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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Five stars overall, Crew Cabs; four stars, other body styles
Good," front impacts; "acceptable," side impacts
visibility is generally good
With its safety ratings slightly lower than in years past, the GMC Sierra still ranks highly for crash protection, and its list of safety technology is growing.In the 2011 model year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) changed the way it rates new vehicles, and as a result, dozens saw their safety scores fall. The Sierra is in this group: the federal agency now give it a mix of five- and four-star ratings, depending on body styles. Crew Cab four-doors get an overall rating of five stars, as Regular and Extended Cab models earn four stars overall. Every Sierra gets the NHTSA's top score for side-impact safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a little worse news for the Sierra, too. The IIHS still calls its front-impact protection "good," and says side protection is "acceptable"--but in a new roof-crush test, the Sierra gets a "marginal" rating.
Every Sierra 1500 comes with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as daytime running lights. GM also includes OnStar hardware and a few months' free service. Of the options available, we'd take the rearview camera, since visibility over the tall tailgate can be a big issue, and parking sensors for the same reason. Power-adjustable pedals can be a boon for shorter drivers, but be warned: they strip most brake pedals of their accurate feel.
Crash test scores have slipped, but the GMC Sierra now has some advanced safety options.