A low angle shows a popular used GMC truck, a white 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT, driving in front of a field and trees.

What Can You Expect From A Used Third-Generation GMC Sierra?

Performance, reliability, maintenance… Those are all the basic staples that come with a checklist you run down when seeking to purchase a used vehicle, no matter what it is. If you’re specifically searching for used GMC trucks, such as a GMC Sierra or Canyon, maybe even a specific model year because you want certain features or amenities, like a used third-generation Sierra pickup truck, then you’re probably going to want to do some research into how well it performs and how reliable it is on the road.

The third-generation Sierra 1500 is possibly the best all-around buy out of all the used GMC trucks on the market. Not only is it a versatile half-ton truck from a legendary manufacturer, but the third-generation models occupy a used truck sweet spot that provides you with plenty of modern features at an affordable price.

The Third-Generation GMC Sierra

To start off, we will have to define the third-generation GMC Sierra. This is actually a somewhat confusing question because of how the Sierra and the related Chevy Silverado were introduced. Until the 1980s, GMC and Chevy did not have names for their half-ton trucks, simply designating them the C1500 or K1500 depending on whether they were equipped with rear-wheel drive or 4×4. But in 1988, GM named its truck the Sierra.

In 1999, Chevy followed suit, naming its truck the Silverado. However, this meant that technically the first-generation Silverado was produced at the same time as the second-generation Sierra even though they were both based on the same all-new platform. This kind of confusion can certainly leave some potential buyers scratching their heads, but most vehicle listings and informational updates use the Chevy generations for both trucks in order to keep things simple. We will be doing the same today, and this article will cover the third-generation Sierra models built between 2014 and 2018.

A slate blue 2017 GMC Sierra All Terrain is driving in front of trees.

Light-Duty vs Heavy-Duty

A third-generation GMC Sierra can be found in light-duty and heavy-duty versions from dealers who have an inventory of used GMC trucks. This is important based on whether you need something for light-duty purposes or heavy-duty purposes. If you’re going for something that you needed for occasional commercial work, a GMC Sierra 2500 HD might be a preferable option to the standard Sierra 1500. Some dealers do keep them stocked, and that would be a fine way to go for towing, trailering, hauling, maintenance, or utility work.

Now, if you want something sturdy, reliable, and occasionally used for non-commercial towing, trailering, or hauling, the GMC Sierra 1500 is probably the better way to go. You can also find some decent used Sierra 1500 trims that are designed for off-road use. Alternatively, if you have a budget for something higher up the chain, you might want to go with the Denali luxury trim, which is extremely popular and filled with high-end features. Some people might prefer a truck for families, and going with a used GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab certainly fits the bill. Many used Sierra pickups are available in crew cab formats, which is perfect for anywhere between five and six passengers.

Model Year Performance & Capability

The third-generation GMC Sierra was built on the GMT K2XX platform, the same as the Silverado. At the base of the Sierra 1500 is a 4.3-liter V6 engine paired up with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It delivers 285 horsepower with 305 pound-feet of torque, which is roughly as much as the previous generation’s 4.3-liter V8 engine. Further up the chain is a 5.3-liter V8 with variable valve timing and 355 horsepower with 383 pound-feet of torque. The final engine option is a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

These engine options allow a 2014 Sierra to haul up to 2,108 pounds of cargo or tow trailers weighing up to 12,000 pounds. Those are some more than respectable numbers for a truck that is now eight years old and are part of what makes a used third-generation Sierra such a great buy.

A black 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD is parked in front of distant hills.

Recalls And Reliability

The GMC Sierra is a highly reliable pickup truck. It rates well among most user reviews, and people love the interior space, the durability, and the performance. There are two model years that did have some issues, specifically the 2014 and 2015 model years, which had a few recalls, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But even with the recalls (which will have been fixed on most used trucks by this point), the GMC Sierra 2014 and 2015 have had far fewer complaints than many other problem-year vehicles. In fact, you’ll still find plenty of people who are very fond of their 2014 and 2015 model year GMC Sierra trucks.

Used GMC Sierra Refresh

If you are planning on purchasing a used third-generation GMC Sierra pickup truck, whether it be a 1500 light-duty series or a 2500 HD full-ton heavy-duty pickup, keep in mind that the latter half of the generation received a rather significant refresh. The refresh saw the inclusion of many technological inclusions made standard, in addition to some exterior upgrades. In fact, the GMC Sierra made wireless connectivity and mobile integration standard, great for people who enjoy streaming media through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Regardless of which year you go with from that particular generation, they all come with standard touchscreen support with multimedia integration, including USB ports for media playback or device charging and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity.

The fascia is also altered, which is why you might notice that between 2015 and 2016 models, there’s a significant difference between the way the Sierra looks. So if you prefer the older design, you could go with anything before the 2016 model years to enjoy the classic look. Alternatively, if you prefer the overhauled look of the front and rear end of the third generation, anything between 2016 and 2019 is well worth looking into at a used truck dealer.

Benefits of a Third-Generation GMC Sierra

In many ways, a third-generation Sierra is a sweet spot for used GMC trucks because it comes with many of the amenities and technological upgrades people have come to expect from current generation trucks, but it’s still old enough that you can find them at affordable prices. Another modern feature of the third-generation platform is lighter steel that not only helps reduce fuel consumption but also increases the safety and overall durability of the Sierra.

All in all, you are making a pretty safe bet when you shop for a used third-generation GMC Sierra. These powerful pickups are some of the best options around if you find yourself searching for a used GMC truck that can handle nearly anything while still providing you with the comfort and style you deserve. GMC has a long history of building reliable profession-grade vehicles, and the Sierra is their flagship product. And if you meet anyone during your search who is confused about whether the 2014 Sierra is the start of the third generation or the fourth generation of this iconic truck, you now have the knowledge to set them straight on that as well.