GMC Sierra Trim Comparison: Which is Right for You?
GMC promotes customization, and the Sierra has plenty of packages you can add to spec it out for your work. But first, you have to pick a cab and a trim. We broke down all the trims offered by GMC for the 2018 Sierra 1500 below, to help you make a decision.
We used the least-expensive version of each as a baseline but bear in mind that the towing capabilities of all of these can be improved with optional upgrades. Our main goal is to help you decide whether you want a base model, SLE, SLT, or Denali.
Available Cab Options
Each trims allows you to choose a cab size, and there are three options to choose—regular, double, and crew cab. The regular cab has standard front seating for the driver and passenger, but no room for additional rear passengers. The double cab offers front and rear seating for up to three passengers, though the rear seats and doors are not full-sized. The crew cab is the most spacious option. It has enough room for two front passengers and three rear passengers, with full-size rear doors and seats.
The base trim (just called “Sierra”) has a starting MSRP of $28,405. That gets you a regular cab, standard box, 2WD truck. It comes with a 4.3-liter V6 EcoTec3 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 305 pound-foot of torque. It has direct injection, active fuel management, and variable valve timing. Some of the top features in the base Sierra are StabiliTrak with traction control, electronic trailer sway control, and hill start assist.
The towing capabilities don’t stand up to the Ford F-150 but are pretty substantial. Even at its least expensive, the Sierra has a max payload of 1,960 lbs and a max conventional trailering weight of 6,000 lbs.
On the inside, the Sierra has an AM/FM stereo with a 4.2-inch diagonal color display. Additionally, it has a USB port and auxiliary jack, and a six-speaker audio system.
The SLE is the next trim and has a starting price of $35,305 for a 2WD, regular cab, standard box truck. The SLE doesn’t have an engine upgrade, which means it has the same capabilities as the Sierra. The biggest changes for the SLE happen on the interior and include an eight-inch diagonal touch-screen color radio with IntelliLink, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a soft-touch instrument panel, rear vision camera, EZ lift and lower remote locking tailgate and 17-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.
It’s not all about comfort and technology, however. The SLE comes with an automatic locking rear differential.
The SLT first becomes available with the double cab, standard box Sierra. A 2WD SLT has a starting MSRP of $42,430 and represents the first increase in engine size for the 2018 GMC Sierra. The motor upgrades to a 5.3-liter V8 EcoTec3 that produces 355 hp and 383 lb-ft. The 6-speed automatic is standard, but you can upgrade to an 8-speed automatic transmission on the SLT.
The maximum payload for this GMC Sierra SLT is 1,840 pounds, and max trailering caps out at 6,400. Of course, if you shell out for a bigger truck, your towing and trailering capabilities are going to go way up from that.
The SLT makes some changes to the interior including a leather-appointed, heated front split-bench seat with driver seat memory. On the exterior, it has chrome bodyside moldings, mirror caps and door handles. It also has LED taillamps, thin profile LED foglamps and trailering equipment. Finally, the wheels upgrade from 17 inches to 18-inch polished aluminum.
The Denali has a starting MSRP of $52,505. That gets you a crew cab, short box, 2WD truck powered by the same engine as the SLT. The Denali focuses its upgrades on comfort and safety. That said, drivers do have the option of paying to upgrade to a 6.2-liter V8 EcoTec3 engine that produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It can carry a max payload of 1810 pounds and tow 9400. (It can haul even more if you spring for the NHT Max Tow package.)
The Denali also has features that other GMC Sierras lack. You get magnetic ride control, 12-way power-adjustable full-feature leather-appointed front bucket seats, 8” color touch-screen radio with IntelliLink and Navigation, and a Bose Premium audio system. The safety features on the Denali improve with the inclusion of the enhanced driver alert package, which adds low-speed forward automatic braking, lane keep assist, IntelliBeam headlamps, and forward collision alerts.