$17,074 - $37,286

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 was new.


Performance: 8.1

The 2015 GMC Sierra has composed handling and responsive steering, reviewers say. They note that it rides comfortably, but a few critics mention that the Ram 1500's ride quality is better. The Sierra gets competitive fuel economy for the class, and auto journalists say the base V6 has sufficient power, but they are more impressed with the added power of the optional 5.3-liter V8.

  • "Sierra lags the Ram 1500 in ride quality, but it's a strong competitor in this class." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We drove the Sierra up the coast of Southern California to the Camarillo, where we picked a 23-foot Airstream trailer. Either with or without the trailer, it's amazing how quiet the Sierra is inside the cabin-we would hardly have noticed the nearly 5000-pound trailer behind us if not for the fact that it obstructed the rearward view. And the engine had no trouble handling the extra weight." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "She goes and she tows, but what's she like to drive? Very pleasant, as you might expect from the upscale truck brand." -- Motor Trend (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 comes standard with a 4.3-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. An optional 5.3-liter V8 produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, and the optional 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. V6- and 5.3-liter V8-powered models have a six-speed automatic transmission, while those with the larger V8 have an eight-speed automatic. With the base engine and rear-wheel drive, the 2015 Sierra gets an EPA-estimated 18/24 mpg city/highway, which is on par with that of rivals.

Auto journalists think that the V6 engine has plenty of power if you're not planning to do any substantial towing or hauling. They report that the 5.3-liter V8 has ample power and say that the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly.

  • "We spent considerable time behind the wheel of a 5.3-liter V8 model and felt the powertrain was more than capable in nearly every situation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On top of all that, we also spent some time with a V-6-equipped truck. The 285-hp, 4.3-liter V-6 makes 305 lb-ft of torque and, quite honestly, if you're not towing more than its 7500-pound rating, it's all the truck you need." -- Motor Trend (2014)
  • "Power from the 5.3-liter V8 was strong and the well-proven six-speed shifted very smoothly." -- Autoblog (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 Sierra 1500 comes with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. The Denali trim comes standard with a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which GMC says continuously monitors the road conditions to better control the Sierra’s body motions. Reviewers say the GMC Sierra has controlled handling and rides comfortably on both city streets and the highway. Some test drivers also mention that the Sierra 1500 has a small turning circle, which makes it easy to maneuver. They like its responsive and well-weighted steering and note that it has strong brakes and good brake pedal feel.

  • "Beneath the exterior lies more newness - a stiffened frame, a retuned suspension and a new electric power steering system. Thanks to these revisions, the Sierra possesses a better-controlled, more comfortable ride along with more predictable handling than before." -- Left Lane News
  • "The ride around town, and on the highway, was very nice. Electrically assisted steering seems to be hit-or-miss these days depending on the automaker, but GMC has done a fine job balancing weight and feedback." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "The steering has a good weight to it and the turning radius is surprisingly tight even when equipped with 4WD." -- Motor Trend (2014)
  • "No matter what engine is under the aluminum hood, both pickups have a quiet demeanor, an occasionally choppy but otherwise soft ride, and a smaller feel from behind the wheel than that of those big-rig-emulating competitors. The Sierra's steering is accurate and doesn't require constant corrections. A firm and confidence-inspiring brake pedal is almost sports-car-like, and the braking distances recorded by the Sierra's Chevrolet analog were class-leading." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, the Sierra 1500 can tow up to 12,000 pounds and haul up to 2,270 pounds. The Sierra's transmission comes with a tow/haul mode, which holds gears longer when activated, and a trailer brake controller is optional, which allows you to tweak the response of a trailer's brakes from the driver's seat. Test drivers find both of these features helpful when towing, and they report that the Sierra 1500 easily tows 5,000-pound trailers. Some critics complain that the display for the rearview camera is blurry, which makes it tricky to align the hitch ball with the trailer.

  • "When it came to towing, however, our Sierra had no problem whatsoever lugging a 5,000-pound Airstream trailer up steep grades." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "That's largely due to its new fully boxed frame, which … also helps with towing, as do the fully integrated trailer brakes. We also couldn't live without tow/haul mode, which takes the guesswork out of manually operating the automatic transmission when you'd rather be focusing on things such as guiding the pickup safely up a hill." -- AutoTrader
  • "First, the back-up camera is surprisingly low res, which negates some of the advantage of using it when backing up to a trailer, as it was difficult to see where the ball hitch and tongue were." -- Motor Trend (2014)

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