What's New for 2001
Reliability improvements for all Vortec V6 and V8 engines top the list of changes this year. Consequently, oil-change intervals have been extended to 7,500 miles. A traction assist feature is now available on two-wheel-drive V8 automatics, thanks to a new electronic throttle control system. Factory-installed OnStar, GM's mobile communications and security system, has been made standard with the SLT trim level. New this year is a 325-horse, all-wheel-drive performance version called the C3.
After a much-improved Sierra bowed in 1999, GMC's full-size pickup continues along the refinement trail for 2001. The Sierra 1500 (half-ton) employs a unique, three-piece frame construction. While it shares a platform and componentry with Chevrolet's Silverado, the Sierra gets some styling and feature enhancements to position the GMC as a "professional grade" truck.
Looks and special content aside, the biggest draw for GMC's half-ton pickup is a first-class engine lineup. The base 200-horse, Vortec 4.3-liter V6 has been upgraded again this year to improve durability, emissions and fuel economy. But more impressive are the two available V8s, all of which have seen further refinements to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and increase service life. The Vortec 4.8-liter V8 (with 270 horses/285 foot-pounds of torque) is standard on half-ton extended cabs, and a 5.3-liter V8 (with 285/325) is optional on all 1500s. Both enjoy a flat torque curve for sustained hauling power.
Each version is available with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. As usual, there is a variety of configurations to choose from, including the regular (two-door) or extended (four-door) cabs, short (6.5-foot) or long (8-foot) beds, Wideside or Sportside box designs, and rear- or four-wheel-drive versions. What's more, there are three trim levels (SL, SLE or SLT) and a dizzying array of options and packages to custom equip your truck exactly the way you want it.
Do you go off-roading? Choose the Z71 Off-Road Suspension package. Prefer to pick your own suspension settings? Try the ZX3 Manual Select Damping package. Plan to do a lot of towing? Go for the Z82 Heavy Duty Trailering Equipment package. Got heavy loads to haul? Opt for the Z85 Increased Capacity package. Like performance? Order the new C3, a sporty, high-end AWD model that's available only as an extended cab and built as a more practical alternative to Ford's supercharged SVT F-150 Lightning. The Sierra 1500's roomy interior offers ample storage space, including a center armrest that is large enough for a laptop computer or a six-pack of soda, depending on your priorities. Reduced-force airbags (with passenger-side on/off switch) are standard, plus a full complement of safety and convenience features too numerous to list here. Overall, Sierra is very competitive with the top Ford and Dodge offerings. But because GMC is now defining itself as the "professional grade" division for more demanding truck buyers, watch for price creep to start forcing less-affluent young cowboy types to look elsewhere.