2011 GMC Sierra 3500 4WD Crew SRW SLE new car reviews

It's a big truck that craves one thing: diesel.
Yeah, probably not the best choice for running local errands.
On the road, though, it's very comfortable sailing.

Better than: That crappy old pickup on craigslist.
But not as good as: Having someone else do it.
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 12.47

Sometimes you have to tow something big--like a race car trailer, a houseboat, or a small New England state. That's where monster trucks like the GMC Sierra 3500 HD come in. Properly configured, this beast can tow more than 21,000 pounds--that's like a fleet of Miatas.

Our test truck was nicely equipped to work. While the Vortec 6.0-liter V8 is standard, we had the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel Duramax backed by an Allison six-speed automatic. (Those are $7195 and $1200 options respectively, by the way.) The gross vehicle weight rating of this particular truck was a handy 11,500 pounds.

Other options included the SLE package ($980 to get dual-zone a/c, a six-way power driver's seat, USB port, fog lamps and some other thrills) plus $455 for the integrated trailer brake controller. Strip away the options, and the Sierra 3500 4WD Crew SRW SLE is a $40,485 truck.

Go with the most basic 3500 HD--regular cab, two-wheel drive and a long box--and you're looking at $28,805. Honestly, that's a lot of dragging capability for a reasonable price. Figure the wimpiest 3500 HD can tow at least 13,000 pounds. That's at least six Miatas, right?

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

You know, for something that almost weighs more than four of my cars combined, the 3500 HD isn't such a beast to drive. Honestly, the last few giant trucks--well, not counting any dualies--have been remarkably civil around town and on the highway. Sure, they're still huge, but they're not giant boats that fight the driver every inch of the way.

Would I want to use this as a daily driver? Um, no. Make a cross-country trip in one? Sure. The seats are extremely comfortable, the steering is light, and there's satellite radio. The Allison gearbox is smooth--almost approaching twin-clutch levels, in fact.

With the four-door cab, back seat room is very impressive. I'd put it in the same league as a long-wheelbase BMW 7 series.

Say what you want about the American auto industry, but there's one thing we do well: make some impressive trucks.

Tim Suddard Tim Suddard
Publisher

It was with some trepidation that we realized the only vehicle in the parking lot to make the trek to Savannah for the HSR Hutchinson Island Speedfest was this all wheel drive, crew cab 3500 pickup. A hard to park, rough riding diesel truck was not what we had in mind as a sporty car to head to Savannah in. We were actually surprised with how well this empty pickup rode, handled and ran down the highway. While a bit hard to climb in and out of, this truck was quite comfortable, will tow a house if needed and the fit and finish of all GM vehicles, especially this one, keeps getting better and better.

We enjoyed our time with this truck, and while we felt a bit guilty of running such a big vehicle empty, we would definitely consider this truck-a-saurus if wee need to tow a race car across town, or across the nation. The six speed Allison transmission shifted perfectly and the 6.6 liter diesel started so easily and ran so smoothly, and quietly we could barely determine we were in fact driving a diesel.

At $52,464 the Sierra 3500 is not a cheap date, but it will do virtually any towing job that our readers might have and to it quietly and comfortably.. The diesel option coupled with the six speed transmission add some $8400 to the price tag, but if you run a lot of miles it should pay for itself and the power output is undeniable. A 5 year 1000,000 mile warranty certainly shows that Chevy is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to quality.

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Comments
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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/22/10 2:25 p.m.

We did floor it. Then we had to buy gas.

Nashco
Nashco UberDork
11/22/10 7:11 p.m.

David...I hope not, since your test truck had a diesel engine!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/22/10 10:34 p.m.

I've got the Dodge equivalent - more or less. 2500 instead of 3500 means a better ride and still enough towing capacity to deal with anything I'm planning to hook up. I went for a 6-speed stick. It's not a drag racer, that's for sure - those gears don't last long before it's time to shift. But it's got that feeling of inevitability - if you want to go somewhere, nothing will stop you.

For the climbing in and out, get a set of running boards. Around here, every big truck has a set.

2wd trucks are for posers. Real trucks have 4wd.

Lincolnman
Lincolnman
11/22/10 10:48 p.m.

No, they're quite different. The Cummins is an inline 6 real diesel (not to mention lower power) and the Duramax although impressive is really still a light duty V8 motor. Also, you have a solid front axle and the Chevrolet has an independent. You have more truck with a 3/4 than their tonner. I say this as the (regrettable) owner of a crew long Chevrolet tonner.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/24/10 6:43 a.m.

Did your hootus grow longer when you drove it?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/2/10 8:19 a.m.

Sadly, no, no reports of hootus enlargement.

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
12/5/10 9:47 p.m.

The brakes as described in the spec field concern me. Although a lack of fade is desirable, I am not sure eliminating fade is worth eliminating the brakes entirely, and relying on trailer brakes would (obviously) necessitate towing a trailer at all times. Which is cool, true..., especially if you are towing a fleet of Miatas. But still, a truck should have a good set of binders, front and rear.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Sometimes you have to tow something big--like a race car trailer, a houseboat, or a small New England state. That's where monster trucks like the GMC Sierra 3500 HD come in. Properly configured, this beast can tow more than 21,000 pounds--that's like a fleet of Miatas.

Our test truck was nicely equipped to work. While the Vortec 6.0-liter V8 is standard, we had the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel Duramax backed by an Allison six-speed automatic. (Those are $7195 and $1200 options respectively, by the way.) The gross vehicle weight rating of this particular truck was a handy 11,500 pounds.

Other options included the SLE package ($980 to get dual-zone a/c, a six-way power driver's seat, USB port, fog lamps and some other thrills) plus $455 for the integrated trailer brake controller. Strip away the options, and the Sierra 3500 4WD Crew SRW SLE is a $40,485 truck.

Go with the most basic 3500 HD--regular cab, two-wheel drive and a long box--and you're looking at $28,805. Honestly, that's a lot of dragging capability for a reasonable price. Figure the wimpiest 3500 HD can tow at least 13,000 pounds. That's at least six Miatas, right?

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