1997 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Optional Vortec 5700 V-8, classic styling, passenger airbag, optional third door.
  • Aging design, interior styling, poorly placed dashboard cupholders, uncomfortable seats
List Price Estimate
$796 - $1,676

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

GM has figured out a way to steal some thunder from the Dodge Ram and the new Ford F-Series. Their entire line of truck engines was refined last year, infused with notable horsepower and torque increases. For good measure, engineers made the rear portion of the extended cab model more accessible via a trick panel that opens wide from the passenger's side to make loading cargo or people much easier.

Every Sierra gasoline engine, from the base V-6 to the king-of-the-hill V-8, benefit from Vortec technology which provide healthy power and torque ratings. For example, the standard 4300 V-6 makes an ample 200 horsepower, and the optional 5700 V-8 is a much more satisfying powerplant than Ford's new overhead cam designs. Also available are regular- and heavy-duty turbodiesels sporting 6.5 liters of displacement. All Sierras have four-wheel anti-lock braking.

The side access panel makes the extended cab model a true family vehicle. Loading cargo into the rear of the cab is much easier too. To qualify for the side access panel, you must order a 1500 extended cab shortbed equipped with SLE or SLT trim and a Vortec 5000 or Vortec 5700 engine mated to an automatic transmission. In contrast, Ford provides a third door standard on all extended cab models, making life much easier.

Other comforts aren't forgotten, either. Automakers are constantly trying to make their trucks more car-like, so GM has made rear seat heating ducts standard on the Sierra. 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 interior.

Improvements for 1997 include a new passenger airbag on models under 8,600 lbs. GVWR, and the airbag can be deactivated for those times when a rear-facing child safety seat is installed. Speed-sensitive steering that boosts power assist at low speeds to make parking easier has been added. On the open road, this system firms up the steering for improved road feel. All K1500 Sierras get a tighter turning radius this year for better maneuverability, and the automatic transmission shifts more smoothly this year thanks to revised hardware.

Although Chevrolet's own C/K Series garners the greatest amount of publicity, GMC's equivalents are pretty strong sellers themselves, approaching 190,000 units each year. 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 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 run for their money.

1997 Highlights

A passenger airbag is added to models with a GVWR under 8,600 pounds, and all models get speed-sensitive steering that reduces low-speed effort. K1500 models have a tighter turning radius for better maneuverability. Automatic transmissions are refined to provide smoother shifts and improved efficiency. Three new paint colors debut.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 GMC Sierra 1500.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Love My GMC Truck
Dr. Grimes,06/15/2009
K1500 SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB
I have pulled stumps with this vehicle as well as a utility trailer with household articles, motorcycle, and ATV. It never had any trouble. I did have the water pump changed a while back. The previous owner had placed small wheels on it for some reason. I put the size tires it should have had. Therefore, I think the mileage is a good bit less than the 60000 that the odometer reads.
My GMC turned me into a Toyota fan.
cspu,11/20/2003
K1500 SL 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB
I bought my 1997 GMC Sierra K1500 SLT extended cab in 2002 with 67K miles on it and sold it just over a year later with 81K. During that time it became apparent that GM is not building their trucks to last. I won't list everything, but major things include the waterpump, trans, and front axles. The squeaks and rattles were everywhere. The brakes are horrible, even after being replaced, this truck is too heavy for the brakes it comes with.
Love it
james dietsch,07/13/2006
K1500 SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB
I have had a lot of fun in my truck. The only real trouble was me beating on it and pushing it to the limits off roading. Otherwise can't complain!
my 1st new vehicle ever
richard,05/02/2008
C1500 SL 2dr Extended Cab LB
I bought this truck in 97 new off the lot. I replaced the tranmission twice, water pump, radiator, wiper motor, power steering pump twice, and the AC went out at 155000 miles. I loved this truck and would love to keep and fix it up. It has 223,000 on the small v-8 motor but needed a better mileage with fuel @ $3.50 a gallon. Everyone who rode with me thought it was such a nice truck. My lil kids love to ride with me and the fact that I could turn off the airbags, made them extremely happy.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 GMC Sierra 1500

Used 1997 GMC Sierra 1500 Overview

The Used 1997 GMC Sierra 1500 is offered in the following submodels: Sierra 1500 Regular Cab, Sierra 1500 Extended Cab. Available styles include SLE 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), GT 2dr Regular Cab SB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Extended Cab 4WD LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Extended Cab 4WD LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Special 2dr Regular Cab LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Special 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SL 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Special 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), Special 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Extended Cab LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Regular Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), SLT 2dr Extended Cab SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), and SL 2dr Extended Cab LB (5.0L 8cyl naturally aspired 5M). Pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 models are available with a 4.3 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 200 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 GMC Sierra 1500 comes with rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

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Can't find a used 1997 GMC Sierra 1500s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Sierra 1500 for sale - 1 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $12,511.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 GMC Sierra 1500?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out GMC Sierra 1500 lease specials