GMC tries to add more pizazz to its light-duty Sierra lineup with the C3, an extended cab with a 325-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 engine, permanently engaged four-wheel drive, a monotone exterior and unique front styling. The C3 has a leather interior, a six-CD changer, rear-seat audio controls and the OnStar communication system. The Sierra is a corporate twin of the Chevrolet Silverado and is the full-size pickup in GMCs lineup. GMC and Chevrolet also offer heavy-duty versions of these trucks called the Sierra HD and Silverado HD.
The 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.
The Sierras main difference from the Silverado is at the front, where a bolder grille and prominent red GMC badge dominate the nose. The Sierra comes as a regular cab and a Club Cab (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. The Club Cab has two front doors and a pair of rear doors that open to the rear. The rear doors cannot be opened unless the front doors are opened first.
Later this year, GMC and Chevy plan to add crew-cab models with four conventional doors that open toward the front, matching a feature already available on the rival Ford F-150.
The Sierra Club Cab claims more room than the extended cabs offered by Dodge, Ford or Toyota. All Sierra models have 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
GMCs powertrain offerings are the same as Chevys. Regular-cab 1500 models come with a standard 200-hp 4.3-liter V-6. Two V-8s are optional on 1500 models: a 4.8-liter with 270 hp and a 5.3-liter with 285 hp. The 5.3-liter V-8 is standard on 2500 models, and a 300-hp 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. Traction control is a new option for two-wheel-drive models.
Except for the Sierra C3, GMC does not offer anything that Chevy doesnt, so there are no compelling reasons to choose one over the other. GMs full-size pickups are worthy rivals to the big trucks from Ford and Dodge.