General Motors has improved the Sierra 1500, with increased payload and towing capacities, plus a deeper bed. It also improved the powertrain, fuel economy and introduced several unique innovations on higher trims.
The biggest change is in the powertrain. Its 5.3-liter V8 engine, now paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and the combination provides better throttle response and quicker acceleration, answering one of our chief criticisms of the dull, flat-footed previous generation. The new eight-speed automatic transmission and the loss of about 300 pounds help the Sierra (and the Chevrolet Silverado, which we tested) achieve 17 mpg overall, a 1-mpg gain over the previous truck. We also tested the diesel version mated to a 10-speed automatic which yielded 23 mpg overall.
Drivers can’t escape the truck’s huge size when taking corners, but for a full-sized pickup truck it has responsive steering and little body lean. While not as comfortable riding as the Ram 1500, ride comfort is unobjectionable. Road and engine noise are impressively muted.