SEE ALSO: GMC Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 24,273 Price As Tested $ 27.767 Engine Type OHV 12 valve 4.3 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 262 cid/4293 cc Horsepower 190 @ 4400 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 250 @ 2800 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 122.9"/67.8"/205.3" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4083 pounds Fuel Capacity 17.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P235/70R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 16/22/19 0-60 MPH 10.5 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1111 pounds Maximum towing capacity 5200 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Four-door compact pickups have been common in developing countries for many years but only recently introduced in the U.S. General Motors jumped into the sales fray in 2001 with its Sonoma Crew Cab.
Sonoma is also available as a two-door or a three-door, in two or four-wheel drive, but the regular cab/long bed configuration has been discontinued. This week we test a four-door four-by-four.
OUTSIDE - The idea of adding extra doors to a small pickup has changed the way people buy these vehicles, as this is the hottest growth segment in the truck business. Practicality and the ever-increasing use of trucks as personal transportation seems to be the primary reason behind the popularity of four-door pickups. The last major redesign of the GMC S-Series pickup was in 1994, which brought a new look that is still fresh today. Wraparound headlights blend into a recessed grille trimmed in body color. Our test SLS wore beefy over-fenders, also painted body color, and a set of integrated tow hooks below the chrome front bumper. The extra doors are short, as is the cargo bed, so instead of the 72-inch-long bed of the extended cab model, the Crew Cab bed is a stubby 55 inches. An aftermarket roof rack system addresses the problem of not being able to transport long items. A handy new option for 2002 is a lockable hard cover for the cargo bed.
INSIDE - The interior was extensively redesigned for '98, and hasn't grown stale. Reclining high back bucket seats up front are standard and comfortable enough, yet built for a variety of differently sized people. Most drivers will find a good view to the outside, while the dashboard knobs and switches are simple to operate. There are many hard plastic surfaces on the dash and instrument panel, but they look OK and the fit of the seams is tight. There are plenty of storage places, including a beverage holder in each front door. The thin rear bench seat is wide enough for three across, but very tight for adults, and because the rear door openings are small, climbing into the rear seat takes practice. Standard SLS features include cruise control, air conditioning, tilt steering, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors (also heated), remote keyless entry, intermittent wipers and a sliding rear window.
ON THE ROAD - Our Sonoma is powered by a 4.3-liter V6 engine and is the only engine available with Crew Cab models. It's a venerable design that uses cast iron construction, overhead valves and two valves per cylinder. It produces 190 horsepower and a healthy 250 lb-ft of torque, which gives it a whopping 5200-pound towing capacity. It was mildly updated last year with more advanced electronics, more durable camshaft bearings and a lighter starter that draws less current from the battery. Our tester came with GM's four-speed automatic transmission and Insta-Trac four-wheel-drive, which can be activated on-the-fly using dashboard buttons.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Like most modern trucks, the Sonoma rides on a full-length, ladder-type frame that is stiff and stable. Our four-wheel drive tester had independent front suspension with torsion bars (two-wheel-drive models use softer coil springs), and a solid rear axle with variable-rate leaf springs, a setup GM calls its Firm Ride Z85 package. Payload is just over 1100 pounds, which isn't much, but with such a short bed, that figure is not unreasonable. It uses a recirculating ball steering system with a variable-assist feature that makes it easier to turn the wheel at slow speeds, but gives more road feel at highway speeds. Braking is handled by discs at all four corners, which we applaud because disc brakes allow shorter stopping distances than the usual rear drum brakes. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.
SAFETY - Dual front airbags, side-impact door beams, daytime running headlamps and ABS are standard.
OPTIONS - Preferred Package (locking rear differential, special tires), $413; leather/power seating package, $1,495; locking tonneau cover, $479; trailer hitch, $249; bed extender, $183; cold weather package, $90.