Suddenly, it begins to rain and around a bend, there is a detour. Smooth pavement turns to rugged-surfaced dirt as a result of road repair. I smile in confidence, however, knowing that I don’t need to lift a finger because I have an all-wheel-drive system that is electronically navigating the road beneath me. Finding my way back to the main road, I notice that the driver information center on the front console is telling me that I need to get gas within the next 50 miles. Not to worry: I press another button on the dashboard and ask a friendly operator where I might find the closest service station, and a good Italian restaurant.
Space-age off-roading? Pickup trucks of the future? Not quite: this is the new standard for full-size personal trucks, according to GMC, and its new-generation 2001 Sierra C-series, due out late fall, is packed with an arsenal of standard features that prove the pickup has finally caught up with the Information Age. What’s best is that, amid all this finery, there is still a rugged pickup with enhanced on-road performance and control, plenty of power and towing capabilities, all packaged in a basic extended-cab, half-ton size.
GMC boasts its new series has “Performance Biased Driveline,” an integrated powertrain and chassis component system that is designed to enhance vehicle performance and control. A Vortec 6000 engine, familiar to drivers of the GMC Yukon SUV series, is standard fare, providing 325 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque within a 1600- to 5200-rpm range. A 4L60-E electronically-controlled four speed automatic transmission delivers crisp launches and smooth acceleration on the highway, and an increased-capacity suspension system controls roll damping while cornering with a heavy load.
2001 GMC Sierra 1500
GMC also brags that the C-series has the first all-wheel-drive technology ever offered in a full-size pickup truck. Not only does the all-wheel-drive relieve the need to shift a lever or punch a button, but it’s also designed to give longer life to the tires, increase grip in wet- or dry-pavement conditions, and deliver advanced cornering and accelerating capabilities.
An upgraded suspension system that pilots two torsion bars in front, two-stage leaf springs in back, and extra roll damping to maintain even keel during trailer towing, assures a smooth ride without loss of power. The new truck has a GVW rating of 6,700 pounds with an impressive 8800-pound trailer rating – laudable capacities for a half-ton pickup.
Keeping safety as a high priority, the new series has high-capacity four-wheel disc brakes, standard ABS for the first time, and a dynamic rear positioning (DRP) system that makes optimum use of braking at both ends of the vehicle. An optional GCWR heavy-duty trailering package boosts towing capacity to 14,000 pounds, for those who need to tow the family yacht.
Exterior features mirror enhancements to other GMC models. The rounder, cleaner front nose is crowned with a black, machine textured grille that brandishes the red GMC logo. A simple, streamlined color concept means door handles, rear-view mirror casings and protective body moldings are the same palette as the main body. The flowing bumper fascia, which harnesses two round fog lamps and dual tow hooks, continues the monochromatic theme, giving the appearance of more bulk. This year’s color choices include pewter metallic, onyx black, and polo green metallic.
2001 GMC Sierra C-Series panel
The luxurious C-Series gets a CD changer and a dash command panel — a long way away from its functional roots.
Gripping the roadway are Michelin LTX P265/70 17-inch all-season touring tires, framed in attractive six-spoke aluminum wheels, accented with silver sparkled paint. Rearview mirrors feature built-in puddle lamps for ground illumination, with the driver-side mirror equipped with an electrochromic design that automatically dims at night to minimize glare.
Interior styling has been refined with plush, heavy-duty carpeting not only for sophistication but to deaden engine noise. Carpeted floor mats are standard. Handles and accessories are treated in either black chrome or a black cherry woodgrain finish commonly found in luxury vehicles, and all seats are tone-on-tone leather. The rear three-passenger bench seat can be folded up to increase storage
|2001 GMC Sierra C-Series
Base price: $39,995
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