2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain
2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain headlight
2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jeff Wilson

Like ‘em or not, trucks are a very deeply entrenched part of North American society. People LOVE their trucks. Nary a New Country song can be found without reference to someone’s “jacked-up” four-by-four.

These beasts of burden are the tools for the trades – regardless of what trade – that help enable the work to get done all over the continent. They’re big, usually brash (in terms of styling) and powerful. And they’re built to take a serious beating (and often do, too). So maybe that’s why pickups are so popular even amongst those who don’t truly need them. Rugged and useful, truck popularity transcends the workplace and indeed our test subject – a 2014 GMC Sierra – is GM Canada’s number 1 selling nameplate.

What is it like to live with a modern pickup truck even if you don’t truly need one? Can it still be reasonable transportation for day-to-day living, providing the added bonus of incredible utility whenever you (or any of your friends, relatives and other acquaintances who inevitably come out of the woodwork) have yard chores or ‘dump runs’ to do?

Not ones to settle, we at Autos.ca wanted to be sure we got the best example of what modern truckin’ (no ‘g’ required, thank you very much) is all about, so we sought out the 2014 Pickup Truck of the Year as declared by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and ordered a GMC Sierra.

The test truck – a Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab with All-Terrain Package – certainly has the styling and amenities to appease even spoiled motorists in their daily on-road (or off-road) duties. Replete with heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, eight-inch colour touchscreen navigation/infotainment unit with Bose speakers and an automatic climate control, the interior of our Sierra proved to be not only pleasant and comfortable, but honestly luxurious too.

2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain dashboard
2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain. Click image to enlarge

What’s more, out on the open road, the Sierra provides an amazingly quiet (from wind, road and engine noise) atmosphere and a surprisingly supple ride. If it’s been a while since you’ve last driven a full-size pickup truck and recall the bouncy, inhospitable environs of yester-year, you will be shocked by how refined a modern truck can be.

Rear seat passengers aren’t much worse off with tall, leather-trimmed seats and truly gargantuan head and legroom; even Texas-sized adults are sure to find comfort.

2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain gauges
2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain HVAC controls
2014 GMC Sierra SLT 1500 4WD Crew Cab All-Terrain gauges & HVAC controls. Click image to enlarge

Of all the modern full-size trucks, the Sierra (especially in All Terrain trim) is the best looking of the lot. Not as cartoonish as some of those big-rig wannabes, the GMC brings just enough flair (LED daytime running lights) with a rugged look (squared off fenders, prominent grille).  But hey, we get it, looks are subjective and maybe you prefer your truck to have a snout that looks like it fell off a Mack, or Rodeo-champion-belt-buckle-sized badges. To each their own.

Trucks aren’t supposed to be all show and no go of course, and GMC ensures there’s a drivetrain and box configuration to suit your needs: 2WD or 4WD, long box or short, and three cab setups.

The base engine is a new 4.3L V6 unit rated at 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. The mid-level engine (and one found in our test rig) is a 5.3L V8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.
During the test week, this engine proved to be competent if not exhilarating in most driving situations and likely a fine choice for most people’s needs even if trailering is in the cards. With a heavier boot, the 5.3L becomes quite lively, baring its teeth and making short work of passing maneuvers.

A 6.2L V8 is also available to Canadian Sierra (and Chevrolet Silverado) buyers and that dispenses 420 horses and 450 lb-ft of torque. At AJAC’s “TestFest” last autumn we were able to drive a Silverado equipped with this drivetrain back-to-back with a Sierra fitted with the 5.3L engine and the difference is felt throughout the power band. The big engine is smooth and refined like its smaller brother, but the well of torque seems endless and grabs the big truck by the scruff of its neck and throws it around. Yeehaw! If you need it for real work, a Sierra with this engine can tow up to 5,443 kg (12,000 lb).

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