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By Rick Popely
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Sierra, a corporate twin of the Chevrolet Silverado, is the full-size pickup in GMC's lineup. The big news for 2000 is the arrival of an extended cab with four doors this winter.
Previously, the Sierra Club Cab came with two front doors and a passenger-side third door that opens toward the rear. Now, there are rear-opening doors on both sides. The Silverado gets the fourth door as well.
For the 2001 model year, GMC and Chevy will introduce crew-cab models with four conventional doors that open toward the front, matching a feature already available on the rival Ford F-150.
Sierra and Silverado were redesigned for the 1999 model year and come in half-ton 1500 models and light-duty three-quarter-ton 2500 models, competing against the Ford F-150/250. GMC's heavy-duty pickup is the Sierra Classic, an older design that comes in three-quarter-ton and one-ton versions.
Exterior The main difference from the Silverado is at the front, where a bolder grille and prominent red GMC badge dominate the Sierra's nose. Sierra comes as a regular cab and an extended cab with a choice of 6.5- or 8-foot cargo beds. Models with the short cargo bed can be equipped with optional flared rear fenders called Sportside.
General Motors claims the rear doors on its extended-cab models are the largest among full-size pickups. The rear doors cannot be opened unless the front doors are opened first.
Interior The extended-cab Sierra boasts more room than the ones offered by Dodge, Ford or Toyota. All Sierra models come with a modern, convenient dashboard design that puts major controls within easy reach of the driver.
Regular-cab models come with a three-place bench seat or a pair of buckets, and the Club Cab adds a three-place rear bench. The rear bench is reclined 18 degrees, making it more comfortable than most rear seats in extended cabs, which are usually bolt upright.
Under the Hood GMC's powertrain offerings are the same as Chevy's. Regular-cab 1500 models come with a standard 200-horsepower 4.3-liter V-6. Two V-8s are optional on 1500 models, both with 15 horsepower more than last year: a 4.8-liter with 270 horsepower and a 5.3-liter with 285 horsepower. The 5.3-liter V-8 is standard on 2500 models and a 300-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 is optional.
All models are available with four-wheel drive, which comes two ways in the Sierra. Insta-Trac is an on-demand system that allows shifting in and out of 4WD High on the fly. Autotrac is an automatically engaging system that sends all the power to the rear wheels on smooth, dry pavement and transfers power to the front wheels as needed on slippery surfaces.
Performance GMC does not offer anything that Chevy doesn't, so there are no compelling reasons to choose one over the other. GM's full-size pickups are worthy rivals to the big trucks from Ford and Dodge.