There's no such thing as a model year that doesn't bring some kind of update to a full-size pickup, a segment where the competition is arguably tougher than anywhere else in the auto industry.
So for 2018, the GMC Sierra gets a handful of new and upgraded standard features, including a TPMS system that now has a tire fill alert function. And with next year's backup camera legislation looming, GMC has made that safety item standard, along with a seven-inch radio touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system.
While the Sierra presents itself as a more rugged sibling to the Chevrolet Silverado, it is more or less exactly the same truck clothed in more masculine styling dominated by big, squared off fenders. As before, there are four engines to choose from: base models get a 4.3L V6 (285 hp/305 lb-ft of torque) that comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the step up is a 5.3L V8 (355 hp/383 lb-ft) that starts out with a six-speed but gets an eight-speed automatic in the upscale-trimmed Denali model. Finally, there's a 6.2L V8 (420 hp/460 lb-ft) that's optional in SLT, All Terrain and Denali trims.
All three engines can be had with two- or four-wheel drive.
About those trims: they include a base model, SLE, SLT and Denali. Base and SLE models come only in regular cab configuration with a choice of six-foot-six and eight-foot cargo boxes. SLT can be had in double and crew cab bodies with a six-foot-six box, and Denali is crew cab only with a five-foot-eight or six-foot-six box.
As you may have guessed, GMC (and Chevrolet) takes a straightforward approach to its full-size trucks: There are no turbocharged engines or aluminum bodywork a la Ford F-150, and you can't get a diesel engine unless you can justify the move up to one of the heavy duty models.
The base model is aimed at the no-frills crowd: you get air conditioning, power locks and cruise, but that's about it. You'll have to adjust the mirrors and work the windows manually, the seats are cloth and the floor is vinyl. SLE models bring keyless entry, carpeted floors and cargo bed lighting.
SLT gets a bit of luxury in a leather-trimmed steering wheel and leather seating with 10-way power adjustments, and 4x4 models get a locking rear differential. All Terrain is not a stand-alone trim, but an option package on the SLT 4x4 that adds 18-inch wheels, off-road suspension, and underbody shield and trim-specific styling cues. There's also an All Terrain X package that gets a performance exhaust, black wheels with off-road tires, LED headlights, black side steps and a black bed-mounted sport bar.
Another option for SLT 4x4 models is an eAssist system, which turns the Sierra into a mild hybrid that boasts slightly better fuel economy. It also comes with a raft of upscale kit, like LED headlights, taillights and fog lights, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, upgraded stereo, wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, automatic high beams and front and rear park assist.
Some of those features carry over to the Denali model, which also gets magnetic ride control and adds to the eAssist's active safety kit with low-speed forward automatic braking.
If you can't find a Sierra trim that's quite right for you, wait a few weeks: GMC is constantly rolling out special edition trims and packages that are available for a limited time and tend to add value in the form of desirable appearance upgrades or convenience features.
Fuel consumption estimates start at 13.4/10.0 L/100 km (city/highway) in V6/RWD trucks. A 5.3L V8/4WD/six-speed model is rated 15.0/10.7, and the eAssist system cuts city consumption to an estimated 14.4 L/100 km but actually increases highway consumption to 11.2 L/100 km. Finally, a 6.2L model is rated at 16.0/11.7 L/100 km.