Used 2002 GMC Sierra 1500 Regular Cab Review

Edmunds expert review

GMC advertising claims Sierra is a "professional grade" truck. With stout engines, roomy cabs and rugged good looks, the Sierra impresses. But the cabin is constructed of rather cheap parts, and we've found fit-and-finish concerns on several Sierras. That doesn't spell "professional grade" to us.

What's new for 2002

The Sierra C3 gets a name change to Sierra Denali in addition to a trick new four-wheel steering system. On standard Sierras, the previously optional Z85 firm-ride suspension is now standard on all 1500 models for improved handling and towing capacity. Base SL models now include air conditioning while uplevel SLE and SLT models add deep-tinted glass to the standard feature list.

Vehicle overview

Now entering its fourth model year in current guise, GMC's full-size Sierra pickup continues along the refinement trail for 2002. While it shares a platform and components with Chevrolet's Silverado, the Sierra benefits from 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 Vortec 4.3-liter V6 provides a solid 200 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque for light-duty towing and hauling. If a V8 is more to your liking, there are two to choose from. A 4.8-liter V8 rated at 270 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque is standard on all half-ton extended cab Sierras. For a little extra get up and go, order the 5.3-liter V8 rated at 285 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both engines move the Sierra along with surprising speed while delivering as much as 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

Transmission choices are limited to a five-speed manual or a four-speed overdrive automatic. The five-speed manual is standard equipment on all Sierra 1500s equipped with either the 4.3-liter V6 or 4.8-liter V8. The four-speed automatic that features a driver-selectable tow/haul mode for firmer shifts under load is optional with the 4.3-liter and 4.8-liter engines and the only choice on 5.3-liter-equipped Sierras.

Underneath, all Sierra 1500s utilize an independent suspension in front (coil springs on 2WD, torsion bars on 4WD) and a straight axle leaf spring setup in the rear. A notable change for this year is the switch to the Z85 firm-ride package as standard equipment on all half-ton Sierras. For a cushier ride, the Z83 soft ride suspension is still available. Or you can check the ZX3 option, which provides a dash-mounted switch that can alternate between both firm and soft suspension settings. With the proper equipment, a Sierra 1500 can tow up to 9,200 lbs.

Like most full size trucks, the Sierra comes in a variety of configurations, including 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. A choice of three trim levels (SL, SLE or SLT) and a dizzying array of options and equipment packages are available to customize your truck exactly the way you want it.

For the ultimate half-ton Sierra look no further than the Sierra Denali. Debuting as the C3 last year, the renamed Sierra Denali features a luxurious interior, sharply styled exterior, and exclusive hardware not available on any other GMC half-ton. The Sierra Denali gets the first application of GM's new Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system that shaves nearly ten feet off the Denali's turning circle as well as improving high-speed stability while towing a heavy trailer. A 6.0-liter, 325 horsepower V8 provides the power while a heavy-duty four-speed transmission and full-time all wheel drive put all the power to the ground. Heavy-duty ¾ ton brakes, a performance-tuned suspension and a standard towing package round out the Denali's impressive equipment list.

Upgrades to the Denali's interior include six-way power heated bucket seats, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, a comprehensive trip computer, and two-tone leather upholstery.

All Sierras feature a roomy interior with ample storage space, straightforward controls, and a full complement of safety and convenience features. Rear seat accommodations in extended cab Sierras are surprisingly comfortable with easy access provided by clamshell-style rear doors on both the passenger and driver sides. All the available options and features are too numerous to list here, but needless to say, if you can't find it on a Sierra, it probably doesn't come on a full-size pickup. So whether you're looking for the most basic V6 regular-cab, or the fully decked-out Sierra Denali, GMC's half-ton Sierra has something for everybody.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.