Overall: GMC has given its popular Sierra pickup a minor facelift, along with some additional standard features.
Drivetrain: Three engines all have aluminum cylinder blocks and direct fuel injection that makes a big difference to power and fuel economy; six-speed automatic transmissions for bottom and middle trims, but eight-speed auto can now be had with the 5.3-liter V8 and remains standard with the 6.2; the V6 makes nearly 300 horsepower and is standard for every cab style and two- /four-wheel-drive.
When it launched two years ago, the full model change for the Sierra/Silverado pickups wasn’t quite the dramatic makeover that some General Motors fans expected. However, for 2016, things are improving. The Sierra gets its first significant visual changes, which include a new grille, front fascia and standard high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights and LED running lights. On up-level trims, like the All Terrain and Denali, there are also full LED headlights and taillights. These exterior changes mean more basic GMC models are less tilted towards the “Professional Grade” tag, and more towards the Sierra Denali sub-brand that places a much higher value on coddling content. In either case, the Sierra’s primary identification point can be spotted in your rearview mirror. Some minor sheetmetal differences exist between the Chevy and the GMC, but that’s about it. Even the interiors of the two pickups share the same basic dash, control panel and available touch-screen communications center that are a masterstroke of efficient legibility. Of course as you scale the trim-level ladder the appointments become more luxurious and the cabin resembles something approaching a high-end limo, especially in the four-door crew-cab models. Improvements in aerodynamics, insulation and weather sealing help shut out intrusive noises. Just as a greater use of aluminum in fabricating various body panels and suspension parts has kept the Sierra’s weight in check, the three engines also benefit. All use aluminum cylinder blocks and direct injection, whereby fuel is force-fed into the cylinders under high pressure. The base 4.3-liter V6 makes 285 horsepower and a solid 305 pound-feet of torque. V8 choices consist of a 5.3-liter unit with 355 horses and 383 pound-feet, and a 6.2-liter piece rated at 420/450 pound-feet. For 2016, not only the larger of the V8 engines gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, but also the 5.3 in pricier trims. It remains standard in the fancier Sierra Denali, not to mention a rather substantial list of content that includes unique 20-inch chrome and wood and leather innards, along with standard magnetic ride control.