The GMC Sierra 1500 -- and its corporate twin, the Chevy Silverado 1500 -- are the only vehicles in GM’s lineup that still use GM’s ancient 195-horsepower, 260-pounds-feet of torque 4.3-liter V-6 architecture. That it has lasted so long and still has nearly the torque of Ford’s new 3.7-liter V-6 could be considered a testament to the robustness and durability of the 25-year-old engine’s design.
The overhead-valve 4.3-liter V-6 debuted in the 1985 Chevy El Camino. GM steadily updated it until recently with welcome improvements: The original carbureted fuel system was upgraded to throttle body fuel injection and later to central port injection. A balance shaft was added in the 1990s to reduce vibration.
We expect the 4.3-liter V-6 will stick around for at least another two years or so, until GM’s next-generation half-ton pickups arrive. At that point, it’s likely to receive a variation of the dual-overhead-cam, four-valve 3.6-liter V-6 that powers the entry-level Chevy Camaro.
The $24,400 price tag for the Sierra was middle-of-the-road and seemed to be the best compromise for those looking to add some comfortable features at a reasonable price. Its interior had almost as many accessories as the F-150.
The steering wheel had a full complement of controls for the stereo, cruise control and Bluetooth, and the stereo came with satellite radio and a CD player. The stereo also included an auxiliary jack but lacked a USB port.
While the Sierra’s dash layout and design showed its age, it was easier to find the information we needed and to operate the truck’s controls. Separate information request buttons made it easy to pull up vital truck information in the bare-bones trip computer. Fewer buttons and intuitive controls made it easy to use the stereo and air conditioning without distracting ourselves.
While Ford’s Sync system gets the nod for being feature-rich and understanding a large vocabulary of voice commands, we were able to set up a Bluetooth connection to our cell phone in the Sierra without having to refer to the instruction manual, which we had to do in the F-150.
Fit and finish inside the GMC was good with a decent mix of light and dark colors to break up the plastic surfaces.
Like the F-150, the Sierra has a 40/20/40-split folding bench seat, but the Sierra’s center armrest came with a built-in storage bin and two cupholders.
The biggest shortcoming in the Sierra was the lack of space behind the seats. It has the least space of the three trucks we tested, and it was virtually unusable.