Bravely, GMC put a select group of auto journalists behind the wheel of their new 2014 Sierra pickup, towing brand new camp trailers from Airstream2go. You would understand the wonderment of it all if you had ever seen some of these folks drive. We’ve witnessed some pretty darn stupid moves on the part of a few of our cohorts, some we would never believe if we had not witnessed the act in person.
Beyond that, however, the exercise made perfect sense. A major percentage of GMC truck owners tow things, at least they expect their trucks to tow things. So, following a few training exercises in the “Towing Academy” on a coned-off course GMC had set up, we were off with the Airstream close behind for a few days of towing and camping. Well, the GMC folks called it Glamping because this was nothing like the camping we have done with our families.
Airstream trailers are exquisite, offering a camping experience equal to none. The camping resort, Ocean Mesa at El Capitan, just north of Santa Barbara, California, is a fabulous camping facility set just above the Pacific’s breaking surf. And the 2014 Sierra is a dream to drive, with or without a trailer tagging along. We rarely felt any resistance from the Airstream following us up the Pacific Coast Highway.
The towing did bring up one issue, which of course the GMCfolks were quite cognizant. Not having extended towing mirrors the driver cannot see around the trailer for what might be following. And, with automotive media types you know there is at least one of those pesky black and white cars around. No need to give them another place to hide. There was a good view side-to-side, so we could see that the trailer was still attached.
With scarcely a handful of carryover parts, the 2014 Sierra is virtually all-new. This truck shows it by being quieter on the road, more accommodating in the passenger compartment and much more frugal with a gallon of gasoline. The exterior design is bold yet refined; with large chrome front grille anchored by projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights. The hood has more character. It all culminates in the firm impression that this is a truck that can handle the job and look sparkling good doing it.
As Sierras begin showing up at dealers only two of the three all-new EcoTec3 engines will be available. The base engine is a very capable 4.3-liter V-6 engine that not only carries its load it seems to be a pretty practical choice for many buyers. The most popular power choice is sure to be the 5.3-liter V-8, this is particularly true if you are one who tows or hauls more than the average owner. The third engine is the 6.2-liter V-8, which will arrive in dealership showrooms later in the year.
The reason we feel the V-6 with its 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft. of torque will fit many buyer’s needs is how well it preformed on the open road, through city streets and county roads. If you are one who tows or hauls a heavy load only periodically and tend to use you truck for light chores and taking the kids to ball practice this V-6 may fit your lifestyle better. Like the V-8 this engine is equipped with GM’s Active Fuel Management, which in low demands switches half of the cylinders off to improve fuel economy and seamlessly returns to full power the instant we needed power. We towed a 5,000 pound boat with this GMC and it performed admirably. Is it a powerhouse like its V-8 sibling? No. However, many of us who were involved with this test concurred the V-6 would make a whole lot of truck owners pretty happy with its performance.
The 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 ups the ante offering 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque and an estimated 23 mpg on the highway. For our money if we were to have the need for more than the occasional tow or hauling task we would jump to the V-8. The little you suffer in fuel economy is relieved by the gain in hauling capabilities the V-8 makes a great deal of sense.
GMC designers understand their truck buyers want a premium truck, one that only sweats the details, not the task. The new Sierra does that quite well. Payload capacity is increased as are towing limits. A V-8 powered Sierra crew cab offers a payload of nearly 2000 pounds and a towing capacity of 11,500.
All 2014 Sierras are equipped with four wheel disc brakes with GM’s Duralife brake rotors. According to GM engineers these discs are specially hardened and surfaced to reduce corrosion as well as having a life expectancy predicted to be twice that of conventional steel rotors. Translate that to reduced maintenance costs.
We had the opportunity to drive a wide variation of Sierra trucks, but for the long haul we jumped into a near fully equipped SLT, crew cab four-wheel drive to make the trek north. The cabin is well laid out with big and bold instrument panel, center dash module and center console. Each of which offers the driver and passenger easy to read and operate features. You will have no excuse not being able to link up your electronic devises because there are five, count them five, USB ports, two 12 volt and one 115 volt power outlets.