New & Used GMC Sonoma: In Depth
2001 GMC Sonoma SLSEnlarge Photo
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The GMC Sonoma is a compact pickup truck, sold from the 1982 through 2004 model years. The Sonoma was replaced by the Canyon nameplate in 2005, at the same time that these trucks were most recently redesigned (and when the Chevy S-10 was renamed the Colorado). From 1996 through 2004 Isuzu also sold a rebadged version of the Sonoma/S-10 called the Hombre.
The Sonoma had humble beginnings, replacing (with the S-10) the Chevy Luv, which had been a rebadged pickup designed and built by Isuzu. The 1982-1990 versions of these trucks from GMC were badged 'S-15,' and were quite underpowered and unimpressive.
Around the time that the Sonoma nameplate was adopted, in 1991, it became more impressive. By then a stronger 4.3-liter V-6 had joined the lineup, and for 1992 that engine was boosted to 195 hp.
The second generation of these GM compact trucks made its debut for 1994, and they brought a new base engine—a 2.2-liter in-line four—that was considerably smoother than the old 'Iron Duke' four it replaced. That engine could be paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Most buyers however would have wanted the 4.3-liter Vortec V-6 and four-speed automatic—along with, in some cases, the available 4WD system. A ZR2 Off-Road Package was also available with this redesigned truck.
For the most part, these trucks were well-regarded—especially the later versions with the 4.3-liter V-6. Interior appointments were widely considered a weakness, with trims and switchgear especially cheap and plasticky. Ride quality and handling weren't great in standard versions, either, and the Ford Ranger and Toyota truck both held a somewhat better reputation for reliability at the time. These trucks were never a top pick for those who planned to tow or haul regularly, although they served as personal transportation in many cases for those who took to the outdoors on the weekend—and they're still good for that today, on the used market.
One of the most revered and sought-after variants of the Sonoma is the GMC Syclone—a version that upgraded to a special turbocharged version of the 4.3-liter V-6, making 280 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That's the same high-performance package as the GMC Typhoon; and the Syclone received some of the same brake and suspension upgrades as the Typhoon. Acceleration was in line with some exotics, at 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. And with only around 3,000 of these built, they're collectors' items, for sure.
A short-bed Sonoma GT version was also offered for 1992, and it combined the look of the Syclone with a 195-hp version of the 4.3-liter V-6.