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Continued: GMC Sierra is tougher outside, classier inside

  • Article by: BARRY SPYKER , Miami Herald
  • Last update: November 1, 2013 - 11:06 PM

The cabin is comfortable, even for longer hauls.

The materials 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 air bags also come standard.

An optional 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, rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.

Variations of 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 4-wheel drive.

The base 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.

The four-wheel-drive Z71 gears up for off-roading with hill-descent control, firmer shocks and shield plates to protect the undercarriage.

If you’re looking to upgrade from your current pickup, something that is rugged yet upscale, the Sierra SLT Z71 is full of reasons to do just that.

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 wife.

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    Price as tested: $50,185

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