- Stronger, more efficient engines
- More refined cabins
- Cargo-bed innovations
- Maneuverability (long-bed Crew Cab models)
- New heavy-duty look
- Crew Cab rear-seat comfort
The 2014 GMC Sierra gets a much stronger footing in its tug-of-war with Ford and Ram, thanks to new powertrains, new infotainment features, and great gas mileage.
The GMC Sierra was overdue for a major overhaul as of last year, when its rivals began to outshine it with new looks and new powertrains. For 2014, the Sierra and its twin, the Chevy Silverado, get the deepest rework they've had since 2007, and emerge with some of the best towing and hauling figures of any full-size truck.
At the same time, the newly revised Sierra also gets a strong base V-6 engine, an excellent V-8, and enough ports and connections to turn it into a mobile workplace.Both the Sierra and its sibling Chevy Silverado get new powertrains, nicer cabins, weightier styling, and a raft of new infotainment and safety features. As a result, they land much closer in our overall ratings to those current benchmarks from Ram and Ford.
It was plain to see the Sierra needed a visual reshoot, after seven years on the road. We'd call the new look gentle progress to a roughneck style. The look is refined enough but striking in its blocky, bluff front end and its chiseled fenders. The bold black-and-metallic grille makes a strong first impression—as do the chunky, flared fenders and projector headlamps with available LED trim lighting. It looks big, as big as a Sierra HD, something that will appeal to many, but not to all. Inside, the dash is still upright, with a simple design livened by soft-touch plastics and real aluminum, and opened up more by lower doorsills. Controls are arranged in several key areas, just to the left of the steering wheel or in a large center-stack area (with a wide center console just aft). All are are large and straightforward, with cool blue primary lighting, red arms on the dials, and red backlighting.
GM has updated its entire lineup of engines in the Sierra, with a new V-6 and two new V-8 engines, all with an aluminum block and heads and receiving direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and Active Fuel Management—allowing them to run on just four cylinders when coasting or cruising in light-load conditions. If you're only into moderate towing, we'd study the V-6 carefully. It's quite capable, and the boost in torque and usable power means it could be time to rescale your powertrain ambitions. If you opt for the 5.3-liter V-8, your 355-horsepower result will be not so horrible gas mileage and muscular acceleration, combined with sky-high towing capacity. There's a 6.2-liter V-8 coming later, for 420 hp and 12,000 pounds of trailering.
All three engines can be teamed with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission (with a ‘cruise grade braking’ feature to reduce brake wear) is offered across the line. It's not eight speeds, and that's fine, since it's staged to deal with available torque in the best way possible. All models get electric power steering, and four-wheel disc brakes with special long-life brake rotors are standard across the model line. The Sierra's ride quality is a bit better than before; it's the steering that gets our attention, with its quick reflexes and just-right weight.
A major refresh, not quite an all-new truck, the 2014 Sierra is packaged like the outgoing model, with some worthwhile improvements. Sierra Crew Cab models are now offered with two different bed lengths—5’8” or 6’6”—while regular-cab models are offered in 6’6” or 8’ lengths and the extended-cab versions all include the middle size. Crew Cab models get longer doors as well, with the B-pillars moved forward, resulting in easier entry and exit, and extended-cab versions get front-hinged rear doors for the first time—nearly rivaling the outgoing Crew Cab models in convenience. We prefer the Sierra's cloth seats to the leather ones with ventilated, for better comfort, but we know we're running against the luxury grain there. In the bed, the Sierra steps up with an integrated bumper step, LED bed lighting, and a damped tailgate that lowers like the glovebox on a Lexus LS.
Safety features get upgraded as well, with a suite of new active-safety aids that are optional. Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning—both camera-based—can help you stay aware of hazards, and the optional Driver Alert Seat can vibrate with pulses on either side to alert the driver quickly to issues. Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist are included as part of the standard StabiliTrak stability control system.
All Sierras get air conditioning, keyless entry, and an AM/FM radio with a 4.2-inch color display. GMC’s IntelliLink connectivity system is optional on the Sierra; it combines full voice-command Bluetooth connectivity with Bluetooth audio streaming, a Pandora app, and available navigation, with an eight-inch reconfigurable touch screen. A 110-volt AC outlet is also on offer, and some models include up to four 12-volt outlets and five USB ports, as well as an SD card slot. Blu-Ray DVD players and different seating configurations are available.
There's more to come, too. Later this year, the Sierra All-Terrain gets the optional Z71 off-road suspension, monotube Rancho shocks, recovery hooks, a transfer-case shield, hill descent control, an auto-locking rear differential, and special wheels and tires. Meanwhile, the coming Sierra Denali adds its own styling details and plush features like Bose audio and ventilated seats, plus a standard V-8 engine.