$31,087 - $57,861

2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Performance Review


Performance: 7.8

The 2019 GMC Sierra sees a complete redesign that introduces two new engines on top of the capable V6 and V8 options. This truck handles fairly well and delivers a smooth ride. It's plenty capable in towing and hauling situations, and it can hold its own off road.

  • "I spent most of a day crossing the beautiful roads outside St. John's, Newfoundland in a 2019 Sierra Denali, a top-shelf model with nearly all the literal bells and figurative whistles, including that big 6.2-liter lump of a V8. Its effortless torque surges the empty truck forward with aplomb, and while in default trim I found its sound to be a little unremarkable, the optional sport exhaust fixes that nicely -- at the cost of some drone." -- CNET
  • "Steering is firm without the feeling of being overboosted, and braking is tight and linear thanks in part to a new electro-hydraulic booster. The brake pedal has been moved closer to the accelerator (more SUV-like than traditional pickup)." -- Truck Trend
  • "The steering is firm and direct and the turning radius is surprisingly small. Still, it's a big truck and you feel every bit of its nearly 7-foot width." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The Sierra comes standard with a 4.3-liter V6 engine that puts out 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The base engine provides enough power for daily driving, but you'll want one of the beefier engines for towing and hauling work.

You have two V8 options: a 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and a 6.2-liter that puts out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The 5.3-liter is available with a six-speed automatic or an eight-speed automatic, depending on whether you opt for Dynamic Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation technology offered in SLT trims and above). The 6.2-liter is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Both of these engines feel stronger than the V6, and the larger V8 moves the Sierra easily.

There are two new engines for 2019. One is a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder that makes 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic. The other is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that's paired with a 10-speed automatic. It will be available later in the model year.

The turbo-four, the 5.3-liter V8 with the eight-speed transmission, and the 6.2-liter V8 all have engine stop-start technology to aid with fuel economy. The smaller V8 engine gets 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those are comparable to the ratings of other V8-powered trucks. The V6 engine actually earns lower estimates of 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine has the best of the bunch, with an EPA-estimated 20/23 mpg. 

  • "The 6.2L's 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque leave little to be desired. Thanks in part to the massive range of the new 10-speed transmission, there's power on tap whenever it's desired. We never felt that the truck was underpowered, and there's little wait for it to kick in. The transmission reacts very quickly to throttle input and drops the appropriate number of gears for the acceleration desired (thanks largely to its ability to skip multiple cogs up and down). Shifts are smooth and seamless." -- Truck Trend
  • "Both [V8s] feature cylinder deactivation and stop/start capability for improved fuel economy. … Both provide ample, linear power, and the transmissions kick down fairly quickly when the throttle is stabbed at speed." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's no doubt that the 6.2-liter V8 can do the business. It's a stout motor, and the 10-speed transmission felt flawless on our drive. This power team gets with the program when pushed, but it thankfully lacks the sort of overeager throttle jumpiness that can annoy when your aim is to take it easy. For its part, the Dynamic Fuel Management system goes about its business without letting on." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

You may not immediately think of trucks when you think about smooth-riding vehicles, but the Sierra aims to change your mind. While it doesn't feel like a luxury sedan, it has a supple ride and easily absorbs road impacts. Despite its enormous size (roughly 7 feet wide), the Sierra corners with composure. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

Speaking of four-wheel drive, the new-for-2019 AT4 trim is the best off-roader in the lineup. It handles most outdoor terrain without issue, and it comes with features like hill descent control, skid plates, a suspension optimized for off-roading, and a two-speed transfer case.

  • "Ride quality is excellent, and braking is nicely predictable and linear." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On roads that ranged from smooth highways to cramped city streets, the Denali rode well and was easy to command. Its adaptive dampers were effectively flexible, although the live rear axle and giant 22-inch wheels still shuddered over sections of harsh pavement that the latest Ram 1500, with its rear coil springs or optional air springs, seems less upset by. The GMC, however, has sharper, more linear steering with more feedback than most big trucks, and the Denali actually felt poised when cornering at higher speeds." -- Car and Driver
  • "While Denali proved to be the king of the highway, AT4 reigned supreme when the tarmac gave way to dust. … Off-road the AT4 doesn't disappoint. The Rancho shocks work well at soaking up bumps and ruts in the road, and the Goodyear tires provide loads of traction. … Ripping through the woods like a rally car was a blast, even it if it wasn't the most technical. We had no issues with shock fade, and passenger comfort was high with little to no violent head toss from the cross ruts and dips in the road. A Baja racer the AT4 is not, but for the everyday outdoor enthusiast it's more than suitable." -- Truck Trend

Towing and Hauling

A properly equipped Sierra can tow up to 12,500 pounds and haul up to 2,250 pounds. You can add a few features that help with towing, such as a trailer brake controller and a trailer camera package. Even multi-ton loads don't pose much of a problem for the Sierra, so it's plenty capable whether you're moving or taking your boat to the lake.

  • "We … can confirm that the lifted Sierra [AT4 with the 6.2-liter V-8] can tow about 5000 pounds without breaking a sweat." -- Car and Driver
  • "From cameras that show you a view of the hitch while connecting a trailer and an extra camera to show you the area behind the trailer when on the road, to trailer-tire-pressure monitoring and a vehicle-specific capability label on the door jamb, the new Sierra has an expansive list of trailer towing features." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ProGrade Trailering System with Trailering App is an incredibly useful feature for those who tow a lot. The system offers a multitude of camera angles designed specifically to aid in hitching and towing trailers, as well as several checklists and tutorials and the ability to store trailer information and monitor trailer tire pressure and temperature (when equipped with the correct sensors)." -- Truck Trend

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