GMC’s restyled Sierra 1500 pickup drew instant attention when I pulled into Melvin Miles’ farm near Fairfax, Mo. Trucks in that part of the world are essential, both for work and convenience, as important to farm life as any other equipment.
By TOM STRONGMAN
Miles nodded approvingly as he checked out the leather seats, chrome wheels and the big chrome grille that gives this truck a serious face. Large, angular wheel arches and rectangular headlights also contribute to the truck’s geometric styling.
The days of crude trucks are fading quickly as manufacturers strive to make their new vehicles as comfortable, and as well equipped, as most top sedans. GMC’s new Sierra advances the comfort needle without sacrificing the capability for serious work.
Driving 100 miles to northern Missouri gave me a chance to experience the truck’s highway manners, and it was as comfortable as a luxury SUV. In fact, it made me wonder just how nice the next GMC Yukon will be since it will surely share much of the truck’s underpinnings.
The Sierra is available in regular cab, double cab or crew cab configurations. The test truck, from GM’s press fleet, was a four-wheel-drive crew cab with the SLT package. Items such as a heated steering wheel, lane departure warning, heated and cooled seats, navigation, power sunroof, 20-inch chrome wheels and a rear vision camera helped bump the $43,125 base price to $50,185.
Driving an unloaded pickup usually means a somewhat bumpy ride because the suspension must be designed to cope with heavy loads. The Sierra’s ride was remarkably smooth given that it can carry up to 2,000 pounds or tow up to 11,200 pounds with a 3.73 rear-axle ratio. The test truck had a 3.08 axle ratio and a mileage rating of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway.
I really liked the safety alert seat that vibrates if you’re too close to an object or about to back out in front of oncoming traffic. The shudder gets your attention quicker than an audible alert.
GM developed a new family of engines for its trucks: a 4.3-liter V-6, a 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8. All three engines share a common architecture, direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and active fuel management that switches to four-cylinder operation to save fuel under light loads.
The 285-horsepower V-6 is capable of towing up to 7,200 pounds, which is more than competitors from Ford and Dodge.
The test truck’s 355-horsepower V-8 was strong and responsive. The change from V-8 to four-cylinder operation was barely perceptible on the highway. I averaged 21 mpg on my trip.
Truck users expect function, and the Sierra’s cabin has large knobs and buttons, a dual glove box, five USB ports, a 110-volt outlet, four 12-volt outlets and an SD card slot. IntelliLink includes Bluetooth phone connectivity and voice control.
The four-door crew cab’s 5-foot 8-inch bed has adjustable tie downs. A 6-foot 6-inch bed is also available.
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The base price of the test car was $43,125. Options included a heated steering wheel, power sliding rear window, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, chrome assist steps, Bose audio system, 20-inch chrome wheels, power sunroof, navigation system, heated and cooled seats, hill descent control, leather seats, Ranch shocks, all-terrain tires and trailer brake controller. The sticker price was $50,185.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is email@example.com.