2010 V-6 Shootout: 2011 GMC Sierra 1500 WT 4.3L

2011 GMC Sierra 1500 WT 4.3L

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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.


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We have an '01 GMC 2wd longbed with the 4.3.
It has plenty of power for what we use it for which
is at worst hauling a 42 gallon barrel of oil every
2 or 3 months. Anyone too young to remember
the 70's has no idea what "underpowered" really

cuvic inches = power+ less lbs =power

There is something to be said about he good ole 4.3. Decent power....even after 25 years, easy to work on (ase master tech here) and simple design. I'm a ford guy but still give props to this engine.

Those 4.3l's are bulletproof. My dad has an '07 silverado classic with the a 4.3l 2wd reg cab short bed with the towing package. hauled 12,000lbs from iowa to arkansas at...well lets just say we may have gone over the speen limit...a lot. now he truck wasn't happy but the engine was begging for more. downside is it downshifts a little too much if you have the cruise set to 75mph

The 4.3 can trace roots back to the 200 cu. in v6 from the 70s and ultimately back to the 1955 original small block Chevy. It is a very well-seasoned design.

The 4.3L V-6 engine in a GMC Sierra is not intended to be a power monster, it never has been. But this engine is as reliable as they come and it will run and run and run. Nonetheless, if GM is going to bring to market a V-6 engine in their full size trucks, then they owe the GMC consumer a better, more modern engine than the old 4.3L.

I use to have a 4.3L V-6 with a 5-speed manual. The engine was as reliable the day I sold it as it was the day that I first purchased it new in a GMC Truck. For what I used the truck for back then, the old 4.3L did whatever I asked of it and never once did I experience mechanical difficulties in all the years that I owned it. I'm a true fan of this old engine, but it's time for GM to provide the consumer with a better V-6 engine option in the Sierra, since there are apparently those who might still wish to go with this powertrain option set-up.

Even though I now run V-8's in all of my trucks, I can only hope that I experience the same level of reliability with my new truck engines as I did with the 4.3L V-6.

I have a 2001 GMC single cab shorty and i love it, but it does seem underpowered, I tow once in a while and it would be great to have 50 more hp, as the gas milage is most likley not even 2 mpg different between the 6 and a V8 and they it a work truck, I don't get that. However, I did drive my neighbors new 2011 Gmc, 4.3 L it seem to have more get up and so, however he doens't tow. Maybe there is someting wrong with mine, don't think so good gas milage, but does seem to lag on long hills, I live in Washington State, coast is up and down hills, I loose 5mph or more? Think we need to figure out how to swap out a 4.3 6cyl to a small 8 like a 4.8 maybe, does any one know what will work.

gotta love the old 4.3l unlike all the other sixes it makes power at a low rpm which is great for pulling, you don't have to rev it up to 4000 rpm to make power

the 4.3l's design is about 50 years old considering its exactly like a 350 minus two cylinders (some parts are even interchangeable)

We have a 2001 with the 4.8 v8 and a 2002 with the 4.3 v6 ......both trucks have over 300k o them currently..the 4.8 has 320k and needs a tranny rebuild. It only has 2nd and 3rd gear. We still load it and drive it everyday. It will get that rebuild when it stops working...company policy.haha. this truck is w/t spec two wheel drive and would lay rubber and white smoke for a quarter mile when it had first gear...it uses no oil today...the 4.3. Does uze a little oil about 1 quart every 1000 miles. It is a daily delivery truck for our salesman and has an extended range tank. It averages 17 mpg loaded and never lets us down..... my 2005 f150 with 119k has the 5.4 triton and is currently in the shop having a complete timin chain and guides due to noise and just had $1300 worth of coils and plugstwo months ago..im currently driving the 2 spd chevy..lol

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