drivetime logo Drivetime With Vinnie Richichi Road Test: 2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab

This week it’s “I get a chance to be one of the first  to drive something week” as we get a first look at GM’s new full size pickup, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab SLT.

GMC has Macho'ed up the front look of the 2014 Sierra

GMC has Macho’ed up the front look of the 2014 Sierra

The Sierra and its brother the Chevy Silverado were good solid trucks in their former configuration but they were getting a bit stale and with Dodge’s Ram and Ford’s F150 bulking up with muscular fenders and Kenworth-type grille work, the folks at GM didn’t want to be seen as being left behind. So they got out the hammer and dollies and started upgrading, moving and redesigning with the end result a solid effort and a truck that rides with the others just fine thank you.

The first thing you notice is the more aggressive front end. It screams “macho.” A massive grille, smartly designed headlamps with LED strips, chiseled fenders and muscular lines scream truck. Gone are the days when trucks tried to to be like cars. The GMC wants you to be comfortable pulling up to the truck pumps at  a truck stop. The crew cab I drove had massive doors that made getting in and out quite easy with the rear door lengthened for even easier access.

Once inside, you immediately notice an interior that feels more Cadillac than GMC. Quality materials, including brushed aluminum accents, give the GMC a luxury feel. Seats are comfortable and supportive, especially nice if you’ll be spending a ton of time in your truck and are heated as well as cooled.  Controls are easy to read with red accents around many. GMC’s Intellilink system, including On Star, is easy and intuitive to operate and there are more USB ports and power outlets than you can probably use. The Driver Alert Package includes front and rear park assist and lane departure indicator seats that actually shake your butt when you cross the line. Steps in the rear bumper make climbing into the bed a whole lot easier.

GMC Sierra from the rear.

GMC Sierra from the rear.

Power trains are new, and I think improved, with lots of neat technology to provide better gas mileage, more power and five figure towing capacity.

While there is a V6 that should work for moderate payloads, the version I drove had the 5.3 liter Ecotec3  V8 that pushed 355  horsepower effortlessly through the six-speed transmission. Part of the package that gives the Sierra better fuel economy is technology that shuts four of the cylinders off when using the truck under lighter conditions. The transitions between four and eight cylinders were seamless and if not for the indicator on the dash, I would have never known.

The Sierra's info center lets you know gas mileage as well as how many cylinders you are running on.

The Sierra’s info center lets you know gas mileage as well as how many cylinders you are running on.

The Z-71 four wheel drive package bolsters up the Sierra for off road adventuring. The FWD is controlled by a simple dial on the dash that, again, made transitions seamless. Higher capacity rancho shocks and suspension components are tuned to function off-road, but the on-the-road ride remains comfortable, car-like and not bouncy at all. The hill descent control makes life a lot easier.

The Sierra had plenty of power for passing with the engine supplying good torque. Tow capacity on this model: 9,600 pounds and you always had the feeling there was more power when you needed it. Four wheel discs have the 229-inch truck stopping straight, true and on a dime.

Sticker price on this pretty well-loaded model is $50,185. Gas mileage EPA figures are 16 miles per gallon city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway. In combined driving, the Sierra should come in near 18 miles per gallon — pretty good for a truck this size. The Sierra has not been crash tested yet and it comes with a five-year/100,000 mile power-train warranty and 24 hour roadside assistance.

The 2014 GMC Sierra is an impressive redesign. Bolder than Chevy’s Silverado by all accounts, it is an attractive family hauler, a comfortable place to work all day, can be configured to bring stuff home from Costco or pull the entire warehouse along with you. While the new front design may turn you on or make you cringe, there is no denying that it makes a statement that GM wants truck buyers to look at the Sierra right along with the Ram and F-150 — and you know what? If you don’t, you are missing out on a hell of a truck.

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Get more reviews, news about cars and the people who drive them, interviews and tips on how to get more out of your driving experience all on Drivetime with Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte Saturday mornings 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Also listen to Vinnie on The Vinnie and Cook Show Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.