2014 GMC Sierra and its cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, have
been redesigned with stronger yet more fuel-efficient engines
and more refined interiors.
Over the years
I’ve looked for excuses to buy a pickup truck, trying to justify a
need for the cargo bay. Many guys, my son included, didn’t worry
about it so much; they bought one anyway.
But the wife,
who manages to mow down with her bicycle anything in her way, may
have helped me out a couple of weekends back. She managed to roll
over five — count ’em, five — thorns on a fallen branch. Is
there a flat-tire-of-the-month club?
easily tossed the bike into the 6.5-foot bed of the 2014 GMC Sierra
(not available in last year’s crew cab) and carted it to the bike
shop. That, maybe some bags of mulch next week … yes, I think I
can justify one of these after all.
flashy, chrome-laden Sierra SLT with the off-road-geared Z71 trim.
The Sierra and
its cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, have been redesigned for 2014,
and there is plenty of newness to sink your teeth into: stronger yet
more fuel-efficient engines, more refined interiors, and a quiet
ride that will make you forget what a brute it is — it can haul
some 12,000 pounds.
are many similarities between the cousins, I think Sierra’s
redesigned front end sets it apart. While the Chevy looks similar to
last year with its stacked headlights, Sierra dropped that style and
has small projector-beam lights underscored with LEDs on the SLT.
discover differences in the grille, hood and fenders. Plus, there
are chrome rails at the bottom of the side windows.
improvement this year: The rear doors of both extended cabs now open
like traditional doors. Gone are the rear-hinged "suicide
doors." Said my Silverado son: "That’s a big plus — I
don’t know how many friends were confused by those doors."
But the major
upgrade is the new lineup of powerplants. It starts with a new,
stronger V-6 available on all but the SLT trims.
This is not
the smaller V-6s that the competition shares with its crossover kin,
but rather a beefy 4.3-liter V-6 with 285 horses and 305 foot-pounds
of torque. This engine is likely to satisfy most of those buyers who
aren’t hauling around a cabin cruiser. Properly equipped, it can
tow 7,200 pounds. And yet it manages 18 mpg city, 24 highway with
the 2-wheel-drive. Not too shabby.
5.3-liter V-8 — standard on the SLTs — puts out 355 horses and
383 pound-feet of torque. This can tow 11,200 pounds and gets 16 mpg
city, 23 highway.
workhorse needs, an optional 6.2-liter V-8 produces 355 horsepower
and 383 foot-pounds of torque. Zero to 60 takes around 8 seconds,
which is a full second slower than the Ford 150 and Ram. But does
that second really matter when we’re talking pickups?
are mated to a smooth-operating 6-speed automatic transmission.
On the road,
Sierra’s ride is comfortable while a bit firm, with a revised
suspension this year. It’s amazingly quiet even at highway speeds.
With the Max Trailering package comes a firmer and less friendly
improved this year; taking corners is not the fright pickups used to
be. Steering is nicely weighted, not too light or heavy. And while
some say Sierra’s turning radius doesn’t quite stack up to the
competition, I had no problem pulling a tight U-turn in my
was strong and made it easy to bring the big fellow (5,600 pounds)
to a halt at the traffic light.
from within the cabin is wide and wonderful. And it’s aided by a
wide-angle mirror in the corner of the driver’s side-view mirror,
a nice feature when towing a boat or trailer.
The cabin is
comfortable, even for longer hauls.
on the dash and door panels have a quality feel. There are more bins
and compartments to put stuff in, and five USB ports to keep all
your electronics charged.
As refined as
the interior is, the tilt/telescoping wheel remains manual, for some
reason. Worse, there are two separate levers to adjust them. What’s
up with that?
When it comes
to safety, one may feel comfortable in a brawny pickup. But Sierra
has made some strides in this category, too. Standard are ABS,
traction and stability control — complemented with a trailer sway
control. Front and rear side bags and side curtain airbags also come
Driver Alert Seat vibrates when you veer from the lane or when
another vehicle gets too close. It can be a tad annoying, but
sometimes you’ll appreciate that extra set of eyes. Also available
are lane-departure and forward collision warning system, rear-view
camera and front and rear parking sensors.
the Sierra seem endless: First, there’s a regular cab, extended
and crew cab body style. Then there are the cargo beds: Regular cabs
can get a standard 6.5-foot bed or worker-bee 8-foot bed. Crew cabs
get the 6.5 or a short-bed 5.75 foot. All are available in 2- or
Sierra gets 17-inch steel wheels but gets better — air
conditioning, cruise control, chrome bumpers and power windows, to
name a few. The SLE upgrades with features like "E-Z" lift
tailgate and cargo-bed lighting, plus rearview camera, color info
display with 8-inch screen, and upgraded audio with satellite radio.
Move up to the
SLT and you find 18-inch alloy wheels, trailer-tow package,
anti-theft package, and power seats across the front with memory.
4-wheel-drive Z71 gears up for off-roading with hill-descent
control, firmer shocks and shield plates to protect the
looking to upgrade from your current pickup, something that is
rugged yet upscale, the Sierra SLT Z71 is full of reasons to do just
And if you’re
trying to convince yourself that you need to have that first pickup,
get your significant other on a bicycle. And tell her to follow my
SIERRA 1500 SLT Z71:
base model: $32,215
test model: $43,125