Subtle redesigned front bumper and grille show up for 2012 and The Denali models get standard heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel.
GMC continues to offer two completely different interiors for its Sierra 1500 family of pickups: Work Truck, SL and SLE trims get a so-called "pure pickup interior" that includes larger door handles and controls that are designed to be used with gloves on, while the SLT trim gets the same luxurious, softer, and more carlike interior that's used in the GMC Yukon. The SLT instrument panel is a bit lower to afford a better outward view, and several special color and trim themes are offered with the SLT exclusively.
SLT models boast many more exclusive features in addition to the instrument panel; different door panels, a divided center console, heated power leather front seats and an upgraded Bose sound system are included, while the top crew-cab SLT models get a rear-seat audio system, larger glovebox and rain-sensing wipers.
The Sierra Denali is a special luxury and style-oriented pickup aimed at buyers who need hauling capability, but also unparalleled luxury and low-key pickup styling as well. It only comes in crew cab form and either 2-wheel drive or all-wheel drive form. Standard equipment comes with high-performance suspension, heavy-duty trailering gear, 20-inch shiny chrome wheels, a high-performance audio system with satellite radio, full leather upholstery with 12-way power seats and leather wrapped steering wheel, power windows, locks and pedals. It's available only in black, gray or white.
In most Sierra 1500 models, a stadium-style back seat is split 60/40, including a folding center armrest, and can be folded forward easily. The extended-cab versions have enough legroom for occasional use and access is aided by 170-degree back doors.
Regular cab, crew cab and extended cab versions of the Sierra are available, while cargo bed lengths are 5' 8" for the short bed, 6' 6" for the standard bed, or 8 feet for the long bed. The maximum payload rating runs as high as 1,909 pounds.
Across most of the model line, the Sierra has a very good ride and handles well compared to the full-size trucks of the past, with a well-tuned coil-over-shock front suspension, Hotchkiss-type rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Actually, five different suspension packages are offered, each tuned for particular types of use: Z83 is for a smooth ride; Z85 is oriented for better handling and trailer towing; Z71 yields better off-road capability; Z60 is for top street performance; and NHT is for top towing capacity. Towing numbers range up to 10,700 pounds when configured with the extended cab, 6.0L engine and Enhanced Trailering Package.
The 2012 Sierra offers four different engines--a 195-horsepower, 4.3L V6, a 302-hp, 4.8L V8, a 315-hp, 5.3L V8 and a 403-hp, 6.2L V8. The V6 comes with a 4-speed automatic, while all others get a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy ratings are as high was 22 mpg on the highway.
The Sierra Hybrid is a good option for green-minded shoppers who still need pickup capability. The 2-mode hybrid system incorporates a 6.0L gasoline V8, electric motor system, variable automatic transmission and nickel-metal hydride battery pack, all of which enable a 6,100-pound tow rating while allowing especially good fuel economy in city driving, with EPA ratings of 21 mpg city, 22 highway.
Top options on the Sierra include Bluetooth phone connectivity, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic, plus a rearview camera system that aids visibility while parking this tall vehicle.