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2015 GMC Sierra HD First Impressions

GMC was the oddball when GM went through bankruptcy in 2009. With other brands easily cut from the portfolio, many believed GMC should have been ditched as well. General Motors is now proving the naysayers wrong.

The Sierra HD is the exact same trunk under the skin as its Chevrolet Silverado HD stablemate. There’s virtually nothing mechanically differentiating the two models. Yet, this is one case where badge-engineering makes sense as it makes General Motors truckloads of cash.

Pickup customers, even in the HD market, are evolving. Their desire for a generic workhorse is virtually gone. Instead, consumers are looking for luxurious interiors, ingenious solutions, and comfort.

To find out everything there is to know about General Motors’ updated 2500 and 3500 series Sierra, they sent us to Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park to tow and haul some stuff around in blue-collar luxury.

What is the GMC Sierra HD?
The GMC Sierra HD is the more expensive of two offerings from General Motors with a choice of two engines and three cab configurations.

Think of the Sierra (in both light- and heavy-duty form) as the Silverado+. Mostly everything is the same; mechanicals, interior, and other features are identical. But, the Sierra looks better and can be had with some quite luxurious amenities.

Designed for professionals looking for a high-end heavy-duty, the GMC Sierra offers up comfort and technology in a clever package. Styling also takes on the same design language as the light-duty Sierra, which is definitely a massive positive.

The Sierra HD is offered in 2500 and 3500 series, with either a single rear axle or dually configuration, and a multitude of trims, including the top flight Denali trim that brings unique styling bits and technology to the cockpit.

2015 GMC Sierra HD Price and Specs
Two engines are available on the Sierra HD: a 6.0-litre gasoline-burning Vortec V8 (those hoping for the new 6.2-litre EcoTec3 V8 will be disappointed) or a 6.6-litre Duramax turbodiesel V8.

The 6.0-litre gas engine develops 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque in 2500 models while 3500 models make do with 322 hp. This engine is E85 FlexFuel capable while also having the option of factory-approved CNG fitment.

Those looking to tow and haul will want the Duramax, which produces 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque, to the tune of an extra $9,670. The available Allison 1000 transmission adds an additional $1,445.

Three different cab configurations – Regular, Double, and Crew – are also available, as are three different box setups – Short, Long, and Chassis cab.

These trucks don’t come cheap. The Sierra 2500 HD 2WD Regular Cab, equipped with long box and in base trim, starts at $37,430. Those looking for the Denali treatment will see a $68,645 for the Sierra 3500 HD Dually 4WD Crew Cab, equipped with long box.

It must be said, with additional options, these trucks can easily reach close to, if not past, $100,000 when all is said and done.

Driving the 2015 GMC Sierra HD
The initial leg of our trip, from Calgary airport to our first coffee shop stop in a very stereotypical Corner Gas looking town, we were accompanied by a Sierra HD in Denali trim. I’m actually happy to say we didn’t pay much attention to the truck.

Yes, we are reviewers. I even had my work boots on. But, the Sierra HD was very transparent to the overall journey. Everything from the steering wheel mounted controls and 8-inch Denali-specific instrument panel screen to the basic (but quite clever) switchgear was incredibly intuitive and worked as expected.

The 6.6-litre Duramax was quiet as any heavy-duty diesel lump can be on the highway, only bellowing when given some motivation with a heavy right foot.

Smooth, comfortable, and incredibly quiet would also describe the next day perfectly in the Sierra HD LTZ. With less equipment, it still didn’t lack convenience, featuring GMC IntelliLink front and centre in the redesigned console. New inlaid doors and improved aerodynamics also make this the quietest truck in the class.

The day after our Waterton Lakes visit, our activities took us to Bar-U Ranch where General Motors laid out a comparison test between mechanically similar Ford Super Duty and RAM Heavy Duty models.

While the other trucks were slightly heavier, the Sierra seemed better at hauling at speeds above 80 km/h, eventually pulling away from its competitors.

Inside and Out of the 2015 GMC Sierra HD
While the frame remains relatively the same in GM’s new big boy toys, exterior and interior designs are all-new and highlight some fantastic features.

The Sierra HD comes with a rear bumper step, inherited from its little brother, for those looking to climb into the cargo box. Movable anchors, also available on the light-duty trucks, are now available on the heavy-duty models as well. Double cab Sierra HDs no longer feature a suicide rear door, now offering a traditional front-hinged setup.

To finish things off, the interiors coming from GM’s truck division are now second to none. Materials are much improved along with a renewed focus on design, providing a pleasant place to live and work.

Gone are button blanks – those spots where push-button options could be but aren’t – replaced with a toggle-switch bar at the bottom of the centre stack consisting of switches that vary in length depending on the number of options equipped. And, to top it all off, everything is easy to use with a pair of thick work gloves.

Up front, the Sierra HD wears the same corporate sheetmetal as the light-duty truck with a chunkier, stronger design.

Overall, and even with the carryover frame, the Sierra HD is a worktruck with the ability to haul family and friends in comfort – at least until the next-generation trucks come along from Ford and RAM.

Comparing the 2015 GMC Sierra HD
There are only four choices in the heavy-duty segment in Canada, with General Motors providing half of them. The Silverado and Sierra HD models, available in both 2500 and 3500 series, compete for construction jobs with the Ford F-250/F-350 and RAM 2500/3500.

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