2014 GMC Sierra
2014 GMC Sierra. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

The all-new 2014 GMC Sierra couldn’t have come at a better time. GM is clawing its way out of government receivership, the economy is not a complete disaster, the markets are recovering and car and truck sales are booming. There is no better time for GM to be launching their all-new high-profit trucks to a market ripe for big sales.

While the Chevrolet Silverado is the volume seller for GM (in the much larger, more lucrative US market at least), the GMC Sierra landed in the top 10 of vehicle sales in Canada last year (42,712), and over 150K were sold in the States in 2012. With a new model on lots and so far up 20 percent in the US but only about five percent in Canada, expect the second half of 2013 to be even more impressive unless something catastrophic like a meteor striking earth should occur.

If it does, this might be one segment that actually improves. There is perhaps no better vehicle for natural disaster recovery than a pickup truck. Case in point: the recent flooding in Calgary. In a town like Calgary, where seemingly every other vehicle has an open bed, towing capacity measured in the thousands of pounds, and an indomitable frontier spirit to match that of its residents, they can suffer severe flooding as seen in early July and have the town cleaned up and ready for the World’s Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth the following week.

Calgary StampedeCalgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede. Click image to enlarge

We were lucky enough to be scheduled for the first weekend of the Calgary Stampede, and if I hadn’t known about the flooding beforehand, I likely would not have noticed. Several points en route, however, overlooked wide areas still flooded, bridges washed out, so this gave us an indication of the severity of this disaster.

Although we didn’t see the work firsthand, we were witness to the results of one of the most impressive disaster clean-ups in recent memory. If this had happened in the GTA, we would likely still be waiting for Rob Ford to call Mel Lastman for the number for the army unit needed to come rescue us….

What does all this have to do with the GMC Sierra? Not much really, except that it is my general perception of the capability, uses and convenience of a pickup truck. That and the event was in and around Calgary, so it’s kind of unavoidable.

2014 GMC Sierra2014 GMC Sierra2014 GMC Sierra
2014 GMC Sierra. Click image to enlarge

Anyhow, our event started at Bucars RV, a local trailer and RV dealership, with a row of gleaming GMC Sierras rigged up to a variety of camper trailers. After a brief rundown of the trailer brake control and how to settle the trailer down if it starts trying to overtake you, off we went. I was like, “What? That’s it?” No exhaustive safety lecture or lengthy product presentations? I felt almost disoriented, but luckily I had a route book and my wife, so if I wasn’t sure what to do, she could tell me what to do, as she always does, whether I like it or not.

2014 GMC Sierra
2014 GMC Sierra. Click image to enlarge

The first few minutes were a bit nerve-wracking, getting the feel of so much mass and so much length and not dragging the trailer through a ditch cutting a corner too close. In no time we were cruising along the highway out of Calgary heading south on the “2” toward our destination for the night, the Sierra West Ranch that would host us overnight.

The particular GMC Sierras we were piloting featured the 5.3L Ecotec V8 making 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. This is GM’s new Goldilocks engine, the best fit between the basic-needs 285-hp, 305 lb-ft 4.3L V6 and the overkill 420-hp, 450 lb-ft 6.2L V8. The 5.3 is also engineered to run on E85, and if fuelled with ethanol, will produce 380 hp and 416 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available across the board is GM’s staple Hydramatic 6L80 six-speed automatic, though it is available with a choice of four rear axle ratios: 3.08, 3.23, 3.42 and 3.73. Basically, the higher the number, the better the towing capacity, at the expense of fuel consumption.

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