2014 GMC Sierra 1500 (1/2-Ton Trucks)

By: Allyson Harwood

We Like: Great styling, quiet interior, modern cabin.

We Don't Like: Stiff suspension; capability merely catches up.

Of all the contenders at this year's Truck of the Year, the Sierra could have earned the Most Improved award, even more so than its sibling Silverado. While the Chevrolet and GMC pickups use the same three new Ecotec3 engines, with Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing, and direct injection, the Sierra has styling that distinguishes it from the Silverado -- the most differentiated looks the two have had to date.

We sampled the 4.3-liter V-6 in a shortbed regular cab and the 6.2-liter V-8 in a crew cab Denali -- the two extremes in GMC's Sierra line. The judges were impressed with both for different reasons. Even the base truck received plenty of the Sierra's cool new cabin features, such as the numerous USB ports, the new gauge and center stack (with a lesser version of the infotainment system offered in more upmarket Sierras), and the wonderfully quiet cabin. The 4.3-liter is fun to drive in this layout, netting a 7.4-second 0-60 time. The 6.2-liter was even more enjoyable, and came wrapped in the classy, stylish Denali package. The biggest engine in the lineup took only 6.0 seconds to reach 60.

So where did the Sierra fall short? It's a massive improvement over the previous generation, but it only catches up to the rest of the ½-ton market. While the 6.2-liter is tops in towing capacity and power, the other engines haven't surpassed the competition. They definitely win battles here and there, but not more than that. With a new truck coming from Ford and Nissan in 2015, plus a new offering from Ram Truck, merely catching up isn't enough. Burgess summed it up: "This is a great truck, but I don't think it pushes the brand that much farther ahead. It needs to do more to become Truck of the Year."

  2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
Base Price $37,400 $51,060
Price As Tested$38,705$56,225
Power (SAE net) 285 hp @ 5300 rpm 420 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 305 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm 460 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
Accel 0-60, mph 7.4 sec; 17.3 sec* 6.0 sec; 14.6 sec**
Quarter Mile 15.8 sec @ 88.6 mph 14.6 sec @ 97.2 mph
Quarter Mile (towing) 21.2 sec @ 65.4 mph* 20.3 sec @ 69.5 mph**
Braking 60-0, mph 130 ft 135 ft
Lateral Accel 0.74 g (avg) 0.74 g (avg)
EPA Econ (city/hwy) 17/22 mpg 14/20 mpg
Real MPG (city/hwy) 15/21 mpg 15/20 mpg
* with 5690-lb trailer
** with 7132-lb trailer