2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD Review

Sierra 3500HD

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Trims

Denali
Avg. Price: $49,394
SLE
Avg. Price: $37,977
SLT
Avg. Price: $45,143
Work Truck
Avg. Price: $32,953

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2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD Overview

2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD

Big and bad, the 2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD roars as the front-runner in the heavy-duty truck category. With a host of changes for the model year, this workhorse has something for every truck lover. Fully configurable with Regular, Crew, or Extended cab, a 6.5-foot regular or 8-foot long bed, single or dual rear wheels, and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive (AWD) drive, the 3500HD comes in a variety of specialized trims as well.

The first and most basic trim level is the Work Truck, which is the Sierra at its rawest. A 6.0-liter Vortec V8 that can run on FlexFuel comes standard, busting out 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. A Duramax diesel 6.6-liter V8 Turbo with 397 hp and 765 lb-ft is optional, and all levels come with a 6-speed automatic transmission. (Fuel economy for the vehicles has not been released.) This year, cruise control and camper-style mirrors come standard. The large-handled doors can be easily opened while wearing work gloves. Cloth or vinyl interiors are available.

Stepping up to the next level you get the SLE, which powers the mirrors, door locks and windows, and provides keyless entry; AWD versions add an electronic transfer case. (Many of these features are also available as options for the Work Truck.) Then there’s the SLT level, which gussies it up inside with leather-appointed adjustable front seats, dual-zone air conditioning and steering-wheel-mounted controls for its booming Bose speaker system. Finally, the monster at the top of the heap is the Denali level, which combines even more goodies like heated/cooled seats and a backup camera in one big, scary, beautiful package. A variety of colors are available including Onyx Black, Fire Red, and premium Carbon Black Metallic; for the Denali, there’s the delicious Mocha Steel Metallic.

With all this goodness and power, it's no wonder the 2012 Sierra won Pickuptrucks.com's comparison test. In a heavy-duty endurance, performance, and payload run over 2,200 miles, the Sierra 3500HD beat out its closest rivals, the Ford F-350 Super Duty and Ram 3500, in all towing categories; its maximum conventional towing is rated at 18,000 pounds, and it can tow 23,000 pounds with a fifth-wheel setup.

Because of this, it’s hard to find fault with this truck, which aims to please everyone. There are some complaints about cabin storage and the size of the center stack buttons, but these are petty grievances on an otherwise stellar truck.

Special options include an EZ liftgate and power moonroof. Antilock brakes, traction control and front and side-curtain airbags are part of the standard safety package. Also available is a smart braking system to help with steep descents and reduce wear and tear.

Updated

by Stephen Moramarco

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2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD, exterior left front quarter view, exterior, manufacturer
GMC Sierra 3500HD
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Sierra 3500HD
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