Sierra brought the sunshine
THE end of summer is marked by many things: cooler, longer nights, the increasingly louder chorus of crickets, going back to school or work. Everyone has end-ofsummer signposts; mine is always marked by the removal of the family boat from the lake.
It seems way too early to shut things down, but fall has a way of catching us off guard with heavy rains, cold days and sudden frost, all of which tell us it’s time to hibernate the machinery that lubricates summer life.
This year will be especially hard, as it marks the end of not just a great summer on the lake, but the departure of the 2014 GMC Sierra SLT we borrowed from GM Canada in mid-July.
Over the past eight weeks, this truck has endeared itself to me and my family in so many ways, from hauling heavy loads, trips to the cottage and carrying loads of lumber, to being especially comfortable and quiet on all those summer miles. Where before I never really considered buying a full-sized truck, I’m now considering my options, having grown so attached to the usefulness of not just a truck — but the workings of the new Sierra.
The interior is roomy and properly laid out. The instrument cluster, knobs, switches and centre stack work extremely well. At no time was I ever frustrated by the Sierra’s controls. I loved the LED cargo lights.
The exterior, while maintaining a look similar to older Sierras and keeping its smaller size, is fresh enough to be considered seriously good-looking without being over the top.
Build quality is excellent. I had only one minor issue with the driver’s seat, and one wheel went out of balance. Aside from the seat, I heard no rattles or squeaks. Rigidity is roughly 30 per cent better than before, feeling much stiffer than an F-150 or Ram.
The Sierra, as it sits now, would be my choice over the current F-150 — a truck I’ve recommended for years.
I don’t say that lightly, I say that because of the total package that is the 2014 Sierra 1500.
While there are three engine options for the SLT, our truck had the 5.3L V-8. GM calls it the EcoTec3 because it uses cylinder deactivation, direct injection and variable valve timing. The engine has 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. It is very quiet at idle and at speed, and rarely exhibits any coarseness. While it could be a bit quicker on the highway, the engine works well. Sure, I’d love a diesel engine in the Sierra — something GM engineers have not ruled out — but the gasoline 5.3 was suitable for almost any job we threw at it.
It also towed large loads with ease, as was evident last weekend hauling my 2,000-kilogram Sea Ray and trailer from the cottage to the skilled technician who winterizes it. Even when empty, the Sierra never demonstrated the bucking and kicking that is so ubiquitous in the ride of a pickup truck. The 4x4 AWD system and rear differential are excellent.
Our fuel consumption was better than expected. Over the summer, my average of city and highway driving came in at 14L/100 km. The best fuel economy I ever achieved was 9.6 L/100 km.
Of course, the model we drove this summer was a fully loaded version, a top-of-the line SLT 1500 4WD Crew cab with a 5.75-foot box. It stickered for $48,515, but optioned with two all-terrain packages that cost $1,745 and $1,785 plus freight and delivery, it came to $56,715.
No longer built in Oshawa, Ont., the Sierra is now assembled in Silao, Mexico or the U.S., depending on configuration. The Crew Cab, however, is likely the model of choice for families since it now has more legroom.
The Sierra SLT made for one of the best summers I’ve ever had. The truck made chores easier and summer much more fun.
Handing back the Sierra might be a little like the coming season — cold, dark and desolate — but it will also be full of all those good Sierra summer memories.
For more on this series, including week-by-week reports, video and photo galleries, go to driving.ca.
The 2014 GMC Sierra SLT made summer that much easier.