2001 Sonoma New Car Test Drive
GMC's mid-size Sonoma blazes into 2001 with a new four-door model, a Crew Cab sporting four front-hinged, full-size people portals. GMC will sell four-door Sonomas only with a V6, automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive, and only in the top two trim levels. So you could almost think of the Sonoma Crew Cab as a comfortable sedan, with off-road capability that just happens to have a pickup box out back. Almost. The rear passenger compartment is tight and the bed is just four and a half feet long.
The full-line of more economically priced Sonoma continues. Those in the market for a cost-effective midsize pickup should be able to find a variation on the Sonoma to serve their needs. A quietly handsome appearance, healthy V6 torque, and a myriad of options all argue in the Sonoma's favor.
The model line ranges from reliable work trucks that offer a good value to capable off-road machines. GMC offers a huge selection of variations, with two- and four-wheel-drive models, regular and extended cabs, short and long beds, Sportside and Wideside bodies, and seven different chassis packages.
Base level trim is the SL; the SLS adds a color-keyed grille (rather than gray) and interior upgrades. Then, for $701, any SLS can become an SLE with a chrome grille and alloy wheels. Air conditioning, standard in the Crew Cab, is an $805 stand-alone option on all other models. Air is also included in each of five different Super Spec equipment packages that help tailor a Sonoma to the buyer's needs.
Base retail prices range from $12,763 for an SL with four cylinders and 2WD; up to $25,784 for a V6-powered SLE Crew Cab. Our 4WD V6 Extended Cab in SLS trim retailed for $20,382.
A 120-horsepower 2.2-liter engine is standard on 2WD models. An alternative fuel version of this four-cylinder engine is available that burns gasoline, Ethanol-85, or any mixture in between. The Vortec 4300 4.3-liter V6 is standard on 4WD Sonomas, where it is rated 190 horsepower. The same V6 is optional on two-wheel-drive models but rates only 180 horsepower in that variation.
Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are available.
Buyers of basic 2WD Sonomas have a choice of three suspensions: Smooth Ride, Heavy-Duty and Sport. The Sport package enhances handling and goes a long way toward making the Sonoma drive like a car. This is accomplished with shorter ride-height springs, high-performance deCarbon gas shock absorbers, urethane jounce bumpers, front and rear stabilizer bars, specially tuned variable-ratio power steering and wide 8-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear P235/55R-16 tires.
Extended-cab and four-wheel-drive models automatically get the firmer Heavy Duty suspension, designed for high payloads and towing. Off-road enthusiasts may opt for the $695 ZM6 Off-Road package, with Bilstein gas shock absorbers, plus upgraded springs, jounce bumpers, stabilizer bars, and on/off-road P235/75R15 white outline tires; or the even more aggressive ZR2 Highrider, which includes a shield package plus wheel flares and special springs, shocks, wheels and tires for a higher and wider stance.