2003 Sierra 3500 New Car Test Drive
GMC Sierra is redesigned for 2003. It comes with a bolder, raked front end. Its interior is new as well, redesigned for improved function and appearance. The brakes have been upgraded, and the engines run cleaner. New options include a Bose sound system. Crew Cabs even offer a rear-seat DVD entertainment center, making for an attractive alternative to an SUV.
Sierra offers some of the best and most advanced engineering among pickup trucks. It does everything pickups have always done, only better, with first-class hauling and towing capabilities. Sierra rides and handles better than any pickup ever did before.
Of course, much of this is equally true of the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra's mechanical twin. We think the Sierra looks a bit classier than the Silverado. GMC's styling is more conservative, more mature, with smoother, more sophisticated lines. Sierra also offers the intangible value of GMC's 100-year heritage of building trucks and only trucks.
GMC also offers model and equipment variants that Chevrolet does not, including the high-performance, high-luxury Sierra Denali and a Professional Package designed for, well, professionals.
GMC Sierra comes in two- and four-wheel-drive models, in light-duty (1500) and medium-duty (2500) loading and towing capacities, with short-bed and long-bed bodies, and with fendered or full-width beds. There are standard-length two-door cabs, extended-length cabs with two auxiliary doors in the rear, and a 1500 HD Crew Cab with four full-size doors.
Engine choices include 4.3-liter V6, 4.8-liter V8 (standard with 4WD or an extended cab), and 5.3-liter V8 (standard with an extended cab and a long box). 1500 HD and 2500 models come with a 6.0-liter V8. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are offered.
The basic trim level for 2003 is the W/T work truck, which comes with vinyl seats and air conditioning but not carpeting. The Standard Sierra upgrades to cloth seats and carpeting. SLE adds niceties such as a CD player, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. SLT trim, available on extended cabs and crew cabs, adds fog lamps, automatic air conditioning, and OnStar telecommunications.
Denali is the flagship, available only as an extended-cab, short-bed 4x4. Denali packs a 325-horsepower version of the 6.0-liter V8, along with automatic transmission and an exclusive, sophisticated full-time all-wheel-drive system. Denali comes with OnStar, tone-on-tone leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, extra sound deadening, a Bose audio system with separate controls for rear-seat passengers, a unique console and other exclusive amenities. Eight buttons on the steering wheel operate OnStar, along with the sound system, trip computer, and other programmable functions. Denali also provides a lockable floor console large enough to hold a picnic lunch for a family of four; it comes with a reversible, removable cup holder tray and a storage nook in front of the lid.
Quadrasteer is available on Sierra 1500 short-bed extended cabs, 1500 HD crew cab, and Denali. An electronically controlled four-wheel-steering system, Quadrasteer reduces Sierra's curb-to-curb turning diameter by 21 percent, to just 37.4 feet, similar to a mid-size car. Quadrasteer also enhances high-speed stability. Quadrasteer comes packaged with a limited-slip differential and a trailer-tow package.
Professional ($2457) is an option package available on all Sierras that includes a special full-length console with concealed storage for a personal digital assistant (PDA), cell phone, and other items; a seven-quart cooler; a cooled or heated cup holder, and a second Big Gulp-sized cup holder. The console can be converted for hanging file folders. The Professional also features additional lockable storage under the rear seat, a bold chrome grille, 16-inch alloy wheels, a bed liner, and the Z85 handling/trailering suspension.
Sierra prices cover a broad range, starting at $19,391 for a 1500 2WD V6 Work Truck, and more than doubling to $44,250 for the luxurious, high-tech Denali. A short-box, 4WD extended-cab SLE would include the 4.8-liter V8 for $29,963; and many popular 2WD models list in the $24,000-$28,000 range.