Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

Popular used GMC trucks for a sale, a black 2020 GMC Sierra 1500, is shown parked off-road.

Should You Consider Buying a Used GMC Sierra 1500?

Can you guess what I believe to be the unsung hero of the automobile industry? You may have thought of a few answers, but I believe the pre-owned market is crucial in helping it thrive. If you could save thousands of dollars for an experience that may be indistinguishable from the one that would have burned a hole in your wallet, wouldn’t you want to pursue it? I know I would.

Alternatively, if you could save even more money for a fully-fledged pickup truck from further back in time, that’s a great idea too. There are numerous examples of this but used GMC trucks for sale showcase this better than most. GMC trucks are some of the most reliable pickup trucks on the market because they’re performant and highly versatile, and if you’re shopping for a used model, you might not know what to expect.

For example, let’s discuss the type of person who should consider buying a used GMC Sierra 1500. To begin with, the GMC Sierra 1500 is a pickup that I recommend to drivers looking for a powerful truck with exceptional capability. I, like many others, have no real complaints about GMC’s craftsmanship that deters it from being the truck that I find to be one of the ideal choices in the used market, and if you’re an intermediate truck driver, even a beginner, choosing a pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 is a great investment.

A white 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is shown parked near cows.

The Used Market Offers a Variety of Sierra 1500 Options

Part of the reason why you should consider a used GMC Sierra 1500 is because of availability. If you know much about used vehicles, you’ll know that vehicles depreciate significantly over time. I won’t bore you with the details, so here’s the rundown: vehicles lose value rapidly over the first half-decade of ownership, and after these five years, a vehicle worth $25,000 is now worth $15,000, a 60% decrease. Hard to believe, but it is a very real occurrence when discussing any vehicle.

According to CARFAX, the first third of that depreciation happens within the first year of ownership. So, what does this have to do with the GMC Sierra and the availability I mentioned? The GMC Sierra has been actively sold in the United States for over twenty years, so availability is at an all-time high. As for the pricing, thanks to depreciation, used GMC Sierra models will save you thousands of dollars. You can bypass depreciation on the pre-owned market and purchase a Sierra for what it is truly worth.

A black 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is shown towing a boat.

A Look at Performance and Engine Options

Old age aside, you may think, “Of course, used trucks are cheaper; they aren’t as strong, right?” To some degree, you’re right, but only slightly. More used trucks are likely to perform similarly to their modern counterparts than ever, but buying a 1999 GMC Sierra isn’t going to perform like a 2024 model, as expected. The GMC Sierra 1500 has exceptional performance on each model if you ask the right person, but if you’re wondering which cheapest pre-owned Sierra 1500 has identical specs to the newest 2024 model, the 2022 Sierra 1500 will save you money and give you an incredibly similar experience.

The 2022 Sierra 1500 has the same base powertrain as the 2024 model; a turbocharged 2.7L I-4 engine. 2022 Sierra 1500 models with this engine and its 8-speed automatic transmission can tow cargo weighing up to 9,400 lbs, a payload capacity of 2,240 lbs, and produces 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. These are all identical to the 2024 model, but one difference I can’t help but notice is that the 2022 Sierra 1500 models with the turbo diesel 3.0L I-6 engine tow 13,200 lbs instead of the 13,000 lbs the same powertrain can tow in the 2024 model. This is despite a powertrain that outputs less horsepower and torque than the newer diesel powertrain, 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque against 305 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque.

GMC pushing a towing capacity of over 13,000 lbs was a more recent addition with the release of the 2022 model, but even with a maximum capacity of 11,800 lbs for the 2021 Sierra 1500, the difference shouldn’t mark the end of the world. Before the turbocharged 2.7L I-4 engine came standard with the 2022 Sierra 1500, a 4.3L V6 engine came with Sierra 1500 models in models before that. While the 4.3L V6 engine has been with the Sierra 1500 longer in some form, it performed identically between the 2014 model and the 2021 truck.

If the 4.3L V6 engine, its 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque, and its maximum towing capacity of 7,900 lbs are perfect for what you need, you can invest in more modern features. A perfect example is the 2016 Sierra 1500 because it was the first Sierra 1500 to come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 7-inch infotainment center, and with it comes the 4.3L V6 engine that performs identically to the 2021 model. A 2021 Sierra 1500 will cost way less in two years than the 2016 Sierra 1500, compared to its asking price today. And this 7-inch infotainment center and its assortment of goodies is the same setup that comes standard with the latest 2024 truck.

A black 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 is shown driving off-road.

The Price Changes, but the Capabilities Stay the Same

The market can take value away from a car, but that doesn’t mean it can take away its features. Cargo space is one of the primary reasons I want to talk about today, and that’s because while the price of your truck will fluctuate throughout the years, its bed size will always dictate how versatile it can be in a wide range of situations. You can take a truck from ten to fifteen years ago, and as long as you’re looking for a truck with big bed sizes, you won’t be disappointed with the Sierra 1500.

The average Sierra 1500 truck is available in three bed sizes, and compared to other trucks like the Ford F-150, the Sierra 1500s beds are larger than average. The importance of this can’t be understated for a full-size truck because if you’re purchasing something with the label “Full-Size,” it better feel, look, and act like it.

Your average GMC Sierra 1500 caps out with an 8.2-ft long bed, which may seem larger than life to some. The average driver is never going to need that much space, but let’s say you’re moving houses or apartments; it’s times like these when you’ll be glad you got a pickup truck, let alone one with an 8.2-ft long bed equaling a remarkable 89.1 cu.ft. of space. The jump to an 8.2-ft long bed is pronounced, going from a 6.6’-long bed, but the latter is optimal for the average Joe, so if this describes you, 71.7 cu.ft. of space may be foolproof.

What if you want a full-size pickup truck but have to rationalize your expectations, or the bed size doesn’t matter as much to you? This is when you should then consider a Sierra 1500 with a 5.8-ft long bed. It’s longer than the smallest bed size that comes with the Ford F-150; Ford’s truck has a 5.5-ft long bed with 52.8 cu.ft. of space. Meanwhile, the GMC Sierra 1500, with its smallest bed size, gives you 63.9 cu.ft. of space.

More Savings, More Power

Let’s recap; buying a pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 is a wonderful idea if you fit any of the criteria: you want a no-nonsense pickup truck with plenty of capability, you don’t want to buy a brand-new truck, or you can appreciate a tremendous value. Do you fit into all three categories, perhaps? Whatever your stance, it’s at least worth checking out a pre-owned Sierra 1500 the next time you’re at the dealership. Whether you need a powerful truck or an affordable, spacious commuter, a pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 is sure to meet the needs and lifestyles of many drivers.