While the Chevrolet Silverado looks almost as if it were designed to blend into the background, the 2002 GMC Sierra very nearly demands attention, with its mouth-like air intake and predator-narrow headlights. Aft of that front end, the same sheet metal that looks smooth and subtle on the Chevy suggests tensed and rippled muscles on the GMC. It's a look, we think, that a lot of truck buyers will like: more distinctive than the Chevrolet pickup, but not as over-the-top as the Ford or Dodge.
All GMC Sierras are built on the stiffest and lightest truck frame General Motors has ever produced. The frame rails are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to shape relatively large steel components. Tubular crossmembers and roll-formed mid-rails increase rigidity further. This stiff structure enhances handling and ride quality immensely, while improving crashworthiness.
GMC Sierra's interior is one of the most inviting and comfortable in the pickup business. The door openings are the largest in the industry, and the cab is the roomiest. Heated bucket seats optional in SLE/SLT extended cab models provide good support in hard corners.
The instrument package comprises a large speedometer and tachometer flanked by four smaller gauges. All use pleasant graphics in white on black. A compass is incorporated into the overhead console, along with three storage areas for sunglasses, garage door opener, and small items. The door trim is a nice combination of vinyl panels and dotted velour that is soft and warm to the touch.
The sound system control panel is located above the climate controls as it should be because we tend to fiddle with the radio more than the temperature. The climate control system uses a rotary dial layout that works perfectly. Three 12-volt outlets are provided at the bottom center of the dash for radar detectors, cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other accessories. Power door locks (standard on SLE) are programmable.
The SLT package includes not just leather seats but also OnStar, GM's satellite-based communications and security system.
The Sierra Denali comes with OnStar, too, along with tone-on-tone leather, extra sound deadening, a premium audio system with steering-wheel controls for the driver and separate controls for rear-seat passengers, a unique console with a driver information center (we used to call it a trip computer) and other exclusive amenities.
A lockable floor console is large enough to hold a picnic lunch for a family of four; it comes with a reversible, removable cup holder tray and a storage nook in front of the lid.
We were pleasantly surprised when we climbed through the reverse-opening rear door in the extended cab and found that the rear seat is reasonably comfortable. Rear-seat passengers get their own air-conditioning outlets and a set of drop-down cup holders. When cargo capacity is more important than hauling passengers, the entire rear seat assembly can be loosened from the floor with a wrench and removed through one of the side doors.
We love the 1500 HD Crew Cab. It's a great truck. The rear seats are as roomy as the second row of seats in a Suburban. Ours came with leather and felt comfortable and luxurious. It's capable of carrying six passengers and feels roomy and luxurious with four. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold down, providing a large protected cargo area inside the cab.