Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Elevation is shown parked next to a river.

Survive Your Next Road Trip in One of These GMC Trucks

No matter how old you are, taking to the road with some of your favorite snacks to site-see while becoming a tourist for at least a day never gets old. After spending weeks or even months planning the best road trip yet, you may think you are ready to take your map out on the road. Your masterpiece itinerary seems complete, even down to the simplest of details like the gas station pit stops for fuel and munchies, but do you have the proper vehicle for the adventure? If you don’t want to use your current vehicle or need something better fit for the journey ahead, believe it or not, trucks today can be ideal for road trips with their capabilities and better fuel economy than in the past. What better way to head out on the road than with a sophisticated and functional used GMC truck with exceptional power, efficiency, and amenities to keep you comfortable for the duration of your journey?

Road Tripping With a Pickup

Why choose a pickup for your road trip, you ask. Sure it may seem odd to select a pickup over an SUV, but honestly, should it be the less likely choice? SUVs offer qualities that trucks lack, but trucks also offer plenty of options that you won’t find in an SUV to make your road trip that much more enjoyable.

Although an SUV may provide plenty of interior cargo room, a truck bed you can utilize for storing the essentials for your trip, plus convert to a sleeping space with an air mattress and truck tent, taking the worry out of finding a place to sleep when night falls. Sure, SUVs have rooftop tents, but those can be a hassle to set up and take down versus a truck tent that takes 20 minutes or less. Not to mention, a truck has the capability of 4WD taking you farther off the beaten path and deeper into serenity, beyond where an SUV can. So why wouldn’t you want to check out a truck for your road trip?

When you start looking into pickup truck options for your road trip, used GMC trucks are a good place to start. If your itinerary is taking you far from home, buying a used truck for your journey can keep your daily driver in pristine condition for when you return to the monotony of daily life. With a premium brand like GMC, you can expect, even with a used model, to enjoy the capabilities of a fuel-efficient truck and feel like royalty during your adventures with the stylish and luxurious features. Take a look for yourself at why GMC trucks make great contenders for your road trip.

A black 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT is shown parked in front of a modern building.

GMC Sierra

The power of customization is essential, and with the GMC Sierra, there are plenty of options to choose from. The Sierra offers a 1500 light-duty model and 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty options with your choice of engine sizes and fuel type depending on what you are looking for. But when searching for a road trip contender, you may be better off with the more efficient Sierra 1500 versus the heavy-duty options. Let us take a gander at the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 as an example.

The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 is a prime example of how a Sierra can benefit you on your trip and what you can expect from its newer pre-owned models. With this full-size truck, you can start by choosing between standard, double, or crew cabs, with the seating ranging from three to six occupants, depending on how many people you want to bring along on your adventure. But, keep in mind, along with the varying cab sizes, more passenger space means less room for belongings.

The maximum available cargo space in the bed varies with cab size. The 89.1 cubic feet with the long bed is only available with the standard cab with seating for a total of two people and the driver. If you are planning on riding solo on your trip, the extra bed space may work better for you over what you will get with the other two bed sizes.

With your choice between five engine options, you will be able to choose a model perfect for your road trip driving needs. If your preference is to get the maximum gas mileage on your trip, finding a model with the 3.0L Duramax Turbo-Diesel I-6 engine will be best, with a combined rating of 26 MPG for RWD and a combined rating of 24 MPG for 4WD. However, if you prefer a gas-powered engine, your next fuel-efficient option is a Sierra with the 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 engine may be a better choice with a combined rating of 17 MPG for both RWD and 4WD models. On the other hand, if your trip requires you to tow a camper, you may need to look for a model with the highest towing capacity, which would be those with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine that can tow up to 12,100 lbs.

Along with a capable vehicle, you are going to want something that gives you a comfortable ride for the length of your trip. The cabin of the Sierra offers spaciousness while offering a functional and practical design with plenty of technology ranging from smartphone connectivity, on-the-go Wi-Fi from the mobile hotspot feature, an available Bose audio system, navigation, and wireless charging. The GMC Sierra 1500 is available in six trims allowing you to pick your level of luxury, technology, and brawn. The top-of-the-line Denali comes with an adaptive suspension to smooth out your ride on any surface, leather upholstery, and additional safety features to help keep your ride as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Meanwhile, the AT4 trim comes with a 2-inch suspension lift, terrain management system, low-range four-wheel drive, added skid plates, and all-terrain tires for better capability for your off-road adventures. The hardest decision you’ll need to make when looking into the GMC Sierra for your road trip is picking which one you think you’ll enjoy more.

GMC Canyon

If your trip only requires light packing or you prefer a more affordable option for your adventure, GMC’s smaller truck, the midsize Canyon, may be the right pick for you. Unlike the 2020 GMC Sierra, the same model year Canyon comes available in only three engines with your choice of only two cab sizes and bed lengths. However, similar to the Sierra, the 2020 GMC Canyon does have six trim levels to choose from, helping you customize your road trip to your driving preferences and needs with luxury features with their shared Denali trim to the off-road capabilities of the Canyon’s All-Terrain trim.

With the 2020 GMC Canyon, you can bring up to four other passengers along for your trip with the crew cab. If a larger cabin for passengers is not needed, the Canyon’s longest bed provides the maximum cargo space of 49.9 cubic feet. Granted, that is a lot less space compared to the Sierra, but for shorter road trips or even longer ones that you can pack lightly for, the Canyon could be a great affordable option for you.

The diesel engine available with the 2020 GMC Canyon, the 2.8L Duramax Turbo-Diesel, offers the best fuel economy with a combined rating of 23 MPG for RWD and 22 MPG for 4WD. If you were planning on bringing your camper, it also gives you the best towing capacity out of the three engine choices. However, you can still get decent mileage with the gas-powered options as well. The better of the two for fuel economy would be the smaller 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with a combined rating of 22 MPG for RWD and 21 MPG for 4WD.

One of the most popular used GMC trucks, a green 2015 GMC Canyon SLT, is shown next to a river unloading kayaks.

Taking to the Road

Years ago, trucks would have never been an optimal choice to take along for a road trip. However, trucks today have evolved quite a bit to ensure that any length of travel is as comfortable as if you were in a car or SUV while remaining the most capable option for adventures in any terrain. What makes a road trip even more survivable in a pickup is when you choose one from a premium brand like GMC, where you can find fuel-efficient models in an array of sizes and designs, customizable to your individual road trip needs. What more could you want when finally taking that masterpiece itinerary of yours to the road?