The Sonoma is an attractive truck with a smooth, aerodynamic hood that wraps around the front end. Its clean exterior lines include a body-colored front bumper and fascia, as well as a headlamp design that integrates all forward lighting functions into a single unit. The composite headlamps are standard, with fog lamps available as an option. The front license plate bracket is molded into the charcoal-colored lower valance, while a center-step cutout in the rear bumper gives easy access to the cargo area. The stiff, box-section ladder frame dips in the center to make it easier to step up into the seats, without sacrificing ground clearance for off-highway use.
A clamshell-style third-door on the driver's side is a popular option for Extended Cab models, making it easier to load personal gear, pets and an occasional passenger.
Maximum towing capacity is 6,175 pounds (for a 2WD Extended Cab with a 4.3-liter V6 engine, automatic transmission, and aftermarket weight-distributing hitch). The standard step bumper is capable of handling trailers of up to 3,500 pounds.
Four-wheel-drive models come standard with InstaTrac, a shift-on-the-fly system that allows the driver to shift between two- and four-wheel drive by pressing a button. An optional locking rear differential improves traction in extremely slippery conditions.
The bed on the Crew Cab model is just 55 inches (4.6 feet), short when compared with standard 6-foot beds.
The Sonoma offers a good seating position, with an open, airy feel. A sloping hood, narrow A-pillar and unobstructed views to the rear make for good visibility in all directions.
The interior is roomy, comfortable and functional. The long, wide body, along with a relatively thin door design, translates into impressive shoulder and hip room for a compact pickup. Seat choices are high-backed bucket seats for two passengers, a bench seat for three, or a reclining 60/40 split bench. Front bucket seats are standard on four-wheel-drive SLS and SLE regular cabs along with all Crew Cabs and four-wheel-drive extended cabs. Driver lumbar adjustments and standard recliners on the seats enhanced comfort in our test model.
Extended-cab trucks offer fold-down jump seats for rear occupants, though there isn't a lot of space back there for adults. Three-door models lose one rear jump seat, a worthwhile sacrifice for the improved loading access.
Four-door Crew Cab models offer comfortable rear seats relative to this class. The seatbacks are slightly raked, an improvement over upright designs in some of the other mid-size crew cab pickups. Rear legroom is adequate for people with feet that are small enough to slide under the front seats. Getting out of the back seats is a bit awkward, however, because it requires pulling your feet in and threading them between the B-pillar and the seat bottom. Also, the rear door handle is a bit awkward. We use the phrase "a bit" because the little people who are most likely to ride back there probably won't complain.
The sculpted instrument panel includes radio and ventilation controls angled 15 degrees toward the driver for improved accessibility. One neat detail is a passenger-assist grip located on the dashboard. Up-level models now have two dash-mounted power outlets below the ashtray. The center console can accommodate an optional cassette player. Other options include power windows, door locks, tinted glass, and an upgraded remote keyless entry system with security alarm. Safety features include tall integral head rests and a seat belt design that allows the belt to travel with the seat for a safer, more comfortable ride for occupants of all sizes.