2013 GMC Sierra 1500 Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Reviewers say the 2013 GMC Sierra offers ample engine power from its range of optional V8 engines and has a comfortable, composed ride. They say its steering is fairly accurate and nicely weighted, though some comment that it is harder than some rivals to maneuver in tight spaces. Fuel economy is decent from the optional 5.3-liter V8, which also offers plenty of power for nearly all situations, loaded or unloaded, and is a reviewer favorite among all the available engines.
- "Sierra (and Silverado) might be the quietest in class, at least when equipped with the 5.3-liter V8. The engine is a model of smoothness and refinement." -- Consumer Guide
- "Ample power and a civilized ride are two of the 2013 GMC Sierra's most welcome attributes." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Just like most modern pickups, the … GMC Sierra 1500 is actually pleasant to drive." -- Edmunds (2012)
Acceleration and Power
The GMC Sierra 1500 is available with four engines, with a V6 standard on base models and three V8 options to choose from. The base 4.3-liter V6 produces 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 4.8-liter V8 makes 302 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. The 5.3-liter V8 produces 315 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, and the largest option, which is standard on the Denali trim, is a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. The V6 and the 4.8-liter V8 come with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the two larger V8s get six-speed units. The most fuel-efficient engine is the 5.3-liter V8, which gets an EPA-estimated 15/21 (15/22 mpg on XFE model) mpg city/highway with either two- or four-wheel drive.
Reviewers greatly prefer any of the V8 options over the V6. Some say that the V6 has enough power to move the truck itself, but note that it’ll quickly get overwhelmed while towing or hauling. Most critics favor the 5.3-liter V8 for its combination of power and reasonable fuel economy. They also like the muscle provided by the 6.2-liter V8, but don’t like its poor fuel economy. Reviewers also prefer the larger engines because they come with the six-speed automatic, which they say shifts smoothly and does a nice job of transmitting power to the wheels.
- "The 5.3 has more than enough get-up-and-go for any situation. The 6.2 is stronger still. With both engines, the transmission is smooth and quick to respond to power demands." -- Consumer Guide
- "As for engine choices, we think the 4.3-liter V6 is adequate for most light jobs, but we prefer the pulling and passing power provided by the 5.3-liter V8. The ultimate power play belongs to the Denali, which has a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard with the two bigger V8s does an admirable job of keeping power on tap, while the four-speed feels outdated by comparison." -- Edmunds (2012)
Handling and Braking
Critics like the way the 2013 GMC Sierra 1500 rides. Some note that there is some noticeable body roll through turns, though this is common among large trucks. The Denali trim, on the other hand, has a firmer suspension and larger wheels, which critics say firms up the ride, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Generally, reviewers like the Sierra’s steering feel, though some complain that it has a large turning radius, even for a truck, which makes it more difficult than some rivals to maneuver in tight spaces. Overall, critics report that the brakes are strong and linear. For 2013, the Sierra 1500 gets a feature called powertrain grade braking in normal transmission mode (formerly only operated in tow/haul mode), which uses engine torque to slow the vehicle rather than relying solely on the brakes.
The Sierra 1500 is available with two- and four-wheel drive on all models, with a two-speed transfer case on all but the Denali. The Denali is available with a full-time all-wheel drive system. Critics don’t say all that much about the four-wheel drive systems available, but some do mention that the optional Z71 off-road suspension firms up the suspension just to the right amount, helping to reduce body roll through turns.
- "Sierra suffers from the same issues as any big truck, namely a large amount of body lean in fast turns. This happens regardless of which suspension you choose, though the firmer off-road setup helps a bit. Braking performance is quite good; all models have a reassuring pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
- "The Sierra's rigid chassis and tight panel fitment are made possible by the fully-boxed ladder frame, while the coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering provide a level of control uncommon in such a high-center-of-gravity vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "While it isn't the nimblest truck when it comes to turning circle, the Sierra's overall ride, which features five suspension configurations ranging from off-road to on-road themed, is more than acceptable for a full-size truck." -- Automobile Magazine (2011)
- "The Sierra's turning circle is a bit larger than you'll find in most other trucks, however." -- Edmunds (2012)
Towing and Hauling
Depending on which body and powertrain configuration you’re looking at, the Sierra 1500 can haul a payload of up to 1,937 pounds, and with the 6.2-liter V8 and the maximum towing package, it can tow up to 10,700 pounds. If you need the ability to tow a heavier trailer, check out the Ford F-150, which can tow up to 11,300 pounds with the optional EcoBoost V6, or a heavy-duty pickup, all of which have higher tow ratings. Reviewers say that any of the V8 options available in the Sierra are up to the task of pulling a trailer. Trailer sway control is standard on the Sierra 1500, and an integrated trailer brake controller is available on most models.