Which 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Trim Level is Right for You?
The GMC Sierra comes in a wide range of trims, which run the gamut from practical workhorses to upscale show ponies. Want to know which model will best suit your needs? Check out our guide to get an idea of what each trim level adds.
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If you’re in an industry like contracting or landscaping, the entry-level Sierra can give your business a boost without breaking the bank. This practical model skips all of the fancy frills, like leather-appointed surfaces, the Multi-Pro Tailgate and the ProGrade Trailering System. Plus, it’s the only Sierra model to offer a Long Box configuration. For more convenience inside and out, you can opt for 120-volt power outlets in the cabin and the bed. You can also pay $395 to add the Trailering Package, which gets your truck ready for trailering from day one by adding all of the hitches and connectors you need. The Sierra is also more than capable of serving as a mobile office, thanks to its available 4G LTE Wi-Fi® hotspot capabilities.
This base-trim model is also a good pick for off-roading enthusiasts on a budget. For $175, you can get the Enhanced Capability package, which adds skid plates and a heavy-duty air filter. You can also get the X31 Off-Road Package on all-wheel-drive models. This adds the same features as the Enhanced Capability and Trailering packages, as well as Rancho shocks, a locking differential, a two-speed Autotrac Transfer Case, and an X31 badge.
Want to run a hot shot trucking service out on the oil fields? Does your work require you to drive on long stretches of rural highways between jobs? The SLE can help you save on fuel costs. The SLE is the lowest trim level to offer the Duramax 3.0-liter Turbo-Diesel engine. It earns 30 mpg on the highway when equipped with front-wheel drive, making it the most efficient Sierra ever released. Plus, it maxes out with a 9,100-pound towing capacity and a payload of 1,830 pounds, so you don’t have to sacrifice power for efficiency. You can also opt for the ProGrade Trailering system, which adds Hitch Guidance with Hitch View along with a convenient in-vehicle trailering app. It also offers an EZ-lift-and-lower tailgate. Just keep in mind that the SLE doesn’t offer the regular cab configuration — just the crew cab and double cab.
It’s also the lowest trim to offer heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, which can make life much more pleasant if you work under harsh, chilly conditions. However, it doesn’t offer rear outboard heated seats and additional storage compartments, so it’s not quite as family-friendly as some of the higher trims.
Looking to impress your friends and neighbors? The Elevation offers many of the Sierra’s top-tier features, while costing significantly less than the Denali. For instance, it’s the first trim level to offer the six-function MultiPro tailgate. With this versatile tailgate, you can extend the truck bed, create a workbench, or fold the tailgate into a step, among several other options. While contractors and construction workers can certainly benefit from these innovations, it’s just as handy for DIY-ers, outdoorsy adventurers, and tailgate partiers. In short, it’s the perfect model for a truck enthusiast who doesn’t want to splurge on a top-trim model.
On top of its innovative tailgate, the Elevation offers available LED bed lights, additional interior storage compartments, assist steps, front bucket seats, and a standards EZ lift-and-lower tailgate. Interior luxuries, like heated seats, remain optional.
Modern truck enthusiasts value power and luxury. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, choose the SLT model. It’s the lowest trim that offers the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine, which delivers 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
But the SLT isn’t just a powerful brute — it’s loaded with luxuries, too. You can opt for perforated leather seats in Jet Back or Walnut, along with heated rear outboard seats, ventilated front seats, and a wireless device charging station. It even comes standard with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
While it certainly has the muscle to manage the toughest jobs, let’s not kid ourselves — those heated-and-ventilated leather seats aren’t meant to be caked with mud, paint, and wet concrete. But if you’re looking for an impressive luxury model or an upscale family truck, the SLT strikes an ideal balance between opulence and power.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll want to choose the AT4 — this model was built to tackle tough terrain. It comes standard with tow hooks, a two-speed Autotrac Transfer Case, a high-capacity air filter, skid plates, Hill Descent Control, and an exclusive factory-installed 2-inch lift. And if you love bringing your ATV, dirt bikes, or snowmobile along for the adventure, you’ll appreciate the available CarbonPro truck bed. In addition to being nigh-invulnerable to whatever you can throw at it, this bed is designed with indentations to help safely carry small motorized vehicles, like motorbikes.
Inside, it’s brimming with many of the same luxuries as the SLT, except some features are emblazoned with the AT4 logo. While this feature won’t tip the scales for anyone, it’s worth noting that the AT4 starts at $54,995, while the SLT starts at $52,095. That’s not much of a price jump to pay for a truck with a myriad of additional rugged features.
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This trim just about has it all — power, luxury, and, of course, the bragging rights that come with owning a Denali model. However, it doesn’t come standard with many of the off-road-ready features that its AT4 sibling delivers. That said, what it lacks in rugged outdoorsy amenities, it more than makes up for in technology. It’s the only model that features 15 camera views, including the Transparent Trailer View. Plus, it boasts the GMC MultiPro Power Steps, standard built-in navigation, and a truckload of safety and driver-assist innovations. These include standard tech tools like Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Front and Rear Park Assist, and a Safety Alert Seat. Plus, there’s one other minor drawback to the Denali — it only offers a crew cab, with a short or standard box.
All in all, the Denali is built for navigating city streets and enabling an upscale lifestyle — not for fording rivers and climbing up rocky embankments. That said, if you want a truck with show-stopping luxury, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the Denali.
For more information about the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500, check out our model overview.
Kimiko Kidd is a native Daytonian. She graduated from Wright State University with degrees in environmental science and sociology. She loves her trusty old Honda Civic, but dreams of owning a 1974 Ford Falcon XB with a custom paint job and a vintage Kawasaki Z1000. In her free time, Kimiko can be found watercolor-painting, baking muffins, collecting rocks, playing old-school Nintendo games, writing her novel, sewing stuffed animals, and cosplaying as her favorite Mad Max characters. See more articles by Kimiko.