After some time driving around town, the hot-rodder in me began to love the new L33 310 horsepower aluminum 5.3-liter V-8. The new engine allows the truck to drop 100 pounds of weight and gain 15 horsepower versus the iron-block 5.3. Then I realized what I really loved about the truck was the $100 optional 4.10 rear axle ratio. If you won't miss the fuel economy you'll lose by having the higher ratio, the money is well spent. The rear is really meant for towing but I like it for the fun at about 3,000 rpm when the engine torque and rear sync up.
The GMC Sierra rides great considering it has the Z71 Off-road suspension package that adds 46 mm shocks, big jounce bumpers, stabilizer bars, skid plates and a high capacity air cleaner. I did not notice any flexing going over railroad tracks or bumps as described by one of our reader?s comments on the first day. I have also heard no strange noises from inside and I would hope not since this is a very low mileage truck. The ride lets you know your driving in a real truck, but it doesn?t give your kidneys a work out. One passenger called the truck ride a good way to ?lull you to sleep?.
The tires are also upgraded to the P265/70R17s, which give the truck a tall ride height (the only truck I?ve encountered on the road this week that has a higher from-the-factory ride is the Dodge Ram 4x4). If you wanted a more civil ride and lower ride-height, it would be best to stay away from all the off-road goodies.
Another reason these trucks (as well as the Ford and Dodge full-sizers) remain a favorite is the amount of choices offered. You can conceivably outfit a Sierra hundreds of ways, from heavy-duty chassis, three different cab sizes and bed configurations, at least 8 engines and multiple suspension set-ups. I have also learned that a new configuration, the crew-cab?s 68.5-inch short bed should be available with the extended cab in 2006, which would make the truck more maneuverable.
Maneuverability is something you need to get used to in a truck such as this. It takes me two tries for a parking spot (I would love to try it with Quadrasteer, the now-dead 4-wheel steering option), but I?ve been getting better. The truck also fills up any spot you pull into, needing the driver to be aware how much the bed is overhanging in the parking spot behind you. These are issues anyone moving from a car to a full-size truck would have to deal with; these suckers are big.
Tomorrow the weather will be beautiful here and I?ll be giving the truck a quick bath (yes, I am going to clean a fleet vehicle ? I?m one of those weirdoes that feel you can?t really know a car until you clean it) and catch up with the style of the truck.