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Eric
03-19-2007, 01:13 PM
GMC's Sierra 1500 series pick-up is the higher-trimmed, more nicely-fitted-out (and slightly more expensive across the line) version of the Chevy Silverado 1500. It's not supposed to be the volume seller; it's supposed to be the step-up model -- just a notch higher up the totem pole than a Chevy. But while the Chevy still sells in greater numbers, lately, GMC's version of General Motor's full-size pick-up has enjoyed a dramatic uptick in sales, both in numbers and percentage-wise. From Feb. 2006 to Feb. 2007, for instance, sales of the Sierra have risen an impressive 22.7 percent.

People clearly like this truck -- with good reason.

One of those reasons is power. A second one is choice. There are five available Sierra engines -- ranging from a 4.3 liter V-6 with 195 horsepower in base "work truck" models all the way to a titanic 6.2-liter thumper in Denali versions that offers more than twice that at 400 horsepower. In between are two middleweight gas V-8s -- a 4.8 liter, 295 horsepower mill that's the standard engine in just about everything except the base work truck -- and a punched out 5.3 liter version of the same basic engine, but offering 315 horsepower. This engine is the standard powerplant in higher-trim Sierras -- and optional in most versions.

If neither of those do it for you, there's another upgrade available -- to a 367 horsepower, 6-liter V-8 that easily out-muscles both the 5.7 liter, 345-hp Hemi that's optional in Dodge's Ram series 1500 -- as well as the top dog engine in the Ford F-150, a 5.4 liter mill that offers just 300 horsepower -- or nearly 70 less than the GMC.

Only the new kid on the block -- the just-redesigned Toyota Tundra -- edges out the six liter Sierra, with its 381-hp 5.7 liter V-8.

That may set up a potential battle royale among the import vs. domestic crowd -- but when the fight's between American brand trucks, the GMC's the clear heavyweight. And that's without the Denali and its 6.2 liter, all-alloy 400 horsepower V-8 stepping into the ring.

While the 5.4 equipped F-150 and Hemi-powered Dodge Ram 1500 are by no means underpowered, the Sierra Denali with the 6.2 V-8 is 5,000-plus pounds of four-by-four fury that can nail 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. That makes it quicker, just for reference, than most V-8 sports cars built during the 1980s -- and quick enough to hang inches off the bumper of a new Honda Civic Si, Mazda Miata or Saturn Sky.

It can also tow a best-in-class 13,000 lbs.

Though "old school" overhead valve/pushrod designs, GM's truck V-8s also feature Active Fuel Management/cylinder deactivation technology and variable valve timing -- enabling them to achieve best-in-segment fuel economy in addition to being the most powerful. (Ethanol/E85 "flex-fuel" capability is standard or available with most of the Sierra's V-8s, too.)

But even if you're not out to crush enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of the women, just having five engines to choose from is pretty appealing -- especially when the GMC's second-best engine easily bests the best engines you can get in an equivalent Ford or Dodge.

Of course, underhood oats are not everything. And far from being the only reason to smile on the Sierra.

The next good reason for doing so is the wonderfully finished interior and exterior -- and the updated chassis -- all of them brand-new for '07.

A time-traveler from 1985 (or even 1995) would be shocked at the level of opulence, the devotion to aesthetics -- and the features -- that define the Sierra's cabin. Trucks, as a class of vehicle, have become as nice as they are capable -- but the Sierra may be the pick of the litter. Its dash layout and materials are more than comparable to what you'd expect to find in an entry-luxury (or better) sport sedan. And the Denali's absolutely Lexus-like (or BMW-esque, if you prefer).

GMC designers paid great attention to some very little things -- including making sure that tolerances between panels were extremely close -- with gaps of no more than 1 mm anywhere. For a car, that's impressive. For a truck -- it's amazing. Look around and you'll also notice that there are no exposed fasteners or ugly hardware (even at the seat tracks). The low-gloss and soft-padded materials used for dash and panel covers add to the "suite feel" of the Sierra. There's even an integrated brake controller (for trailoring) built into the dash -- so no cheesy aftermarket panels or swtiches will have to be grafted on to your truck if you want to tow.

Depending on the model, you can get (or order) rain-sensing wipers with heated fluid jar, navigation system, power adjustable pedals, power rear window, park assist sensors, high-end Bose stereo rig with six-disc CD changer and Sirius satellite hook-up, DVD entertainment system, heated seats, leather -- the works. A Z71 off-road package is available, too. It includes M/S-rated tires, skid plates and heavy-duty shocks. All versions get side/curtain air bags; most models gets electronic stability control.

Denalis go for broke with all that plus a bevy of unique-to-this-trim equipment, including a six-speed automatic transmission with manual sport shift function and two overdrive gears to maximize fuel economy on the highway (other Sierras get a four-speed overdrive automatic with standard Tow/Haul mode) available 20-inch rims, remote/keyless start, heated steering wheel (in addition to heated seats) and Denali-specific exterior and interior styling tweaks, including body-colored bumpers and an exclusive Cocoa/Light Cashmere interior combo.

It's an uber-truck with no direct competition; the next-closest thing would be its in-house cousin, the Cadillac Escalade EXT. A Ford King Ranch is similarly cozy, perhaps -- but it suffers from a staggering 100 horsepower deficit.

Drive the Sierra and you'll feel like you own the ranch -- a really big one. It can out-tow, out-run and outclass just about anything you might name.

Like other 1500-series trucks, the Sierra is available in a baker's dozen different cab styles and bed lengths, including extended and crew cab versions that can seat five large men -- and 5.8, 6.6 and 8-foot bed lengths. But the Sierra's high-line feel, exceptional fit and finish -- and panoply of potent powerplants -- give it an appeal and thus an advantage that readily explains the galloping sales performance it has enjoyed.

Had GM been building vehicles like this 10 years ago, Toyota would not be inching up to take its place as the world's largest automaker -- and more than likely, Ford's F-truck would long ago have lost its title as the best-selling vehicle sold in America.

But better late than never.

END

Kwozzie1
03-20-2007, 10:07 PM
Love those trucks. I have only ever driven one on a farm where I worked in Sweden.
Love those V8 diesels. Start okay too...if the engine is left plugged in to the power to keep warm. Yep I forgot to do that once.

Eric
03-21-2007, 06:50 AM
Love those trucks. I have only ever driven one on a farm where I worked in Sweden.
Love those V8 diesels. Start okay too...if the engine is left plugged in to the power to keep warm. Yep I forgot to do that once.


Me too!

Trucks are lots of fun.. and unlikemuscle cars, actually useful!