2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Interior Driveway Test | How does GMC stack up?

GM has caught nothing but grief for the interiors of its full-size pickups since they were redesigned. Some of it is about perspective. Ram blew everybody away with the new 1500’s interior, but it’s not like the Ford F-150 is embarrassed by it. Chevy and GMC are. Even a top-shelf Sierra Denali doesn’t live up to the luxurious environment its price tag would promise. 

The trim of Sierra we’re testing is an AT4, though. That’s the light off-roading version of the Sierra that’s mechanically the same as the Silverado Trail Boss we recently reviewed. Looking at the interior from a pure functionality standpoint, the Sierra is perfectly fine at performing its truck duties. The seats are wide, flat and comfortable. It has huge armrests on both sides so you can stretch out as much as your truck stretches the boundaries of the road (seriously, this thing is huge). All the buttons in the center stack are well-labeled, easily found and big enough to stab away at without hitting the wrong one. It even has a volume and tuning knob. Yeehaw! 

But look at the design. And the styling, or lack thereof. It’s plain and lacking in imagination. The whole center stack is just one big slab of black plastic, and the only splashes of color or style to distinguish it visually are bits of silver surrounding knobs and bits of gray surrounding air vents. That’s certainly not enough to make it attractive. There are token pieces of “wood” inserted on Denali models, but they’re almost hidden away along the center console and doors. 

The screen looks as if it’s scrunched into the top of the stack due to the vents curving in on both sides, making it look smaller than its perfectly acceptable 8-inch size. That just makes it more obvious that GM doesn’t offer something to challenge the gigantic 12-inch optional screen on the Ram 1500. Not good, because size does matter when it comes to trucks, even if it’s measured in a touchscreen’s inches rather than engine displacement.

Let’s not discount how good all of the tech is in the Sierra 1500, though. GM’s infotainment software that runs on the screen is glitch-free and runs like lightning through screens and menus. The performance is impressive, and of course both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board. It has a sizable digital screen in the instrument cluster that’s easy to navigate and toggle through settings; there’s a big head-up display full of useful information, and the rearview camera mirror is a revelation in a vehicle as large as this. All of that tech is solid — extremely competitive even. However, we can’t give GM a pass on everything else going on in this interior.

The truck you’re looking at in the photos here costs $63,565. At that price, we’re expecting some extravagance and details that make you go, “Oh, that’s nice.” Unfortunately, those elements are missing in action. The closest thing to luxury or detail work in this truck is the brown stitching and brown inserts on the seats. It’s good to see the stitching carries on throughout the interior from the seats to the steering wheel and onto the dash, but it does not elevate the interior to where a $60,000-plus vehicle should be. For some perspective, here’s the Ram 1500 Rebel interior (similar price) compared to the Sierra 1500 AT4.

Now, those who simply want a truck with no frills or extra pleasantries will be delighted with the Sierra. However, even lower-priced versions of the Ram and to a lesser extent, the Ford F-150, offer a more eye-pleasing environment with better materials. 

Before leaving you, though, we’ll point out one more area where the Sierra succeeds: utility. GM uses a column-mounted shifter, so that frees up the entire center console for use. It’s taken advantage of by a large phone holder (wireless charger optional) and a second large compartment to throw things like your wallet, keys or other items into. Plus, there are two large cupholders in the center and a couple more on each door pocket. Directly ahead of the center console area is an array of outlets. You get USB-C, USB-A, a 12-volt socket and even a 110-volt wall socket style outlet. Open up the vast armrest storage box, and you get another USB-C and USB-A charger alongside an aux jack, which you’ll probably never use. On top of the armrest is a rubberized nook to drop yet another phone into, but there’s no wireless charging here. Then, there’s the double glove box with a top and bottom opening for double the storage. Finally, front seat passengers get small stow-away spots by their inside legs that will allow for slim items. If you can’t find a place to put something, then congratulations, you’re living proof that trucks apparently aren’t big enough yet.

Moving on to the back seats, our crew cab tester has oodles of space to splay out. There’s even a fair amount of recline in the seats that make for a more comfortable position on longer trips. Additional outlets can be plugged into back here, and backseat passengers also get air vents.

As a whole, the interior package makes it feel like an older truck with new tech sprinkled in. There’s no doubt that GM has noticed and reacted to its competition already, too. Just look at the interiors for the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban. Those trucks have a real sense of style inside that’s missing in the Silverado or Sierra. If luxury doesn’t matter to you — and for a great deal of truck buyers it likely doesn’t — then a Sierra is a fine place to truck about from. However, we imagine you’ll find the captain’s chair of a Ram 1500 to be a more pleasant and luxurious experience. Try one out. You might even like the ride from the coil-spring rear suspension enough to go home with one.

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