1997 GMC Sonoma

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$11,717

starting MSRP

1997 GMC Sonoma

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

8 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1997 GMC Sonoma trim comparison will help you decide.

1997 GMC Sonoma review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Used to be that two-seaters were exclusively sports cars, but nowadays many of the two-seaters we see prowling the roads are compact pickup trucks.

Why are they so popular? In may ways they have taken the place of sports cars because they’re fun, different and an expression of individualism, if you will. Plus, they can be used for light hauling, should the need arise.

With the sports-car image in mind, GMC has come up with a ZQ8 suspension package for the two-wheel-drive Sonoma that tames most of its truck vices and serves up handling more at home on a twisty road than a construction site. It drives like you’ve welded a pickup bed onto the back of your Firebird.

The sports suspension package consists of 8-inch wide aluminum wheels, Goodyear Eagle GA tires and recalibrated springs, shocks and anti-roll bars. Structural reinforcements in the form of a center driveshaft bearing support and a single-piece rear shock absorber cross member keep the frame from flexing, which helps keep the wheels in solid contact with the road. Even the power steering gets more road feel and a quicker ratio.

The optional 4.3-liter V6 engine is mandatory with the sports suspension package, but you’d want that anyway for this kind of a truck.

Since the GMC and Chevrolet compact pickups are nearly identical, Chevy has a similarly equipped S-10 for diehard Bowtie fans.

I was skeptical about the handling improvements until I tackled my favorite strip of abandoned, curlicue asphalt road and found that the Sonoma could be hustled through turns almost as confidently as a muscle car. The back axle hopped around a little, but for the most part its behavior in turns was friendly and benign.

It was during this little exercise that I realized that this 175-horse engine gets a bit noisy and coarse when revved to 5,000 rpm or so. Prior to that I had not been revving it hard because it produces maximum torque, or pulling power, at only 2,800 rpm, and that means you tend to shift early and let the engine pull without winding it up like a rubber band.

The five-speed transmission is de rigueur for back-road follies, but this one is not the smoothest. The foot-long shift lever seems to transmit lots of vibration and noise into the cabin when you’re using the engine to its max. With that in mind, I would forego the five-speed’s versatility and choose the automatic for everyday use.

One important feature of our extended-cab test truck was the optional third door. Located on the left side, it swings out easily for putting dogs, kids or groceries behind the front seat. The extra space is pretty tiny, and the fold-down seat is only good for a very small child, but the practicality of the extended-cab makes it the overwhelming choice.

The rest of the cabin is rather small compared to a full-size truck, but for daily commuting, or use as a second car, it fills the bill. It has bucket seats and a center console with cupholders a nd storage pockets.

At this time there is not yet an airbag for the passenger side, which means you could safely put a young child or safety seat there.

The Sonoma’s instrument panel is still not as thoroughly refined as it could be. While its instrumentation is cleanly designed, some of its secondary switches, such as those for the headlights, click noisily and feel rough.

Price

Some Sonomas, including the model I drove, recently had a $100 price hike. The base price is now $14,814. Our test vehicle was equipped with options of air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with compact disc player, V6 engine, sports suspension, sliding rear window, third door, tinted glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, locking differential and remote keyless entry.

The sticker price was $20,028.

Warranty

The basic warranty is for three years or 36,000 miles.

Vehicles for The Star’s week-long st drives are supplied by the auto manufacturers.

Point: If you want a compact truck with the personality of a sports car, pick the Sonoma with the sports suspension package and you will be pleased.

Counterpoint: The manual transmission is a bit noisy, as are some of the switches on the dash.

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE: 4.3-liter, V6

TRANSMISSION: automatic

WHEELBASE: 122.9 inches

CURB WEIGHT: 3,168 lbs.

BASE PRICE: $14,814

PRICE AS DRIVEN: $20,028

MPG RATING: 18 city, 25 hwy.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.5
  • Interior design 4.0
  • Performance 4.0
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 3.5
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

3.6

Nothing fancy, but reliable and tough

It's my second pickup and outside of a few minor trim defects, it's trouble free. It always starts and goes, and with the 4 cyl. engine it's good on gas. Surprisingly, the engine is plenty, it has adequate "oomph" for local driving and truck style errands.

4.4

1997 sonoma

my 97 sonoma sls extra cab has 215000 miles and still going strong . replaced trani at 140'000 k and no engine repair so far oil change every 3000k with castro sytec blend scense it was new with pourator one filter

See all 2 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by GMC
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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