The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is the top trim in the model lineup.  And it both looks and drives the part.  So, if you’re an executive in need of a full-size pickup truck.  Or just wanting a light-duty truck with all the luxe amenities, then Denali is the one for you.

Likewise, if you’re looking for a combination of amenities and off-roading, Sierra AT4 would be your pick.  And so on down the entire line of Sierra 1500 trim options.

2021 GMC Sierra Top-3:

  1. Features
  2. Styling
  3. Utility
2021 GMC Sierra passenger front

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali crew cab – available head-up display

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

Topping the list of what’s new for the 2021 GMC Sierra includes wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  Plus a towing capacity increased up to 11,800 lbs.

Also, GMC’s Multipro tailgate is now standard on lower trims.  And enhanced technology improves towing and safety.  In addition, GMC offers a few new colors to the Sierra lineup mix.

Trims And Prices

GMC Sierra 1500 comes in a wide variety of trims and prices to match.  From the Sierra regular cab and long bed to the Denali crew cab with brushed aluminum and wood-accented interior.  There’s a Sierra for every need and everyone.

2021 GMC Sierra Denali badge

Sierra’s top trim Denali

2021 GMC Sierra Trims & Starting MSRPs:

  • Sierra, SLE, Elevation & SLT $30,100
  • AT4 $54,700
  • Denali $55,800


And when it comes to cabs and beds the GMC Sierra offers a combo to suit all needs.  However, it’s notable that the regular cab only comes in the base model Sierra.    The SLE and Elevation, a double cab is standard with the option for the bigger but still four-door crew cab.  As well the SLT, AT4, and Denali are all standard and only offered, in the larger crew cab.


Only the Sierra base model comes with a long bed.  And pretty much the rest of the trim/cab combos offer a standard or short box.

Engines And Transmissions

As with the overall trims and the cab/bed combos, Sierra’s engine offerings are vast.  Because whether you go with a two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive, you have a total of five different powerplants to choose from.

2021 GMC Sierra driver 5.3L V8 badge

5.3L V8 355 hp & 383 lb-ft of torque

To be clear, not every engine is available with every trim.  But, the point is reinforced that Sierra has all-comers covered.  Because there are so many engine options below is a summary.

2021 GMC Sierra Engines:

  • 2.7-liter turbo inline 4-cylinder, 310 horsepower, 348 pound-feet of torque
  • 3.0L turbo diesel, 277 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque
  • 4.3L V6, 285 hp, 305 lb-ft of torque
  • 5.3L V8, 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque
  • 6.2L V8, 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque

So each of these engines matches with a different transmission to produce various results.  Regardless of the specific transmission, each is automatic.

Automatic Transmissions:

  • 10-speed:
    • 2.7L turbo 4-cylinder
    • 3.0L turbo diesel
    • 5.3L V8
    • 6.2L V8
  • 8-speed:
    • 5.3L V8
  • 6-speed:
    • 4.3L V6
    • 5.3L V8

All the above should be plenty to confuse the most serious mind.  If not, there’s another factor.  And that’s the fuel management system.  Specifically, whether the engine and transmission combination comes with an active or dynamic fuel management system.

So, with all of these combinations, you can imagine fuel economy varies a bit as well.  However, Sierra has an EPA estimate of up to 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.  (With the turbo-diesel and 2WD.)


Around the outside of Sierra is quite distinct.  And in the case of the upper trims quite ornate as well.

2021 GMC Sierra passenger profile

229.6″ to 241.3″ overall length

For example, my Denali test driver, pictured throughout this article.  The ample chrome accents are a key feature of the top on-road Sierra trim.

2021 GMC Sierra wheel

20″ Polished Aluminum Wheels

Whereas the top off-road Sierra trim, the AT4 is accented with black chrome accents.  Equally as attractive for its intended use-case.  Notably, AT4 also includes a 2″ factory-installed lift.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Interior

Inside the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is huge.  And the Denali trimmed version that I test drove could nearly be described as elegant… if that wasn’t such a non-truck adjective. :0)

2021 GMC Sierra cockpit

Brushed aluminum and wood-trimmed interior

However, there’s plenty of luxury-branded sedans that do not offer the refinements inside GMC’s Sierra Denali.  Because all surfaces are quality to the look and touch.  And features like wireless, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available.  Plus heated AND ventilated front seats.


Class-leading legroom w/ Sierra Crew Cab

At 5’10” I easily crawled into, out of, and all throughout Sierra’s crew cab.  And I didn’t need to adjust the seats a bit to get in and out of the backseats.   Sierra definitely seats 5-adults comfortably.  Although the middle rider in the backseat is without an armrest.

2021 GMC Sierra hidden compartment in backseat

Backseat hidden compartment

Perhaps one of my favorite features is the compartment hidden in the backseat of Sierra.  Because you can never have too many nooks and crannies to keep items out of sight.  And, speaking of that let’s not forget the dual glove compartment too.

dual glove box

Dual glove compartment storage

Infotainment And Technology

Leading the technology and infotainment category is the first-in-class available head-up display.  It’s a feature that’s made its way through luxury vehicles and will surely become more commonplace among trucks.  Especially the top trimmed light-duty pick-ups like Sierra Denali.

center stack w. main menu

Easy to use 8″ touchscreen

All the latest safety technology is available on Sierra.  Plus class-leading camera technology to help you more easily navigate the truck and anything you might be towing.

2021 GMC Sierra instrument cluster

Combination digital and analog instrumentation

Finally, on a personal note, I love GMC’s use of haptic feedback alerts in the seat instead of annoying beeps.  For example when you’re getting too close to something while backing up.  The driver’s seat will vibrate to let you know.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Top-3

Above all, GMC’s Sierra 1500 light-duty pickup truck lineup is more in-depth than some carmakers’ entire brand offerings.   So it’s tough to narrow down my top three.  Because they could differ from one trim offering to the next.  But here goes.

  1. Features: Sierra can come loaded with options.  For sure the Denali I test drove was packed with them.  Ventilated front seats in a pickup truck is a major selling point for me – personally.
  2. Styling: Whether Denali, AT4, or even a lower trim, the Sierra is a truck that looks great.  Alternatively bold, rugged, athletic, and ready for work – whatever the job may be.
  3. Utility: Sierra is a capable chameleon.  Case in point, the Denali I test drove, even without 4WD and not being the AT4 was ready for some off-road duty.