2000 GMC Sierra

By November 16, 1999
2000 GMC Sierra

GMC completely re-engineered and redesigned its line of pickup trucks last year. The Sierra does everything better than the previous-generation C/K pickups (which are still available). It rides better, handles better and stops quicker. It is faster and more powerful. And it’s more comfortable. The Sierra is one of the most luxurious pickups we’ve ever driven, setting new standards for quietness, plushness, and freedom from squeaks and rattles.

GMC has chosen a conservative design for its new Sierra. But the design breaks it away from the Chevrolet Silverado. The Sierra uses a unique grille, hood, fenders, fascia, bumpers and headlamps to make it distinctive. Underneath the Sierra’s conservative looks is a great truck that has almost nothing in common with the way things used to be done at GMC before it was combined permanently with Pontiac. Some of the Pontiac excitement has clearly rubbed off on the truck side of the house.

Model Lineup

Like all big American-made pickups, the Sierra comes in two- and four-wheel-drive versions, in 1500 and 2500 weight ranges, in short- and long-bed bodies, with fendered and nonfendered beds, two-, three-, and new for 2000, four-door extended cabs in base, SL, SLE and SLT trim levels. There are four gasoline engines to choose from, a V6 and three V8s, and two transmissions, a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic.


For 2000, the GMC Sierra has some significant updates. Topping the list is the availability of a four-door extended cab. New options include fender guards for 4×4 models, soft tonneau cover, a new automatic dimming mirror with a built-in compass and exterior thermometer.

There’s also more power: Horsepower and torque ratings are increased for the 4.8-liter V8 and 5.3-liter V8 engines; and trailer towing ratings have been revised upward.

The 2000 GMC Sierra is built on a frame that is the stiffest and lightest truck frame General Motors has ever built. The frame rails are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to shape steel. Tubular crossmembers and roll-formed mid-rails increase rigidity further. This stiff structure enhances handling and ride quality immensely, while improving crashworthiness.

Three V8 engines are available, in 4.8-, 5.3- and 6.0-liter displacements, from 270 to 300 horsepower. All three are based on the new GM small-block V8. A 4.3-liter V6 is still available and comes with a number of improvements, but the V8s will be sold in much higher volumes.

A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard in the base truck. More popular are the 4L60 and 4L65 4-speed automatics, which feature a new delayed-upshift feature for towing.

The aluminum short- and long-arm front suspension uses coil springs on 2-wheel-drive models and torsion bars on 4-wheel-drive models.

Brakes are large, heavy-duty discs on all four corners; ABS is standard on all models.

The GMC Sierra ranges from $16,640 for a two-wheel-drive regular cab base-trim V6 model to about $30,616 for a four-wheel-drive three-door extended cab SLT with a 6-liter V8. All offer a smooth, quiet ride and quality feel.

Interior Features

The GMC Sierra’s interior is one of the most inviting and comfortable in the business.

The interior reflects traditional GMC pickup truck thinking. The door openings are now the largest in the industry and the cab is the roomiest. The instrument package comprises a large speedometer and tachometer flanked by four smaller gauges. All use pleasant graphics in white on black. The sound system control panel is located above the climate controls. The climate control system uses a rotary dial layout that works perfectly. There are three 12-volt outlets at the bottom center of the dashboard for radar detectors, cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other accessories. New for 2000 is a programmable door locking feature that can be armed to automatically lock and unlock doors.

Our test truck was an SLE Extended Cab four-door equipped with bucket seats, that provided good support in hard corners. The front seats were equipped with optional heaters. The SLE package comes with a lockable floor console that’s large enough to hold a picnic lunch for a family of four; it comes with a reversible, removable cupholder tray and a storage nook in front of the lid. Air-conditioning outlets and a set of drop-down cup holders are built in for rear-seat passengers. A compass is incorporated into the SLE’s 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.

We were pleasantly surprised when we climbed through the new fourth door on the driver’s side of the extended-cab Sierra, as the back seat has been redesigned and remounted for far greater room and comfort. With the fourth door, the rear compartment, and the compartment as a whole, seems cavernous, and at least 50 percent more convenient. When cargo capacity is more important than hauling passengers, the entire rear seat assembly can be removed through either of the side doors with a wrench. With the availability of the fourth door, GMC now offers a complete, competitive line of American pickup trucks leaving no advantage to Ford or Dodge.

Driving Impressions

The Sierra SLE is so quiet and well-behaved that it could be mistaken for a luxury car.

That is largely due to the new chassis, which offers a 23-percent increase in stiffness. New mounting and isolation hardware reduces noise and vibration. A cast magnesium beam behind the instrument panel and a lateral steel beam between the magnesium beam and the right side of the dash further reinforce the stiff body. This is a very strong truck, and its strength lets the suspension soak up and manage all the bumps and ruts and tar strips so well that its overall ride behavior is luxurious. Its 143.5-inch wheelbase improves the ride and enhances high-speed stability. A four-spoke steering wheel connects to a new rack-and-pinion steering system that has a fairly wide dead spot in the center when cruising, which GMC says is designed to minimize steering corrections on the highway. The steering feels a bit light, but we found it tracks beautifully and handles well on pavement, loose dirt, deep dirt and even off road.

The 4.8-liter small-block V8 is the most popular engine for this truck. Our Sierra LT came with the optional 5.3-liter (324 cubic-inch) engine, rated at 285 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque for 2000. This engine has a fat torque curve, which makes it useful for light towing and hauling, but it’s also a lot of fun for commuting and touring. The new engine is a much better small-block than before, and we recommend the 5.3-liter over the smaller 4.8-liter version.

Brakes have been improved substantially over the previous model and it’s a welcome improvement. The four-wheel disc brakes are huge and powerful and come standard with ABS. Braking force comes into play only an inch into the pedal travel, a welcome improvement over the mushy pedal on the previous C/K pickup. A new feature called Dynamic Rear Proportioning improves stability under heavy braking whether the truck is loaded or empty. GMC promises huge improvements in fade resistance, pad life and heat dissipation, and after beating these brakes hard we believe them.


The GMC Sierra shares a great deal of essential pickup truck goodness with its sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado, but if you’re looking for a bit of exclusivity, by all means go with the Sierra. Its stylish looks set it apart from the truly conservative Silverado.

The Sierra SLE we drove is among the smoothest, quietest, most civilized, best equipped, and most enjoyable pickup trucks we’ve driven. The new fourth door option could make all the difference in your buying decision. Factor in more torque, more horsepower, more customizing features such as the tonneau cover, and the greater trailer ratings, and the Sierra is a must-shop if you’re buying a new pickup.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:2WD Regular Cab 6.5-ft. Box short-wheelbase Wideside Body with 4.3-liter ($16,640 for SL, $20,504 for SLE); 2WD Extended Cab 8-ft. Box long-wheelbase 4.8-liter SLE/SLT $25,039
Engines:4.3-liter V6, 4.8-liter V8, 5.3-liter V8, 6.0-liter V8
Transmissions:5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):Dual airbags, ABS
Safety equipment (optional):N/A
Basic warranty:3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Pontiac, Michigan
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Sierra 1500 SLE Extended Cab
Standard equipment:(SLE) air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, light package, tinted glass, tilt wheel, alloy wheels, AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo, rear defrost, anti-theft system, overhead console, floor console, cruise control, remote locking/security system, electrochromic mirror with compass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, folding power heated chrome mirrors
Options as tested (MSPR):5.3-liter V-8, automatic transmission, limited slip differential, fourth door, power mirrors, alloy wheels, optional tires
Destination charge:$525
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$24034
Layout:rear-wheel drive
Engine:5.3-liter ohv V8
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):285 @ 5000
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):325 @ 4000
Transmission:4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:16/20 mpg
Wheelbase:143.5 in.
Length/width/height:227.6/78.5/74.0 in.
Track, f/r:65.0/66.0 in.
Turning circle:43.6 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:41.0/61.4/41.3 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:N/A
Cargo volume:N/A
Payload:6,400 Lbs.
Towing capacity:8200 Lbs.
Suspension, f:Independent
Suspension, r:solid axle
Ground clearance:N/A
Curb weigth:4780 lbs.
Brakes, f/r:disc/disc
Fuel capacity:26.0 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of November 16, 1999.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-222-1020 - www.gmc.com

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