Trucks aren't bare-bones workhorses anymore and GMC's new Sierra HD All Terrain pickup proves it.
With standard fancy chrome wheels, leather-trimmed seats with accent stitching, standard four-wheel drive, technology that reads text messages to you and turns the truck into a Wi-Fi hotspot, the 2015 Sierra HD All Terrain pickup is a modern workman's command center and reliable Jack-of-all-trades.
How reliable? The 2500HD All Terrain can tow up to 14,500 pounds and carry a payload of more than 3,600 pounds. The Duramax turbodiesel V-8 is a $9,785 option and brings a whopping 765 foot-pounds of low-end pulling power. But the standard gasoline V-8 with 360 horses is no slouch, either.
Power, connections and communication are all covered in the All Terrain, which has up to six USB ports, a 110-volt electric outlet and a center console big enough to hold a laptop and a tablet.
All heavy-duty Sierras benefit from more handsome exterior styling and a spruced-up interior with premium materials. The ride remains a like truck, but a quieter-than-expected interior can surprise some passengers. There's also a new Sierra body style for 2015 — a double cab with small-sized rear seats. It slots between the front seat-only regular cab and full back-seat Crew Cab configuration.
Long known by serious truck owners for its quality and dedication to trucks, GMC can make pricey products, and the All Terrain is one of them — an extra-option package available only on upper-level, four-wheel drive, heavy-duty Sierras with double or crew cabs. So, for a 2015 Sierra 2500HD Double Cab SLE 4WD with standard box, the starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $50,315. This compares with the $34,390 starting MSRP, including destination charge, for a base 2015 two-wheel drive, regular cab heavy-duty Sierra 2500HD with long box.
Competitors to the Sierra HD All Terrain include other high-riding, heavy-duty,full-size pickup trucks that are geared for off-road and capable trucking, such as the 2015 Ram 2500 Outdoorsman 4X4 Crew Cab, which has a retail starting price of $46,190. But heavy-duty pickups aren't as rare as some car buyers might think, comprising at least 25 percent of the full-size pickup market in the United States.
The test Sierra 2500HD All Terrain model was a four-wheel drive crew cab with 397-horsepower, 6.6-liter, turbocharged diesel V-8 mated to a well-known Allison, six-speed automatic transmission. The power hurried directly to the wheels and could propel this heavy truck forward with force, and the diesel-engine clatter was about all the noise one could hear in the cab.
GMC's heavy-duty trucks aren't required to have federal government fuel economy ratings, but the test truck recorded impressive mileage. On one highway trip, the truck averaged 17.3 miles per gallon, while the average of city/highway travel was 15.5 mpg. It can carry 36 gallons of diesel, and the tester's travel range on a single tank averaged an eye-popping 558 miles.
The biggest issue for short- and even 6-foot-plus passengers was getting into the Sierra 2500 HD All Terrain. The floor of the vehicle was above the waist of a petite passenger and there were no running boards. Everyone wound up using the well-placed, sizable handles at each door entry. Getting out of the vehicle required a leap, though getting into the pickup bed was eased by a corner step built into the rear bumper.
There was generous room in the front and full-size back seats. In the test model, the two front seats, in particular, were wide, and legroom of 45.3 inches was more than in a Cadillac Escalade SUV. Passengers in the Sierra HD also could nearly extend their legs all the way in the rear seats, and the floor back there was nearly flat.
Headroom of more than 40 inches in front and row seats is big enough for the biggest cowboy hats.
A couple nits: The hood was so tall — at shoulder level on someone who is 5 feet 4 inches tall — that it was difficult for a driver to see what was directly in front of the vehicle and how close the vehicle was to another car in a parking lot. The turning circle of the test truck was huge, at 51.5 feet, so it needs a lot of room to make a U-turn.
The Sierra 2500HD trucks rated three or four stars overall in federal government crash test ratings: The crew cab models with full-size back seat received four stars, while the regular cabs received three stars overall. There have been five safety recalls of the 2015 Sierra HDs, ranging from a hose clamp that might not have been securely tightened on a fuel tank vent line to a power steering hose clamp that might disconnect and cause a loss of power steering.