2008 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 2, 2008

The 2008 GMC Sierra isn’t the most macho-looking of the full-size trucks, but it’s one of the easiest to live with.

The experienced vehicle experts at TheCarConnection.com have studied what a wide spectrum of sources had to say about the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also driven the Sierra 1500 and bring some of their firsthand impressions to this comprehensive review.

GMC's full-size Sierra pickup was completely redesigned for 2007, and it returns with only modest changes in standard features for the 2008 model year and a new All Terrain model. The 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is mechanically similar and closely related to Chevrolet's Silverado pickups.

The 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is available in base Work Truck (WT), SL, SLE1, and SLE2 models, and SLT trim, with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Three cab styles are offered--regular, extended, and crew cab--and three bed lengths (up to eight feet) are available. A Z71 off-road package is offered as well.

The standard engine in the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is a 4.3-liter V-6 rated at 195 horsepower. A 295-hp, 4.8-liter and 315-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 are the base engines in the rest of the lineup--both have quite impressive performance--while a 367-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 and a 400-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 are optional. The 6.2-liter V-8 is standard in top-of-the-line Denali models and unique to the GMC truck (not offered in its Chevy cousin). It's teamed exclusively with a new six-speed automatic transmission; the other engines come with four-speed automatics.

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The 5.3- and 6.0-liter models are more efficient than competing engines of the same size, thanks to Active Fuel Management, which helps improve fuel efficiency by cutting fuel use while coasting or cruising. The 5.3-liter models of the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 with rear-wheel drive are rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, which is identical to the base V-6.

Overall, the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is one of the most energetic and nimble full-size pickups to drive, with good, communicative steering and very refined engines. The 5.3-liter engine has enough power for most needs, and the four-speed automatic transmissions shift responsively in general.

The Sierra's interior is extremely well isolated from road and wind noise. The upgraded instrument panel in the top models of the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is very carlike, with a smooth, low design, as well as surfaces and materials that come together well. Other models get a simpler, more upright design with larger controls and door handles--better suited for work duty.

Among the features found on the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 is an available stadium-style rear seat with a 60/40-split design. It can be easily folded up to provide an uninterrupted load floor. Either section of the split seat can also be stowed independently, allowing room for both cargo and a rear-seat passenger. Entry to the rear seat/storage area of extended-cab models is eased with new rear access doors that open 170 degrees.

New for 2008 is the Sierra All Terrain model, which caters to the off-road crowd with a more refined package that builds on the existing Z71 Off Road bundle, including Rancho Tenneco shocks, a heavy-duty trailer package, a special grille and trim, and two-tone leather seats. The 2008 GMC Sierra Denali ranks at the top of the lineup and has exclusive additional equipment that's not available in the otherwise similar Chevrolet Silverado.

Top options on the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 lineup include a cargo management system, power-sliding rear window, navigation system, DVD entertainment system, and XM Satellite Radio; new options include a power seat on regular cab trucks, 22-inch bright aluminum wheels, and an integrated trailer brake controller.

The 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 has top five-star results in federal-government crash tests for frontal and side impact protection. Stability and traction control are standard across the line, along with anti-lock brakes; head/curtain airbags are available on Sierra SLE and SLT models. The IIHS hasn't tested the Sierra, but the nearly identical Chevrolet Silverado was rated only Acceptable in the seat-based rear-impact test.

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