Is bigger always better? That is a common question people ask, especially when it comes to the Heavy Duty trucks that usually have a lot of combinations with trims and configuration options to choose from. With more than a few trucks available in the market, the GMC Sierra is no exception. Both GMC HD or Heavy Duty trucks offer great engine power and amazing towing capabilities and are definitely a great choice for heavy hauling work trucks. The three-quarter-ton GMC Sierra 2500 (Class 2B) looks very similar to its big brother, the one-ton GMC Sierra 3500 (Class3) which is also close to its price range at only a little over $1000 to $2000 difference. But aside from the looks, how does the Sierra 2500 fair versus the heftier Sierra 3500?
With options between a crew cab or a double cab and a standard box or a long box, the 2500 doesn’t look like it was made for the beaten path but don’t be fooled by its flawless and impeccable good looks. The heavy-duty truck can do any rugged job with relative ease and proficiency. The 3500 may be the largest in the roster but it is offered with pretty much the same features as the 2500 along with the option of choosing from a single rear wheel or dual rear wheel configuration.
Now let’s take a closer, more detailed and more comprehensive look at the trucks to see what sets them apart. With this, we’ll see if the slightly higher price difference of the 3500 is worth the investment or if it’s better to just opt for the classic 2500 and save your money.
Power for Performance
Both heavy-duty trucks can be powered by either a 6.6 L V8 gasoline engine that produces 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque coupled with a six-speed automatic can be a good enough choice since it gives you the right amount of power to take on regular heavy-duty jobs without denying you a decent amount of comfort despite its size and strength. But if you need a truck that can offer more pulling capacity, you can choose to get the 6.6 L V8 Duramax Diesel Turbo. This machine can give you 445 hp and a whopping 910 lb-ft of torque linked to a 10 speed Allison automatic transmission. From the engines to their torque ratings, there's not much difference between these two.
However, even though you may find similarities in the engines under the hoods of both these trucks, you will soon come to an understanding that they actually have quite a huge gap between them when it comes to their towing, stowing, and carrying capacity.
Carrying and Pulling
When powered with the 445 hp Duramax and configured as a two-wheel drive regular cab, the Sierra 2500 can tow a maximum of 18,510 pounds with a gooseneck trailer. Even the weaker and cheaper gasoline-powered V8 can still haul a maximum of 16,650 pounds when configured as a 4×4 crew cab. It can carry a maximum payload of 3,979 pounds. This isn't bad for a truck in this size when you consider its maneuverability despite its ability to carry such a heavy payload.
This is where you see the difference of the 3500 from the 2500. While the cargo limit of the 2500 is already pretty impressive, the 3500 brings a different level of carrying weight capacity. It can tow a maximum of 35,500 whopping pounds when powered by the Duramax engine and configured as a two-wheel-drive, dual rear wheel, regular cab configuration. In fact, all configurations of the Sierra 3500 can pull up to 30,000 pounds when equipped with the Duramax engine and a dually (dual rear wheel) configuration. It can carry a maximum payload almost double that of the 2500 at 7,442 pounds despite having a V8 gas engine under the hood. That’s a clear wide gap of payload right there!
Both the 2500 and 3500, though, have a maximum payload capacity of 69.9 cubic feet of cargo on the standard 6 feet, 9 inches bed. And if you need more space, you have the option of getting the longbed that measures 8 feet long with a maximum cargo space of 83.5 cubic feet. So in terms of room and area, the two are pretty much at par.
Both GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 are equipped with an impressive array of safety features. This includes 6 standard airbags, front and rear park assist system that detects nearby objects for a much safer parking. Not only that but it also has a hitch guidance system that provides a camera view of the trailer that’s perfect for a quick check while driving, a rear vision camera, and the StabiliTrak system that automatically activates whenever it detects any wheel slippages or any emergency maneuvers.
And for those of you who have future heavy duty truckers in the making, the Sierra comes with GM’s amazingly clever Teen Driver safety system that sets maximum speeds to ensure they're not accelerating too much. This safety feature also limits audio volume so as to keep their concentration on driving the heavy vehicle. One can never be too safe!
Both heavy duty trucks have the same long list of impressive tech features. The 2500 and 3500 are equipped with the first in class HUD (head-up display) which measures 15 inch wide, rear view camera for unobstructed, adjustable view to the rear of the truck and the ProGrade Trailering system’s 15 camera views, even letting you virtually see through whatever cargo you’re hauling, trailering will never be a painful task and you can focus on getting to your destination with ease. When it comes to loading the bed, corner-step bumpers and side bed steps the come standard will definitely come in handy together with the MultiPro tailgating that can assist you with six configurations.
The Sierra HD trucks come standard with an infotainment with a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the higher more luxurious trims you get an 8-inch touchscreen and Bose audio system. Both of these trucks can also be upgraded with a built-in navigation system.
Trims and Pricing
The Sierra 2500 and 3500 can be configured as a regular cab that can seat three that comes only with the 8-foot bed or a crew cab that can accommodate 6 adults and is available with either the 8-foot long bed or the 6 feet, 9 inches regular bed.
The 2500 comes in the following trims:
2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD / 3500HD: The base trim comes standard with a 40/20/40 front bench seat, manual mirrors, vinyl upholstery, and power door locks and windows. It even includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and a single USB port for your techy needs. And to make it more interesting, this trim is equipped with steel wheels. As options, you can even add remote keyless entry with a power tailgate release, power adjustable mirrors or the MultiPro tailgate for a much high-tech and upgraded feel.
2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD / 3500HD SLE: Building upon the base trim level Sierra, the SLE adds an extra interior storage and body-color door handles. It also allows keyless entry, has a 7-inch display, and an onboard WiFi modem. It is even equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels. There are also extra optional features that you can add including a remote start with proximity unlocking, a push button start, and an 8-inch display to accommodate your preference.
2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD / 3500HD SLT: The MultiPro tailgate comes standard on the SLT, with an option for a conventional tailgate with no extra or additional cost. Easier maneuvering at low speed and improved stability and response at high speeds are provided by the digital variable steering assist as well as the automatic transfer case that come standard with the 4×4 models. The SLT also comes standard with LED lighting for the cargo bed, 120-volt outlets in the bed and the cabin, additional USB ports inside, power adjustable trailering mirrors, a leather bench seat, which you have an option to change with bucket seats. This trim also comes equipped with larger 18-inch aluminum wheels.
2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD / 3500HD AT4: As the newest trim level the 4T4 has a more unique looking appearance that helps it stand out from the rest of the other trims. Starting with the all-terrain tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels, red painted tow hooks and gloss black accents, this trim will surely be a head turner. Additional upgrades include leather bucket seats with one of a kind Kalahari Tan accents that has heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. As options, you can upgrade your truck with off-road shocks, extensive skid plates, a more sophisticated infotainment and a head-up display that is geared more towards off-roading.
2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD / 3500HD Denali: This top ranking heavy duty truck boasts its massive 20-inch wheels coming standard. Together with a forward collision monitoring system and an automatic emergency braking system, it also ensures safety for the owner. The Denali even features a premium 8-inch infotainment system with embedded navigation for your convenience. And if these are still not enough for you, go up your game even more by adding a 360-degree camera system and a sunroof, to name a few of the luxury upgrades available.
Is bigger always better? Not entirely, it still largely depends on what you need that heavy duty truck for. Knowing what you want and need is the most important part of getting a new vehicle, specially when it come to heavy duty trucks like the GMC Sierra, with around 40 combinations for configurations and trims between the two, knowing exactly what tasks you will be putting your truck through is the key to getting the perfect and ideal fit for you.
For those of you who plan to make your work horse for transporting heavy loads and huge cargoes, the 2500 when equipped with the Duramax V8 can haul an impressive 18.500 pounds can sound adequate enough. However, you can’t overlook the massive gap in hauling capacity of the 3500 at 35,500 pounds. This make it seems that the additional couple grand price difference between the two won’t be much of a big deal, and the best and ideal option would be the Sierra 3500 SLE trim since it provides the best variety for configurations as it is offered with all three cab styles, both the gasoline and Duramax V8 engine and both single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel axles.
If your purpose for getting a new truck is for light cargo and passenger haulers or an everyday driver that can carry an impressive amount of cargo, shelling out that extra couple of grand will now seem pointless and unnecessary. The best option would be to opt for the Sierra 2500 since it would be more agile in the busy and narrow city streets. Though the top tier trim level Denali sounds so tempting with all its niceties, it is not a good value for money purchase. It would be better and more appropriate to get the SLT trim which already comes standard with the MultiPro tailgate, with the money saved, you can just deck out your truck that can even rival the chrome-clad higher-level trims.
Again, is bigger always better? Yes and no. Like what was mentioned above, it is better if you are looking for a vehicle to haul heavy things and do more powerful stuff. On the other hand, if you don’t necessarily need that, then it will be a waste of resources and power for you to opt for the bigger one. Not to mention the unnecessary extra cash that you have to shell out by getting a bigger one when you will be better off with the smaller one.
In conclusion, the right answer to whether the 2500 or the 3500 is a better choice lies solely on you, your lifestyle, and what your purpose is in buying the GMC Sierra.
Finding the right heavy-duty truck can be difficult, should you just believe in the saying that the bigger the better? Hear us out why we think that is not always the case.