2014 GMC Sierra Regular Cab First Test
This Truck Is Ready for Work, But It’s Fun to Drive, Too
Don’t write off the 4.3-liter V-6 that GMC offers in its new-for-2014 Sierra. While it is the base engine, it is genuinely fun to drive, as we discovered in the regular-cab short bed we tested. That this truck also has a redesigned exterior and interior, cool new features in the cabin, and elements of the 2014 model that make it easier to get work done just make the truck even better. But whether it is hauling cargo or out on the street, this is a truck that will surprise people.
It’s a shame we don’t get to drive more regular-cab pickups, as this is where the base engine of a truck really shines. Combine that with the inherent honesty of a single-row truck, especially this one, with its cloth seats and no-nonsense cabin, and the truck becomes instantly endearing. This isn’t some tarted-up cowboy truck; this is the layout that many people will use when they need their truck to do actual work on a regular basis. Yet as we discovered, this is a truck set up to do work, but driving it is no penalty.
As is the case with the rest of the 2014 Sierra line, styling is quite attractive, inside and out. While the cabin doesn’t have all the amenities of higher-trim-level Sierras, there were more features here that we would’ve expected. Our tester came with the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate, Stabilitrak with Trailer Sway Control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The driver seat and the windows were power operated. In addition, there were extra USB ports in the center console. There are plenty of connection points that would make it possible to get work done while on the road or on the way to the job site. Two pleasant surprises inside: the cabin was unbelievably quiet, and the top-notch cloth seats were pleasantly comfortable.
Starting up the Sierra, we were instantly reminded how far the 4.3-liter engine has come. At this point, just about the only thing this V-6 has in common with the previous V-6 is the displacement. The new V-6, which is part of GM’s EcoTec3 family of engines, has the same technologies as the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8s that make up the rest of the EcoTec3 line. This includes variable valve timing, direct injection, and Active Fuel Management. Here, it drops the six into V-4 mode, a process that was surprisingly seamless. The only way we could tell it was happening was when the indicator changed on the driver information screen in the gauge cluster. And while it didn’t happen all the time, the truck did drive in V-4 mode both on the highway and when towing. (It can tow as much as 7600 lb when properly equipped.)
These technologies make the new engine more efficient. But the truck is faster with the new engine as well. The previous cast-iron 4.3-liter put out 195 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and was backed by a four-speed automatic. For 2014, the cast-aluminum 4.3-liter has a power output of 285 hp—a whopping 90-horsepower increase—and 305 lb-ft, and it’s backed by a six-speed automatic. We felt the difference immediately. Past iterations of the Sierra with the 4.3-liter six felt slow and unenthusiastic. That has all changed here. This Sierra felt quick, and was genuinely fun to drive. It was speedy at the track, too, where the SLE reached 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds at 88.6 mph. The brakes were responsive without being jarring, and this Sierra only needed 130 feet to stop from 60 mph. Our biggest complaint: the ride was firm.
This Sierra wasn’t cheap, by any means. It was over $36,000 as tested. However, this truck gave us a taste of what people who need to get work done would experience in a regular-cab Sierra. This Sierra offers plenty of value without having to be apologetic for its engine. The truck’s layout and engine give the working guy a pickup that will get the job done yet is still fun to drive.
|2014 GMC Sierra SLE|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$36,620|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 3-pass, 2-door truck|
|ENGINE||4.3L/285-hp/305-lb-ft OHV 12-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4776 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||205.5 x 80.0 x 74.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.8 sec @ 88.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||130 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.74 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||17/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||198/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.02 lb/mile|