GMC Sierra 1500: The conclusion of our extended test drive

A little more than three months ago, we began our long-term test of the Sierra 1500 and the time has already come to return the keys.  I must admit that I will miss the practical aspect of this type of vehicle, especially for life in the country.  In fact, not long ago while filming in my neck of the woods, someone, upon seeing the way people live on the farm, observed that a pick-up could be terribly practical.  There is nothing wrong with the Toyota Yaris, I replied, but it would hardly be suitable for all situations.  The person who made the comment was a city slicker and had just come to the realization that for many, a pick-up truck is an essential tool and not merely a status symbol.

As the weeks wore on, our GMC Sierra proved itself practical and its excellent style, thanks mainly to the addition of numerous accessories, turned out to be a real conversation-starter.  This was an unexpected but, ultimately, much appreciated feature, as it is always interesting to discuss a product with owners of similar or rival brands.
Since its makeover two years ago, the Sierra features an extremely rigid chassis and a pleasant ride thanks to steering that helps you feel at one with the road.  The basic V6 and V8 engines suit most needs, but those who demand a little more will appreciate the power and torque of the 6.0 and 6.2-litre engines.  As for fuel consumption, as mentioned in another test, I averaged 16L/100 km for normal driving while that figure climbed to around 22 to 23L/100 km when the vehicle was towing a heavy load, in this case 5,000 kg.  Therein lies the drawback of gas engines as opposed to diesel engines, which offer attractive fuel economy even when put to the test.

I also took advantage of our long-term test drive to put a few colleagues and acquaintances behind the wheel to get their opinions.  Here are some of their comments:

Alain Morin, journalist, Guide de l'auto

The Sierra SLT pick-up truck that General Motors loaned to us for a long-term test drive represents exactly the kind of pick-up that people DON’T want anymore!  Sure, it has an appealing look with its superb 22-inch wheels, but you have to wonder who would dare drive this $53,000 4x4 vehicle in the mud…Furthermore, even though its drive system has proven off-road capabilities, the large assist steps on our Sierra were very useful for getting in and out of the passenger compartment but reduce the breakover angle while the chrome exhaust tip reduces the departure angle…not exactly what I would call practical off the beaten track.  Furthermore, the pick-up box on our model was equipped with storage boxes, which, while very useful, take up a lot of space for large objects.  I have nothing against either the GMC Sierra or Chevrolet Silverado.  Far from it!, but tricked out with accessories that are prettier than they are useful, for several months now these trucks simply have not met the expectations of typical pick-up buyers.  From now on, it’s substance over style!

Jacques Delorme, retiree

“I liked the vehicle.  It is pleasant to drive and certainly very stylish and I enjoyed the luxurious interior, the numerous conveniences and the satellite radio. The assist steps are also very practical.  On the road, the engine is sufficiently powerful and on the highway, you get reasonable enough fuel consumption.  Visibility is excellent and its handling is reassuring.  It is a vehicle that stands out compared to the pick-ups that I have tried in the past.”

GM, the only manufacturer to separate its full-size pick-ups into two distinct brands, GMC and Chevrolet, raised the bar by introducing its new generation of pick-up two years ago.  However, I had the chance to try the brand new Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 2009 and I must admit that these two products are very appealing and set themselves apart in numerous ways.  GM will have to adjust in order to remain competitive and the manufacturer is counting on the arrival of a hybrid model this year to do so.  This new model will use a 2-mode hybrid system and should feature substantial fuel economy.  However, with diminished loading and towing capacity compared to gas models, this will not be the model for everyone.

As for Japanese models, they are still not at the level of the American trio.  Their pick-ups are undoubtedly easy on the eyes, but once they hit the terrain, they are simply not in the same class.

Don’t miss any of the texts on our extended test of the GMC Sierra 1500.

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