$18,387 - $40,029

2016 GMC Sierra 1500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 was new.


Performance: 8.0

The 2016 GMC Sierra comes standard with a V6 that reviewers say delivers good power. However, they find that the optional 5.3-liter V8 is better suited for heavy towing and hauling. Most auto writers agree that the Sierra has sharp steering and handles well, but some think that the rival Ram 1500 delivers a better ride.

  • "Sierra lags the Ram 1500 in ride quality, but it's a strong competitor in this class." -- Consumer Guide (2015)
  • "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 2016 Sierra comes standard with a 4.3-liter V6 engine that puts out 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. A 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque is available. A 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque is also available. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and an eight-speed automatic is available. The Sierra gets an EPA-estimated 18/24 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

The base engine offers ample power for most tasks, including light towing, reviewers say. They praise the 5.3-liter V8 for its powerful feel and note that the six-speed automatic transmission delivers silky shifts.

  • "The base powerplant is a 4.3-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. That torque figure is tops among naturally-aspirated pickup six-cylinders, making the 4.3-liter a good fit for fuel efficiency-focused buyers who also need to do some light towing from time to time." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "On top of all that, we also spent some time with a V-6-equipped truck. … 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

Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Sierra, and four-wheel drive is available. The Sierra’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which monitors road conditions to deliver a smoother ride, is available on the Denali trim. Test drivers find that the Sierra provides a pleasant, controlled ride. They add that the handling is responsive and the steering is precise. Critics appreciate the Sierra’s strong brakes.

  • "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 (2015)
  • "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)
  • "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)

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, the 2016 Sierra has a max payload of 2,260 pounds and a max towing capacity of 12,000 pounds. The transmission features a tow/haul mode that holds gears longer, and a trailer brake controller is available. Critics say the tow/haul mode greatly eases the task of towing, and they add that the Sierra easily pulled a 5,000-pound trailer up steep hills. Some complain that the rearview camera's resolution is too low to be of much use when hooking up a trailer.

  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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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