By Matthew Barnes
A 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 SLT crew-cab long-bed work truck recently fell into our hands, so we took it for a quick spin. With a starting price of $67,260 with destination, it's on par with its competitors. At a little less than 22 feet long and more than 7 feet wide with the mirrors, it's a huge vehicle that won't fit in most garages. It came with the incredibly powerful 6.6-liter Duramax engine putting out 445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque.
The Sierra 3500 SLT is spacious and comfortable inside. The SLT comes standard with heated leather front seats, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth, power windows and locks, steering wheel controls and many other amenities. With seating for six people and storage space everywhere, there is no shortage of places to put things. There is plenty of headroom front and rear to accommodate tall drivers and passengers.
Like other GM trucks, the steering wheel is slightly off center to the right of the driver's seat. It doesn't feel right initially, but doesn't take long to get used to. And although sunglasses don't fit in the padded sunglasses holder, it is a good place to put granola bars. A lockable, padded storage box resides below the front center seat; it can hold a laptop or other valuables that need to be secured out of sight.
The driver information center provides lots of useful information including fuel filter life, oil life and transmission temperatures. It does have an indicator for the diesel exhaust fluid, but it doesn't show the actual DEF level until it gets to 30 percent or lower. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make connecting your phone easy. The front center arm rest has two USB ports and a 12-volt outlet, providing plenty of device charging options. There is another USB outlet in the upper glove box, and 12- and 110-volt outlets at the bottom of the center console.
For the rear passengers, there is a single 12-volt outlet at the bottom of the front center seat. The rear seats are equipped with LATCH anchors for child safety seats and a middle fold-down arm rest. They can be folded up to provide a large, open bench or access to the optional under-seat storage.
From any angle, this truck is massive. The front grille and hood scoop make the truck look even bigger than it is. The LED running lights and xenon high-intensity discharge projector headlights are great upgrades from previous model years. The truck also has excellent exterior lighting with LED bed lights and rear guidance lamps in the mirrors. In combination, the lights make for easier loading, unloading, trailer backing and lighting up work areas in low-light situations. The DEF tank hangs down lower than any other unprotected part on the truck, which might be an issue for those working on construction sites or when driving off-road. Competitors put the DEF fill behind the fuel door, but GM still places the fill point under the hood. This should be only a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless.
A nice feature for quick fill-ups at the pump is the big-rig fuel-filler opening. This means that larger pumps can be used, greatly reducing the amount of time it takes to fill the fuel tank.
The tailgate opens gently, and for those who use a bed cover, it locks whenever the doors are locked. It has both four- and seven-pin trailer connections, and a 2.5-inch receiver — as opposed to the 3-inch receiver Ford uses, which has limited aftermarket options.
How It Drives
The new Duramax is much quieter than the older diesel engines. Gone are the days of diesel engines making significantly more noise than gas engines. The independent front suspension provides a smooth ride for a one-ton truck. The steering is tight with a solid, on-center feel. Parking takes a little more effort and planning, but for those experienced in driving large trucks it's not an issue. The hood scoop stands up enough that it's noticeable, but it doesn't obstruct the driver's view. Depending on the angle of the sun, the hoop scoop does cause some glare.
When pulling a 10,000-pound trailer there is no lack of power going up any grade. The six-speed Allison transmission shifts a little hard, but that's to be expected from a heavy-duty truck. When hypermiling the truck can push 25 mpg, but we averaged about 14 mpg with mixed driving, including some towing. The cruise control does a good job of keeping the set speed, whether accelerating up a grade or using the diesel exhaust brake when going downhill. This is an extremely capable truck, and there are only a handful of people who need the higher tow ratings offered by Ford and Ram.
We'll have more to come as we tow and haul with this truck, and keep its maintenance sheet up to date. Look for more reports in the future.
Car.com photos by Matthew Barnes