What's New for 1999
Mechanical upgrades include new internal components and seals for automatic transmissions, improved cooling system and starter motor durability, and three new exterior paint colors. With an all-new Sierra just months away, changes are limited to a few new colors.
After a power infusion last year to the entire lineup of GMC truck engines, the GMC Sierra becomes the GMC Sierra Classic to distinguish the old model from the all-new Sierra due in showrooms this model year.
Every Sierra gasoline enginefrom the base V6 to the king-of-the-hill V8benefits from Vortec technology, which provides healthy power and torque ratings. For example, the standard 4300 V6 makes an ample 200 horsepower, and the optional 5700 V8 is a much more satisfying powerplant than Ford's new overhead cam designs. Also available are regular- and heavy-duty turbo diesels sporting 6.5 liters of displacement. Power speaks volumes in the pickup truck market, and having competitive horsepower numbers goes a long way toward selling the consumer on these aging pickups. All Sierras come standard with four-wheel antilock brakes.
Creature comforts aren't forgotten in the Sierra. Manufacturers have been constantly trying to make their trucks more car-like, so GM has made rear-seat heating ducts standard on the Sierra extended cab. Shoulder belts are height-adjustable to fit a variety of physiques, and upholstery choices include leather. Heck, you'd hardly know this was a truck, especially with the passenger car tires that give some versions of the Sierra a nicer ride and quieter driving environment.
While the side access panel option available on some 1500-series extended cab Sierras had made loading cargo into the rear of the cab is much easier, there is no four-door extended cab model like those Ford and Dodge offer for 99. Unfortunately for GMC, the Sierra's door deficiency will not be addressed until the 2000 model year, at the earliest.
Improvements for 1999 are limited to some mechanical upgrades and a few new exterior colors. An all-new Sierra hit the showrooms in late-1998 as a 1999 model, so revisions this year on the previous-generation truck are understandably minimal. Why bother to introduce the 1999 Sierra Classic with the debut of an all-new Sierra right around the corner? Well, it seems that GMC was running into Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) problems. In order to get around this, GMC began selling 1999 models early. Problem solved, for now.
Although Chevrolet's own C/K Series garners the greatest amount of publicity, GMC's equivalents are pretty strong sellers themselves. Sierras, in fact, account for close to half of GMC output. Americans continue to clamor for burly pickups, whether for their macho image or for real down-and-dirty work. Whether you choose a light-duty two-wheel-drive (C1500) or the massive four-wheel-drive K3500 Club Coupe on a 155.5-inch wheelbase, GMC gives both Chevrolet and its Ford/Dodge rivals a 'Classic'' run for their money.