2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

Sierra 1500

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Average user score
4.5 5 stars
Based on 15 reviews


The Good

A new interior look, more features, a Hybrid, and a more powerful engine combine to make the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 a solid choice in a full-size pickup.

The Bad

Poor gas mileage, meager interior storage, a wider-than-normal turning radius, and some steering issues with the 2009 Sierra 1500 may cause some prospective buyers to take another look at the competition.

The CarGurus View

With power to spare from its V8 engines, a diversity of equipment choices, and solid good looks, the ’09 GMC Sierra 1500 is a truck that ought to do its job well. The jury’s still out as to whether GM has truly addressed some prior issues with engine noise and reliability.

At a Glance

Though unchanged on the outside from ‘08, the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 lineup has benefited from a few new features under the hood and in the cabin. New features for ’09 include an upgraded cabin, standard electronic stability control (StabiliTrak) on all V8s, an available 6.2-liter FlexFuel V8 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, optional Bluetooth technology, and an XM NavTraffic system. Also new for ’09, a hybrid trim joins the Sierra 1500 line, the first full-size hybrid pickup on the market.

A full-size half–ton pickup, the ’09 Sierra 1500 offers the customary plethora of trims. Two interior choices, “pure pickup” and “luxury interior,” are available, along with various powerplants, wheelbases, bed lengths, cab configurations, and, of course, the choice of rear-wheel drive (RWD) or two types (part-time or AutoTrak) of four-wheel drive (4WD). This adds up to some 23 trim levels encompassing a no-frills Work Truck, as well as the more passenger-friendly SLE, SLT, and the Crew-Cab-only SL. Wheelbases range from 119 to 157.5 inches on all trim levels, and SLEs and SLTs come configured as two-door Standard, four-door Extended, or four-door Crew Cab trims. Bed lengths on the ’09 Sierra 1500 range from 69.3 inches for the extended-cab short bed to 97.6 inches for the standard-cab long bed.

The Sierra 1500 Denali trim is essentially a re-badged SLT with unique exterior and cabin accents, while the Sierra Hybrid, though classed as a separate model by GM, is included by all reviewers as a Sierra 1500 trim.

The 2009 Sierra 1500 is a heavy hauler, at least when packing one of its Vortec V8s. The properly equipped Sierra 1500 has a maximum payload capacity of over 1,500 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 10,700 pounds.


Five engines and two transmissions are offered for the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 lineup, including one V6 and five V8s, the standard four-speed automatic, and an available six-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine for the ’09 Sierra 1500 is a 4.3-liter OHV V6 that, in combination with the standard four-speed automatic transmission, puts out 195 hp at 4,600 RPM and 260 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 RPM. This 4.3-liter comes only in the RWD Standard and Extended Cab Work Trucks and gets an EPA estimated 15/20 mpg. Though it does well for light hauling, reviewers find the V6 significantly underpowered for any real work.

A 4.8-liter V8 with standard four-speed automatic transmission is the only available drivetrain for the SL Crew Cab trim. Putting out 297 hp at 5,600 RPM and 305 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 RPM, the EPA estimates 14/19 with RWD and 14/18 with 4WD.

A 5.3-liter V8 is available with either Flex Fuel capability, the Extra Fuel Efficient (XFE) trim, or the Active Fuel Management (AFM) system. With the standard six-speed transmission, the 5.3-liter V8 puts out 315 hp at 5,200 RPM and 338 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 RPM and comes standard with the SLT trim level. The EPA estimates 15/21 (RWD) and 14/19 (4WD) in either XFE or AFM configurations.

Available for the higher-end ’09 Sierra 1500 trims and standard with the Sierra 1500 Hybrid is a 6.0-liter V8 that pounds out 367 hp at 5,600 RPM and 375 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 RPM. EPA estimates for the 6.0-liter V8 are 14/19 in RWD and 13/18 in 4WD.

A hybrid-modified 6.0-liter V8 is the standard Sierra 1500 Hybrid engine mated with an electronically variable transmission. The new Sierra 1500 Hybrid uses GM's two-mode system where the Hybrid can be driven either in all-electric mode, all-gas mode, or a combination of both. GM claims at least a 7% fuel savings for the Sierra 1500 Hybrid over gas-powered trims.

Reviewers find both the standard four-speed and the six-speed automatic transmissions smooth and responsive and, in Tow/Haul mode and packing any of the V8s, perfect for heavy hauling.

Ride & Handling

Standard across the 2009 Sierra 1500 lineup is a short-and-long-arm, coil-over-shock front independent suspension with a front stabilizer bar, and a solid live-axle rear suspension.

The Solid Smooth Ride-tuned suspension (Z85), standard with the ’09 Sierra 1500 SL Crew and Work Truck trims provides, as its name implies, a comfortable, well-mannered, and bump-minimized ride, though reviewers find significant body lean during tight cornering and a dismaying dead spot in the steering.

A Handling and Towing suspension package is standard with SLE and SLT trims, with off-road (Z71) and performance (Z61) suspension packages also available on the Sierra 1500's higher-end trims. Sierra 1500s delivered for off-road use include a heavy-duty, automatically locking rear differential, skid plates, and a 4.1 rear axle ratio.

All ’09 Sierra 1500 trims except the SLTs are equipped with standard 17-inch wheels. The Hybrid, SLT, and Denali trims all ride on 18-inch wheels, with 20-inch wheels available on all trims except the Work Truck and SL Crew. Front disc and rear drum brakes are standard for all ’09 Sierra 1500 trims except the Denali and Hybrid, which carry four-wheel disc brakes. Most reviewers praise the braking characteristics of the Sierra 1500 trims.

Reviewers find some ride and stability issues exacerbated by the available 20-inch tires, recommending owners stick with the 18-inch wheels for an optimal road ride.

Cabin & Comfort

The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 boasts an upgraded interior that has impressed all professional reviewers and nearly all owners. Two cab styles are available with the Sierra 1500 line: “pure pickup,” designed for work gloves and steel-toed boots, and “luxury inspired,” with the ladies and kids in mind. Several reviewers call the Sierra 1500's cabin the best on the market. Gauges are easy to read and controls are easily accessed and well-marked, though a couple of professional reviewers found the audio and climate controls mounted a little too high for comfort in the “pure pickup” cab.

Comfort and convenience features abound through the entire Sierra 1500 lineup, including the semi-Spartan Work Truck trims which sport an MP3-capable CD player and XM satellite radio in all cab configurations, and power doors, windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, and extra speakers on the Extended and Crew Cabs. The Sierra 1500 SL Crew is delivered with such standard features as the Solid Smooth suspension, heated power outside mirrors, remote keyless entry, StabiliTrak stability control system, and a Driver Information Center.

In addition, the ’09 Sierra 1500 SLE features a remote start preparation package, the Hauling and Towing suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with theft-deterrent locking system, premium cloth upholstery, and the Electronic Autotrac four-wheel drive transfer case standard. The top-end Sierra 1500 SLT (as well as Hybrid and Denali trims) offers such standard features as dual-zone temperature control, Bluetooth communications technology, Bose premium speakers, the heavy-duty auto-locking rear differential (4WD), remote starting, 10-way power adjustable heated front seats with driver’s seat memory, rear audio controls and headphone jacks, ultra-soft leather upholstery, a universal garage door opener, the NavAid voice-activated navigation system, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

Options across the ’09 Sierra 1500 lineup include the XM NavTraffic system; upgraded leather, wheels, powerplants, and audio systems; a power sunroof; a 6-CD changer; rear-seat DVD entertainment; and power-adjustable pedals.

Reviewers note the comfort and quietness of the Standard Cab and the roominess and convenience features of the Extended and Crew Cab trims, and feel the Sierra 1500 for 2009 should hold its own, feature-wise, in the hugely competitive full-size pickup market.


Most owners and more than a few professional reviewers find the 2009 Sierra 1500 long on safety and reliability, and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration gives the Sierra 1500 a five-star front and side impact crash test rating, and a four-star rollover rating.

Standard safety features for the Sierra 1500 include four-wheel ABS, front dual-stage airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, OnStar hands-free emergency assistance, and daytime running lights. The StabiliTrak system with Proactive Roll Avoidance and traction control is standard with all V8-powered Sierra 1500 trims, and optional safety features include side head curtain airbags and a rear backup camera system.

A trailer-brake controller is an optional safety feature for those who opt for the Sierra SLT with its Heavy-Duty Trailering package.

What Owners Think

Owners found little to complain about with the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500. The lack of a standard sliding rear window was one thing, and the fact that the Sierra 1500's seats are lint magnets was another. A few owners were disappointed with the acceleration performance of the 4.3-liter V6 engine, not to mention its less-than-stellar fuel efficiency. Of course, many owners are aware of the sub-par mileage associated with the larger V8s, but admit that this is part of the price they pay for a full-size heavy hauler.

A couple of owners have expressed some concern that GM may not have properly addressed a standing problem with piston slap and disconcerting engine noises on cold starting.

Despite these few complaints, owners find the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 to have good looks, plenty of power and at least decent gas mileage. As well, owners were impressed with the upgraded cabin and the solid, smooth, and safe ride they get with the Sierra 1500.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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