Full 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Review
What's New for 2014
Redesigned for 2014, the GMC Sierra benefits from weight reduction and a lineup of new, more fuel-efficient engines including a now-competitive V6.
Modern pickup trucks serve not just as hauling and towing workhorses, but daily drivers and family shuttles as well. Of course, the grunt work requires some muscle, so it's no surprise that in the past buyers usually passed on the base V6 engines and opted for substantially stronger (but thirstier) V8s. But with the increased emphasis on fuel economy lately, manufacturers have been beefing up their trucks' six-cylinder engines, and the redesigned 2014 GMC Sierra has joined the party. Among its many improvements, this all-new Sierra has a competitive V6 engine that will meet the needs of a great many truck buyers.
Of course, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 still offers V8 power in the form of burly 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter mills, which now benefit from direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation for better power and efficiency. However, if you like the Sierra's generous passenger/cargo space but don't have massive hauling/towing requirements, the new 4.3-liter V6 should more than suffice. It makes 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque and can tow up to 7,200 pounds when properly equipped. Fuel economy ratings are impressive as well, with an estimated 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway on two-wheel-drive models.
In addition to getting a stronger base V6 engine, the GMC Sierra has shed some pounds in this redesign, so there's not quite so much truck to move around in the first place. A regular cab model with the V6 and a 6.5-foot pickup bed, for example, weighs 250 fewer pounds than its predecessor. This year also brings revised suspension tuning for a smoother ride, forward-hinged rear doors on extended cab models (in place of the awkward, reverse-opening half doors on the old Sierra) and newly available safety features such as a forward collision-alert system, a lane-departure warning system and trailer sway control.
Although the new Sierra retains the boxy, all-business look of previous GMC Sierras, the automaker's designers have modernized the styling a bit. Among the updates are a massive new grille, revised bumpers and more sculpted sheet metal around the wheelwells. Those who regularly haul a lot of people and cargo will be pleased to know that the Sierra 1500 crew cab now offers a 6.5-foot cargo box in addition to the previous 5.75-foot box. Inside, GMC has upgraded the Sierra's upholstery, dash and door-panel materials, and you can now get an 8-inch touchscreen display with the brand's IntelliLink infotainment interface (the GMC equivalent of Chevy's MyLink) and smartphone integration.
All told, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 is fully competitive with its long-time and similarly capable rivals, the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 as well as the Toyota Tundra. This is especially true now that GMC offers a V6 engine that promises ample performance along with good fuel economy. With such a strong group of choices, your pick for a full-size pickup may come down to feature availability or even styling preference.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 is a full-size pickup offered in a variety of cab/cargo-bed configurations in both two- and four-wheel drive. Body styles include regular cab, extended (double) cab and crew cab. Regular cabs can be had with either a 6.5-foot standard bed or an 8-foot bed. Extended cabs come with the 6.5-foot standard bed, while crew cabs can be had with either a 5.75-foot short bed or the 6.5-foot standard bed.
Regular cabs can be had in base or midlevel SLE trims. Double cabs and crew cabs are available in base, SLE, well-appointed SLT and off-road-oriented Z71 trims.
The base Sierra comes with 17-inch steel wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, a tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, rubber floor covering, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat and a four-speaker AM/FM sound system with a 4-inch color display and USB and auxiliary inputs.
The SLE adds stainless steel finish wheels, deep-tint glass, an "E-Z" lift/lower tailgate, LED cargo box lighting, power/heated mirrors, keyless entry, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, adjustable driver lumbar support, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, OnStar telematics, a color driver information display and an upgraded IntelliLink audio system (with an 8-inch color display, satellite radio, HD radio, Pandora radio, a CD player and voice control functionality).
Stepping up to the SLT adds chrome trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, remote starting, power folding mirrors, a trailer towing package, universal garage opener, an anti-theft system, a rear window defroster, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 110-volt power outlet, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power driver and passenger front seats and driver-seat memory settings.
The Z71 trim, which is added atop the SLE or SLT, features off-road-oriented hardware such as special shock absorbers, a heavy-duty air cleaner, hill-descent control, underbody shields, recovery hooks and a few unique exterior and interior styling tweaks.
Many of the items on the upper trim levels are offered on the lower ones as options, while other available features (depending on trim level and configuration) include various axle ratios, a power sliding rear window, a power sunroof, side steps, parking sensors, ventilated front seats, a Bose audio system, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system with a Blu-Ray player. Notably, the Max Trailering package features an integrated trailer brake controller, heavier-duty suspension calibration and a higher-capacity radiator.
Another key option group is the Driver Alert package, which features a lane-departure warning system, a forward collision-alert system, a safety alert seat, and front and rear parking sensors. There are a few other packages available as well -- highlights include 20-inch wheels, side steps, front and rear parking sensors and a power sliding rear window.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on all but the SLT trim is a 4.3-liter V6 with 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. As with all other Sierra 1500 engines, it comes matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Maximum towing capacity, when properly equipped, is fairly generous at 7,200 pounds. GMC estimates fuel economy to be 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for rear-wheel drive. With 4WD, it drops to 17/22.
The 5.3-liter V8, which is standard on the SLT and optional on other Sierras, makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Properly equipped, trucks with this engine can tow up to 11,400 pounds. With rear-wheel drive, Sierras with the 5.3-liter V8 will achieve 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined (16/22/18 for 4WD), the EPA says.
Optional on the SLT is a 6.2-liter V8 (late availability). GMC has yet to release its power, fuel economy and towing numbers.
Standard safety features on the 2014 GMC Sierra include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front and rear seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes services such as automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen-vehicle assistance. All-new cab structures for the three configurations (standard, double and crew cabs) bring improved structural stiffness and crashworthiness to the 2014 model.
Options include a rearview camera, front and rear park assist and a suite of driver aids that includes a lane departure-warning system and a forward collision-alert system.
Interior Design and Special Features
With this redesign, all-new cab structures bring improved structural stiffness and crashworthiness to the 2014 model. GMC also improved the cabin quality on lower trims, on which materials and build quality are noticeably better. There are also more bins and cubbies than before, and SLT trims have up to five USB ports to keep all your devices charged and happy. The IntelliLink system deserves special mention for its available 8-inch touchscreen that features clear, intuitive controls; redundant knobs and buttons; and a very effective voice command interface. You'll use this interface to take care of most navigation, audio and phone functions in the GMC Sierra.
With a choice of bench or buckets (depending on trim level) up front, as well as available heating, ventilation and adjustable lumbar support, the Sierra's thickly padded seats promise plenty of long-trip comfort. Although the cabs' basic dimensions are unchanged from those of last year, there is a smidge more rear legroom than before, and front occupants have more fore/aft seat adjustment range.
Gone are the awkward reverse-opening rear doors of the previous extended cab, as the newly minted double cab has traditional forward-hinged doors that make it much easier to get in and out of the backseat. The new cabin also rides on improved body mounts for reduced noise and vibration, while clambering into the bed is made easier by clever steps and handholds built into each rear corner.
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500's new V6 provides ample thrust and is light-years ahead of the old V6, not only in terms of power and performance but also refinement. Another indication of this engine's all-around legitimacy is that it is available on nearly all trim levels and body style levels, rather than being relegated only to work truck variants, as was the case with the old V6.
As you would expect, the 5.3-liter V8 delivers solid thrust with good manners, though there's still a bit of vibration during hard acceleration. More seamless than ever, however, is the fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system, which swaps between V8 and V4 modes with complete transparency.
The six-speed automatic provides smooth and timely gearchanges in normal driving. But despite the pull of the Sierra's huskier new engines, we've noticed that there's still too big a gap between the transmission's gear ratios when towing. There are rumors of an upcoming eight-speed transmission -- it would be a welcome addition. That said, we've towed a trailer with an 8,600-pound load behind a Sierra equipped with the 5.3-liter V8 and the Max Trailering package, and there was plenty of reserve grunt.
Overall ride and handling dynamics are noticeably improved over those of the old truck. The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 feels robust structurally, yet most versions are compliant and comfortable over broken pavement, though the stiffer ride on trucks with the Max Trailering package can grow tiresome. The 2014 Sierra is also very quiet, with road noise snuffed out and only a whisper of wind noise at freeway speeds. The GMC is also steady around turns, and its steering is well-weighted. Off road, the Sierra shudders less when bouncing around on rocky trails, exhibiting better composure than ever before.