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SEE ALSO: GMC Buyer's Guide

GMC Sierra 4X4 Extended Cab

by John Heilig


ENGINE:            5.7-liter Vortec V-8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 255 hp @ 4,600 rpm/ 330 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:      13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, 12.8 mpg test
WHEELBASE:         141.5 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    218.5 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    72.6 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     76.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY:     25.0 gal.
CARRYING CAPACITY: 40.5 cu. ft. (inside)
TIRES:             P245/75R16
INSTRUMENTS:       Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, 
                   water temperature, oil pressure, 
                   battery voltage, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:         Power mirrors, power seats, power windows,
                   cruise control, air conditioner, 
                   AM-FM stereo radio with cassette,
                   dual air bags with passenger-side cutoff, ABS. 
STICKER PRICE:     $28,781

The true test of a pickup truck is its versatility, not whether it's the "cool" vehicle to drive or how good it will look in the country club parking lot. To me, if a truck can't do the job then it isn't worth much.

One truck that can do the job, and we put it to the test, is the GMC Sierra. Built on the same platform as the Chevrolet C/K pickups, the Sierra is a full-sized truck. As such it has a half-ton carrying capacity and a full-sized bed, as well as an extended cab if you're einterested in bringing along a couple of extra people or if you're carrying something that you'd prefer to keep under lock and key.

And here is my big complaint with the test truck. All truck manufacturers have added side access doors to their pickups. Dodge has two doors. But the Sierra didn't have any. And since we used the Sierra to help my daughter move into her new house, we needed access to that area of the truck several times during our many trips between the apartment and the house. But the rest of the truck passed all tests. Big items were moved in a big truck, but all the boxes and items that were too big for the cars were loaded in the Sierra and transported between homes. The Sierra had a box liner that made sliding objects from the loading end of the bed to the front much easier. It also made it easier when we were unloading.

Since it rained much of the time during our weekend move, we used a tarp to cover objects when necessary or crammed them into the rear seat of the Sierra. Here's where an access door would have helped.

We also used the Sierra for regular driving around town several times. The truck provided a comfortable ride that wasn't very "truck-like." By that I mean the overall ride quality wasn't choppy or rough. While ride quality wouldn't compare with a Cadillac DeVille, it was very good for a truck.

Our test Sierra was also equipped with four-wheel drive. This was operated using a lever located on the floor next to the shifter. Even with the light rain that was falling, we didn't feel the need to shift into 4WD. And it still isn't cold enough for ice or snow, which really would have proven a need for the accessory.

Power for the Sierra came from a 5.7-liter V-8 that was rated at xxx horsepower, connected to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. This is a lot of power and there isn't much weight over the rear wheels, but at no time did we chirp the tires, even with the wet roadway. This could have been because I was behaving myself since we had a bed full of goodies that we really didn't want to get broken.

All in all, the Sierra proved to be a very capable hauler. Among the other vehicles on hand that weekend was a Suburban, but we were able to carry more in the Sierra with its lack of a roof over the cargo bed. Loading and unloading were also easier.

On some roads, though, the high aspect ratio of the Sierra made it slightly unstable in side winds.reallyGMC is the truck division of General Motors. And while many of its products are also offered by Chevrolet's truck division, the GMC versions of these trucks usually have more content for the package. Our test Sierra had full power accessories, a very good sound system and an HVAC system that kept us warm.

There's nothing sophisticated about a pickup truck. It's basic transportation with a useful purpose. And as far as we are concerned, you can't get any better than this Sierra.