Trucks & SUVs

What Makes GMC a Premium Truck Brand?

It’s not inaccurate to think of GMC trucks as upscale Chevys. The GMC Sierra and Canyon do share platforms and powertrains with their Chevy counterparts. That’s why Hennessey can make Goliaths out of both Chevy and GMC trucks. However, GMC products do get some trims and features that separate them from Chevy’s vehicles. But, although GMC markets itself as a luxury brand, do its trucks really sell that image?

Do GMC trucks have premium features?

In an interview with Trucks.com, Vice President of Global Buick and GMC Duncan Aldred discussed the ways GMC attempts to be a premium truck brand. One thing Aldred specifically mentioned was GMC’s focus on technology and novel features.

And GMC trucks do offer some things that other trucks don’t. For example, the Sierra offers a multi-position tailgate that can become a table, work surface, or step. It’s also one of the few, if not only, tailgate available from the factory with built-in speakers.

There’s also GMC’s carbon-fiber bed. GMC is the first truck manufacturer to offer such a bed. Although it’s too early to tell how durable it will really be, the carbon-fiber appears to be just as tough as steel or aluminum at a fraction of the weight.

However, it’s not just modern GMC trucks that offer high-end features. The 1991 GMC Syclone was, at the time, the fastest accelerating vehicle on sale. It could out-drag Ferraris that cost 5 times as much, and helped introduce the idea of turbochargers in trucks.

But, although the GMC’s trucks have enjoyed growing sales due in part to their interiors and technology, are they truly luxurious trucks?

How GMC trucks compare to other luxury pickups

Truth be told, just adding leather and wood doesn’t make an interior truly luxurious.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country interior
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country interior | Chevrolet

Although the Sierra’s interior isn’t exactly uncomfortable, it’s poorly laid out. In addition, Motor Trend found too much switchgear carried over from cheaper Silverados for the Sierra to be a truly premium truck. In fact, some Silverado interiors are more luxurious than their GMC counterparts’, which might be why the Silverado sells better. Also, although the Sierra offers advanced driver-assistance features like collision warning and emergency braking available, they’re not standard.

In particular, the GMC Sierra has struggled against Ram’s lineup. Car and Driver named the Ram 1500 to its 10Best list multiple times, calling it “the Cadillac of pickup trucks.” Although the Sierra has more tie-downs, MT found the Ram 1500 was significantly more composed while trailering. It also beat out the Sierra to become MT‘s Truck of the Year. Car and Driver also found the Ram’s ride more comfortable than the Sierra’s.

2019 GMC Canyon
2019 GMC Canyon | GMC

The smaller, less-expensive GMC Canyon also has interior quality struggles. On the one hand, overall material quality is admirable. However, Car and Driver found that even the Denali trim didn’t truly feel like “a premium environment.” And other mid-size trucks, like the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma, have more standard safety features at the same or lower prices.

In short, although GMC trucks have some luxury features, they’re not quite premium-grade.

Is GMC addressing these issues?

Luckily, GMC appears to be aware of this and is beginning to respond.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4
2021 GMC Canyon AT4 | GMC

The 2021 Canyon is getting a significant refresh, as well as a new off-road-focused AT4 trim. And Motor1 reports that the 2022 Sierra will get an overhauled interior. In addition, Muscle Cars & Trucks reports that the 2021 Sierra may also get a refreshed interior, to rectify the mistakes made by rushing the current-gen truck into production.

So, although GMC’s trucks still have a ways to go before they’re truly premium, they may get there soon.

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