The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 earned a below average Total Car Score in the fullsize truck segment.
The middling score is rooted in the mixed reviews the GMC generated. Most critics agreed that the Sierra is a comfortable riding truck with a good selection of powertrains and seemingly endless varieties on the order form, from the bare-bones Work Truck to the super-luxe Denali. The Sierra’s tow and payload ratings are right up there with the competition. And the media also appreciated the frugal XFE model, with a 22-mpg highway mileage rating that rivals the 23-mpg Sierra Hybrid (covered separately).
Where the Sierra suffers is in its age. It’s been five years since its last redesign, and most of the competition is newer, looks fresher, drives better and has a wider offering of in-cab electronics. Some get better fuel economy, too, hitting numbers that rival the XFE. So the Sierra isn’t a bad choice, critics say, it’s just not the best.
For 2012, the GMC Sierra 1500 receives some new standard equipment, including electronic trailer sway control and hill start assist bundled with StabiliTrak, and new options, like a hard-drive-based audio system for SLT and Denali models.
Like its bow-tie-wearing sibling, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 can be ordered in a variety of powertrain, cab, bed and trim configurations. But a GMC buyer can also choose the super-premium Denali model, with exclusive exterior styling, interior trim and all-wheel drive.
Sierra pickups are also offered in Work Truck, SL, SLE, XFE and SLT trim levels. Work Truck is the contractor’s special, with vinyl upholstery and rubber floors; XFE is styled and tuned to optimize fuel economy; and the SL, SLE and SLT versions step up equipment levels model to model -- from cloth to leather seats, 17- to 20-inch wheels, and so on.
The Sierra’s engine choices range from a 4.3-liter V6, making 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, to a 6.2-liter V8 good for 403 hp and 417 lb-ft. In between are 4.8- and 5.3-liter V8s making from 302 to 315 horsepower. (A gas/electric Sierra Hybrid is also available and covered separately.)
Mileage-wise the XFE is the most frugal, earning 15 mpg city, 22 highway and 18 combined. A 4x4 with the 6.2 V8 is the thirstiest, rated at 12/18/14.
Properly equipped, a 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 can tow up to 10,700 pounds and has a 1,937-pound payload capacity.
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