2009 Sierra 3500HD New Car Test Drive
GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups are well-suited for real-world use and abuse. They can haul tons of brick and cement and tow the mixer, then turn around to be used for a night on the town or grocery shopping while the fifth-wheel's left in camp or the horses are in the corral.
The Sierra HD models are the mid-level part of GMC's truck lineup, so if your hauling happens once or twice a year, or you tow a bass boat or ski boat or a lightweight car trailer, then the 1500-series is better suited. Conversely, if you've got a mammoth trailer to pull, step up to the Kodiak/Top Kick medium-duties. However, if your trailer needs range 5,000-13,000 pounds, then a Sierra HD just might be the hot ticket.
The GMC Sierra HD pickups were thoroughly redesigned for 2007, so changes for 2009 are limited to detail changes: OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation and destination download, Bluetooth wireless connectivity for your cellphone, XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic information, rearview cameras for maneuvering in tight quarters and hooking up trailers, and electronic stability control expanded to more models.
The GMC Sierra HD offers styling unique to GMC, so it's a little more than just a Chevy Silverado with a different grille, but they're based on the same structure, use the same drivelines, and are for the most part mechanically identical.
As with all heavy-duty pickup lines, the Sierra HD offers plenty of configurations with three cab sizes and two bed sizes in 2WD or 4WD. But it also offers two separate interior concepts unique to GMC.
A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard, a feature only GM can claim. (Only the Dodge Ram diesel offers a six-speed automatic.) The Sierra HD's standard 6.0-liter gas V8 is rated higher than Ford's engine, as is the GMC's 6.6-liter diesel. Also, only GM includes OnStar as standard equipment.
Almost everything you can get in a GMC Yukon sport-utility is available here, including a subwoofer-equipped sound system, navigation, driver memory system, heated leather seats, heated windshield washer fluid, and a moonroof. At the other end of the spectrum, for the entry price of around $24,000 you get a functional pickup with real load-carrying ability and all the safety bits of the top-line model.
The trick in buying a GMC Sierra HD is to give fair consideration and choose wisely. Compute the permutations among three cabs, two weight classes, two beds, two engine/transmission combinations, two drive systems and four trim levels, and then sort out options that cover everything from a diesel radiator cover to rear park assist, and you can see why prices run from that base $24,000 to well past double it. Equip your Sierra HD properly and you'll have an outstanding tow vehicle that offers the comfort and convenience features you want and need.
The 2009 GMC Sierra HD comes in three cabs (Regular Cab, Extended Cab, Crew Cab) and two weight classes, 2500 HD and 3500 HD, all with 2WD or 4WD. The 2500 (sometimes called 3/4-ton) offers two pickup box sizes, while the 3500 (1-ton) is eight-foot box only. If you wish to add your own utility box or flatbed, cab and chassis models are offered.
Trim levels include the commercial-grade Work Truck (WT), the popular SLE, and the premium SLT that resembles a Yukon sport-utility up front.
The base WT model comes with a split vinyl bench seat (and split rear seat on four-door cabs), XM satellite radio, air conditioning, tire pressure monitors, and ABS.
Mid-level SLE models include all basic equipment and add cruise control, chromed steel wheels, electronic shift for 4WD, auto-dimming mirror and compass, driver lumbar, locking seat cushion storage, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. You can add fog lamps and interior upgrades such as cloth-upholstered power-adjustable front seats and redundant controls on the steering wheel.
SLT badges are reserved for the priciest Sierras, those with an interior modeled after GMC luxury utilities. These include as standard leather upholstery with 12-way power and heated front seats, two-person driver memory, heated windshield washer fluid system, locking differential, remote start, towing package, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a Bose audio system with subwoofer.
The standard gasoline engine for all GMC Sierra HD models is the 6.0-liter V8, which rates 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque (322 hp for GVWR above 10,000 pounds). The sole option is a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel, at 365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
Options include moonroof, satellite radio, navigation, snow plow prep, integral trailer brake control, remote start, a power takeoff (PTO). Determining exactly the right model and options will take careful and honest shopping because of the sheer number of choices.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front seat belt pretensioners, ABS, and OnStar. Electronic stability control is available on many models.