Best & Worst GMC Sierra Years

I've analyzed each Honda Odyssey model from 1999 until the latest model and categorized the best & worst GMC Sierra years in this simple guide.

In this guide, I’ll analyze the latest GMC Sierra generations, highlighting the best GMC Sierra years to buy and the worst years to avoid.

We’ve meticulously analyzed and ranked the GMC Sierra’s model years by leveraging insights from authoritative sources such as the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book. Our comprehensive approach ensures accurate and valuable information for our readers.

You will explore each generation of the GMC Sierra, examining engine performance, safety, technology, overall reliability, common problems, recalls, and average resale values.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

GMC Sierra Generations

The GMC Sierra, a cornerstone in the full-size pickup truck market, has been renowned for its strength, reliability, and versatility since its introduction. Making its debut in the late 1990s, the Sierra set new standards in truck capability and comfort.

Known for its robust build and a wide range of features tailored to work and leisure, the Sierra quickly became a favorite among truck enthusiasts.

Below is a table outlining all its iterations from 1999 to the present.

2nd generation (GMT800)1999-2006
3rd generation (GMT900)2007-2013
4th generation (GMTK2XX)2014-2018
5th generation (GMTT1XX)2019-Present

The differences between these generations can be pivotal in decision-making, with each generation reflecting advancements in automotive engineering, design, and user experience.

GMC Sierra Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

In our evaluation of the top, impartial, and worst GMC Sierra years, we take into consideration a variety of factors, including:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • J.D. Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The upcoming graph combines ratings from all these sources, offering a comprehensive view of the GMC Sierra’s performance across different years.

GMC Sierra Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Below is a table categorizing each model year of the GMC Sierra into best, neutral, and worst years based on extensive research and data compilation.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
2nd generation (GMT800)2006N/A1999
3rd generation (GMT900)2009
4th generation (GMTK2XX)2017
5th generation (GMTT1XX)2021

“Neutral Years” refer to those model years when the GMC Sierra showed an average performance, not excelling in reliability or facing significant issues.

It’s important to note that factors such as NHTSA recalls impact our categorization negatively. A higher incidence of complaints and recalls usually points to lower vehicle reliability.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst GMC Sierra years.

Best & Worst Years for GMC Sierra 2nd Generation (1999-2006)

GMC Sierra 2nd generation 1999 model
The 1999 GMC Sierra

The GMC Sierra’s second generation, introduced in 1999, showcased GMC’s commitment to combining work-ready performance with increasing levels of comfort and technology.

2006 is the best GMC Sierra years of the second generation, while the worst years to avoid span between 1999 and 2005.

The Best Years: 2006

Regarded as the best years of the second generation, the 2006 GMC Sierra excelled with improved reliability and feature enhancements.

It offered various engine options, including the base 4.3L V6 with 195 hp, a 4.8L V8 producing 285 hp, and a more powerful 5.3L V8 delivering up to 295 hp.

These engines were coupled with a refined 4-speed automatic transmission, delivering reasonable fuel efficiency of around 15 city/19 highway MPG (4.8L V8).

The 2006 Sierra also saw advancements in interior comfort, especially in higher trims like the SLT, which featured leather upholstery, premium sound systems, and dual-zone climate control.

Safety enhancements included standard ABS and optional stability control.

Despite these improvements, some issues, especially from the early models, were reported for the 2006 GMC Sierra, but they were significantly less problematic compared to earlier years.

The Worst Years: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

GMC Sierra models from 1999 to 2005 have the highest number of owner complaints and recalls, making them the worst GMC Sierra years to avoid.

Recurring brake problems were prevalent, such as brake line corrosion leading to leaks and potential failures, especially in the 1999-2001 GMC Sierra models.

Transmission issues were also notable, with excessive vibration and hesitation during shifting.

The 2001 and 2002 GMC Sierra models experienced engine troubles, including stalling due to crankshaft position sensor failures and coolant leaks.

These years were also marred by recalls addressing critical safety issues like unintended ABS activation, brake line chaffing, front brake hose failures, fuel filter leaks, and power steering pump failures.

The 2003 and 2004 models faced electrical issues with instrument clusters, ongoing brake line corrosion, and power steering issues.

See NHTSA 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 GMC Sierra recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for GMC Sierra 3rd Generation (2007-2013)

GMC Sierra 3rd generation 2007 model
The 2007 GMC Sierra

The third generation of the GMC Sierra, spanning from 2007 to 2013, brought significant improvements in power, efficiency, and luxury, making it a strong competitor in the full-size pickup truck market.

Model years between 2009 and 2013 are the best GMC Sierra years to buy, while the worst years to avoid are 2007 and 2008.

The Best Years: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013

The best third-generation GMC Sierra model years, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, stood out for their enhanced reliability and feature set.

These models came equipped with various engine options, including the efficient 4.3L V6, the robust 4.8L V8, and the powerful 5.3L V8, which provided up to 315 hp.

The 6-speed automatic transmission introduced in these years offered improved fuel efficiency and smoother shifting.

Fuel economy was competitive for its class, with V8 models averaging around 14 city/19 highway MPG.

Higher trim levels, such as the SLT, offered luxury features like leather seats, premium audio systems, and advanced safety features, including stability control and curtain airbags.

In particular, the 2012 and 2013 GMC Sierra models saw technological advancements by introducing touchscreen navigation and infotainment systems.

The Neutral Years: 2011

The 2011 GMC Sierra is considered a neutral year for this generation. It shared the same engine and transmission options as the best years, ensuring consistent performance.

The 2011 model maintained a balance between reliability and introducing new features, offering a solid, if not groundbreaking, vehicle choice.

Safety and trim levels were similar to the 2010 model, with the addition of some minor technological updates.

Some 2011 GMC Sierra owners reported cracked dashboards, transmission issues, and sub-frame corrosion. This model was recalled for ignition lock actuators, which may bind and rear axle cross-pin fractures.

The Worst Years: 2007, 2008

2007 and 2008 are considered the worst third-generation GMC Sierra years to avoid.

These initial years were hampered by issues such as corroded brake lines, instrument cluster failures, dashboard cracks, and problems with power door locks and latches.

Additionally, these models faced recalls concerning heated windshield washer module short circuits and electrical malfunctions in the heated wiper washer system.

The accumulation of these problems and the necessary recalls impacted the reliability and overall owner satisfaction of these model years, making them a less reliable choice compared to the later, more refined years of the third-generation GMC Sierra.

See NHTSA 2007, 2008 GMC Sierra recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for GMC Sierra 4th Generation (2014-2018)

GMC Sierra 4th generation 2014 model
The 2014 GMC Sierra

The fourth generation of the GMC Sierra marked a significant technological, design, and performance step forward, setting new standards in the full-size pickup truck segment.

The best GMC Sierra years of the generation are 2017 and 2018, while 2014 and 2015 are the years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2017, 2018

What year is the most reliable GMC Sierra? The 2017 and 2018 GMC Sierra models represent the peak of the fourth generation.

These years featured advanced engine options, including a 4.3L V6 with 285 hp, a 5.3L V8 offering 355 hp, and a top-of-the-line 6.2L V8 producing 420 hp.

The engines were paired with a highly efficient 8-speed automatic transmission, enhancing driving dynamics and fuel efficiency. These models averaged around 18 city/24 highway MPG.

The higher trim levels, such as the Denali, offered luxurious features like leather seating, Bose audio systems, and advanced safety technology, including lane departure warnings and forward collision alerts.

Additionally, these years saw the introduction of the GMC IntelliLink infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, providing connectivity and entertainment options at a high level.

The Neutral Years: 2016

The 2016 GMC Sierra is considered a neutral year within this generation. It maintained the same engine lineup as the best years, ensuring consistent and reliable performance.

It is important to note that some of the 2016 GMC Sierra owners complained about excessive vibration of the transmission when shifting gears and torque converter failures.

On the other hand, the 2016 Sierra continued to provide a range of trim levels, from the practical base model to the luxurious Denali, catering to various needs and preferences.

This model year stands as a balanced choice for those seeking the modern advancements of the fourth generation without the latest features of the subsequent years.

The Worst Years: 2014, 2015

What years to avoid Sierra? With over 20 recalls, 2014 and 2015 are the worst GMC Sierra years of the era, so it is wise to avoid them at all costs.

These models had various issues, particularly in the electrical system, engine, and brakes.

Owners reported problems with loss of power steering, brake failures at low speeds, issues with the trailer brake system, and excessively dim headlights.

Additionally, in the 2014 and 2015 GMC Sierras, there were concerns about radiator leaks and transmission problems, such as grinding, jerking, and hard shifting.

The 2014 and 2015 GMC Sierra models saw recalls of frontal airbags, ignition lock actuators, contamination of the chassis electronic module, unintended braking due to a software error, overheating of exhaust components, transmission oil leaks, rollaway risks, decreased power brake vacuum pump performance, loss of power steering assist, and power steering fluid leaks.

See NHTSA 2014, 2015 GMC Sierra recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for GMC Sierra 5th Generation (2019-Present)

GMC Sierra 5th generation 2019 model
The 2019 GMC Sierra

The fifth generation of the GMC Sierra represents a significant leap forward in technology, luxury, and capability.

The best GMC Sierra model years of the generation are 2021 onwards, while 2019 and 2020 are the worst years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

The 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 GMC Sierra models epitomize the best years of this generation.

These years saw a range of engine options, including the efficient 2.7L turbocharged I4, the powerful 5.3L V8, and the high-performance 6.2L V8, with up to 420 hp.

These engines were complemented by a 10-speed automatic transmission, with fuel economy figures around 17/23 for the 5.3L up to 23/30 for the 3.0L I6 diesel variant (city/highway MPG).

The latest Sierra models boast advanced safety features, such as automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

The higher trims, like the Denali and AT4, offer luxury and technology enhancements, including premium leather interiors, Bose sound systems, and the latest GMC infotainment system with a large touchscreen display.

Additionally, these models introduced new features like the MultiPro tailgate and CarbonPro bed, adding to their functionality and appeal.

The Worst Years: 2019, 2020

Despite being new, 2019 and 2020 saw some recalls concerning various domains. These models faced issues with brake systems, electrical components, powertrain, and engine reliability.

Owners reported problems with brake failures, trail brake issues, and coolant and oil leaks. The transmission system also exhibited concerns, with reports of slipping and vibration during operation.

Furthermore, these years were subject to recalls involving poor alternator connections that increased fire risks and software errors that could deactivate ABS and ESC systems.

These reliability issues and the necessity for recalls significantly impacted the overall perception and satisfaction with these model years, leading to their classification as the least reliable within the fifth generation of the GMC Sierra.

See NHTSA 2019, 2020 GMC Sierra recalls and complaints.

GMC Sierra Resale Values

This graph shows the GMC Sierra’s average resale values across different model years.

GMC Sierra Average List Price


Concluding our in-depth exploration, the best GMC Sierra years to buy are 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2021-2024

It’s also wort noting that the the years to avoid include 1999-2005, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020 due to reliability and other issues described in each respective section above.

Which model year do you find most appealing and why?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.