2002 GMC SIERRA 1500 SLE
Used Pickup - 2002 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE in Levittown, Pa
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2002 GMC Sierra 1500 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
GMC Sierra represents the best and most advanced in pickup engineering. It does everything pickups have always done, only better, with a first-class capacity for hauling and towing. It rides and handles more like a car than any pickup ever did before. Inside, the Sierra is one of the most luxurious pickups we've ever driven, setting new standards for quietness, plush appointments, and solid construction.
Of course, all of that is equally true of the Sierra's mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado.
What sets the Sierra apart is image, the intangible value of GMC's 100-year heritage of building trucks and only trucks. And even if Sierra and Silverado are clones under the skin, the GMC pickup presents a bolder face to the world. Sierra boasts its own grille, hood, fenders, fascia, bumpers and headlamps. Like the best GMC designs of the past, it looks a little sharper-dressed than its Chevrolet cousin.
GMC also offers model and equipment variants that Chevrolet does not, including the 325-horsepower Sierra Denali with four-wheel steering; and the new business-oriented Professional, with unique interior equipment designed exclusively for the entrepreneur on the go.
Like all big American-made pickups, the Sierra comes in two and four-wheel-drive, in light-duty (1500) and medium-duty (2500) loading and towing capacities, with short-bed and long-bed bodies, and with fendered or full-width beds. There are standard-length two-door cabs and extended-length cabs with two more auxiliary doors in the rear. New for 2002 is a 1500 HD Crew Cab, with four full-size doors, just like the heavy-duty work-site models.
Engine choices for 1500 models range from a basic 4.3-liter V6, up through a 4.8-liter V8 (standard in extended cabs), and a 5.3-liter V8. Extended-cab, long box 1500s and all 2500s come with a 300-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are offered.
Trim levels have been revised for 2002, and now begin with Standard, and advance through SL and SLE. SLT returns as a leather-and-luxury equipment package.
Also returning in revised form is last year's Sierra C3, now labeled Sierra Denali. Available only as an extended-cab, short-bed 4x4, Denali packs a 325-horsepower version of the 6.0-liter V8, along with automatic transmission and an exclusive, sophisticated full-time all-wheel-drive system. For 2002, it also comes with GM's electronically controlled four-wheel-steering system called Quadrasteer. Quadrasteer reduces Sierra's curb-to-curb turning diameter by 21 percent, to just 37.4 feet, which is within inches of a Saturn SC1. Quadrasteer also enhances high-speed stability.
Since Quadrasteer requires a five-inch increase in track, you can spot a Denali by its unique rear fender blisters. Denali also features a full pallet of luxury equipment and the ZX3 Ride Control suspension, with cockpit-adjustable shock absorbers.
Like the Denali, the new Professional is available only with a short box and extended cab, but unlike GMC's flagship pickup, the Professional is offered in two- or four-wheel drive, and it should be priced much lower. Starting with SLE-level equipment, the Professional adds a special full-length console with concealed storage for a personal digital assistant (PDA), cell phone, and other items; a seven-quart cooler; a cooled or heated cup holder, and a second Big Gulp-sized cup holder for those entrepreneurial doses of caffeine. The console can be converted to store hanging file folders. The Professional also features more lockable storage under the rear seat, a bold chrome grille, 16-inch alloy wheels and unique exterior identification. Standard power with two-wheel drive is the 4.8-liter V8 and automatic transmission, but 4x4 Professionals come standard with the 5.3. SLT trim with leather is an option.
Sierra prices cover a broad range, starting at $17,408 for a standard-trim, V6 1500 2WD, and more than doubling to $43,385 for the luxurious, high-tech Denali. A short-box, 4WD extended-cab SLE would include the 4.8-liter V8 for $29,266; and many popular 2WD models list in the $23,000-$27,000 range.
For even heavier-duty hauling, GMC builds the 3/4-ton Sierra 2500HD and 3500. (See review on the heavy duty Sierra models at NewCarTestDrive.com.).
While the Chevrolet Silverado looks almost as if it were designed to blend into the background, the 2002 GMC Sierra very nearly demands attention, with its mouth-like air intake and predator-narrow headlights. Aft of that front end, the same sheet metal that looks smooth and subtle on the Chevy suggests tensed and rippled muscles on the GMC. It's a look, we think, that a lot of truck buyers will like: more distinctive than the Chevrolet pickup, but not as over-the-top as the Ford or Dodge.
All GMC Sierras are built on the stiffest and lightest truck frame General Motors has ever produced. The frame rails are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to shape relatively large steel components. Tubular crossmembers and roll-formed mid-rails increase rigidity further. This stiff structure enhances handling and ride quality immensely, while improving crashworthiness.
GMC Sierra's interior is one of the most inviting and comfortable in the pickup business. The door openings are the largest in the industry, and the cab is the roomiest. Heated bucket seats optional in SLE/SLT extended cab models provide good support in hard corners.
The instrument package comprises a large speedometer and tachometer flanked by four smaller gauges. All use pleasant graphics in white on black. A compass is incorporated into the overhead console, along with three storage areas for sunglasses, garage door opener, and small items. The door trim is a nice combination of vinyl panels and dotted velour that is soft and warm to the touch.
The sound system control panel is located above the climate controls as it should be because we tend to fiddle with the radio more than the temperature. The climate control system uses a rotary dial layout that works perfectly. Three 12-volt outlets are provided at the bottom center of the dash for radar detectors, cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other accessories. Power door locks (standard on SLE) are programmable.
The SLT package includes not just leather seats but also OnStar, GM's satellite-based communications and security system.
The Sierra Denali comes with OnStar, too, along with tone-on-tone leather, extra sound deadening, a premium audio system with steering-wheel controls for the driver and separate controls for rear-seat passengers, a unique console with a driver information center (we used to call it a trip computer) and other exclusive amenities.
A lockable floor console is large enough to hold a picnic lunch for a family of four; it comes with a reversible, removable cup holder tray and a storage nook in front of the lid.
We were pleasantly surprised when we climbed through the reverse-opening rear door in the extended cab and found that the rear seat is reasonably comfortable. Rear-seat passengers get their own air-conditioning outlets and a set of drop-down cup holders. When cargo capacity is more important than hauling passengers, the entire rear seat assembly can be loosened from the floor with a wrench and removed through one of the side doors.
We love the 1500 HD Crew Cab. It's a great truck. The rear seats are as roomy as the second row of seats in a Suburban. Ours came with leather and felt comfortable and luxurious. It's capable of carrying six passengers and feels roomy and luxurious with four. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold down, providing a large protected cargo area inside the cab.
On the road, the Sierra is so quiet and well behaved that it could be mistaken for a luxury car. This is largely due to the chassis (introduced for 1999), whose frame is 23 percent stiffer than that of the previous generation. A cast magnesium beam behind the instrument panel and a lateral steel beam between the magnesium beam and the right side of the dash further reinforce the stiff body. This is a very strong truck, and its strength lets the suspension soak up and manage all the bumps and ruts and tar strips.
The extended cab model's 143.5-inch wheelbase improves the ride and enhances high-speed stability.
The 1500 HD 4WD Crew Cab does not ride as smoothly as the Chevy Avalanche, but the ride was reasonably good for what is practically a three-quarter-ton truck with no weight in the bed. Adding some weight back there would undoubtedly smooth it out.
A four-spoke steering wheel connects to rack-and-pinion steering; there is still a fairly wide dead spot in the center when cruising. (GMC says this is intentional, to minimize steering corrections on the highway.) The steering feels a bit light, but the truck tracks beautifully and handles well on pavement, loose dirt, deep dirt and even off-road.
Quadrasteer, the available four-wheel-steering system, works amazingly well. Backing a super-long trailer into a parking space at a 90-degree angle is much, much easier with Quadrasteer than without it. The system shortens turning circles with trailers and makes backing up far more intuitive. On the road, it feels more stable. On winding roads, it's more stable, easier to drive, and the trailer tracks better behind the vehicle. If you tow frequently, you really owe it to yourself to test out a truck with GM's Quadrasteer. Even without a trailer, Quadrasteer makes it much easier to park the truck in tight spaces, such as underground garages and crowded parking lots.
The V6 produces 200 horsepower and a reasonable 260 pound-feet of torque, but most buyers opt for a V8 and automatic transmission.
The 4.8-liter small-block V8 is the most popular engine for this truck, but our Sierra had the larger 5.3-liter (327-cubic-inch) engine, rated 285 horsepower. Its torque peaks at 325 pound-feet, but the torque curve is plenty fat for light towing and hauling. The 5.3-liter engine is also fun for commuting and touring, and we recommend it over the smaller 4.8-liter engine.
The tow/haul mode is a great feature. GM's 4L60-E and 4L65-E four-speed automatics feature a delayed upshift when switched into the tow/haul mode, improving performance while helping the transmission keep its cool. In the tow mode, the transmission holds gears longer before shifting up or down, reducing the tendency of automatics to hunt between third and fourth gears in hilly terrain. When it does shift, the shifts are harder in Tow mode, reducing the amount of time it takes to shift. Both of those strategies reduce heat buildup.
The Sierra 1500 HD can tow trailers weighing up to 10,300 pounds or haul up to 3139 pounds of payload (2837 with 4WD). It comes standard with the Z85 handling/trailering suspension designed to provide a smooth ride. Though the bed is short, it's a great choice for people who tow horse trailers, race cars, or campers. The 6.0-liter V6 that comes standard in 1500 HD models is tuned with considerably more torque in the four-wheel-drive versions (488 pounds-feet) than in the two-wheel-drive versions (360 pounds-feet); the 4WD model trades off horsepower to the 2WD model to do this, however.
Brakes are large, heavy-duty discs on all four corners; ABS is standard on all models. The brakes are huge and powerful and begin to work only an inch into the pedal travel. A feature called Dynamic Rear Proportioning improves stability under heavy braking whether the truck is loaded or empty and can reduce stopping distances. Jam on the brakes and most vehicles without ABS will lock up the rear tires because most of the weight is being t.
GMC Sierra offers a great deal of essential pickup-truck goodness. If you're looking for more style than the Chevy Silverado offers and a bit of exclusivity, then by all means choose the GMC Sierra.
Our Sierra SLE was among the smoothest, quietest, most civilized, best equipped, and most enjoyable pickup trucks we've ever driven. The GMC Sierra is a must-see if you're buying a new full-size pickup.
2WD Regular Cab, 6.5-ft. box, Standard ($17,408), SLE ($23,322); Extended Cab, 8-ft. box, SLE ($26,389), SLT ($28,149); 1500 HD Crew Cab ($29,648)
4WD Regular Cab, 6.5-ft. box, Standard ($21,975), SLE $26,439; Extended Cab, 8-ft. box, SLE ($29,566), SLT ($31,326); 1500 HD Crew Cab ($33,048)
Denali Extended Cab, 6.5-foot box ($43,385).
Pontiac, Michigan; Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Options As Tested
SLT Decor ($1,280) includes front leather seating surfaces, power front seat adjusters, air conditioning, cruise control, remote locking/security system, power windows and door locks, deep tinted glass, mirror with compass and temperature readouts, electronic shift transfer case, fog lights, OnStar; front full-feature reclining bucket seats ($1255); heavy-duty trailering equipment ($215); AM/FM/CD/cassette ($180); polished aluminum wheels ($150); 4.10 rear axle ratio ($50).
1500 HD 4WD Crew Cab ($32,723).Big power, big payload, big pulling capability, and refinement.
General Motors is the current leader in heavy-duty pickup trucks. GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty trucks are more powerful and more comfortable than any heavy-duty trucks in history. They ride more smoothly and feel more refined than the current heavy-duty trucks from Ford and Dodge.
Completely re-engineered and redesigned for 2001, the GMC Sierra line is mechanically nearly identical to the Chevy Silverado line. However, there are some key differences. The Sierras are more stylish. Positioned as 'professional grade' trucks, the GMCs offer more features, more technology, and more luxury then the Chevys.
These trucks can move mountains. GM says its 3500 series boasts the most power, the heftiest gross vehicle weight rating and the highest gross combined vehicle weight rating available.
Heavy-duty Sierra pickups are broadly divided into the 2500 HD series and the 3500 series.
To understand the lineup, it helps to speak the language: 'Half-ton,' '3/4-ton' and 'one-ton' are outdated terms because modern trucks haul far more than 1,000-2,000 pounds. However, we still tend to use these terms. Sierra 1500 series are the so-called half-ton trucks. Just to make things as confusing as possible, GMC sells a light-duty 2500-series truck line, which we might refer to as a half-ton truck because it's based on the 1500 Series. (See separate newcartestdrive.com review of the Sierra 1500 and 2500 light-duty trucks.)
2500HD pickups are what we commonly call 3/4-ton trucks. All GMC 2500HD trucks come with single rear wheels. Their suspensions and chassis are a heavier duty design than the light-duty 2500 series models; the two can be distinguished by the 2500HD's raised hood.
3500-series trucks come with dual rear wheels; these so-called one-ton trucks are commonly referred to as 'duallies.'
Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab bodies are available with 6.5-foot short beds or 8-foot long beds. Wheelbases run 133, 143.5, 153.0, 157.5, and 167 inches long on 2500 HD pickups; wheelbases are available in 133, 157.5, 161.5, and 167.5 inches on 3500 duallies.
Three trim levels are offered: SL, the well-equipped SLE, and the leather SLT.
Engine choices: 6.0-liter Vortec V8, 8.1-liter Vortec V8, and 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo Diesel.
Just as important are the transmission choices: five-speed manual or four-speed automatic for the Vortec 6.0-liter; six-speed manual or an exciting new Allison five-speed automatic for the Vortec 8100 or Duramax 6600. And, of course, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available.
For 2002, GMC has added two new Sierra Professional models; they are designed as extended cab short box work trucks and are available in 2WD and 4WD.
GMC's Sierra is more stylish than Chevy's Silverado and we think it's more attractive. The Sierra HD shares key design features with the regular-duty models, but there are distinctions: Sierra HD looks taller, and it is, by two inches. It also looks wider, and it is with a wider track. Its broad-shouldered fender flares and muscular bumper give it an appearance GMC calls Professional Grade. For 2002, there's a bolder Sierra tailgate badge.
GMC's center port grille has a chromed appearance and directs large quantities of air under the hood. One-piece wraparound composite headlamps give the Sierra a handsome, aerodynamic appearance. Overall, the body work is smoother and more fluid than previously.
Coming soon is a redesigned 2003 Sierra with much bolder styling.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive. SLE is well-equipped with convenience features and nice cloth. SLT comes swathed in leather and feels luxurious, like an upscale Yukon XL.
The Crew Cab offers roomy rear seats, comfortable for two adults, capable of three. Folding down the rear seats reveals a large, flat cargo area. This area is a godsend, whether hauling a big dog or anything you don't want exposed to the elements or other people. The seats are split 60/40 for maximum utility.
The new 2002 Sierra Professional models feature a full-length, custom-designed console, extending from the instrument panel to the back of the front seats. The center console has a front compartment, providing concealed storage for a personal digital assistant, cell phone, and two auxiliary power points to charge them. It also provides a storage trail for smaller items, such as maps, gloves or CDs. It has an oversized Big Gulp cupholder and a second temperature controlled cupholder than can keep beverages hot or cold when the ignition is on. The center console accommodates a seven-quart capacity thermal electric cooler provided, which can keep drinks and food cold or warm. The cooler runs directly off the battery and provides power continuously even with the engine off. the center console can be easily converted to handle hanging file folders. Two power outlets ion the rear of the console are useful for charging battery packs for power tools. There's also a rear under-seat storage container the offers 2 cubic feet of space for storing tools like rotary hammers and saws. A smaller container holds fasteners and other smaller items. The console and under-seat storage can be locked.
We drove a Sierra 3500 Crew Cab duallie for two weeks and it was a marvel of power, comfort, and payload capability. It was smooth and comfortable for moving part of a house from Maryland to Virginia, and made short work of moving a garage full of stuff around Williamsburg. It was clearly underwhelmed by this light duty, but very comfortable when taking the mother in law to lunch.
Ride quality is excellent, the best among the duallies currently available from Ford and Dodge. Handling is surprisingly good for such a big truck. It covers real estate quickly, whether on the Interstate or on winding back roads. A hydroformed front frame gives it extraordinary rigidity, which allowed GM's engineers to tune the suspension more precisely for a better ride and handling. Front suspensions use torsion bars for durability.
Four-wheel disc brakes have reduced stopping distances and give the driver a solid pedal feel, a huge improvement over GM's previous-generation trucks. Bigger front rotors, larger brake pads, improved linings offer better stopping power and longer pad life. Dynamic rear proportioning shortens stopping distances by transferring front and rear brake bias to the tires with the best grip.
The base engine is the Vortec 6000, a 6.0-liter V8 (366 cubic inches) that generates 300 horsepower and 360 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. Introduced for 1999, it's designed for a 200,000-mile operating life with 10,000-mile oil change intervals. Its aluminum cylinder head is similar to that of the L56 Corvette. It comes with a choice of a heavy-duty five-speed manual and GM's 4L80-E four-speed electronically controlled automatic, which comes standard on Extended Cab and Crew Cab models. The four-speed automatic features a Tow/Haul mode.
The big Vortec 8100 V8 delivers 455 pounds-feet of peak torque at 3200 rpm. Torque is that force that propels the truck off the line and this 8.1-liter, 496 cubic-inch V8 has gobs of it. It generates 400 lbs.-ft. at just 1600 rpm. Don't expect neck-snapping acceleration, however. Quicker acceleration performance when towing is the objective. And it does this very well. Introduced last year, this 8.1-liter V8 replaces GM's 7.4-liter V8. It has advanced features such as an engine oil life monitor and a limp-home mode. This gas engine is an $850 option.
The new Duramax 6600 diesel is smooth, quiet, and powerful. It punches out an amazing 520 lbs.-ft. of torque at just 1800 rpm. GM's Duramax diesel engine is built in Moraine, Ohio, but was developed with Isuzu, one of the world's largest manufacturers of diesel engines. The new 6.6-liter Duramax offers improved fuel economy over the old 6.5-liter GM diesel it replaced. The Duramax was designed for a 200,000-mile operating life, according to GM engineers, and for easy serviceability. Half of heavy-duty truck pickups are sold with diesel engines. The diesel adds $4810.
The Duramax and Vortec 8100 offer a choice of a ZF six-speed manual or optional Allison 1000 five-speed automatic ($1200). Both have close-ratio gearing, which provides exceptional launch, hill climbing, and towing capability and economy. Their heavy-duty components are stronger than those typically found in one-ton truck transmissions, providing exceptional durability.
The ZF six-speed manual is easy to shift and is fully synchronized in all gears with dual-cone synchronizers in second and third. A convenient shift pattern allows the shift lever to be moved forward for reverse and straight back for first, making it easier to maneuver quickly in tight spaces. Second gear works well for taking off with a light load; first is a creeper gear.
As good as the six-speed manual is, the optional Allison five-speed automatic is one of the most impressive features of these trucks. We highly recommend it for its responsive performance. Available for the Vortec 8100 and Duramax engines, the Allison is designed to last 200,000 miles; GM engineers said it's 'over-designed,' meaning.
The GMC Sierra is the ultimate in heavy-duty pickups. The new Sierra Professional models are highly functional, a good place from which to live and work. SLE models are very comfortable and SLT trim is very luxurious.
Crew Cab Sierras are the ultimate pickups in our minds. Order a 3500 SLT and you can move mountains from the comfort of your luxurious leather-lined cabin.
2500HD: Reg Cab 2WD LWB ($22,607), 4WD ($25,414); Ext Cab 2WD ($27,002); Crew Cab 2WD SWB ($27,802), Crew Cab 4WD LWB ($31,127), SLE ($34,117).
Options As Tested
SLT décor ($1760) includes leather-trim, six-way power driver and passenger seats, air conditioning, fog lamps, full-feature overhead console, OnStar communications system; Vortec 8100 ($850); Allison 5-speed automatic ($1200).
Sierra 3500 Crew Cab 4WD SLE ($35,114).
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