Sierra brought the sun­shine

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - AUTOS - By Derek McNaughton

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.

POST­MEDIA NET­WORK INC. / LIAM MCNAUGHTON

The 2014 GMC Sierra SLT made sum­mer that much eas­ier.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.