Battle of the trucks: 2014 Sierra in fighting shape

Farm Forum

General Motors raises the bar in the light-duty-pickup market with its fresh batch of 2014 trucks, delivering greater versatility, comfort, fuel economy and safety, said Mike Tulumello, GM chief engineer for full-size trucks.

Best exemplifying GM-truck evolution are GMC’s new Sierras, led by the premium Sierra Denali crew cab. For the 2014 model year, GMC more strongly drives home the point that its Sierra stands apart from the Chevrolet Silverado.

“We’ve worked hard to further enhance the differentiation that you see,” said Tulumello. They now share almost no common sheet metal. You’ll see the difference not only in the styling, but you’ll see it in standard feature content and in materials that have been selected, primarily in the interiors of these trucks.”

Sierras are the choice for discriminating buyers, he said, who “know the devil is in the detail,” and they’re willing to pay for distinct content and styling, and superior craftsmanship.

The 2014 Sierra Denali, which represents 60 percent of GMC’s new-truck sales, is in its best-ever form to appeal to those shopping high-end pickups. Base pricing for the top-line crew cab short-box pickup is $46,815.

“It’s aspirational, it’s premium, it’s the signature style for us, and the signature brand for GMC,” said Kenn Bakowski, Sierra marketing manager. Along with updated styling and luxury, the Sierra Denali packs a new 6.2-liter V-8 engine, which Bakowski said makes it the “most powerful light-duty pickup in existence.”

Standard on the Sierra Denali and optional on the Sierra SLT, the 6.2-liter cranks out 420 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 460 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. This healthy torque contributes to the Sierra’s ability to tow a maximum 12,000 pounds. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, estimated fuel economy for the 2WD model is 15 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway, and 14/20 mpg on 4WD Sierras.

The 6.2-liter, like its new 5.3-liter V-8 and 4.3-liter V-6 siblings, is a member of the EcoTec3 engine family. EcoTec3 engines share three types of technology that work in harmony to optimize power and fuel efficiency: direct injection; continuously variable valve timing; and Active Fuel Management, which allows the engine to save fuel by switching to four-cylinder mode during light-load driving. GM reports its second-generation Active Fuel Management is more seamless and capable of operating longer in four-cylinder mode.

The six-speed transmission bolted to all EcoTec3 engines features cruise grade braking that helps reduce brake wear by downshifting on downgrades. Duralife brake rotors on all Sierras have increased longevity via hardened and strengthened surfaces that reduces corrosion. GM reports this technology gives the rotors double the life of conventional rotors and provides quieter, more vibration-free braking.

GMC also fits its Sierras with electric power steering, which replaces a conventional engine-driven hydraulic pump with an electric motor. This switch to electric saves fuel and provides a crisper steering feel.

The sheet metal wrapping this technology is sculpted to convey a powerful and premium look. Sierra Denali has a restyled muscular body with appearance extras that give it a notch-above look. Highlighting the exterior is the signature chrome Denali grille that gets a slightly different shape, and added detail with more of a 3-D look and feel. Flanking the grille are bold projector-style headlamps with LED daytime running lights.

Also dressing up the body are five-split-spoke 20-inch chrome wheels, front and rear body-color bumpers, and a polished stainless-steel exhaust outlet.

Upscale character continues inside with heated and cooled front leather seats featuring embossed Denali script on the headrests, genuine aluminum trim, heated steering wheel, front and rear park assist, power sliding window with defogger, Bose audio system and bright door sills embossed with Denali script.

A new-for-2014 highlight is an 8-inch Customizable Driver Display that allows the driver to change the display’s look and theme. An 8-inch Color Touch navigation/radio with Intellilink display, located above the center console, is the main hub for Bluetooth-connected phones and portable devices that connect through five UBS ports.

A design change for the Sierra has been a long time coming, but like the gracefully aging current-generation models, GMC’s 2014 pickups – especially the Sierra Denali with 6.2-liter power – have the right stuff to compete in the strongly contested full-size-pickup segment.