modulate. In testing, distances increased and we noticed some pedal softening; neither is unusual in the segment. Stopping distance from 60 mph was average at 136 feet.
steering
Though it’s large, the Silverado/Sierra offers good steering feel. Like most full-size trucks, it’s ponderous when driven aggressively.
handling
Off-road tires do nothing for the Silverado/Sierra’s already average handling. It’s big and needs to be driven slowly on winding roads.
drivability
Slow throttle response is the only real gripe. Backed by 460 lb-ft of torque, the eight-speed transmission doesn’t need to hunt for the right gear. The engine’s switch to four-cylinder mode for fuel economy is imperceptible.
off-road
Aggressive off-road tires, a two-speed transfer case, an off-road suspension, a locking rear differential and underbody protection all make this Silverado/Sierra a genuinely capable off-roader.

comfort

our rating
Though it’s not class-leading when it comes to comfort (the Ram gets that honor), the Silverado/Sierra is still a very livable truck. We found this special-edition model a friendly companion in daily use despite aggressive off-road tires and the Z71 suspension package.
 
seat comfort
Though its seats are soft, they accommodate a broad spectrum of body shapes and manage to still be comfortable after several hours. A wide range of adjustment helps, too.
ride comfort
Eighteen-inch tires with tall sidewalls coupled with the Z71 off-road package still produced a fairly comfortable ride on the road. Damping is well controlled when bumps affect all four tires. Small, fast impacts can be jarring, though.
noise & vibration
Road, wind and engine noise is insignificant at speed in the Silverado/Sierra. Tire noise, however, is noticeable in the Midnight Edition due to the big tread blocks on the off-road tires. Overall, however, this is a quiet truck.

interior

our rating
The Silverado/Sierra’s crew cab offers plenty of room and easy access to both rows. The instrument panel, central touchscreen, and the array of buttons and knobs are attractive, well-labeled and easy to use. Three USB, two 12-volt and one 120-volt outlets are available.
 
ease of use
A telescoping steering wheel is now available. The instrument panel includes a handy configurable screen, and the MyLink touchscreen system works well. Buttons and knobs are generously sized and intuitive.
getting in/getting out
The 2014 redesign moved the Crew Cab’s center doorpost 2 inches forward and provided wider-opening doors. Rear seat access is quite good. Everyone but the driver gets a grab handle, which is unfortunate.
roominess
Rear legroom is improved over the previous Silverado/Sierra, but other competitors still offer more. In any case, it’s plenty comfy back there. Front leg- and headroom are as generous as ever.
visibility
Visibility is reasonably good out the front and the sides. The side mirrors aren’t terribly large; there would be more glass area if not for the large hinge. The built-in convex mirror bubble is nice but small.
quality
Interior trim materials, fit and finish, and the feel and operation of the secondary controls are all impressive in the Silverado/Sierra — easily as good as competitors.

utility

our rating
A versatile bed, access via bumper steps, a backseat that is easy to manipulate, a flat floor and plenty of small item storage make this a strong utility vehicle.
 
small item storage
The door pockets and center console offer a generous amount of storage space.
cargo space
Rear seat bottoms fold up easily, revealing a flat in-cab load floor. The bed has movable tie-downs, and under-the-rail LED cargo lights are optional.
towing
Our test truck’s 9,200-pound tow rating is good for the class. Equipped with the 3.42 axle ratio via the Max Trailering Package, an 11,800-pound tow rating is possible with the 6.2-liter engine.