Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A black 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Denali is shown from the front at an angle during a 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD vs 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD comparison.

Choosing Between the 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD and the 3500 HD

If you’re in the market for your next high-performance pickup truck, you’re probably inundated with questions about which model best suits your needs. There are dozens of models of heavy-duty trucks available, and exploring the whole landscape can feel overwhelming. The GMC lineup of Sierra models has a lot to offer as far as pickup capabilities. The two full-size models for 2024, the Sierra 2500 HD and the Sierra 3500 HD, are both packed with power, off-roading features, and the rugged appearance we’ve come to expect from a GMC vehicle. While they might seem like similar models at first glance, there are some key differences between the two that could sway your decision.

The obvious difference is that the Sierra 3500 HD is the bigger model of the two; however, this poses the question: is bigger always better? While the larger size contributes to greater towing and payload capability, you might find that what the 2500 HD offers is plentiful. We looked at both and put together a side-by-side based on important factors like performance, price, and features, but at the end of the day, only you can determine which one better suits your lifestyle. Explore the differences between the 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD vs 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD, and see for yourself.

How Does the Size Affect Performance?

Among the 2500 HD and the 3500 HD models, the powertrain will depend on which trim you choose. The various available trim levels for both include the base Pro, SLE, SLT, AT4, AT4X, Denali, and the Denali Ultimate. The Sierra HD comes standard with a 6.6L gas-powered V8 engine. You’ll find this engine on most trim levels minus the Denali Ultimate. The 6.6L V8 has a powerful output of 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque. It operates with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission that flawlessly moves through gear ratios and is there for assistance when hauling.

The next available engine is the 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8. The Turbo-Diesel technology gives it a higher performance, delivering 470 hp and an impressive 975 lb-ft of torque. This configuration operates on the same Allison 10-speed automatic transmission; however, there is an option for a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission that’s integrated with Power Take-Off. You can order the 2500 HD in your choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The 3500 HD comes standard with the 6.6L gas-powered V8 powertrain paired with the same Allison 10-speed automatic transmission, offering a similar output of 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque. Only the 3500 HD is eligible for the “dual-rear-wheel axle (aka Dually)” configuration, so if you prefer that to a single-rear-axle, then the Sierra 3500 HD is for you.

Both the Sierra 2500 HD and the Sierra 3500 HD received some crucial upgrades for the 2024 model year that improve performance on both models. In previous years, the Allison 10-speed was not available for the gas-powered engine. Refined cooling, new pistons, and upgrades to the Turbo-Diesel engine have increased the Sierra’s horsepower, torque, and towing capacity. The Sierra 2500 HD offers a best-in-class towing capacity of 22,500 lbs when you opt for the Max Trailering package. If you need more towing capacity, the 3500 HD can tow up to 36,000 lbs.

A black 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is shown from the front at an angle.

A Variety of Starting Price Options

There is a price difference in the starting price for the two Sierra HD models. However, once you start moving up in trim level and reach the Denali Ultimate, the starting MSRP likely won’t be a deciding factor. If you’re looking for a base 2500 HD, the starting MSRP is $44,400. You’ll have to pay a bit more for the base of the 3500 HD, with a starting MSRP of around $53,995 for the two-wheel drive Pro. Once you start getting into the Denali packages and adding more options, the GMC Sierra heavy-duty can cost you upwards of $90,000.

An Assortment of Innovative Interior Tech

Both the 2500 HD and the 3500 HD offer a massive dashboard inside that’s full of intuitive and user-friendly features to make your drive comfortable and connected. You can add an optional head-up display to both models, and other upscale touches like heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and wireless charging for your devices. The Denali trim levels offer the most high-end features, like leather upholstery and wood-trimmed accents throughout the cabin.

One of the most exciting updates to both Sierra HD models is the new 13.4-inch diagonal touchscreen infotainment screen that comes with Google built-in. It’s the largest in its class, and you can pair it with the available 15-inch color head-up display. Fans of premium audio can get the available Bose 12-speaker sound system on the Ultimate Denali trim. Both the 2500 HD and the 3500 HD also have a thoughtfully laid-out interior that includes plenty of space for passengers and their belongings. The crew cab is designed with an abundance of additional storage spaces like cubbies and deep pockets for work supplies or personal belongings.

The brown interior of a 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Denali is shown from the driver's seat.

Incredible Functionality

Drivers looking to invest in a heavy-duty truck will most likely look closely at how it functions for tough jobs. We touched on the Sierra HD’s towing capabilities; however, it’s also important to look at how the bed is designed to help solve everyday problems and make daily challenges more convenient. Both models are equipped with beds that have built-in steps on either side, and the rear bumper has steps at each corner.

The innovative design of the multi-function tailgate creates an environment that allows the driver easier loading and unloading and a more secure way to store your valuable items while also making it easy to load the bed without the risk of injury. You can choose to add on LED lighting, moveable tie-downs, or a 120-volt outlet so you can power tools on the go. One position of the tailgate features a work surface and bench for those times you need to sit down and finish some paperwork on the job site.

The Sierra HD’s technology is also there to assist you when it comes time to tow. Add GMC’s available ProGrade Trailering System to either the 2500 HD or 3500 HD to gain access to several helpful tools. The system includes 14 camera views and a hitch guidance feature with Hitch View. The camera views include a bed view, bed hitch guidance for fifth wheel and gooseneck trailers, and a rear side view with trailer length indicator, taking all the guesswork out of trailering. New for 2024, a GCW Alert uses data to inform the driver if the truck and trailer exceed the gross combined weight rating.

Built to Tackle the Challenges at Home and on the Job Site

When it comes to the 2024 GMC Sierra, the 2500 HD and the 3500 HD are very similarly structured. They resemble one another, with a stylish new grille, rugged tires, and eye-catching wheels. Both are inundated with helpful technology that makes work and life more convenient. If you need the 36,000 lbs of maximum trailering weight, then the 3500 HD is an excellent option. If you don’t anticipate needing quite that much power, the 2500 HD will be your best option, which will also be cheaper. What it sacrifices in towing power, it makes up for in efficiency. Both vehicles are the quintessential heavy-duty pickup, so whichever truck you look at, make sure it’s adorned with a GMC Sierra logo.