Auto Review: The 2014 Sierra’s rugged refinement

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Sep. 12, 2013
- Contributed Photo

If you may recall, we tested a 2013 GM pickup recently in preparation for the new machine that we tested this week: the extensively redesigned 2014 GMC Sierra. The thing is, we found last year’s truck to be quite satisfactory from both a capability and comfort standpoint, and were left pondering what could possibly be done to improve it. But engineers and designers are forever tweaking and refining, for no matter how good a product is, they always know they can make things better as a platform ages and they develop new innovations.

Despite the resemblance to the previous model (although there are numerous cosmetic changes to distinguish it), GM is quick to point out that the 2014 Sierra is an all-new design, featuring a new frame and three new Ecotec3 engines including a 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8. All have Direct Fuel Injection, as well as upgraded Active Fuel Management. Regular, Double (with new front-hinged rear doors) and Crew cab configurations are available. The result of the drive train and chassis changes means substantial payload and towing capability, all while also improving fuel economy.

We tested what will likely be a very typical configuration of the new truck; a 1500 Crew Cab 4X4 SLT model with the new 5.3-liter V8 (which should, as in the past, be the most popular engine choice). This engine develops 355 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed transmission and the 4WD transfer case offers 2WD, 4WD Hi and Low and an Auto setting for when conditions are continuously changing. Engine response is excellent, and while acceleration was brisk with a smooth-shifting gearbox, the most impressive result came in the realm of fuel economy. In a week of mixed driving, we saw 18 MPG, which is very good for such a large, heavy truck. Ride quality and handling are compliant and precise, respectively, even with the robust Z71 Off-Road suspension option. Steering response is effortless (and is now electrically assisted) and the solid chassis isolates the cab and occupants from rocks and other terrain trolls that you might encounter off the beaten track. New Duralife brake rotors have a hardened surface to reduce corrosion and deliver short, reliable stops, even when heavily laden. Other useful features include an optional EZ Lift tailgate with a torsion damper to ease operation, and steps in the corners of the rear bumper to make climbing into the bed easier.

The interior of the new Sierra does a great job of embracing the latest in car infotainment while still having the durability and functionality of a truck interior. The Crew Cab has plenty of room for your crew (no surprise there) and is quiet at speed. The new instrument cluster is very straightforward and comprehensive, while the optional Bose audio system is integrated into the Navigation System, as are the latest telemetrics.

The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD SLT is EPA rated 16 MPG city/22 highway and has a base price of $43,125. With options, our sticker came to $50,185.

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