2001 GMC Sierra C3
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Introduced in mid 2001, the GMC Sierra C3 is a luxuriously-equipped 1/2-ton extended cab/short box pickup with a standard 6.0 litre V8 engine, all-wheel-drive, and a trailer towing capacity of 3990 kg (8700 lb.).

Upscale pickup blends luxury and utility

The new GMC Sierra C3 is a top-of-the-line, luxury version of the full-size 1/2 ton Sierra extended cab pickup truck.

Yes, you read it right – a luxury pickup!

Just as the GMC Denali SUV is an upscale version of the GMC Yukon, the C3 is a luxury version of the Sierra 1/2 ton short box pickup.

For an MSRP of $48,995, the Sierra C3 is equipped with most of the things you’d expect in a luxury car or luxury SUV: a powerful standard 325 horsepower 6.0 litre V8 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, 17 inch tires with alloy wheels, two-tone leather upholstery, dark cherry woodgrain trim, 6-way power heated front seats, power windows and door locks, premium Delco stereo with 6-disc in-dash CD player, trip computer, and remote keyless entry.

The C3 also includes standard all-wheel-drive, a 3990 kg (8700 lb.) towing capacity, a computer-controlled Tow/Haul mode on the automatic transmission, a tuned suspension to reduce body roll, a tonneau cover, and tubular running boards.

2001 GMC Sierra C3 Vortec 6000 engine
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Affluent buyers who want the comforts of a luxury car with the hauling and towing capability of a full-size pickup truck will find the C3 a unique proposition – at least for now. More luxury pickups are on the way. This Fall, Cadillac will introduce the new Escalade EXT and Lincoln will introduce the Blackwood, luxury pickups based on the Escalade and Navigator sport-utility vehicles.

Full-size C3 has comfortable, roomy interior

2001 GMC Sierra C3
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The C3 is a full-size, 1/2 ton (1500) extended cab Sierra pickup with four doors. The rear doors are rear-hinged door panels – they swing out towards the rear and do not have outside door handles, and they cannot be opened until the front doors are opened. Though they are more cumbersome to open and close than standard doors, there’s no centre pillar to obstruct entry. Step-in height is rather high, but the C3’s standard running boards provide assistance.

The C3’s cabin is roomier than the Ford F-150 SuperCab, but not quite as roomy as the Sierra HD Crew Cab or the Ford F-150 SuperCrew (which are both longer trucks). The C3’s tall roof and near-vertical walls provide ample headroom and there’s adequate legroom for four or five adult passengers. However, I found that the rear backrest’s angle of 18 degrees was rather upright, even though it’s more reclined than some of its competitors. By the way, the backrest will fold down flat to provide a loading surface for cargo.

The C3’s wide front bucket seats have an attractive two-tone leather surface and both front seats have folding inboard armrests. The standard six-way power front seats have Hi/Low temperature seat heaters, and 2-position memory feature.

A comprehensive gauge cluster includes a tachometer, transmission oil temperature gauge, voltmeter, oil pressure, and oil temperature gauges is standard equipment. There’s also a compass and outside temperature gauge in the rearview mirror in addition to GM’s OnStar which provides emergency and information assistance at the push of a button.

A premium Delco sound system with an AM/FM/cassette and a separate 6-disc in-dash CD player is standard. The stereo faceplate has big, easy-to-see buttons with white numerals, and there are separate steering wheel controls for seek, program, volume and mute, and another set of stereo controls for rear passengers on the back of the centre console.

2001 GMC Sierra C3
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I really enjoyed the bright, clear sound of this stereo although I wasn’t impressed with the subtlety of its speed-compensated volume.

Lower on the centre console is a standard trip computer which includes such readouts as day, date, time, fuel consumption, trip length, range, and average fuel consumption. The console also has a 12 volt power outlet, and lower down, two cupholders located under a pop-up cover.

Between the front seats is a wide armrest and a two-level storage bin. The lid has a pop-up holder for a cell-phone or glasses case, while the lower storage bin has a deep storage compartment and includes a coinholder.

For the safety of small children, the front passenger airbag can be deactivated with a key-switch on the dashboard.

Rear passengers have their own stereo controls, two jacks for headphones, two 12 volt outlets, and two outboard cupholders.

Driving impressions

With 325 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 370 lb.-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, the the C3 has superb throttle response at almost any speed. It just leaps off the line and continues unabated with acceleration that would embarrass some well-known sports cars. Maximum torque arrives between 1600 rpm and 5200 rpm, which explains its responsiveness.

Its tremendous grip is due in part to its standard full-time all-wheel-drive system which distributes engine torque 38% front and 62% rear all of the time. The C3’s all-wheel-drive is permanently engaged and completely automatic – there’s no need to switch in and our of four-wheel-drive. This type of full-time system can be driven on dry or slippery pavement without harming the drivetrain.

2001 GMC Sierra C3
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A standard trailering package includes a weight-distributing platform trailer hitch, 8-lead wiring harness with a 7-way sealed connector. In addition, the C3 includes a heavy-duty suspension, locking rear differential, 3.73 rear axle ratio, Tow/Haul transmission mode, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, and transmission oil cooler. The C3 will comfortably tow a 3,990 kg (8,700 lb.) trailer, and has a maxiumum payload of 810 kg (1787 lb.).

Fuel consumption as you might expect, is poor – 21.1 l/100 km (13 mpg) in the city and 15.4 l/100 km (18 mpg) on the highway. The C3’s big V8 engine, heavy curb weight and permanently engaged four-wheel-drive system all contribute to its thirsty fuel consumption, although I’m a little surprised at the poor highway consumption because the engine does only 1,700 rpm at a steady 100 km/h. Fortunately, it uses Regular fuel.

For a pickup, the C3 is extremely quiet on the highway. The engine is barely audible at highway speeds and there’s a surprising lack of wind noise for such a tall, boxy vehicle. The standard Michelin 265/70R-17 tires make the loudest noise, but that’s mainly because there’s very little wind noise or engine noise.

The C3’s ride is also surprisingly comfortable for a pickup truck. Although slightly bouncier than a car, the C3 is quite stable and comfortable at higher speeds and is very easy to drive. The C3’s high seating position and generous window glass provide excellent outward visibility in all directions, and the large outside rearview mirrors help to see what’s going on behind the truck.

Its overall length of 5784 mm (227.7 in.) and a turning circle of 14.4 metres (47.3 ft.) make U-turns and parallel parking awkward – this is not a city vehicle.

Still, I was impressed with how easy it is to drive – for such a big, heavy truck, it’s remarkably easy to steer, brake, corner, and cruise in. The C3 could easily double as luxury transportation on weekends, and a work vehicle during the week.

Standard features

In addition to the standard features mentioned above, the C3 includes body-coloured bumpers and door handles, projector beam headlamps, front tow hooks, fog lamps, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, Homelink garage door opener, deep tinted glass, and rear window defogger.

The only option is colour-keyed running boards for $620 – and a destination charge of $990. My as-tested Sierra C3 truck came to $50,705.

C3’s are available only in three exterior colours: Pewter Metallic,
Black Onyx, and Medium Green Pearl Metallic.

They’re built in Oshawa, Ontario.

Technical Data:

2001 GMC Sierra C3
Base price $48,995
Freight charge $990
Price as tested $50,705
Type 4-door, 5 passenger extended cab full-size pickup
Layout longitudinal front engine/all-wheel-drive
Engine 6.0 litre OHV V8
Horsepower 325 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 370 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Transmission 4 speed automatic w/Tow-Haul mode
Wheelbase 3645 mm (143.5 in.)
Length 5784 mm (227.7 in.)
Width 1994 mm ( 78.5 in.)
Height 1877 mm ( 73.9 in.)
Cargo Volume 1611 litres (56.9 cu.ft.)
GVWR 3085 kg (6800 lb.)
Maxiumum payload 810 kg (1787 lb.)
Max towing cap. 3946 kg (8700 lb.) with ‘Z82’ trailering package
Fuel consumption City: 21.1 l/100 km (13 mpg)
  Hwy: 15.4 l/100 km (18 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km

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