First Place - GMC Sierra 3500
If you were only looking at specifications, both the Ram and the Ford should be able to outdo the Sierra 3500. But somehow, even with about 95 lb-ft of torque less that its competitors, the GMC manages to feel the best in the power department. Throttle response and power down low both feel exceptional. And while the engine deserves some of our praise, the real hero in this powertrain is the transmission.
FAST FACTS: 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 3500
Engine: 6.6-liter turbo diesel with 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque.
Max as tested fifth-wheel towing: 22,600 lbs.
As tested price: $67,548.
Rear-end axle ratio: 3.73.
With the way it shifts, you would swear there was telepathy at work inside the Allison transmission. While pulling weight, the downshifts complement the braking beautifully. Upshifts are quick and timed perfectly. Controlling the trailer on the long downhills is especially easy in the Sierra in no small part because of the intelligent cruise control, which does an excellent job of keeping the truck at a set speed through hilly roads. Add on top that there is no unwanted body roll or side-to-side sway to speak of and this GMC comes away feeling like the most confident hauler of the three.
The steering doesn’t quite stack up to the level of balance found in the Ford’s rack, but it still has a feeling of direct control despite being light in your hand. The Sierra’s segment-exclusive independent front suspension also adds to the direct, planted feeling in the front end of this truck.
Chevy’s new truck interiors are nice, and GMC takes it just a bit farther. Soft touch surfaces and easy-to-operate rubber-wrapped toggle switches offer a great tactile feel and the rounded edges of the dashboard and center console give off an inviting aesthetic. The Sierra Denali also has a digital gauge cluster, which is not only attractive, but a wonderful resource. All of the info you need, from navigation to fuel economy, is easily accessible, and the screen is customizable based on your needs. It’s controlled by another set of rubber wrapped buttons located on the steering wheel.
And truly sealing the deal is just how quiet this new interior is. Chevy’s trucks, from the half-tons to the mid-sizers, are some of the quietest in the pickup market, making it easy to for this big Denali to pull off the luxury feel. Multiple USB ports, 12-volt plugs and a proper 120-volt two-prong plug seal the deal when it comes to usability.
Our data collection also pushed the Sierra to the top of the heap. Overall fuel economy was clocked at 11.4 MPG over both days while the initial unloaded highway run managed to push the number up to a very impressive 18.2 MPG.
At the drag strip, the GMC proved once and for all that its lack of torque on paper means absolutely nothing. We clocked a 16.098 quarter-mile with the truck unloaded, while the trailer pushes that time up to 21.932 seconds, just over a second faster than its closest competitor.
General Motors HD’s simply offer the best mix of strong dynamics and interior quality right now. Add on the advantage in fuel economy, and this becomes a bit of a no-brainer. The 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD is the clear winner of the 2015 Heavy Duty Shootout.