Front view of a grey 2024 GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1 parked on wet pavement.

How Does the Sierra EV Fit into the GMC Lineup?

The rapidly growing EV truck segment is getting another entry. The GMC Sierra, a nameplate with more than 50 years of tradition, is getting its first EV edition with the Sierra EV Denali. Truck enthusiasts can expect to find this GMC Sierra for sale sometime in the summer of 2024—around the same time as the Chevy Silverado EV, the Sierra’s longtime cousin.

With its arrival, the Sierra EV will become the second all-electric GMC truck, joining the Hummer EV pickup that debuted in November 2021. Known for being a beast of a machine, just like its heavy-duty utility vehicle ancestor, the Hummer EV pickup has steadily gained a following, with annual sales doubling from 2022 to 2023 (and an SUV version joining the fray).

Now the electric model joins the party—and with it comes the question of what place the truck will hold in the expanding GMC lineup. Is it on the same level as the Hummer EV, or is the Sierra EV aimed at a different crowd altogether? And how does it compare to the existing 1500 model offerings? We decided to see where the EV model falls into the GMC landscape and how it continues the legacy of this famous North American truck.

A Proven Name Goes Electric

For many people in truck circles, the Sierra is just as revered as the Ford F-Series and the RAM. It first appeared in 1972 as a model variation for GMC’s take on the C/K series of full-size pickups. At the time, a counterpart to the Chevy Cheyenne name, it quickly made a name for itself along with cousins such as the Sierra Classic, High Sierra, and Sierra Grande. The name became so pervasive that when the fourth generation of the C/K came out in 1987, all GMC variations were branded as Sierras. This was the official debut as a standalone model rather than a trim package.

When GM created the successor to the C/K line with the 1999 Chevy Silverado—which itself was conceived as a C/K trim level in 1975—it decided to switch it to the same platform, creating the 1500 light-duty and 2500 heavy-duty as more upscale editions of the Silverado. In the two-plus decades since, the pickup has captured numerous awards, including the 2020 J.D. Power “Large Heavy-Duty Pickup Customer Satisfaction Award,” the 2021 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award, and the 2023 Strategic Vision Total Quality Impact Award. Now, it will have an electric option. What does this mean for the Sierra—and GMC, for that matter? Let’s pop the hood on the electric model for a closer look.

The Denali: GMC’s Best-Selling Special Package

In an unusual move, GMC is only offering one trim for the Sierra EV rollout—and it’s the highest of the high-end. The Denali is celebrating 25 years as GMC’s luxury trim, and it’s already available on half a dozen other GMC trucks and SUVs, including the 1500, heavy-duty, Acadia, and Yukon. Features such as premium interior upholstery, aluminum wheels, chrome exterior accents, the latest wireless technology, and full driver assistance features give these skillful trucks a sophisticated makeover.

Now, the Denali will spearhead the all-electric version of GMC’s venerable full-size pickup. Focusing on one trim to start makes some sense from a resources and marketing perspective, but it may seem curious that GMC would choose the Denali instead of options like the SLE, Elevation, or AT4 off-road package.

When you look at recent GMC sales, though, the reason becomes clear. GMC reports that in 2023, the Denali trim accounted for 34% of total GMC sales, the highest percentage ever that helped spur a 6.5% increase in year-to-year sales. The appetite for “luxury professional grade” is there, and GMC is looking to capitalize on it.

The steering wheel and large infotainment screen in a 2024 GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1.

Comparing the Sierra EV to Other GMC Vehicles

This leads us back to the original question of where the Sierra EV slots in the GMC ranks. Here’s a quick head-to-head of the electric truck versus the Hummer EV and the Sierra 1500, the two trucks to which it is most closely related.

Sierra EV vs. GMC Hummer EV

GM itself refers to the Hummer EV as a supertruck—and it’s hard to argue. With a triple-motor powertrain that makes up to 1,000 hp and 11,500 lb-ft of torque, an air suspension, and even an available crab-walking feature, it’s a mean off-roading machine. The Hummer EV also has road assistance technology like Super Cruise hands-free driving.

The GMC Sierra EV claims up to 754 hp and 785 lb-ft of torque—certainly impressive, but not quite the beast the Hummer is. It does have the air suspension and all-wheel steering, though, and it outshines the Hummer in other ways. This includes a slightly higher towing capacity (9,500 to 8,500 lbs) and a larger infotainment screen (16.8 to 13.4 inches). The Sierra EV is also expected to get a higher driving range, with GM estimating a max range of 400 miles while the Hummer EV trims vary between 311 and 381 miles. Finally, the Hummer EV is not currently available in a Denali package, meaning it doesn’t have the same luxury features.

Our assessment is that GMC is positioning the Hummer EV as a premier off-road electric truck and the Sierra EV as a premier on-road electric truck. This explains why there is not a Sierra EV AT4 trim, as it would be redundant with the Hummer EV already available.

Sierra EV vs. Sierra 1500

Not all the metrics for the EV Denali are in, but from what we do know, there are some interesting comparisons with its Sierra 1500 parent. The most powerful 1500 engine offers 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, which is barely half that of the EV Denali model. Trailering capacity is also 500 lbs higher, and the infotainment system again stands taller. And, of course, the all-electric design—which GMC says will let you add 100 miles of range in 10 minutes on a DC fast charger—is more environmentally friendly.

Where the Sierra 1500 stands tall is choices and ruggedness. In addition to only having one trim level and powerplant, the first edition of the EV will only have a four-door crew cab and a 71-inch “short box” bed. The 1500, meanwhile, is available with four different engines, three cab designs, and three bed sizes. Along with the Denali and Denali Ultimate, there are eight other trims, ranging from the barebones Pro to the off-road fanatic AT4-X.

Then there’s the matter of the Denali name. Among others, MotorTrend has gone on the record as saying the Denali trim might be too nice to be a work truck. So, although the GMC Sierra EV is certainly a stylish and powerful truck, if and until other trims come out, those who need a rough-and-ready work vehicle might be better off staying with the Sierra 1500.

A grey 2024 GMC Sierra EV Denali Edition 1 towing an Airstream trailer on the highway.

Taking Its Place in the GMC World

Given the historical significance of the Sierra and its shared recent heritage with the Silverado, it feels like it was only a matter of time before an EV version came along. It managed to do so while (at least for now) carving a distinct niche in the GMC lineup. The Sierra EV Denali is for people who will do most of their work and adventuring on the main roads and want to do so with power, eco-friendliness, and interior comforts they can’t necessarily get from its gas-powered counterpart.

Could the all-electric Sierra eventually be offered in trims that are more geared towards going off the main roads, whether for work or play? Only time will tell. Until then, the GMC Sierra EV Denali has a target audience that is sure to appreciate its combination of sleek style and rugged truck performance.