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A capable pickup with people and cargo space.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Hero | CarMax

GMC completely redesigned and mechanically overhauled the Sierra 1500 for the 2019 model year. For 2021, the Sierra 1500 is just as visually unique but offers additional features that make its roomy cabin more comfortable and convenient for up to six people. There's even more tech behind the passenger compartment, including an available carbon-fiber bed and innovative tailgate that can be used in six different ways. Whether you want to minimize your trips to the gas station or maximize how much you can haul and tow, you can do it thanks to the Sierra's multitude of gas and diesel engine options.

While we currently do not have many 2021 GMC Sierra 1500s on our lots, we look forward to selling more in the future. If you love the 2021 model, you should also consider prior model years of the GMC Sierra 1500 with similar features.

Here's what you'll learn in this 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 review:

Key Specs and Features

MPG:

  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 with 4WD, 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 2.7L inline-four engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 2.7L inline-four engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 5.3L V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 5.3L V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 4.3L V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 4.3L V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 6.2L V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 with 4WD, 6.2L V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 2WD, 5.3L gas/E85 V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 16 mpg combined on gas and an EPA-estimated 12 mpg combined on E85.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4WD, 5.3L gas/E85 V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 16 mpg combined on gas and an EPA-estimated 12 mpg combined on E85.1
  • The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 with 4WD, 5.3L V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 16 mpg combined.1

Cargo Space:

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Trunk | CarMax
  • Regular Cab: 89.1 cu-ft
  • Double Cab: 71.7 cu-ft
  • Crew Cab: 62.9 to 71.7 cu-ft

Towing Capacity:

  • GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is an estimated 9,200 lbs. with the 2.7L inline-four engine on 2021 models, when properly equipped.2
  • GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is an estimated 9,300 lbs. with the 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel on 2021 models, when properly equipped.2
  • GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is an estimated 7,900 lbs. with the 4.3L V6 on 2021 models, when properly equipped.2
  • GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is an estimated 11,300 lbs. with the 5.3L V8 on 2021 models, when properly equipped.2
  • GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is an estimated 11,800 lbs. with the 6.2L V8 on 2021 models, when properly equipped.2

Seating capacity:

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Front seats | CarMax
  • Three, five, or six-passenger seating configurations
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Backseats | CarMax

Engine Options:

  • 2.7L inline-four engine that makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque (standard in SLE and Elevation trims; available in Sierra trim).
  • 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque – standard in AT4 (Crew Cab with Standard Bed) trim; available in SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 (Short Bed) and Denali trims.
  • 4.3L V6 makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque (standard in Sierra trim).
  • 5.3L V8 makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque – standard in SLT, AT4 (with Short Bed) and Denali trims; available in Sierra, SLE and Elevation trims.
  • 6.2L V8 makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque (available in SLT 4WD, AT4, and Denali trims).

Tech Features:

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Cell | CarMax
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto (standard on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims; available on SLE and Elevation trims)
  • In-vehicle trailering apps (standard on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims; available on SLE and Elevation trims)
  • Lane change alert with side blind zone alert (available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, and AT4 trims; standard on Denali trim)
  • Available 15-inch head-up display (available on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims)
  • Available rear camera mirror (available on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims)

Rankings

The GMC Sierra 1500 has a strong sales history at CarMax. It has been featured in these ranking lists.

5 Reasons to Buy

1. Room for Everyone and Everything

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Exterior | CarMax

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500's variety of body styles and trim levels enable it to fit three, five, or six passengers and a wide range of lifestyles. Its basic regular cab and eight-foot, two-inch bed configuration is perfect for transporting three people and plenty of tools and gear to a job site. The double cab with the six-foot, seven-inch bed offers a useful combination of passenger space and hauling capacity. The crew cab maximizes passenger space by providing nearly equal amounts of legroom in the first and second rows. Two different bed sizes allow you to select the right length for how much stuff you want to take along with you.

2. Wide Array of Engine Choices

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Engine | CarMax

You get plenty of choices for what goes under the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500's hood, too. The 2.7L turbocharged inline-four engine makes up for its smaller size with substantially higher output: 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. The torque-rich 3.0L Duramax turbodiesel inline-six combines slightly higher towing capability with EPA-estimated fuel economy figures as high as 23 city, 30 highway, and 26 combined mpg.1 If you just have to have a V8 in your truck, don't worry – the Sierra 1500 is available with two options. The smaller is a 5.3L power plant with nearly 400 lb-ft of torque. Its larger sibling is a 6.2L V8 with a whopping 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.

3. Impressive Tech

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review: Dashboard | CarMax

Thanks to the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500's 15-inch head-up display (available on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims), you can keep an eye on your speed and other important readouts while watching the road ahead. If you happen to be pulling a trailer, you don't have to sweat that, either. When equipped with the available HD surround vision, rear camera mirror, and bed view camera technologies, the Sierra 1500 shows your truck and trailer from 15 different camera views. Updates for the 2021 model year enhance existing features and add new ones, including a trailer length indicator for more confident lane changes, cargo bed zoom view, bed hitch guidance, and jack-knife alert.

4. Off-Road Readiness

There are three basic levels to the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500's capabilities on rough terrain. There's basic 4WD, of course. The X31 Off-Road Package, available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, and SLT models, adds a heavy-duty air filter, skid plates, hill descent control, an off-road suspension with Rancho shocks, and more. The dedicated AT4 model goes even further with a two-inch suspension lift and chunky all-terrain tires.

5. Trick Tailgate

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500's tailgate can do more than just give you access to the bed. The available GMC MultiPro Tailgate (standard on SLT, AT4, and Denali trims; available on SLE and Elevation trims) can help you get things knocked off of your to-do list in six different ways. Depending on how you fold it and its integrated panels, you can use it as a traditional tailgate, load stop at different heights, full-width step, or means of getting closer to the load floor or work surface. The GMC MultiPro™ tailgate can even serve as a boombox, thanks to the available 100-watt Kicker exterior audio system (standard on Denali and AT4 CarbonPro Edition trims; available on SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali trims).


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What You Need to Know

Available Trims

  • Sierra: Includes chrome front and rear bumpers, corner-step rear bumper, 40/20/40 front bench seat, hill start assist, GMC infotainment system, and more.
  • SLE: Adds 17-inch aluminum wheels; chrome grille, bumpers, and window trim; traction select system with tow/haul mode; heated steering wheel; dual-zone climate control, and more.
  • Elevation: Adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, black grille with body-color surround, LED fog lamps, vertical recovery hooks, second-row seatback storage, LED cargo box lighting, and more.
  • SLT: Adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, GMC MultiPro tailgate, in-vehicle trailering app, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and more.
  • AT4: Adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, two-inch lift, off-road suspension with Rancho monotube shocks, two-speed transfer case, and more.
  • Denali: Adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, premium perforated leather seats, open-pore ash wood trim, wireless charging, adaptive ride control, and more.

Available Colors

  • Brownstone Metallic (available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, and SLT trims)
  • Cardinal Red (available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, and SLT trims)
  • Cayenne Red Tintcoat (available on SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali trims)
  • Dark Sky Metallic (available on all trims)
  • Ebony Twilight Metallic (available on SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali trims)
  • Hunter Metallic (available on Denali trim only)
  • Onyx Black (available on all trims)
  • Pacific Blue Metallic (available on all trims)
  • Quicksilver Metallic (available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, and SLT trims)
  • Satin Steel Metallic (available on all trims)
  • Summit White (available on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, and AT4 trims)
  • White Frost Tricoat (available on SLT and Denali trims)

Interior

  • Seating for three, five, or six
  • 40/20/40 front bench seat (standard on Sierra, SLE, Elevation, and SLT trims)
  • Eight-inch infotainment system touchscreen (standard on SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, and Denali trims)
  • Second-row air vents (standard on all Double Cab and Crew Cab trims)

Average CarMax Prices

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is a newer model year and we currently have a limited number in our inventory. See below for average CarMax prices for previous model years of the GMC Sierra 1500.

  • 2012 — Average prices less than $21,0003
  • 2013 — Average prices less than $24,0003
  • 2014 — Average prices less than $27,0003
  • 2015 — Average prices less than $29,5003
  • 2016 — Average prices less than $31,5003
  • 2017 — Average prices less than $36,0003
  • 2018 — Average prices less than $36,5003
  • 2019 — Average prices less than $49,0003
  • 2020 — Average prices less than $56,0003

Similar Model Years

If you like the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500, check out some previous model years of this vehicle with similar features.

Safety

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 received an overall 4/5 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Certain vehicles may have unrepaired safety recalls. Click here to look up a specific vehicle.

Similar Vehicles

If you're interested in the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500, you should also check out these similar vehicles from previous model years.

GMC Sierra 2500HD

The GMC Sierra 2500HD is a great choice for jobs that only heavy-duty trucks can get done. For 2015, GMC offered the Sierra 2500HD with a 6.0L Vortec gas V8 that produced 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. For the 2017 model year, GMC modified the Sierra 2500HD's available 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine to produce 445 hp and 910 lb-ft, which is a 19% increase in torque. Both engines transmitted their power to the road or trail through a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features on the 2017–2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD include:

  • StabiliTrak with trailer sway control
  • Rearview camera (2018 and 2019 models)
  • Teen Driver feature
  • CornerStep rear bumper
  • Easy lift-and-lower tailgate

GMC Canyon

GMC significantly revised its midsize Canyon for 2017. In addition to other changes, it rolled out a new 3.6L V6, eight-speed automatic transmission, seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, and All Terrain X package with an off-road suspension, special floor liners, and hill descent control. This was also the year GMC started offering the Canyon with the upscale Denali trim level, which added a unique chrome grille and 20-inch wheels, Denali-specific heated and ventilated front seats, and more.

Major tech updates came in 2019, including an HD Rear Vision Camera (standard on SL, SLE, All Terrain, SLT, and Denali trims) and new infotainment systems with enhanced voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and available navigation. Standard features on the 2017–2019 GMC Canyon include:

  • Power driver's seat
  • Teen Driver feature
  • CornerStep rear bumper
  • Locking tailgate
  • 13 tie-down spots in the truck bed

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Chevrolet released an all-new Silverado 1500 for 2019. Depending on specification, the boldly styled pickup was up to 450 pounds lighter than the outgoing model but able to do much more. The maximum payload rating for Crew Cab models went up by 340 pounds—a 14 percent increase. A number of engine options, including several new ones, such as the 2.7L turbo inline-four and 3.0L turbodiesel inline-six, help the latest version of the Silverado get things done, whether that's taking families on road trips or picking up lumber for a home renovation. Standard features on the 2017–2019 Chevrolet Silverado include:

  • Capless fuel fill
  • Teen Driver feature
  • Rearview camera (2018 and 2019 models)
  • Hill-start assist

The Bottom Line

You can configure the versatile 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 to serve a variety of purposes, from workhorse to off-roader to luxury transportation. A vast array of gas and diesel engine options allow you to dial in the exact right amount of power for it. No matter how you spec the Sierra 1500, one thing won't change: it'll still stand out in the grocery parking lot or the job site.

Want to learn more about the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500? Check out these related articles.

1Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
2Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
3Based on prices on carmax.com from April 9, 2019 to September 10, 2020. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.