The weather in Northeast Ohio has been rough the past few weeks. Driving has been a chore and even discouraged by the news. We are fully into the Winter and enjoying the snow, ice, sleet, and salty roads. That doesn't stop Hoagies Garage though! We have something really neat that you are going to enjoy. This past week, I have spent some time with the all new, 2014 GMC Sierra. Four Wheel Drive was a must for this review, and this truck had it. While driving and testing though, 4wd wasn't even on my mind...
The GMC lineup of vehicles has always puzzled me. When GM went belly up and the word buyout was on the table, there were talks of brand consolidation. In all honesty, my first thought was GMC would be the first to go. Followed by Saturn and then maybe even Buick. I never in a million years would have guessed GMC would be saved and Pontiac would be let go. Well here we are, it's 2014 and I am behind the wheel of a GMC Sierra.
The Sierra is basically the Silverado if we are honest. GMC vehicles are pretty much just copycats of different Chevy models. They cost more and have more options, end of story. When the Sierra first entered the garage, I decided to look at the window sticker before I even drove it down the road or sat inside the cab. This truck, which is a Sierra 1500 Crew Cab SLT 4WD model, has an out the door sticker price minus tax, title, dealer prep of $48,895.00 - right there for me, never going to happen. A truck is something that should not cost almost as much as a Corvette. I have seen housing in the Akron area going for less than that. For this review, I really tried my best to see why the price is so high and also would this really be worth it for the average truck buyer who was in the market for a four door pickup.
The look of this truck is very clean and professional if I had to summarize. Painted in a color they call Iridium Metallic, to me it looked dark gray with a little bit of metallic flake baked into the paint. Chrome is something they weren't shy with and the optional 20" wheels give even more. This model was outfitted with long side steps, which obviously are chrome. The headlights got some attention from people as they are projectors surrounded by white LED bars top and bottom. The 2014 GM trucks have these aggressive looking squared wheel openings which give them their own look. Looking out over the hood, you see two massive bulges that make the hood look more unique and chiseled. This being a GMC, they try to differentiate between the Silverado. I happened to park next to one during our test and found they were successful in that. GM didn't just change badges and add some chrome. They are getting very good at giving two identical models their own identity which is a good thing. On the utility end, the bed had some sort of factory applied grippy bedliner which looked like it was Line-X quality. The rear bumper has the integrated steps which even though this is a super expensive luxurious truck, it gave the back end a utility look. Finally, the tailgate - you can drop it from the latched position and it will fall super smooth and land softly, a nice touch. Overall, GM did a great job on styling, build quality, and improving on the previous generation of trucks. I never thought I would say this, but driving this truck around town actually turned heads.
Upon entering the Sierra, you are greeted with LEDs, leather, massive animated screens, buttons, wood grain, chrome, and more buttons. Right from the beginning I really did not feel like I was sitting in a truck. The interior was Jet Black/Dark Ash in color and really looked clean and well built. Everything feels nicely constructed and almost luxurious, really this is the nicest GM vehicle I have ever sat in. When closing the door, you are greeted with an eerie silence. The 2014 line of trucks are equipped with triple sealed windows and doors, new sound deadening, hydraulic engine/trans/body mounts, and a super quiet exhaust system. I really felt like I was sitting in a luxury car. The amount of buttons and controls had me sitting in the garage just fiddling for a good half hour before I even got to driving. Keeping me comfortable were the leather, heated, and cooled seats along with a heated steering wheel. The HVAC setup was a nice and easy to understand automatic system that worked great. Under the heater controls I found three USB ports, two 12 volt outlets, and a regular 110 volt AC outlet. Inside the LED lit center console I found another 12 volt outlet, two more USB ports, an aux input, and an SD Card Slot. Keep in mind the center console is wide enough to hold regular sized hanging files and also a laptop. Looking around even further, you will find a powered rear cab window, HomeLink programmable buttons, LED map lights, OnStar, parking assist controls, the switch to turn on the LED lights in the bed, and of course power everything. This included power seats, windows, locks, mirrors, and pedals. The interior of this Sierra was totally loaded and also included the amazing GMC Intellilink System, which we will discuss a little later. Before even driving the truck, there was a lot to take in and play around with. The driver information center was a full color screen set in between the tach and speedo. This gave you tons of information like gas mileage, trip odometers, transmission temperature, trailer brake settings, phone controls, navigation, and much more. Basically you could control the entire truck just from this display which was very cool.
When you put the Sierra into reverse using the column mounted shifter, which we didn't mind, the side mirrors lower to help guide you and the tailgate mounted camera pops on the 8" dash screen with guidance lines. For most of our test, the snow was flying. The transfer case is controlled by a small dial on the left side of the dash. You are given the option of 2WD, Auto 4WD (kind of like AWD), 4WD, 4Lo, and Neutral. When you spin the knob, the color driver information display between the gauges lets you know what is happening with the shifting process. Our model was equipped with the 5.3L Ecotec3 V8, which puts out around 355hp and 383Lb Ft of torque. This particular model has the 3.42 rear axle along with upgraded 20" chrome wheels. While driving down the road, I couldn't kick the feeling that I was in everybody's way. For me, it took almost the entire week I had the truck to get used to the feeling of driving such a large vehicle. Keep in mind this has four full doors, a massive hood that bulges up towards the sky, a grille that looks like it belongs on a semi, and a bed that seems to go on for days. I just felt in the way of other drivers making wider turns and maneuvering through parking lots. The parking sensors were going nuts the first few days, simply because I could not get used to the scale of this thing. Now as far as trucks go, they are known for being rough riding and noisy. Not the '14 Sierra. While cruising down the highway, the ride was super smooth and the noise in the cabin was nonexistent. Having a conversation with anybody in the cab was easy and nobody was sore after a trip. This truck is seriously luxurious and also comfortable while hauling 2x4s or whatever else you need to. 355hp was enough to get the 7,000lb truck going, but to me it did feel just a bit corked up if that makes sense. I feel with a better flowing exhaust and some other tweaks it would really open up the feeling of acceleration. Seriously though, that would defeat the whole purpose of a comfortable GMC truck. The six speed automatic does a fine job in my opinion. I am somewhat old school in the idea that I kind of like knowing what gear my car is in, even if it has an automatic. These new six speed autos make that tough, as it is jumping all over the place and sometimes you don't even realize it. Going off of that idea of having six speeds, that is one of the reasons the EPA gives this truck 16mpg City and 22mpg Highway. The Sierra also has cylinder deactivation, which drops it down to using only four cylinders when it isn't working hard. Keeping all that in mind, during the course of our test we averaged 14.4mpg.... For all the great tech, new features, and fuel saving goodies that is not very good. This was a mixture of highway and city driving and we were just doing average speeds running with traffic. We do have to remember this is a massive, full size truck. You will have to make a sacrifice with your fuel mileage, but if you are buying this truck I don't think you're worrying about fuel consumption.
Like stated above, the AWD and 4WD were needed off and on during our test. I realize that 4WD can kill fuel mileage, so we used it as little as possible. During our week with the Sierra though, the truck got to experience freezing rain, ice, well below zero temperatures, and about 10 inches of snow. The truck had no problems driving whatsoever. It would climb out of any snowy driveway or parking lot with ease. A few minor "winter issues" arose during our test though. The new triple sealed windows caused a headache for us during a fast food drive-thru run. Both driver and passenger windows refused to go down, even after having the truck warm up and driving for twenty minutes. We were forced to open the drivers side door of our $48k truck to retrieve the food, basically like the windows were broken on an old beater. I did find it funny though that the back windows would open fine during this time period. We kind of were wondering if the triple seals are almost too good. The freezing rain also caused havoc for the front parking sensors. As you can see in some of the pictures, the front of the truck was covered in ice. This caused excessive beeping and false alarms from the system, insisting we were going to hit something. They were smart enough to disable themselves after awhile, but it still was something that happened until we chipped the ice away. One major plus during cold driving with the Sierra is the heated interior parts. The seats are smart enough to warm themselves during remote start and the heated steering wheel was amazing. I am really curious to see one of these steering wheels cut open just to see how that system works. A really nice little touch that added to that luxurious feeling of the truck.
The IntelliLink system is very similar to the Chevy MyLink system we tested on the Spark a few months back. Our Sierra has an 8" touchscreen that gives a more grown up look than MyLink. On the home screen you find icons for Audio, Navigation, Weather, Pandora and many other things. The system easily paired with my iPhone 5 via Bluetooth and also the USB port. Audio options included SiriusXM radio, HD Radio, CD, regular radio, my iPhone, and Pandora through the iPhone. I also will say that IntelliLink allows you to use any audio from any app as long as you have the correct source picked. You can also use a flash drive in any USB port or SD Card in the center console slot. Basically, tons of options for your listening pleasure. The navigation worked very well with voice commands, traffic updates, and voice recognition. Telling it an exact address with my voice worked perfectly, but it did have trouble with specific local restaurant names. It really couldn't get what we were telling it. Onstar directions tied in beautifully with the factory navigation, loading quickly while keeping my hands on the wheel. Pulling up the weather app built into the system was very cool. The screen would show a live radar view, extended forecast, and also had the option to look up other locations. Loading at times did take a bit too long, but overall the weather is something I bet you are going to see on almost every touch screen system in the near future. These new audio systems really are neat. You can't argue with an 8" touchscreen that will play pretty much anything you throw at it. I am very curious though why GM decided to individually market and come up with a specific style for each brand. Why does Chevy, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac all have to be uniquely different? I don't see the harm in having a GMC MyLink along with a Chevy MyLink system. That might be something though that is beyond my comprehension and GM has a really good reason for it. Either way though, GM has done an amazing job with their infotainment system here, just like they did with MyLink. The upgraded Bose Audio System on this model was absolutely amazing as well. I will go out on a limb and say that this is the best sounding car stereo I have ever used. Any type or style of music played perfectly at low volumes and sounded amazingly clear at full blast. The entire system in the Sierra really was amazing to use and listen to.
During this review, we took the time to find out how the world felt about the Sierra. This being the new 2014, I did get random people asking me about it as I drove places. I was told by many people they liked the looks and also that it is big. The optional 20" chrome wheels got quite a few compliments as well. Typically, somebody my age wouldn't be able to afford this type of truck. If anything we would opt for the Silverado and be happy with our decision. This type of truck appeals to somebody who wants a more expensive truck, some luxury, and also wants to haul some mulch from time to time. With that being said, we asked some of these types of people who could actually afford this truck what they thought. Overall they liked it, but the amount of tech and interior features really did turn them off. The IntelliLink system is simple for me to navigate and setup, but for somebody older who is not as tech savvy, it probably would be a nuisance. They also asked me how much the heated steering wheel and automatic mirrors will cost to fix when they break... Looking online through social media and other places, the Sierra is getting tons of positive feedback. Instagram is full of people that absolutely love this truck. We found the same thing when looking through tweets with specific hastags and topics. Once again, I think GM did a great job with the styling and updates for this new generation of trucks.
At the start of this review, I was very skeptical. This is one of the most expensive vehicles you can buy from General Motors. For a truck, when we think of what everyone uses a truck for, that is a lot of money. GMC did somewhat justify the cost with the amazing amount of options and features. Sitting inside and looking around, you really get a sense of where most of the sticker price goes. I actually found myself forgetting about the powertrain, driving feel, 4WD, and the utility of this thing. When you step back and put all that together, I think that is what GMC wanted. This is still a truck that can do truck things. It will haul, tow, drive off-road, muscle onto the highway, and get you to your hunting camp deep in the woods. While it can do and will do all of those things, you will be more comfortable than any of your friends who choose the Silverado or F150 - Just be sure to keep your chrome polish handy.
- Fully Loaded - This truck has pretty much everything.
- Infotainment - Full featured and great sounding, one of the best in car systems I've ever used.
- Looks & Build - Quality all the way around, this truck looks great and was built with lasting quality in mind.
- USA - One final positive, this truck lets you know that American vehicles are back and better than ever.
- Price - $48k is tough to justify.
- Winter Issues - A few minor troubles that made driving in the cold a bit of a nuisance.
- Size - If you need it, you need it. Still, this truck was difficult to get the hang of in just a week. I really don't think I'd pass my drivers test if it was in the Sierra Crew Cab...