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- Highs Highly capable, wide variety of engines, lots of available features.
- Lows Less-than-luxurious Denali model, more expensive than the Silverado, stiff ride.
- Verdict There's little reason to buy this versus its Chevy sibling, but there's also little reason not to.
The 2020 Sierra 1500 is the Chevrolet Silverado's (arguably) better-looking sibling. While it's identical to the Silverado mechanically, it looks different inside and out, and comes with a few exclusive features such as a carbon-fiber cargo bed. A broad range of engine options include a turbocharged four-cylinder, a turbodiesel inline-six, and a pair of V-8s. Although it's available in basic work-truck forms, the Sierra can be had with an AT4 off-road package and is also pitched as more luxurious alternative to the Chevy. Its expensive Denali trim doesn't live up to its price, however, and lacks any posh interior materials or true luxury features.
What's New for 2020?
The carbon-fiber bed and turbodiesel engine, both of which were introduced for the 2019 model year, are now more widely available for the 2020 Sierra. So is the 10-speed automatic transmission, which was previously available only with the top 6.2-liter V-8: it can now be had with the 5.3-liter V-8 as well. Newly available features include adaptive cruise control, trailer tow mirrors, and a trailer-tow camera system from the new heavy-duty version of the Sierra. The Elevation trim level is now available in the crew-cab configuration.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We like the Sierra Elevation trim level because it occupies a middle ground in terms of price but comes with a desirable appearance package that looks cool. You'll also have to select between a few different cab configurations and bed lengths depending on what fits your needs. All-wheel drive is available at an extra cost should you require it.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Sierra is available with five different engines, three different transmissions, and rear- or all-wheel drive. The base setup is a 285-hp V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic. The available 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 pairs with a six- or eight-speed automatic. The 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 and torque-rich diesel six-cylinder (making 460 lb-ft) solely operate through a 10-speed automatic. The Sierra 1500 also can be had with adaptive dampers and other content that separate this truck from its Chevy sibling. Both GM pickup trucks lack the extreme off-road abilities of the high-flying Ford F-150 Raptor, but they do offer a dedicated off-road variant. In the Sierra's corner is the rugged AT4 model, which boasts a 2.0-inch suspension lift and other legitimate equipment. The Sierra has a rougher ride than the 10Best-winning Ram 1500, but it and the Silverado handle better thanks to responsive steering and restrained body roll.
Towing and Payload Capacity
The half-ton GMC pickup can tow up to 12,200 pounds and support a payload up to 2240 pounds, when properly equipped.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 2020 Sierra 1500 has several different powertrain combinations, which means its fuel-economy ratings will vary. Those most concerned with fuel efficiency should entertain the optional diesel engine, which is rated up to 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, according to the EPA. However, most Sierras will be packing the 6.2-liter V-8 that comes with every Denali model. The EPA estimates this engine will earn 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway when paired with all-wheel drive. The Sierra 1500 Denali we tested achieved 18 mpg in our real-world highway test.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Sierra cabin prioritizes functionality, practicality, and spaciousness. Although the latter is most obvious on models equipped with the crew cab, every version has an upright center stack with logical buttons and user-friendly controls. The top-of-the-line Denali model costs the most and sells the most, but its interior materials don't meet expectations compared with luxurious rivals. Desirable content includes an available head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, and more. Interior cubby storage is more than adequate for storing all manner of small items and stuff. While GMC doesn't offer any particularly innovative storage features, the Sierra 1500 can be had with a trick tailgate that has multiple configurations. There's also a class-exclusive carbon-fiber-reinforced cargo bed that is lighter and supposedly stronger than steel.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard. Likewise, every model offers a mobile hotspot for Wi-Fi on the go. Other available infotainment features include a Bose audio system, built-in navigation, wireless charging for phones, and additional power points.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The Sierra 1500 earned average crash-test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the GMC pickup truck has a host of available driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
GMC provides a competitive warranty plan that can't match the Nissan Titan's coverage, but does include one complimentary scheduled maintenance visit.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Scheduled maintenance is covered for the first visit