Overview

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Overview (Final Score: A-)

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is a full-size, half-ton pickup that's offered as a more upscale option over other base- and mid-model trucks on the market. Due to be fully replaced in 2019 by a new-generation Sierra pickup, the 2018 Sierra is in its last generation-year. That doesn't make this version of the pickup less compelling, but it could mean better value when buying new.

The 2018 GMC Sierra hasn't changed much from the 2017 model, which added some driver safety tech, active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics and a capless fuel filler door. The Sierra is offered in multiple cab sizes and bed lengths, with three powertrain options and four trim levels.

Interestingly, the Sierra is also offered with a mild hybrid option that matches V8-level capability with V6-like fuel economy.

The three engine options (a V6 and two V8s) are solid choices for the Sierra, with varying degrees of capability and performance. Both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive are also offered.

What We Love About the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500:


  • Excellent interior at most trim levels

  • Well-done performance and fuel economy in all engines

  • First-class towing capability and confidence


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500:


  • Value retention may be lower for buyers in some markets

  • No serious off-road option compared to the other major makes

  • Denali trim is dated compared to other upper-level options on the market


 

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Exterior View (9/10)

This generation of the 2018 GMC Sierra has been popular with buyers for its square-on-square design. Squared-off wheel wells, fender creases, headlamps and general body design are the basis upon which a more diamond-shaped grille, rounded lower intake and rounded-off lighting in the squared tail lamps offset the edges. It's a great design motif that works well.

Standard exterior features mark the GMC, such as bumper cutouts to make footsteps at the edges on the rear. Step rails are standard equipment on several trim packages. The thin-edged rear sliding glass is another feature some models have, which limits obstruction to the driver's rear view.

The whole truck comes together in a strong, well-prepared package that gives confidence about its capabilities. We also like the wide-swinging doors, fat standard side mirrors (which upgrade to towing mirrors in some packages), and the low-key, stylized GMC logo on the tailgate.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (9/10)

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 has a premium-level persona that sets its apart from the competition. The goals are to be more upscale while remaining roomy and comfortable. Quality materials is the expectation in a GMC and the Sierra does not disappoint.

Low-end trims are more workaday than the upper-level ones, but still offer good quality and design. From that quality hallmark, the GMC Sierra's lower trims offer rugged but nice-looking interiors that may be somewhat plain compared to the upper trims, but still have an upscale appeal.

Seating in the 2018 GMC Sierra is good, with lots of roominess and comfort. Both front seats come as a bench or individual captain's chairs. Seating for three is realistic on the bench and with the shifter on the column, legroom is pretty good for the center spot. A lot of gadget and small-item storage is lost with the bench option. Especially in cup holder availability.

The 2018 Sierra has great controls placement and ease of use for the driver. Most things are positioned exactly where they intuitively should be, making driving the Sierra easier. Convenient storage for items in the two-seat cab is readily at hand, especially in the center console and through the multiple adjustments available for the storage bin and the area ahead of it.

The biggest knock against the GMC Sierra is its Denali trim, which feels a bit outdated compared to the competition's upper trims. There's a lot less bling and not as much upper-crust comfort, considering the price being paid. The Denali package is still a great-looking, popular option, but we expect to see more for that amount of money.

In the back, seating is good in the crew cab option. In the extended cab, seating is useful but more cramped, as is the norm in the segment. The crew cab option seats three across the back seat without any cramping or elbowing for space. The Sierra has a very large cabin in its crew cab configuration.

There are a myriad of lighting options available for the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500, both in the cabin and in the cargo area. We also like the large storage space underneath the rear seats of the extended and crew cabs.

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Technology (10/10)

The base-level 2018 Sierra has a 4.2-inch display that has little in the way of technology, outside of audio controls. It's more than what's found in most base offerings, though, with a little more functionality and ease of use thanks to it being a screen. Upgrading goes a long way in the Sierra.

The 2018 Sierra's infotainment uses the latest of GMC's IntelliLink systems. This resides on a well-done 8-inch touchscreen that offers good graphics quality and fast responses. Packages and upgrades bring more and more functionality to the screen, and most of them do not change that ease of use. The basic upgrade to the 8-inch screen brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as HD/satellite radio and navigation, all standard.

Upgrading can add OnStar and a WiFi hotspot option plus more app connectivity with smartphone connections. There are five USB ports in the Sierra's cab.

Fuel Economy (10/10)

The fuel economy ratings for the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 are very good for the class, despite the competition's mostly newer offerings. That says something for the GMC. There are technically three engines available for the Sierra, but effectively there are four.

The base V6 offers an EPA-rated 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The 5.3-liter V8 engine offers 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Pair that V8 with the optional eAssist mild hybrid option and its fuel economy matches the V6. The larger 6.2-liter V8 offers 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

We drove both the standard 5.3L and 6.2L V8 engines in our testing of the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 and found the EPA ratings are close to reality when the truck is driving without cargo or a trailer.

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Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)

The 2018 Sierra 1500 received an "About Average" rating from the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study. This is a drop from last year, where it received a "
Better Than Most" rating. It's likely that the recalls in the previous model year have affected consumer expectations for the pickup truck.

The Sierra 1500 comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty as standard.

Safety (9/10)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Sierra a 5-Star overall rating, with five stars each for frontal and side crash results, and four stars for rollover results. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Sierra top scores of "Good" on all crash tests except the small overlap front driver-side test, where it scored a second-worst "Marginal." That low score is a common fault among large pickup trucks.

The 2018 Sierra 1500 has a lot of safety features and advanced safety options available, helping boost our assessment.

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Performance (10/10)

The base engine in the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is a 4.3-liter V6 that outputs 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission as standard and is rated to tow up to 7,200 pounds. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional.

The SLT and Denali trims upgrade to a 5.3-liter V8 engine as standard, but this engine is available in lower trims as an upgrade option. The 5.3L produces 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Again, attached to a six-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive as standard and 4WD as optional. This engine's tow rating is up to 11,200 pounds. Driving this configuration of the truck (5.3L V8, 4WD), we drove both empty and with a 6,500 pound trailer and cargo. This engine did very well with no struggle, even on hills.

The 5.3L V8 can be coupled to GMC's mild hybrid eAssist system, which swaps the transmission for an eight-speed automatic and adds an electric motor. This puts out power equal to the standard 5.3L, but improves fuel economy to that of the V6. This creates the best of both worlds, keeping all the capability while improving mpg.

The biggest upgrade engine is the 6.2L V8, which outputs 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. This engine is also mated to the six-speed automatic as standard, but can upgrade to the eight-speed (without the mild hybrid). Towing in this big engine is a respectable 12,000 pounds. This engine is only available in the SLT and Denali trims. We drove it in the latter with the eight-speed transmission and found it highly likable and more than capable.

On the highway, the 2018 GMC Sierra has a smooth feel and good presence. Any of the engines bring confidence to the Sierra's demeanor. When towing, the GMC Sierra does very well, with good sway control and braking. The interior comfort, unusually quiet highway ride and the confidence the Sierra gives while pulling a load are excellent points for the truck.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

Because the 2018 Sierra 1500 is a premium-level truck, comparisons to other trucks' base models are not possible. The lowest-end Sierra costs more than the lowest-end of any other make, but has far more content included. Buyers should use the competition's mid-level (second or third tier trim) for comparisons to the base-model Sierra.

Most non-fleet GMC Sierra buyers are in the SLT or Denali trim levels, which are more competitive with the competition's higher-end trim points. As noted, the Denali trim may not be as nice as the top trim points for some rivals, but it's often priced a little better as well.

We recommend the SLE or SLT trims for their good packaging, excellent accouterments and the myriad of package options to fit more needs. The V6 engine is fine for getting around and doing basic duties, but the eight-cylinder engines are where most buyers should look if resale value is important. These add considerable capability, and the eAssist premium is low enough that upgrading to the hybrid and its better mpg could show returns down the line.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)

There are a lot of full-size pickup trucks on offer in today's market. Most of them are seeing serious upgrades for the 2018 or 2019 model years, so shopping around is definitely a good idea.

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500's chief competitors are the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. The Chevrolet Silverado is the most direct comparable, being the GMC's near-twin and offering lower-end options the GMC doesn't.

The F-150 has long been the nation's best-selling truck, offering a host of powertrain options and configurations to fit almost every niche need. The Ram 1500 is also a solid contender, offering good towing and highway comfort. The Nissan Titan is the newcomer, offering strong looks and basic packaging across the board. The Toyota Tundra has excellent reliability and good overall capability.

Against these rivals, the 2018 Sierra 1500 fares well. But the GMC offers a more premium appeal that mixes strong capability with comfort and a smooth highway drive. This gives the GMC Sierra a compelling draw, despite being older in design than most of its competition.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Crew Cab - 4WD
Crew Cab Short Box 4-Wheel Drive V6 4WD 38700
SLE Crew Cab Short Box 4-Wheel Drive SLE V6 4WD 44700
SLT Crew Cab Short Box 4-Wheel Drive SLT 8 Cylinder 4WD 48400
Denali Crew Cab Short Box 4-Wheel Drive Denali 8 Cylinder 4WD 56000
Crew Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive 8 Cylinder 4WD 40100
SLE Crew Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive SLE 8 Cylinder 4WD 46100
SLT Crew Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive SLT 8 Cylinder 4WD 48700
Denali Crew Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive Denali 8 Cylinder 4WD 56300
Crew Cab - RWD
Crew Cab Short Box 2-Wheel Drive V6 RWD 35500
SLE Crew Cab Short Box 2-Wheel Drive SLE V6 RWD 40700
SLT Crew Cab Short Box 2-Wheel Drive SLT 8 Cylinder RWD 45200
Denali Crew Cab Short Box 2-Wheel Drive Denali 8 Cylinder RWD 52900
Extended Cab - 4WD
Double Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive V6 4WD 37000
SLE Double Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive SLE V6 4WD 42100
SLT Double Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive SLT 8 Cylinder 4WD 46000
Extended Cab - RWD
Double Cab Standard Box 2-Wheel Drive V6 RWD 33000
SLE Double Cab Standard Box 2-Wheel Drive SLE V6 RWD 38300
SLT Double Cab Standard Box 2-Wheel Drive SLT 8 Cylinder RWD 42800
Regular Cab - 4WD
Regular Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive V6 4WD 32900
SLE Regular Cab Standard Box 4-Wheel Drive SLE V6 4WD 39600
Regular Cab Long Box 4-Wheel Drive V6 4WD 33200
SLE Regular Cab Long Box 4-Wheel Drive SLE V6 4WD 39900
Regular Cab - RWD
Regular Cab Standard Box 2-Wheel Drive V6 RWD 29000
SLE Regular Cab Standard Box 2-Wheel Drive SLE V6 RWD 35700
Regular Cab Long Box 2-Wheel Drive V6 RWD 29300
SLE Regular Cab Long Box 2-Wheel Drive SLE V6 RWD 35800

Comparison of 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 with Similar Cars

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 MSRP Invoice
2018 GMC Sierra 1500 $29,000 $27,695
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2018 Ford F-150 $27,705 $26,320 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 VS 2018 Ford F-150
2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $28,300 $27,027 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 VS 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2018 Toyota Tacoma $25,400 $23,813 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 VS 2018 Toyota Tacoma
2018 Toyota Tundra $31,320 $28,971 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 VS 2018 Toyota Tundra

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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