What's New for 2001
An all-new model has been added to the Sonoma lineup for 2001, a four-door Crew Cab, complete with Vortec 4300 V6, automatic transmission, InstaTrac four-wheel-drive system and SLS trim. Powertrain improvements incorporate an advanced control module for the V6 and flex-fuel capability for the four-cylinder. There are also new aluminum wheels with the sport suspension, and programmable automatic power door locks.
With an aggressive look, available sport suspension, third-door extended cab, snazzy Sportside bed and a strong 4.3-liter V6 under the hood, GMC's Sonoma has been positioned as a more versatile alternative to the traditional sporty coupe. But with the addition of a true, four-door Crew Cab model this year, Sonomas can be configured to suit just about any driving requirement, from people or utility hauler to off-road bruiser. You can choose from three wheelbases, four cabs (regular, two- or three-door extended, and now four-door crew), a short box or long box in Wideside or Sportside versions and two- or four-wheel drive. Then, you still have to consider three trim levels (SL, SLS and SLE), two engines (a four-cylinder or V6), a manual or automatic transmission, and no less than five different suspensions (three for 2WD and two for 4WD models). Whew!
Four-wheel-drive models, which have four-wheel disc brakes and GM's electronic InstaTrac transfer case standard, are motivated by a 190-horsepower Vortec 4300 V6 (with 250 foot-pounds of torque). Opt for the 4.3 in a 2WD Sonoma, and it'll deliver 180 horses. The base powertrain is a 120-horse, 2.2-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. A four-speed automatic is optional on all but the new Crew Cab, where it's standard. Two-wheel-drive buyers can choose from an all-purpose "smooth-ride" suspension, a firmer "heavy-duty" setup, or a handling-oriented ZQ8 "sport" version. With a "high-payload" suspension standard on 4WD trucks, you'll want to order the High-Rider package if serious off-roading is part of your driving mix. Tagged the ZR2 option, High-Riders boast a bigger, reinforced frame, beefy shocks and three-ply all-terrain tires.
Inside, Sonomas and Chevrolet S-Series pickups are virtually identical, with a roomy cab and modern dash layout. Center stack controls are canted toward the driver for improved access. Unfortunately, the cloth trim and carpeting feel thin, and plastic used for dash panels and switchgear still looks as though it was sourced from a toy company. On extended-cab trucks, an optional left-side access door makes loading/unloading a breeze, but choosing the three-door cab eliminates one of the rear fold-out jump seats.
Outfit a Sonoma with the 180-horse V6 and five-speed stick and add the ZQ8 sport suspension, and this little truck performs as energetically as some sports cars did a decade ago. The curvy Sportside box and sharp, new five-spoke alloys nicely complement the package, turning the Sonoma into a true factory sport truck. Sure, competitors from Ford and Toyota come across as more refined than Sonoma, and the one from Dodge feels large enough to be in a class by itself. But if you're looking for a sporty hauler or just a compact that can carry the whole crew, Sonoma's the hot ticket.