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VOL. 40 | NO. 34 | Friday, August 19, 2016

GMC Sierra pairs off-road attitude, elegant styling

By Ann M. Job | Associated Press

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The 2016 GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck combines an off-road attitude in its new All-Terrain X package and an elegant vibe with subtly freshened front and rear styling.

New features add convenience: a remote-locking tailgate, power articulating steps, wireless phone chargers and easier smartphone compatibility. Plus, a modern, eight-speed automatic transmission is available on more models this year.

It’s a vehicle that will continue to appeal to buyers looking for a high-riding, well-styled truck that can tow big trailers, haul large loads and carry up to six passengers with ease.

The 2016 Sierra has earned five out of five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side crash testing by the federal government. And though it’s rated as a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, the publication gave it a “worse than average” reliability rating compared to similar vehicles.

The Sierra doesn’t come cheap: For a base, regular cab model with 285-horsepower V-6, standard pickup bed and two-wheel drive, consumers will pay $30,205 (starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including delivery charge). Add four-wheel drive, and it’ll run $32,950 MSRP

Popular with families, the 2016 Sierra with a Crew Cab – four doors, seats five or six – runs $37,525 for a two-wheel drive model and $40,675 with four-wheel drive.

All base models come with a 285-horsepower V-6. Two V8s also are offered – a 365-horsepower, 5.3-liter unit and a performance-oriented, 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 that’s derived from the Chevrolet Corvette sports car.

The bigger engines push prices upward, as does the All-Terrain X option. It added $4,315 on the test Sierra Crew Cab SLT model.

2016 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab SLT

BASE PRICE: $29,010 for 2WD Regular Cab standard box; $31,755 for 4WD Regular Cab standard box; $31,840 for 2WD Double Cab standard box; $35,820 for 4WD Double Cab standard box; $36,360 for 2WD Crew Cab short box; $39,480 for 4WD Crew Cab short box; $43,605 for 4WD Crew Cab short box SLE; $47,670 for 4WD Crew Cab standard box SLT.

PRICE AS TESTED: $57,845.

TYPE: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, five-passenger, full-size pickup truck.

ENGINE: 5.3-liter, overhead valve, direct injection, Ecotec, V8 with VVT.

MILEAGE: 15 mpg (city), 21 mpg (highway).

TOP SPEED: 98 mph.

LENGTH: 229.3 inches.

WHEELBASE: 143.5 inches.

CURB WEIGHT: 5,688 pounds.

BUILT: Silao, Mexico.

OPTIONS: All-Terrain X package (includes 18-inch, black painted wheels with Goodyear mud/terrain-rated DuraTec tires, black outside mirrors, black sport side steps, sport bar, performance exhaust, a ll-weather floor liner) $4,315; All-Terrain package (includes Z71 off-road suspension package with monotube Rancho shocks, spray-on bed liner, Bose audio, full-feature front leather seats, center console with USB ports and wireless charging) $2,105; eight-speed automatic transmission $995; SLT preferred package (includes front and rear park assit, power sliding rear window, heated steering wheel) $795; GMC IntelliLink system with 8-inch touchscreen, navigation system) $495; trailer brake controller $275.

DESTINATION CHARGE: $1,195.

The Associated Press

All in all, the test vehicle had attitude, topped off by the deep V8 exhaust note from the All-Terrain X’s performance exhaust. The 5,600-pound Sierra responded well and could zoom forward quickly, but paced slower traffic without fuss.

The V8 is an older push-rod design and worked well with the optional-for-$995 eight-speed automatic. Shifts were quick when the driver demanded it, and a manual shift mode that’s part of this transmission holds shifts to the fuel cutoff mark.

Peak torque for the V-8 is 383 foot-pounds and compares with the 305 and 460 foot-pounds, respectively, generated by the V-6 and the larger, 6.2-liter V8.

Fuel economy isn’t a priority. The test truck averaged 18.6 miles per gallon and was rated by the federal government at 15 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway.

The Sierra interior is spacious. Front legroom is more than 45 inches and headroom measures 42.8 inches. There’s another 40.9 inches of legroom in the back seats, where headroom is more than 40 inches.

The ride in the test Sierra, which had a Z71 sport suspension and 18-inch tires, was firm but not harsh on pavement and sturdy-feeling on dirt trails. Plus, the interior was much quieter than expected.

Don’t let the label “All-Terrain X” fool you. The Sierra remains a rather wide vehicle – 6.7 feet from one side to the other – and it’s heavy. This isn’t a nimble billy goat in rough terrain.

It also doesn’t come from the factory with all the needed off-road shields. But it sure looks good and rides well.

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