Pickup trucks have long passed the point where hauling capacity and horsepower are the only things that matter.
To succeed in today’s market, a pickup has to have many of the same niceties and conveniences you find on your average -- and maybe not-so-average -- family sedan.
Quality materials, technology, and a quiet, comfortable ride count, too.
Redesigned for 2014, the Sierra uses real aluminum for trim touches and lots of soft materials in an interior that is slightly more upscale than its Chevrolet counterpart, the award-winning Silverado.
It is packed with lots of standard technological features such as a driver information center with either a 3.5-inch monochromatic or 4.2-inch color display, six-speaker audio system, and lots of USB ports for all your own personal connections and other features such as navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bose sound system, power-adjustable pedals, rear-vision camera, lane departure warning system, park assist, and remote keyless entry available as options on lower trims and standard on higher trim models.
And all in a vehicle that rides as smoothly and quietly on the highway as any large SUV.
The Sierra 1500 is available with either two- or four-wheel drive and with three body configurations: regular cab, double cab, and crew cab. Trim levels are base, SLE, SLT, and Z71, each adding more standard features and refinement as you go up the line.
The regular cab can squeeze in three people up front. The double and crew cab versions can hold up to six adult passengers, three up front and three in the second row, though the backseat riders in the double cab will be a bit shorter on leg room from what is avalable in crew cab models. Second-row legroom on the double cab is 34.6 inches. In the crew cab, it’s 40.9.
One significant change in the double cab over last year’s version is that the rear doors are front-hinged and operate independently of the front. Previously on double cab models, the reverse opening rear doors could not be opened when the front doors were closed.
In crew and double cab form, about the only thing working against the Sierra as a potential family vehicle is that it sits so high it’s not all that easy for some members to get in and out of without using a ladder or at least a step stool. Shorter riders have to virtually climb into the cab with the help of the overhead grip.
But lest we forget, this is a truck, and the Sierra more than lives up to the standards the GMC badging on the front represents
The Sierra offers a couple of different options when it coms to bed size.
Regular versions are available in 6-foot, 6-inch or 8-foot lengths, and crew cabs with 5-foot-8 or a new 6-foot-6 length. Double cab models come with only the 6-foot-6 box.
Three power trains are available with a 4.3-liter V6 serving as the base engine. It’s rated at 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque and offers fuel economy of 18 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway in 2WD and 17/22 4WD.
That’s likely to be good enough for most buyers, but if you do need more oomph, there are two optional V8 engines. The 5.3-liter is rated at 355 hp and 383 lb.-ft. with fuel consumption at 16/23 for 2WD, 16/22 4WD. The 6.2-liter (available only on SLT and Denali trims) delivers 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. as it drinks premium (recommended but not required) fuel at a rate of 15/21 2WD and 14/20 4WD.
Need to do a lot of towing? The 5.3-liter V8 probably would be the better choice to get your yacht to the boat launch, but the V6 is a pretty strong hauler in itself.
The only transmission offered is a six-speed automatic.
As noted earlier, the Sierra provides a nice, quiet, comfortable ride, more of what you would expect from a crossover SUV without the bumpy jolts one has become accustomed to riding in past pickups. But with the broad hood expanse stretching out front, there is no question when you are behind the wheel that you have a big, big vehicle at your command.
Fortunately, a turning radius of 14.4 or 14.8 feet, depending on the size of the box, helps ease the way through tight spots in parking lots.
MSRP for the Sierra runs from around $27,000 for the base to just under $52,000 for the top-of-the-line AWD Denali model with all kinds of choices in between.
The Sierra 1500 Double Cab shown in the slide show is a well-equipped SLE model that totaled out at $41,595.