2014 GMC Sierra Review
Going truckin' with the redesigned Sierra.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: October 7th, 2013
If you know what the term "cowboy Cadillac" means, either you live in Texas, you listen to country music, or you own a truck that has an interior that would be at home inside a German luxo-sedan. Or all three.
It's no secret that Americans love trucks (whether they need them or not) as evidenced by the deluge of truck ads that flood every nationally televised sporting event, usually with good 'ole patriotic rock playing or a celebrity with a tough-guy persona blasting through an edgy voiceover. Indeed, the full-size truck category reaches a level of competition that is only matched by muscle cars.
With four automakers trying to one-up each other, it's not shocking that three of the five full-size trucks on the market were redesigned for this year (well, technically there are six offerings, but the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are virtually twins), with the last one standing - the Ford F-150 - scheduled to go under the knife soon. We've recently spent time in the Tundra and Ram, and now it was our turn for a go in the Sierra.
The Sierra is positioned as more upscale than the Silverado, offering features that are either unavailable or optional on the Silverado as standard - features like upper tie-downs and wheel-arch moldings. A luxury-trimmed Denali version hits the market soon.
If you're between 35 and 55. have an income that can be described as "well-off," and you want or need a truck, GMC wants to hear from you.
Measuring truck performance is a different beast - we take just about every vehicle we test to our favorite back road, but every truck that plies the corners handles, like, well, a truck. The Sierra, of course, is no exception, bounding through corners with disconcerting flex and bounce. But that's to be expected, and it's comparable to the Ram 1500, if not slightly better. We were probably a tick faster through the corners, and we give props to the Sierra's steering, which has a nice heft and decent feel.
We also extend props to the ride, which is surprisingly smooth in most cases, with little truckishness. It does get bouncy on the rough stuff, but it conquers most urban and suburban streets with ease, and despite its 4x4 capability, most of the miles the typical Sierra will see will likely be on-road.
Engine choice comes in three flavors: a 4.3-liter V-6, a 5.3-liter V-8, and a 6.2-liter V-8. We sampled the 5.3-liter, which boasts 355 horsepower. Acceleration is brisk - downright forceful at times - but you never forget you're driving a heavy truck. Still, if the need for passing is there, the Sierra lets you take it without drama.
The Sierra is the plainest of the big four full-size trucks. It lacks the Ram's big-rig look, or the Tundra's curvature, or the flamboyance of the F-150. It's still big and bold - nothing that size can be too subtle - but it's a conservative design. That said, it grew on us over time - mainly because even plain can look tough in truckland, if the design is strong enough, and the big grille helps convey a "don't mess with this truck" message.
We applaud two particular exterior features - the rear bumper steps and the easy up/easy down tailgate that required little effort to close and never slammed down. We put the truck to use to move a friend across town, and these little pieces of design really did make real-world tasks easier.
Truck-producing automakers love to talk about how truck buyers need upscale interiors that impress their friends while still managing to stay functional for those truck users who actually work. It's the combination of the "cowboy Cadillac" and the contractor's truck. Whether that's all marketing blarney or not, the Sierra delivers. It's cabin isn't as pretty as the Ram's, nor does it try as hard as the F-150's, but it's clean and functional, with easy-to-use gauges, an infotainment system that works with relative simplicity, and logically placed switchgear. There's a plethora of USB ports, 120-volt outlets, and 12-volt outlets, and there's plenty of storage space. Not to mention loads of headroom and legroom, even in the rear.
We did have a few beefs. A flat dead pedal leads to left-foot discomfort on long drives; syncing Pandora to an iPhone requires one to take his or her eyes off the road and fiddle with the phone; and manumatic shifting can only be done on the shift column. These are but minor niggles - none would steer us astray.
When GM raised the curtain on the Sierra, we were skeptical. We thought it looked too plain, it's redesign was too evolutionary from the previous generation, and that it couldn't deliver the Ram's combo of looks and brawn. We're happy to report that we're mostly wrong.
It's true that the Ram does turn more heads, but the Sierra is just as brawny and capable, and it coddles just as well. It's the quiet one that does all the work without any showing off.
Trucks are meant to both be worker bees and luxury palaces these days, and the Sierra achieves both those goals. It's not the shiniest toy, but it works so well it doesn't have to be.
Specs, Features, Prices
Engine: 5.3-liter V-8
Torque: 383 lb-ft.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Base Price: $43,425
As-Tested Price: $50,485 (including $995 destination fee)
Available Features: Bluetooth, satellite radio, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear parking assist, lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, navigation, Pandora, USB port, power sunroof, off-road package, leather seats, locking tailgate, wheel-arch moldings, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, tilt/telescope steering wheel.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500, click here: 2014 GMC Sierra 1500.