Used 2002 GMC Sonoma Regular Cab Review

We know the value of an old trusty pickup, but in the Sonoma's case, it's just plain old. A redesign is on the way next year, but if you need a compact truck now, better check out the competition first.




what's new

In what is likely the last year of production before a full redesign, the Sonoma gets a host of minor equipment upgrades. All extended cabs get a standard third door, while all models get a bed extender and upgraded stereos. The top-of-the-line SLE trim level has been discontinued along with the regular cab, long-bed model. Graphite leather trim is now available on crew cab models and Sandalwood has been added to the color palette.

vehicle overview

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. You can choose from three wheelbases, four cabs (regular, two- or three-door extended, and four-door crew), a short box or long box in Wideside or Sportside versions and two- or four-wheel drive. The decisions aren't over yet, as the Sonoma still offers two different trim levels, two engines and transmissions as well as multiple suspensions.

Two-wheel-drive Sonomas come in either regular or extended-cab body styles. The standard engine is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder rated at 120 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque mated to a five-speed manual transmission, with a four-speed automatic optional. If a four-wheel-drive Sonoma is your preference, you can choose between an extended or crew cab body style. The standard engine on these models is a 4.3-liter Vortec V6 with 190 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on extended cabs, while the four-speed automatic comes standard on crew cabs and optional on extended cabs. The 4.3-liter Vortec V6 is also an option on both 2WD Sonomas, although it's rated slightly lower at 180 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque.

Two-wheel-drive buyers can choose from an all-purpose "smooth-ride" suspension, the firmer Z85 "heavy-duty" setup or a handling-oriented ZQ8 "sport" version. The Z85 heavy-duty suspension is standard on 4WD trucks, but if you're serious about four-wheeling, the Sonoma also offers the ZR2 option package that adds heavy-duty shocks and oversized tires.

Inside, Sonomas and Chevrolet S-Series pickups are virtually identical, with decent room for the driver and front passenger. However, don't expect anyone to sit in back without a fight as rear seat accommodations in extended cab Sonomas are tight. Even crew cab models are noticeably cramped for rear passengers. Center stack controls are canted toward the driver for improved access. Unfortunately, the cloth trim and carpeting feel thin, and the plastic used for dash panels and switchgear is noticeably low-grade. Crew cab models now offer Graphite leather trim for a more upscale look, and all models get upgraded stereo systems.

Although the Sonoma does offer an almost endless list of available configurations and options, there's no getting around the fact that the Sonoma is just plain old. With newer, more refined competition from Toyota and Ford on the market, the Sonoma doesn't look quite as appealing as it once did. If you're looking for a good deal, the Sonoma will probably fill the bill, but if you're looking for the best compact truck you can buy, look elsewhere.






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.