GMC Sierra is tougher outside, classier inside

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

The pickup, redesigned for 2014, has stronger yet more fuel-efficient engines, more refined interiors and a quiet ride.

hide

The 2014 GMC Sierra and its cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, have been redesigned with stronger yet more fuel-efficient engines and more refined interiors.

Photo: Handout, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

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?

Anyway, I 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.

Especially the 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.

While there 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.

You’ll also discover differences in the grille, hood and fenders. Plus, there are chrome rails at the bottom of the side windows.

A welcome 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 power plants. It starts with a new, stronger V6 available on all but the SLT trims.

This is not the smaller V6s that the competition shares with its crossover kin, but rather a beefy 4.3-liter V6 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.

Next, a 5.3-liter V8 — 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.

For the workhorse needs, an optional 6.2-liter V8 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?

All engines are mated to a smooth-operating six-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 ride.

Handling is 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 neighborhood.

Brake response was strong and made it easy to bring the big fellow (5,600 pounds) to a halt at the traffic light.

Visibility 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.

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.

  • 2014 GMC SIERRA 1500 SLT Z71

    Base price, base model: $32,215

    Base price, test model: $43,125

    Price as tested: $50,185

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:07 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:30 PM
Toronto
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Houston
Miami 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Chicago
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Utah
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Colorado
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 7:00 PM
Chicago
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close