Fuel-efficient base engine, sporty styling, powerful optional V-6, handy third door option
Shabby build quality, uncomfortable seats, rattly third door option
Changes are limited to new colors, availability of the Sport Suspension on extended cab models, engine and transmission improvements, lighter-weight plug-in half shafts for 4WD Sonomas and console-mounted shifter for trucks equipped with a center console and bucket seats.
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 1997 GMC Sonoma SLE 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Compact trucks are hot sellers, and GMC's entry into that market delivers hard-to-beat value--even if it doesn't stand at the top of its class in every way. A driver airbag with knee bolster and daytime running lights are standard. All Sonomas are equipped with four-wheel antilock braking, and a handy side access panel is optional on the extended cab.
Sonomas can be fitted to suit just about any requirement, from strict utility to sporty style and performance. Choose from three wheelbases, two cab types, a regular-size or long cargo bed in Fleetside or Sportside configuration, and two- or four-wheel drive. Whew! You still have to consider three trim levels, five suspension systems, three engines (a four or two V6 choices), and manual or automatic shift.
GMC changes little for 1997. Extended cab models can be equipped with the Sport Suspension for the first time, and powertrains have been improved for better efficiency. Order bucket seats and a center console, and you'll get a floor-mounted shifter rather than one sticking out of the steering column. Remote keyless entry key fobs are redesigned, and Fairway Green and Smoky Caramel replace Radar Purple and Bright Teal on the color chart. Plug-in half-shafts on 4WD models are lighter-weight and easier to service.
With the high-output, 180-horsepower Vortec 4300 V6 on tap, and the Sport Suspension package, the Sonoma performs as energetically as high-priced sports cars did a decade or so ago. By any definition, that's progress. The Sportside box and sharp five-spoke alloys nicely complement the top powertrain and suspension, turning the Sonoma into a true factory sport truck. For off-roading duties, GMC offers the Highrider, riding three-ply all-terrain tires and sporting a reinforced frame (four inches wider, two inches taller) and toughened suspension. Either Sonoma outperforms the Ranger on or off the pavement, but when it comes to interior fittings, only the Nissan Truck is more archaic.
Inside, Sonomas and Chevrolet S-Series pickups are virtually identical, with a roomy cab marred by an aesthetic disaster of a dashboard, which looks and feels as though it were lifted from some defunct Buick project, and uncomfortable bucket seats. A passenger airbag is unavailable. On extended cab trucks, an optional left side access panel makes loading passengers or cargo into the rear of the cab much easier, but takes the place of one of the fold-out jump seats in the rear.
Ford's Ranger, Dodge's Dakota, and Toyota's Tacoma come across as more refined, and their sticker prices reflect this impression. In compact-truck value per dollar, though, GMC just might deliver all the goods you're seeking.
Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 GMC Sonoma.
I bought a 96 Sonoma,4 cyl.,stick for $2,500 (inc. tax & fees) in 6/2009. Shortly after purchase I spent $2,000 replacing the alternator, fuel pump & engine. For a small truck (4cyl) it rides well & has great pickup for a 4 cylinder vehicle. It gets 20+ MPG, maneuvers well & easily holds its own on the interstate. At 70 to 90 MPH it still rides good and is easy to handle. It is … mediocre at best as far as blocking road noise. The AC is excellent, the radio (I think it's original) plays well, and there is an extra input to plug in cell phone. Overall, I like it a lot. My wife hates it. She thinks it is too shaky & noisy, but she drives a 2007 E300.
I have had this truck for 4 years and I purchsed it with 79,000 miles on it and I have nothing but a great experience with this truck. I now have over 193,000 miles on it and it runs almost like new. I change the oil every 3000 miles and the ride isn't bad for a truck. The only thing I had to do to this truck was install a new wiper motor which I installed and that's about it. I like how … reliable this trucks been and the 4 wheel drive works perfectly.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 1997 GMC Sonoma, so we've included reviews for other years of the Sonoma since its last redesign.