Review: The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 is a hauler’s and off-roader’s posh delight by AutoNation

Originally published on by Chris Chin, reedited for updates for 2015 republishing on egmCarTech.

America is known for many many things–Hollywood, football, burgers, guns, cows, a government that’s incessantly war hungry–and on the car front, muscle cars and above all, pickup trucks. The invention is as American as the white-picket fence and Marilyn Monroe, thanks all in part to Henry Ford’s empire. Ford has been the king of the pickup truck segment ever since they invented it back in 1925, especially after being the best selling vehicle consecutively for the past 32 years. Though obviously, Ford isn’t the only automaker in America. They are accompanied by the other two giants: General Motors and Chrysler.

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That said, being a thoroughly domestic product, the Big Three haven’t gone through history without unleashing their fair share of competition. General Motors and Chrysler too have been producing their own pickups for nearly the same amount of time. Though one thing that General Motors maintained was a pair of twins that were otherwise the same truck, with different designs and subtle packaging, the infamously known half-ton and three-quarter ton duet: the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

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I don’t tow things. I never have. But I cannot discount the amount of times I’ve seen a GM pickup truck hauling something, carrying something, or just running about equally as many times as any Ford or Dodge pickup. And this includes Chevrolet’s twin, the GMC Sierra. So I almost felt I was giving the truck a disservice to what it’s truly capable of, including this specific heavy-duty model, complete with the Duramax diesel, particularly since I didn’t have anything to really haul, other than several bed-loads full of homely materials. But nonetheless, the 2015 GMC Sierra is here. How does it fare?

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71

Body Style: Full-Size Heavy-Duty “3/4 Ton” Pickup Truck
Seating Capacity: Five Passengers
Base Price: $31,310
Price As Tested: $62,525
Engine: 6.6L Duramax Turbodiesel V8 – 397hp and 765 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Six-Speed Allison Automatic
0-60: 9-10 seconds (estimated)
Top Speed: 100 mph
Curb Weight: 7,249lbs
Fuel Economy (City/Highway): N/A (Observed 16-22mpg)

The Chevrolet Silverado’s more dapper cousin

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (5)
The Chevy Silverado’s more dapper cousin


For one thing, I feel that the GMC’s counterparts to the all-new GMTK2XX platform pickups are much more attractive than their slightly lesser Chevrolet Silverado cousins. Sure, the overall  rofiles are nearly the same–put them side to side and cover the badges, and you can tell the two are virtually clones. One just happens to be more visually refined than the other, and that would be the GMC.

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (15)While the Silverado’s double-stacked headlights look a wee-bit cartoonish (the Tahoe and Suburban on the other hand achieve this look with almost no problem in my eyes), the GMC’s one-piece headlights look much more pleasing to the eye. Overall, you get the sensation that the Sierra is a more upscale Silverado–and it’s exactly that. You also get the feeling that you can completely decimate anything else on the road of smaller size.

So yes, if your assumptions are that this thing is large enough to eat hatchbacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, your sentiments would be correct. Even me, with my 5’11 figure, had to stand on a ladder to attempt decent photos of the engine–though they didn’t even come out good.

An interior to match the description: luxury pickup

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (30)

Those sentiments are obvious on the inside of the Sierra as its just as nicely appointed as its SUV stablemates and even its lesser Chevrolet cousins. The interior of the Sierra was by far the nicest yet of any generation of GMC pickup with leather appointments galore, plastics that no longer feel like they belong on Chinese take-out trays, and a sense of solidity that only the Germans could rival. It was just simply a very nice place to be, and that’s a major compliment for a General Motors product.

Not to mention, nearly everything inside the Sierra was just as largely proportioned as its bonkers outside. For instance, my mother was able to fit her so-called purse of a duffle bag into the center armrest compartment–perfect for swallowing pocketed items bound to be lost for years then found eventually with the next owner. Space was obviously aplenty, but unlike GM trucks of the past, the dashboard is mounted closer to the front occupants, allowing for a slightly more cocooned feeling. The upside to this is that nearly all of the controls were within easy reach and legible from the furthest of driving positions.

Got torque?

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (12)

Being the heavy-duty alternative to the normal “half-ton” Sierra 1500, this puppy’s got a Duramax diesel large enough to propel a yacht, displacing 6.6 force-fed compression ignition liters for a lofty 397hp and enough torque to stop the Earth’s rotation, ringing in at an insane 765 lb-ft of torque. But this torque isn’t for roasting tires or demolishing a crime lord’s Los Angeles mountain flat–though it could be. Mel Gibson’s Martin Rigs in Lethal Weapon 2 would’ve used this truck to do so had it been produced today.

Instead it allows the Sierra 2500 HD to tow up to 17,300lbs. See what I mean that I was doing the Sierra HD an injustice by not towing anything?

While a 0-60 time isn’t exactly relevant, we estimate that it can do so in just eight to 10 seconds with nothing but a driver and a full-tank of gas. Top speed, although also irrelevant, is limited 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (23)to just 100mph. Channeling all that monstrous torque is a six-speed Allison transmission to either the rear or all four wheels. It’s a tower’s delight. The beauty about this massive amount of torque is that figures north of 20 mpg actually showed themselves on the highway–a superb achievement given this brute’s curb weight of 7,294lbs.

Handling? Also irrelevant. Because of the Sierra HD’s heavy-duty construction and its intent to tow and haul things that normal people don’t usually tug, the Sierra HD bounces around on the road and highway like a box truck with no shock absorbers (but it does come with shock absorbers at front and leaf-springs at the back). The Sierra has the steering lifted from one as well–but you wouldn’t want quick steering on something with a center of gravity that’s as high as the Sierra’s. Though, despite the stiff and bouncy ride, the Sierra can be credited as being almost as smooth as its lesser brethren on all but the bumpiest of surfaces.

Despite the fact that I was unable to tow or haul anything, I still managed to put the Sierra HD in its element by taking it on an intermediate rock and trail crawl where it excelled with absolutely no issue. Equipped with the Z71 Off-Road Package, the Sierra 2500HD is an absolute off-roaders wet-dream as well. The suspension thoroughly exhibited proper tuning with long travel on the bumpiest of trails, absorbing pitches and dives like the next-best pickup. It still was bouncy, but you were ultimately provided with the sense that the Sierra HD could pretty much go anywhere it could fit–again, this thing is huge!

A hauler’s and off-roader’s posh delight

2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Z71 SLT (9)

So what will the tower’s and off-roader’s luxury delight command from the bank? Loaded as is in top-spec SLT trim just short of the Denali with the standard bed, a double cab, four-wheel drive, almost $15,000 in options and packages like the tow and Z71 off-road package, you’ll need $62,525, including the $1,095 destination fee. This may seem like a lot, but seasoned pickup truck buyers who need the cream of the crop heavy-duty versions with some extra luxury, like those who need to tow their race horses that are worth the same price as a Volkswagen GTI, will have no problem with this.

Not to mention, Dodge and Ford don’t currently exactly offer “luxury” versions of their heavy duty pickups, so GMC’s variants as of recent have always been in their own leagues. Though interestingly enough, the GMC Sierra isn’t quite that much different from its lesser Chevrolet sibling and it can even be perceived as being almost as nice and luxurious as the more expensive Sierra. So for those who are willing to settle, there almost is no point to move up to the Sierra if you option out a Silverado HD to the same level.

Despite this, the Sierra continues to be the Silverado’s glorified and badgineered cousin and it does an absolutely fine job at being just that.

– By: Chris Chin

Follow Chris Chin on Twitter @SirChrisChin and Instagram @CSquaredPhotography

All Photos Copyright © C Squared Photography for AutoNation and egmCarTech.

Chris Chin

Chris Chin is the Editor-In-Chief of egmCarTech and is a regular contributor to Automobile Magazine.

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