First drive: 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 in the UAE
Redesigned alongside the Chevrolet Silverado for 2014, the GMC Sierra is pretty much a clone of the aforementioned Chevy, save for the front end. The version we’re testing here is some sort of well-optioned trim, complete with body-coloured bumpers and shiny alloy wheels, but still stands one level below the chrome-grilled Sierra Denali model.
Inside, the Sierra’s interior is identical to the Chevy Silverado Z71 we drove late last year. While the base models generally are hard-plastic tubs, the top-trim models come with soft-touch dashes, power accessories and a colourful touchscreen, making them feel like regular SUVs rather than work-trucks. Some cheap bits remain though, such as the panels that sounds hollow when knocked on, and a seatbelt trim piece that popped off in the back seat.
There’s tons of space too, with big flat seats both front and back, and storage options are extensive, including a cavernous “ditch” between the front passengers thanks to having an annoying column-mounted gear-shifter. And then there’s that massive bed out back, with a cover as well as corner steps to aid loading.
Our Sierra is powered by a 355 hp 5.3-litre V8 with 519 Nm of torque. Mated to a smooth-shifting automatic, it also comes with the option to switch between two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, and has low-range gearing. It’s adequately powerful for a vehicle of this size, with a burst of speed coming in at higher revs. Fuel consumption is high, but no more than any other V8 fullsizer, at about 19 litres/100 km as shown on the trip computer.
The Sierra also rides just like the Silverado, which we earlier described as “damped jitter”, smooth enough to be a daily driver but never quite shaking off its truck underpinnings. Yet it somehow runs over larger bumps with hardly a jiggle, while being very quiet at highway speeds.
The steering is vague and the body-roll is very noticeable, but it can reach pretty decent speeds on longer curves as long as you don’t upset it with twitchy steering inputs. Floatiness only pops up on sharp speed bumps. Even the brakes are respectable in their stopping power, even if spongy in feel.
While all-round visibility is fine, with big mirrors and a rear camera, the real issue that we kept hitting was the Sierra’s inability to fit within parking spaces as well as cramped curving ramps in Dubai’s ridiculous underground parking garages. Actually, we did make it fit at the one parking facility we inadvertently drove into, but we came to within millimetres of scraping the bodywork.
We didn’t try the Sierra offroad, but it should manage flatter slopes with ease, with low-range gearing on call when needed. However, it won’t be able to tackle serious dunes without scraping its long underbelly.
The GMC Sierra is a very nice truck, not quite as modern as rivals such as the air-suspended Ram 1500 and the aluminium-bodied Ford F-150, but a solid upgrade compared to GM’s older truck offerings. If you think you’ll never have to park it anywhere tight, the Sierra makes a fine daily driver as well.
For prices and specs, visit the GMC Sierra buyer guide.