2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE Review – Got Trailer?

Tuesday November 30th, 2010 at 12:1111 PM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

By Kurt Gensheimer

Blings

  • New boxed frame  design virtually eliminates flex
  • Exceptional interior fit and finish for a work truck
  • 10,000+ pound towing capacity even for the gasser V-8

Dings

  • Kidney-jarring buckboard ride from the rear end
  • Massive dimensions require a formal ‘plan of action’ every time you park
  • 8,000+ lb GVWR exempts GMC from posting the atrocious MPG numbers on the window

Ruling: Unless you tow a trailer or haul thousands of pounds in concrete every day, you have no business owning a truck this big and manly.


2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD

GMC is trying to be like the Levi’s jeans of the truck world; rugged enough to handle any “Professional Grade” project, yet stylish enough to be cleaned up and taken out for a night on the town. While it’s true that the 2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD is more than ready for any herculean towing or hauling mission you bestow upon it, the whole night on the town thing is still up for debate.

To wit: does your wife possess the muscular fortitude to open the iron-reinforced door of an armored Brinks truck? Because it takes about the same amount of strength to open the door on a Sierra HD. So unless your wife can bench press you, she probably won’t be getting out of your truck without A) your gallantry B) a valet attendant or C) her pulling or straining something.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD

All hyperbole aside, the 2011 GMC line of trucks truly are designed for the dual purpose work site/country club lifestyle, as evidenced by the new Denali trim package which helps push the MSRP well over $60,000…for a pickup. Sure, it has navigation, leather seats, heated steering wheel, and every other accoutrement most often found on luxo-utes like the Escalade, but when the sun sets, it’s still a pickup truck meant to haul some major-league mass. And if you’re not using the truck most of the time for this purpose, you’re wasting money and gas while receiving a buckboard ride and an earful from your lady friend who can’t get out of the truck without debilitating herself.

Having typed that, if you’re still here reading, let’s get into the dirty details of all the improvements GMC has made for the 2011 Sierra 2500HD.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.0L Vortec engine

Performance

Now most folks who require the brawn of a full-size pickup truck for not only the payload capacity, but also for towing, tend to opt for the diesel. But our tester came with the recently revised and gasoline-powered 6.0 Liter VORTEC V-8, a motor  that offers as much power as any reasonable diesel of only a few years ago. Rated at 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque (with 90% of that torque available at 2,000 rpm), depending on the chosen configuration, the VORTEC can haul up to 13,000 pounds and carry a 3,700 lb payload. In addition, our 2500HD in the SLE trim was equipped with a six-speed automatic featuring manual shift and tow-setting buttons on the column shifter, along with a mechanical locking differential and integrated trailer brake controller.

Because of it’s GVWR that’s north of 8,000 pounds, it is exempt from displaying EPA fuel economy numbers. And because we didn’t have enough quality mileage behind the wheel to get long-term MPG numbers, your guess is as good as ours. Figure 12-15 mpg with an empty load on the freeway and maybe 10 mpg towing. It’s probably better the ratings aren’t published, because they surely aren’t good.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD

To help control the 6,000+ pound curb weight of the Sierra, in addition to whatever mass you’re hauling, GMC has stepped up the braking power for 2011 by increasing rotor diameter from 12.8 inches to 14. The Sierra’s front independent front suspension – the only full-size truck to offer IFS – has been upgraded to forged steel upper A-arms and cast iron lowers to give it a gross front axle weight rating of 6,000 pounds. But perhaps the most marketable upgrade is the fully-boxed, ladder frame chassis which has significantly increased torsional rigidity.

In addition to added torsional rigidity, the new chassis design also features a kidney-clattering ride. With an empty bed and the tow-rated tires at 75 psi, the behavior from the rear makes a 19th Century buckboard seem more agreeable. Get on a potholed stretch of pavement and hold on tight. Any items not already secured will surely be on the floor.

And when you try to take air out of the rear tires to soften up the ride, the tire pressure warning system comes on at anything below 70 psi. Although the independent front suspension does a terrific job of dampening the ride, it makes for a strange road feel dynamic like a horse that prances gracefully in the front and bucks like a bronco in heat out back.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD

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2 Responses to 2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE Review – Got Trailer?

  1. Combat_Vet says:

    I have a 2009 Sierra SLE/Z71 Crew cab standard box with the 6L gasser and mixed highway and city driving it averages about 9-10mpg. The best fuel economy I’ve pulled out of her during the 2 years ownership has been 12mpg, but still more mixed driving.

    There is enough HP and torque there to pull anything you have and then some. I have a 20′ tandem trailer and it can pull it like it’s not even there.

    The diesel engine is more expensive, so is fuel and all of the maintenance that diesel’s require.

  2. francois says:

    Agreed on the review. It looks really well built and with a nice interior. But it is expensive and it is gas engine.

    How much does mpg and towing capacity suffer because of the gas engine? Is the diesel cheaper or more expensive?





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