While my review will be a bit baised, the truth of the matter is that this is a great truck. I own one of the limited models that came with the full ZQ8 package. Needless to say, this truck is more than powerful, and an excellent example of how a sport truck should handle. The truck is very responsive to modifications, which I can attest to personally since mine runs the quarter in a little over 13 seconds flat. Yet, as a pure work truck it is as relaible as can be, and has far better styling than the competition. If you must settle for a mid-size truck, than this is the best choice out there.
I bought my '97 Sonoma 4x4 new and have enjoyed driving it ever since. It feels a little sluggish in the city at times, but that's to be expected with most trucks. This truck handles very well on the highway, especially in the mountains. The V6 has enough power to make climbing hills and passing a breeze, even when loaded. If I decide to buy a new truck any time soon, it will most likely be another Sonoma.
Has leaked oil, coolant, trans lube, freon since the day I bought it. GM would do nothing. Had to drive a whole year without heat because nobody could figure out why or fix it. Noisy transmission. Mysterious electrical problems. Eats oxygen sensors. Needs new ones every 2 years. Drove about 4 years with the "check engine" light on. Hard to fix since everything is so tightly jammed in the engine compartment. I would not buy GMC again. Yeah, a Sonoma is not a "real" truck. But just because it's small is no excuse for bad design and manufacturing. It wasn't a cheap truck.
This was the first car I purchased. GMC did a good thing when they created 4.3 V6 Vortec. This is the most reliable engine that I have ever driven. The body rusts way to easily however, so whoever forgot the clear coat at the assembly plant needs to get smacked. Also, the windshield wiper motor began to short circuit around 110000. Also, the tires recommended by all tire shops are not the ones on the car, which is weird. The suspension is awful. As a result, the interior creaks and squeaks like no other. Also, 2WD, especially in Wisconsin, makes this truck absolutely useless in the winter being that the bed is so light and suspension so loose.
This is the second GMC Sonoma that I've owned (both used). They are solid and a lot less pricey than the Toyota Tacomas. It's a good looking little truck that is pleasant to operate. The 4.3 L engine seems to be this truck's best feature. Shifting (automatic) is sometimes jerky, but not too bad. These trucks have a typical rear leaf spring fracture, and I ended up with a whole new set of rear springs and shocks all around. The plastic GMC uses for their interiors must be made by the Mattel toy company -- cracks easily and is very hard to repair. Sounds like I don't like the truck, but I do. It's been reliable, and is relatively comfortable. Rear jump seats are pretty much useless, and the rear area (extended cab) is difficult to access unless you get the third door -- which I WISH I had held out for! Bought the truck used with under 100K, now have 140K and could sell it for more than I paid. Overall a decent little truck that will haul WAY over its rated load capacity. I get 18.5 around town and 21 - 22 on long highway trips. UPDATE: I put on a set of Hancook tires with a more aggressive (but not too extreme) tread pattern that is pretty good off-road, but not so great on the highway -- a little squirrely tracking, and they have reduced my milage by one to one & a half miles. Great tires, just not fuel efficient, so now I'm getting about 17 around town and probably 20 - 21 hwy. Still like the vehicle, and how have just about 150,000 on it.