A couple days behind the wheel of the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 diesel painted a picture of a fuel-efficient, comfortable, and capable towing machine that has been packed with an assortment of technologies aimed at removing the stress typically associated with towing.
Although the 3.0L Duramax diesel engine and accompanying 10-speed transmission were available as an option for the Sierra 1500 late into its 2019-MY, the 2020 model year marks the first full model year that the engine and transmission will be available on the Sierra 1500.
To get a sense of how capable the diesel Sierra is GMC attached an 8,000-pound trailer to the back of the truck and had us drive through a mountainous route full of inclines and declines of various grades.
Even with minimal towing experience, I felt fully in control of the truck as I drove through the route.
Going uphill, the truck’s 277 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque never really felt like it struggled with the heavy load. This is likely due to General Motor’s focus on torque over horsepower on this engine.
GM fleet customers have told the company that they don’t need high horsepower, they need something fuel efficient and that can move quickly off the line with a heavy load behind it. To meet these requests, GM focused on low-end torque. And, on the topic of fuel-economy, the 2020 Sierra 1500 diesel is the most fuel-efficient Sierra ever at 30 mpg highway, according to the company.
Going downhill, an automatic exhaust brake would kick in to limit how fast the truck went downhill. This automatic exhaust brake feature alleviated a lot of the worry that I had about some of the steeper declines. I didn’t have to worry about braking as much going downhill, as the truck did most of the job for me.
The 15-camera views available as part of GMC’s Enhanced ProGrade Trailering (the same system that was first available in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado) further helped calm the worries I had with trailering.
The transparent trailer camera view was the standout for me, as it provided a clear view of the vehicle behind me at times when the side mirrors and rear-view mirror couldn’t.
A segment-first available on the 2020 GMC Sierra is a multi-color head-up display that projects customizable data onto the windshield. Since I was fully reliant on the navigation system to get me around our route, I found the combination of projecting my navigation system onto the head-up display and displaying the transparent trailer view on the center screen was ideal for me.
Two other camera views that helped while towing were the left- and right-side-of-the-vehicle views that automatically came up when signaling a left or right turn. Once again, these features helped minimize any doubts I had in my surroundings.
One last feature that stood out during my time with the Sierra 1500 was an available CarbonPro box. According to GMC, this carbon fiber pickup box is the industry’s first and provides strong dent, scratch, and corrosion resistance. My experience with this box was watching people violently beat it with an aluminum bat. The box suffered no damage, but the bat ended with a nasty bend.
The 2020 Sierra 1500 diesel will cost the same amount as the 6.2L V8 model, $2,495 over the 5.3L V8, and $3,890 over the 2.7L turbo I-4. The diesel engine will be available on all trims except the base Sierra trim.
2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Diesel Specs:
- Engine: 3.0L Duramax I-6 turbodiesel (277 hp, 460 lb.-ft.)
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic transmission
- Payload: 1,830 lbs.
- Towing: 9,100 lbs.