How Much Can A Sierra 1500 Tow?

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The GMC Sierra might not be the first truck you think of when you want to tow. In fact, it’s more likely that you consider its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado. But, since both come from the same company, General Motors, you might be surprised about the Sierra’s towing performance. So, let’s find out how much a Sierra 1500 can tow.

How much can a Sierra 1500 tow?

A GMC Sierra 1500 can tow up to 12,200 pounds with the appropriate towing package. The least capable Sierra can still tow 6,600 pounds. Thanks to the six powerplants available, these trucks can pull various loads to suit many needs. While these numbers are good, they aren’t class-leading.

Currently, the GMC Sierra comes with engines ranging from inline-fours to V8’s, the last of which are two. Buyers can choose between either 2WD and 4WD, and there are three body types: Regular, Crew, and Double, with short and standard beds. Each of these configurations can have different towing performances.

The most combination that gives the most towing power is the GMC Sierra Double Crew with 4WD, the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8, and towing package. This GMC Sierra can tow a maximum of 12,100 pounds.

GMC offers the ProGrade Trailering System, which is an upgrade on their standard tow package. Besides a stronger hitch and braking assist, this option includes an integrated trailer brake controller and parking assist.

Tow packages can increase your vehicle’s pulling power. But it’s essential to understand how it can affect your truck. To find out more about this topic, you can read our article.

It’s also important to note that towing capacity is subject to the number of passengers and cargo you’re already carrying in your vehicle. We’ll discuss this later, in greater detail, and the practical towing terms that you should know.

So, let’s discuss how many pounds each GMC Sierra 1500 model can tow.

How many pounds can each GMC Sierra engine tow?

Currently, there are six engines available for the GMC Sierra. The following table shows their performance figures.

EngineHorsepower (hp@rpm)Torque (lb-ft)
4.3L Gasoline V6285 @ 3500305 @ 3900
2.7L Gasoline Inline-four Turbo310 @ 5600348 @ 1500
5.3L Gasoline V8 (base Sierra only)355 @ 5600383 @ 4100
5.3L Gasoline V8355 @ 5600383 @ 4100
6.2L Gasoline V8420 @ 5600460 @ 4100
3.0L Diesel Inline-Six Turbo277 @ 3750460 @ 1500

There are two different 5.3L V8s. The base Sierra uses the older 5.3L V8, while the rest come with an option for the newer powerplant. As this chart shows you, the most powerful engine is the 6.2L V8, with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft.

So, considering that these are the engines and their performance, let’s find out how most of the GMC Sierra configurations tow. Since there are many configurations available, this table gives you the least and most capable with every engine. Some of these figures require the GMC towing package.

EngineBody/BedDriveMaximum conventional towing (pounds)
4.3L EcoTec3 V6Crew/Standard4WD7,400
4.3L EcoTec3 V6Regular/Long2WD7,900
2.7L Turbo I4Crew/Standard4WD6,600
2.7L Turbo I4Double/Standard2WD6,900
5.3L EcoTec3 V8 (Base)Crew/Standard4WD9,500
5.3L EcoTec3 V8 (Base)Regular/Long2WD10,000
5.3L EcoTec3 V8Crew/Standard4WD9,200
5.3L EcoTec3 V8Double/Standard2WD11,300
6.2L EcoTec3 V8Crew/Short4WD8,800
6.2L EcoTec3 V8Double/Standard4WD12,200
3.0L Duramax Diesel I6Crew/Standard2WD7,300
3.0L Duramax Diesel I6Crew/Standard4WD9,000

There are some fascinating results in this table, which we will discuss. First of all, the most powerful GMC Sierra, in terms of towing, is the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 Double Crew, with a standard bed and 4WD.

This is interesting because usually, 4WD vehicles will tow less than 2WD vehicles. The engine has to divide power between more wheels, therefore sending less to each and facing more friction. In this case, the added grip from driving the four wheels helps it achieve superior pulling performances.

The second most capable Sierra is a 5.3L V8 Double crew, with a standard bed and 2WD.

Another result that’s worth highlighting is the diesel engine’s performance. The Sierra’s Duramax Diesel delivers excellent torque, equaling that of the 6.2L V8.

The torque comes in at an excellent 1500 rpm. But, it has minimal horsepower compared to the rest of the engines.

That’s why, in this situation, it’s ideal to have 4WD, as the diesel engine will be able to send torque to all four wheels at the lowest revolutions possible.

The least capable engine out of all of them is the 2.7L I4 turbo gasoline. Its performance is so low that it’s comparable with the GMC Canyon and other mid-size trucks. But, thanks to its small size, this engine produces excellent fuel economy.

So, now that we’ve seen what each Sierra can tow let’s discuss towing terms.

What is towing capacity?

To talk about towing safely, we need to get some basic facts about towing straight. It’s always essential that you adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines when you’re going to pull heavy loads.

Your truck can suffer serious consequences when you exceed your towing capacity. We’ve discussed before and, if you want to learn more about the topic, you can read this article.

The following are basic terms that will help you understand the loads you’re dealing with and how to go about towing safely.

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by class. It’s the vehicle’s maximum total weight.
  • Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by category. It’s the recommended maximum loaded weight of your vehicle and your trailer.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): usually expressed in pounds. It’s your vehicle’s weight, alone, without the trailer, when fully loaded.
  • Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by class. The maximum recommended weight for a fully loaded trailer. This number is the maximum towing capacity.
  • Tongue Weight (TW): usually expressed in pounds. This is the maximum weight that can be exerted onto the back of the vehicle. It concerns the hitching point between the trailer and the truck. It’s an essential value for stability.

The tables and towing capabilities mentioned above refer to the maximum towing capacity or Gross Trailer Weight Rating.

But, as we’ve mentioned before, the truck market is very competitive. So, how does the Sierra stack up against the competition?

How does the GMC Sierra 1500 compare with the competition?

With rivals such as Ford and Ram, the competition is tough. These brands aim to please even the most intense of users, who look to squeeze the most out of their trucks. So, the following table shows you how the GMC Sierra compares to the rest in towing capacity.

Some of these vehicles come with optional towing packages to increase performance. For more information, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s specifications.

MakeModelMaximum Towing Capacity (pounds)
NissanTitan XD11070
GMCSierra 150012200

As you can see, the GMC Sierra outperforms the Japanese manufacturers. It can tow 1,000 pounds more than the Nissan Titan XD and 2,000 pounds more than the Tundra. But, it’s not able to catch up with the rest of American trucks.

In fact, here’s an interesting detail. Though mechanically identical, the Chevrolet Silverado outperforms the Sierra by 1,200 pounds. The difference is a result of GM aiming the Silverado towards buyers who want a work truck.

In this category, the Ford F-150 is a clear winner, with an impressive 14,000 pounds of towing capacity. The Ram 1500 inches ahead of the Sierra, with 12,750 pounds.

Closing thoughts:

Many people out there want to know how much the GMC Sierra 1500 can pull. This article explained that the GMC Sierra 1500 tows a maximum of 12,200 pounds with the proper towing package and engine configuration.

The Sierra comes with many engine options, including a 2.7L inline-four gasoline engine and a 3.0L inline-six diesel. But the most powerful option is the 6.2L V8, which puts out a respectable 460 lb-ft of torque.

With this configuration, you can tow a maximum of 12,200 pounds. The second most powerful configuration tows 11,300 pounds. This one uses 2WD and the 5.3L EcoTec3 V8.

The least capable Sierra is the 2.7L Inline-four Turbo, with 4WD and a regular bed. Due to its smaller size and added weight with the Double Crew configuration, this model only tows 6,600 pounds. This performance is comparable to mid-size trucks when the GMC Sierra falls into the full-size category.

Though the GMC Sierra 1500 aims to please more upscale driving and shies away from the working truck category, it can still tow a respectable load. In fact, it outperforms some of the other full-size trucks out there.

So, this vehicle should be ideal for those wanting the certainty that the truck looks good, feels good, and can tow a decent load from time to time.

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