Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 GMC Sierra 1500 Pickup Overview
The Professional's Workhorse
If you've been shopping the full-size pickup market, you know there are only a few makes from which to choose. You've probably also noticed that most companies have one model that wears numerous hats, billed as everything from base to super-luxury. If this one-size-fits-all approach leaves you a little cold, you should consider moving your seat from the coach section to first class by putting yourself behind the wheel of the GMC Sierra.
GMC has reshaped its trucks to appeal to the working professional; even the most basic model is fairly plush, with a long list of optional equipment and powertrains. This year, the entire lineupexcept the Denaligets a new look, with a revised front end, new wheels and more trim detailing around the grille and beltline. Interior improvements include a redesigned dash and instrument panel, new center console and improved seat comfort both front and rear. You'll notice the thoroughness of the Sierra's interior with such small but important touches as rear seat head restraints, a new LCD driver information readout that monitors 27 separate functions, rear-seat directional ventilation controls and manual dual-zone air conditioning for greater passenger comfort.
The Sierra line is made up of many trim and model configurations, they include: the 1500, 2500 and 3500 models in base, SE, SLT or Denali trim (1500 only); wheelbase options include 143.5 and 157.5-inches and bed length choices are 6 or 8 feet. Cab configurations are just as plentiful, with a roomy standard cab, a longer Extended cab with rear-facing doors and a full-blown Crew Cab model. On the extended cab Sierra, a set of rear doors open out to allow easy access and egress of passengers and cargo. When both front and rear doors are fully opened the entire cab is exposed, with no pillars or seatbelt straps to hinder loading (the front shoulder belts are built into the sides of the front seat.) Rear seat passengers have ample legroom, though the bench seat is a bit on the short side when it comes to thigh support.
No matter which model you choose, you'll be getting a quality-built truck that is as capable as it is stylish. GMC offers a wide range of powertrains and drive options, including four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and Quadrasteer four-wheel steering. The Quadrasteer systemalso available on the 1500 extended-cab short-box trucksuses all four wheels to steer the truck and vastly improves the Sierra's turning radius. For anyone who has ever had to make a u-turn while hauling a trailer, the importance of four-wheel steering cannot be overstated. The Quadrasteer system also improves the Sierra's stability and handling characteristics, most noticeably during freeway driving.
At the top of the Sierra lineup is the ultimate in pickup chic, the Denali. With its expressive front-end styling, additional use of chrome and handsome 17-inch aluminum wheels, the Denali distinguishes itself as far more than just a gussied-up Sierra. Inside, most features that are optional on the Sierra have been made standard on the Denali. The instrument panel receives its own unique color treatment, with the gauge faces bathed in blue light and the steering wheel outfitted with no less than eight backlit buttons that operate everything from the audio to the cruise control. Optional features include XM satellite radio, an available Bose audio system and a Panasonic DVD-based entertainment unit.
Power for the base truck comes from a competent 4.3-liter V6 engine rated at 200 horsepower. In everyday driving and for light chores, this engine works just fine in the big Sierra and returns pretty respectable fuel mileage. If you plan on doing more than just light-duty work, you'll be much better off opting for one of the Sierra's Vortec V8 engines. Though its basic design is somewhat dated (it does not have an overhead cam, for example) the Vortec 4800 still manages to pump out 275 horsepower, offers excellent acceleration and is nearly silent when operating. GM's electronic four-speed transmission gets the credit for keeping the rpm low when running at cruising speed, which allows the 4800 to achieve an EPA highway rating of 20 mpg. For those who value power above all else, the Vortec 5300 and 6000 are the engines of choice. The 5300 offers 285 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque while the massive Vortec 6000 is rated at 300 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. Tow ratings on the HD models are among the best in their class for a gasoline-powered pickup (no diesel is offered.)
On the open road, you'll find the Sierra's steering is light, with modest feedback to the driver; the brakes, on the other hand, get excellent marks with excellent pedal feel that is rock solid. It should be noted that different wheel and tire packages will affect the way the Sierra feels on the road, so you may want to test drive something that will mirror your final choice.