GMC's Sonoma Crew Cab is one of the latest to join the fast-growing ranks of four-door pickup trucks that function as much like a small sedan as a truck.

With four regular-size doors and a back seat big enough to accommodate adults, the Sonoma Crew Cab is ideal for personal use. It can be a truck when you need to haul something, but the rest of the time is has an interior like a compact SUV.

The back doors simplify access to the back seat as well as the installation of child safety seats. Most trucks today find their way to the shopping mall as often as they do the lumberyard, which is why a bigger cab and smaller bed make sense. Tubular bed extenders that pivot out onto an open tailgate can be installed to create a longer cargo area for those rare occasions when hauling is actually required.

Despite the Crew Cab's bed being only 4 feet, 6 inches long, it has a good deal of functionality. Tie-down loops are included for securing items, and indentations in the bed enable boards to be inserted to create two-tier hauling.

A bed liner to protect from scratches is standard. A step built into the rear bumper makes loading easy, plus it will hold a hitch for pulling trailers up to 3,500 pounds. An optional weight-distributing trailer hitch boosts towing capacity to 5,900 pounds.

The Crew Cab's cargo payload rating is 1,125 pounds, and that is adequate for hauling a couple of dirt bikes, a lawn tractor or enough lumber to refurbish your workshop.

Apart from the addition of a back seat, the Crew Cab's interior is basically unchanged from the standard Sonoma. The instrument panel has clear and readable gauges, while secondary controls are housed in a center section that is angled slightly toward the driver so they are closer at hand. Textures and ergonomics, however, are not as good as in some newer vehicles. This year, the doors lock automatically at 15 miles per hour, and the buyer can decide whether one or all four doors unlock once the key is removed.

Front seat belts are built into the seats, so they are always adjusted right regardless of seat position or the size of the occupant. Child safety seat tethers are provided, and the passenger-side airbag can be turned off should it be necessary to carry an infant or a child seat in front.

One of my major complaints relative to the interior: The catalytic converter requires a hump in the floor in the passenger's footwell, and although it's not huge, it does get in the way.

The 4.3-liter V6 is rated at 190 horsepower for four-wheel-drive models and 180 horsepower for two-wheel drive. While this is certainly adequate power for most applications, this engine is fairly noisy. Coolant should last for 150,000 miles and the first tuneup is scheduled at 100,000 miles in normal service.

The automatic transmission is quite smooth, and selecting four-wheel drive is done electronically with a button on the instrument panel.

Brakes are disc on all four wheels and anti-lock is standard.

Price The base price of our test truck was $25,083. Options included the 3.42 rear axle ratio, locking rear differential and the cold climate package.

The sticker price was $25,746.

Warranty Three years or 36,000 miles.

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Point: Four doors and an adult-size back seat make the Sonoma Crew Cab a good alternative to the Sonoma extended-cab truck because it can hold four or, possibly, five people. Counterpoint: The cabin is not very wide, the hump in the floor can be annoying to passengers and interior ergonomics could be improved.


Engine: 4.3-liter V6

Transmission: automatic

Four-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 122.9 inches

Curb weight: 4,039 lbs.

Base price: $25,083

As driven: $25,746

Mpg rating: 15 city, 18 hwy.