2001 Sierra 1500 New Car Test Drive
The GMC Sierra represents the latest in full-size pickup engineering, along with its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado. Both trucks do everything better than pickups did even a few years ago. They ride, handle, and stop more like cars. Yet they can pull more and haul more than ever before. Updated engines have made them fast and powerful. Inside, the Sierra is one of the most luxurious pickups we've ever driven, setting new standards for quietness, plush appointments, and solid construction.
But while GMC pickups of the recent past have been virtual Chevrolet clones, the GMC Sierra breaks away, in style at least, from Chevy's understated Silverado. Sierra sports a unique grille, hood, fenders, fascia, bumpers and headlamps. Like the best GMC designs of the '30s, '40s, and '50s, this one is bolder than the contemporary Chevy, a sharper-dressed cousin with more attitude.
Like all big American-made pickups, the Sierra comes in two and four-wheel-drive, in light-duty (1500) and medium-duty (2500) loading and towing capacities, with short and long-bed bodies, and with fendered or full-width beds. There are standard-length two-door cabs and extended-length cabs with two more auxiliary doors in the rear.
Engine choices for 1500 models range from a basic 4.3-liter V6, up through a 4.8-liter V8 (standard in extended cabs), and a 5.3-liter V8. Hard-working 2500s come with a 300-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8.
As before, Sierras come in SL, SLE and SLT trim levels. SL-trim trucks with the 4.3-liter, 4.8-liter, or 6.0-liter engines can be ordered with a five-speed manual transmission; all SLE and SLT models, and even SL-trimmed 5.3-liter models, come with a four-speed automatic.
New for 2001 is the fully equipped Sierra C3, a separate model packing a 325-horsepower version of the 6.0-liter V8, along with automatic transmission and an exclusive, sophisticated full-time all-wheel-drive system. The C3 offers more towing capacity and a greater payload capacity than the 1500 models. A black-painted machine-textured grille and body-colored mirrors, door handles, and moldings distinguish the C3 from other Sierras. GMC plans to sell about 15,000 a year.
Gone for 2001 is the three-door version of the extended cab, with its single rear-opening door on the curbside; GMC began offering a four-door version last year, and now all extended cabs have four doors.
Prices cover a broad range, starting at $16,525 for a six-cylinder 1500 SL 2WD, and more than doubling to $38,305 for the C3. (The C3 price sounds high until you remember that it includes virtually every conceivable option.) A short-box, 4WD extended-cab SLE would include the 4.8-liter V8 for $28,266; and many popular 2WD models list in the $22,000-$26,000 range.
For even heavier-duty hauling, GMC builds the three-quarter-ton Sierra 2500HD and 3500; look for a separate nctd.com review of the all-new heavy-duty trucks.