The 2021 GMC Sierra is a handsome, capable and comfortable full-size pick-up that offers five different engine choices, several cargo bed options, lots of standard and available features, user-friendly tech, and an off-road oriented trim, the AT4. It’s similar to its cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado.
Base Price: $53,800
As Tested: $63,950
Mileage: 22 mpg city/26 mpg highway/24 mpg combined
The full-size pick-up category is super competitive these days, with the redesigned Ford F-150, the Ram 1500, and the Silverado.
Pick-ups are popular for so many reasons. Consumers want a vehicle for work and play that can haul and carry their gear and toys and is easy and comfortable to drive. Oh, and don’t forget all the luxury and convenience features. These days people are more interested than ever in exploring the great outdoors and wide-open spaces—because of the coronavirus pandemic—so they want a truck that can haul camping gear and maybe a trailer.
The Sierra got redesigned for 2019, received a few more features for 2020, and gets some new or enhanced trailering features for 2021, including a jack-knife alert, rear trailer view with trailer back-up guidelines and trailer angle indicator, rear side view enhancement and cargo bed view enhancement.
The Sierra is available in five trims: base, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 and Denali. Starting prices range from $29,695 to $56,990. Three cab choices are available: regular, double cab and crew cab. Three bed lengths are available, depending on the cab configuration. Each trim is available with two- or four-wheel-drive.
Five different engines are offered. The base is a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet paired with a six-speed automatic. The 2.7-liter Turbo I4 generates 310 horses and 348 pound-feet. The 5.3-liter V8 produces 355 horses and 383 pound-feet and is mated to a six-, eight-, or 10-speed automatic. Want more power? Go for the 6.2-liter V8 that generates 420 hp and 460 pound-feet, or the 3.0-liter Duramax turbo diesel six-cylinder which makes 277 horses and 460 pound-feet; both of these are paired with a 10-speed automatic.
The off-roading trim AT4 was introduced on the 2019 Sierra and consumers liked it, bumping Sierra sales up 14 percent year-over year. The AT4 trim adds a 2.0-inch factory lift, skid plates, Rancho monotube shocks, a standard MultiPro tailgate with six different ways to open and configure, available carbon fiber bed and available mud-terrain tires.
My AT4 tester has the turbo diesel. Acceleration is quick with little lag, there’s plenty of power for merging and passing at freeway speeds, and the 10-speed shifts quickly and smoothly. The ride quality is good overall but can be rough on bumpy roads.
Fuel efficiency is good for a large pick-up. EPA ratings for my 4WD AT4 tester are 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24. I got ? during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
When properly equipped, the diesel Sierra with 2WD can tow up to 9,300 pounds and haul a payload of up to 1830 pounds. The 4WD diesel can tow up to 9,000 pounds and haul up to 9,000 pounds.
The cabin is spacious, comfortable and practical. Controls are sensibly laid out and the tech is user-friendly. Adults have plenty of room in the front seats, and three adults can comfortably fit in back in the crew cab. Materials are nice, although not as upscale as you’ll find in some rivals.
Standard features include a seven-in touchscreen infotainment system, six-speaker audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hotspot,
Available features include keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, heated, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bose audio system, navigation, and wireless charging.
Available driver assistance technologies include lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automated emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Available in many configurations
Five engine choices
Decent fuel economy for a large pick-up
Available AT4 off-road trim
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Upper trims not as luxurious as some rivals
Ride quality can be rough
Price can climb quickly in upper trims
My tester starts at $53,800. The AT4 Premium Package is $3,700 and adds universal home remote, rear sliding power window, GMC premium infotainment system with navigation, eight-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, Bluetooth audio streaming, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bose premium sound system, wireless charging, front and rear park assist, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, AT4 high clearance step (dealer installed), and Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. The Technology Package is $2,075 and adds HD Surround Vision with two trailer camera provisions, rear camera mirror, bed view camera, multi-color head-up display, and multi-color eight-inch digital driver info center. The Driver Alert Package II is $1,095 and adds forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, intelli-beam auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, following distance indicator, and safety alert seat. The power sunroof is $995. The Duramax 3.0L turbo-diesel engine is $995. Onyx black is $195. Destination charge is $1,595. The AT4 Premium Package discount is -$500. Grand total is $63,950.
If you’re looking for a full-size pick-up, there are several contenders in this competitive bunch. The 2021 GMC Sierra is capable and comfortable and does everything a large pick-up should do. While the interior isn’t as upscale and the ride not as smooth as some rivals, it’s sure worth a look.