2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 7, 2009

With such a wide range of models, the 2009 GMC Sierra covers all the bases; it’s also arguably better-looking than its Chevy Silverado counterpart.

TheCarConnection.com has looked high and low for the most insightful, incisive reviews available of the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500. TheCarConnection.com’s editors have also contributed their own driving opinions and comparisons to help you make a smart buying decision.

The 2009 model year brings only minor changes to GMC's full-size Sierra 1500 pickup. The vehicle was fully redesigned in 2007, but still shares a lot of genes with the Chevrolet Silverado.

Three cab styles are offered—regular, extended, and crew cab—and three bed lengths (up to eight feet) are available. The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 is available in base Work Truck (WT), SL, SLE1, and SLE2 models, and SLT trim, with either rear- or four-wheel drive. A Z71 off-road package is offered as well. Altogether, shoppers will find that a model and cab/bed configuration for nearly every use.

The standard engine in the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 is a 4.3-liter V-6 rated at 195 horsepower. A 295-hp, 4.8-liter and 315-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 are the base engines in the rest of the lineup—both have quite impressive performance—while a 367-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 and a 400-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 are optional. The 6.2-liter V-8 is standard in top-of-the-line Denali models and unique to the GMC truck (not offered in its Chevy cousin). For 2009, GMC is phasing in a six-speed automatic transmission; it’s now standard with all V-8s except the 4.8-liter.

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Overall, the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 is one of the nimblest and most energetic full-sized pickups to drive, with good, communicative steering and very refined V-8 engines. TheCarConnection.com’s editors have been happy with either automatic transmission, though the six-speed’s additional two gears helps with passing. The 5.3- and 6.0-liter models are more efficient than competing engines of the same size, thanks to Active Fuel Management, which helps improve fuel efficiency by cutting fuel use while coasting or cruising. With the 5.3-liter and rear-wheel drive, the Sierra 1500 is rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, which is identical to the base V-6.

Inside, some models have a simple, upright design with larger controls and door handles—better suited for work duty. The upgraded instrument panel in the top 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 models has a smoother, lower design, as well as surfaces and materials that come together nicely. The Sierra's interior is extremely well isolated from road and wind noise.

Entry to the rear seat/storage area of extended-cab models is eased with new rear access doors that open 170 degrees. Either section of the split seat can also be stowed independently, allowing room for both cargo and a rear-seat passenger. Another nifty feature on the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 is the available stadium-style rear seat with a 60/40-split design. It can be easily folded up to provide an uninterrupted load floor.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Denali ranks at the top of the lineup and has exclusive additional equipment not available in the otherwise similar Chevrolet Silverado. Key features of the Denali trim for 2009 include heated and cooled perforated leather seats. The Sierra All Terrain model caters to the off-road crowd with a more refined package that builds on the existing Z71 Off Road bundle, including Rancho Tenneco shocks, a heavy-duty trailer package, a special grille and trim, and two-tone leather seats.

For those who don’t mind paying extra, these trucks can be outfitted with the same features as luxury SUVs. The long options list on the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 includes a power-sliding rear window, cargo management system, navigation system, DVD entertainment system, and XM Satellite Radio; new options include a power seat on regular cab trucks, 22-inch bright aluminum wheels, and an integrated trailer brake controller. For 2009, Bluetooth and XM NavTraffic are newly available as well.

The Sierra 1500 has achieved top ratings from the federal government, with five-star results in frontal and side-impact tests and a "good" rating from the IIHS in its frontal offset test. Stability and traction control are standard across the line, along with anti-lock brakes; head/curtain airbags are available on Sierra SLE and SLT models.

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500

Styling

The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 offers some good styling overall, but a few details aren’t quite as appealing.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com are generally pleased with the looks of the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500—especially inside—though there are a few questionable elements.

Car and Driver comments that the Sierra is an "outstanding line of full-size pickups that offer an excellent combination of good looks." Kelley Blue Book reports that "the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 does share the 'strong, silent-type' handsomeness of the Silverado...an upscale look is highlighted by narrow gaps between body panels." A Cars.com reviewer admires the Sierra’s "chiseled front end mainly because it looks manlier—always a good thing where trucks are concerned—and more assertive" (sorry, ladies…or men).

The interior gets mixed comments. Kelley Blue Book says the "2009 GMC Sierra 1500 benefits from GM's extensive reworking of both full-size pickups and full-size SUVs." Edmunds appreciates this GMC 2009 model's interior, noting its "pleasing fit and finish inside [and] an attractive dash design." Cars.com, however, is less of a fan. The reviewer derides "the vast planks of plastic 'wood' that attempt to warm up the interior" of the GMC 2009 Sierra 1500, efforts that it says "are undermined by the occasional unsightly wavy spots that give away their clear fakeness."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500

Performance

The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 offers plenty of V-8 power that will meet most towing and hauling needs, as well as quite nimble handling for such a bit truck.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com like the power and mechanical prowess that come with the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500. It's a tough vehicle inside and out.

This GMC 2009 Sierra 1500 has power to spare, with its "range of V-8 engines and one V-6 that can have anywhere from 195 to 403 horsepower" as reported by Cars.com. Most will opt for the all-aluminum 5.3-liter V-8 rated at 315 horsepower and 338 pound-feet of torque, some versions of which "can run on E85 ethanol fuel," according to ConsumerGuide. Cars.com reports that "the 5.3-liter V-8 is also a gutsy performer that doesn't feel taxed in the least moving the 5,326-pound Sierra crew cab...[and] also emits a pleasing V-8 rumble." Edmunds contends that 2009 GMC Sierra 1500's "acceleration is certainly acceptable with either the 4.8- or 5.3-liter V8," while the "optional 6.0-liter V-8 can get the truck to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds." Car and Driver highlights "towing capacities range from a modest 4300 pounds for the basic V-6 work truck (WT) to 13,000 pounds for the 3500HD with a Duramax turbo-diesel."

For 2009, a six-speed automatic transmission is being phased into most of the GMC Sierra 1500 line. Cars.com says the transmission "will kick down quickly if you need to pass." ConsumerGuide confirms this report: "[the] smooth-shifting transmission kicks down quickly for more passing power." Four-wheel drive is available; the so-called Autotrac, available on 4WD Work and LS trims, "features an automatic setting that shifts into 4WD when wheel slippage is detected," according to Edmunds.

EPA fuel-economy figures run as high as 15 mpg city, 20 highway for the V-8 Sierra trucks, and the V-6 is no better. Edmunds says that while these figures are "hardly impressive," the 5.3-liter engine is "the most efficient V-8 available in a mainstream full-size truck"—due in part to its Active Fuel Management feature, which shuts down half of the cylinders at highway cruising speed.

Cars.com warns that the brakes are not quite up to snuff. While "they don't have any trouble stopping this rig...the pedal itself doesn't offer much sensation." The reviewer from Cars.com also notes that "with an unladen cargo bed, the Sierra's ride quality is fairly stiff, but the suspension does a good job soaking up large imperfections in the road." Steering response gets high marks in the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 too.

ConsumerGuide observes "noticeable body lean in fast turns and quick changes of direction" but acknowledges "the steering is nicely weighted, if a bit numb." Kelley Blue Book finds it "surprisingly nimble and easy to maneuver." Edmunds provides the overall assessment that the Sierra is "a very comfortable and easy truck to drive," despite the fact that it is "hampered by a slightly larger turning circle than most other trucks."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500

Comfort & Quality

The cabin of the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 is surprisingly comfortable. 

Reviewers voice plenty of likes and some dislikes regarding the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500's level of comfort and quality. GM is working hard in this category, but overall passenger comfort could be improved.

Several review sources express delight at the layout of the interior. ConsumerGuide attests that "gauges are easy to see and read," and "interior materials are better than expected of a work-oriented truck." The Car and Driver reviewer comments that it "surprises us just how pleasant the interiors of GM's full-size pickups have become."

The exquisite front cab seating almost unanimously receives the thumbs-up. “You sink into the cushy seats," according to Cars.com, and Edmunds reports that the "seats are comfortable for long drives." Cars.com states that in the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500, "vinyl seating surfaces are standard," but the SLT trim is "equipped with leather seats finished in a two-tone color scheme that's part of the All Terrain package."

Despite the size of the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 (it is, after all, a full-sized pickup with multiple cab options), the backseat suffers. Cars.com "was expecting it to be a little more spacious and comfortable." While this source reports "good headroom," the reviewer's legs "were touching the back of the front seat," and the reviewer complains that "the rather upright backrest isn't very comfortable." ConsumerGuide also says that while the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500's "legroom is ample in the crew cab" front seats, it is in "short supply" in the back.

Storage is also a mixed bag, according to reviewers. ConsumerGuide reports that the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500's "rear seat cushion flips back against the seatback, leaving a large cargo area with a nearly flat floor." The Pure Pickup option offers "upper and lower gloveboxes," while "bucket seats come with a roomy console bin," and "the bench seat is available with a flip-down center armrest that doubles as a large storage bin." Cars.com details "a variety of cargo box lengths," ranging from 5.3 to 8.1 feet in length. Interior cargo space is so-so. Unfortunately, there "are few other interior storage cubbies"; Edmunds complains about "mediocre interior storage and cup holders."

Reviewers are also surprised at how refined, tight, and quiet the Sierra is inside; Edmunds praises the interior's "tight build quality" and observes the "refined and very quiet ride." ConsumerGuide reports that "road noise in Sierra is lower than in most pickups...wind noise intrudes only above 60 mph."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500

Safety

The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 performs well in the safety division thanks to plenty of smart equipment—though more of it should come standard.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com are pleased with the safety features included in the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 and the high marks earned in tests.

At the time of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the GMC 2009 Sierra 1500. The truck does, however, earn superior marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

ConsumerGuide reports standard safety equipment includes "dual front airbags, antilock brakes, antiskid system w/rollover sensor (for the Crew Cab only), tire-pressure monitor, [and] daytime running lights." Car and Driver reports "four-wheel antilock brakes and an electronic stability system" as standard offerings on this GMC's 2009 Sierra 1500. Edmunds, however, is concerned that "side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals are optional on most models." Making these features standard could be a smart move for GMC.

ConsumerGuide says that the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500's "visibility is generally good, though the extended cab's thick rear pillars hinder view to back corners."

TheCarConnection.com also notes that GM’s StabiliTrak stability control system, which is now standard across the line for the smaller GMC Canyon and for most full-size pickups, is optional on the lowest trim levels of the Sierra.

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500

Features

When it comes to features, the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 has plenty of great options.

Nearly every reviewer is happy with the diversity and sheer number of features available on the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the "multiplicity of trim levels...allow you to fine-tune your Sierra." That's good news for drivers who like their vehicles to stand out. Cars.com notes there are "many choices" when it comes to the 2009 GMC Sierra 1500; available trims are Work, SL, SLE1, SLE2, SLT, and Denali. ConsumerGuide says that the GMC 2009 Sierra 1500 is "among the best large pickup trucks for refinement and available features," advising that "any truck buyer would be well-advised to give these recommended picks a long, hard look."

According to ConsumerGuide, standard equipment offered for this GMC 2009 model's base trim include "Air conditioning, OnStar system w/one year service, tilt steering wheel, vinyl upholstery, front split bench seat, folding rear seat, split folding rear seat, rear-hinged rear doors, [and] front-hinged rear doors." Other standard features include "power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, tachometer, intermittent wipers, cargo-box light, automatic headlights, [and] vinyl floor covering," most of them offered with either the Extended Cab or the Club Cab. The top Denali trim also gets new heated and cooled perforated leather seats for 2009.

New options for 2009's GMC Sierra include Bluetooth and XM NavTraffic, which are popular with many tech-savvy buyers. Kelley Blue Book reports that GMC 2009 Sierra 1500 "SLT models include standard leather seats, the 'luxury' instrument panel, 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, six-disc audio system with Bose speakers and heated windshield washer system," as well as five different suspension options, "each tailored to suit specific driving requirements." Other optional features, according to ConsumerGuide, include "Rear-obstacle-detection system, power-adjustable pedals [and] remote engine start."

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April 14, 2015
For 2009 GMC Sierra 1500

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I own a 2009 GMC Sierra Nevada edition and I couldn't be happier with my truck. What stands out the most is the very impressive fuel economy. I owned a 98 gmc Jimmy previous to my sierra and gas wasn't bad but... + More »
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