Lined up side-by-side with its competition, the GMC's bold looks put it in the top of our picks for subjective looks, and closer objective scrutiny proves what our initial impression told us: the Sierra is solidly built. The Sierra's panel gaps are as tight and as consistent as the F-150 and Ram, but it excels in exacting tolerances around the headlights and taillights. The fit is flush and tight to give the feeling of quality. The wheel wells are small, making fitting larger off-road tires a chore, but it had to add to the respectable fuel economy we recorded.
The strength of the Sierra came from the initial impression that each driver got when settling in behind the wheel. The Sierra, along with the Dodge, had the most comfortable driving position among our testers, although it could have benefited from more aggressive seat bolstering. The steering feel was also among the best, with good placement of steering wheel audio and cruise control buttons, though the wheel girth was smallest in the test. Our Sierra SLT had the same upscale interior as our 2007 Truck of the Year winner Silverado LTZ, minus the navigation. The dash design uses less soft-touch materials than Ford and Dodge, and a more blended center stack that's not as bold, but the ergonomics were perfect, possibly because we're so familiar with them. Our overall ranking on the gauge cluster and audio system performance were right in the middle of the pack.
Power is on par with the competition, as the 5.3L felt strong, even though the four-speed tranny in our tester is a bit old-school. Granted, we'd rather have four gears that work well than six that are choppy. Perhaps the strongest point for our Sierra was the recorded fuel mileage. The initial tank, directly off the showroom floor, was highway driving and going easy on the truck to break it in. The Driver Information Center (DIC) told us we'd averaged 18.9 mpg. The DIC lied. It told us we used more fuel than we did. It tracks total fuel used, miles traveled, and computes the average from the two, but when we topped off the tank we were still nearly a gallon under what the DIC said we'd used.
Once we did the math, we found that the 18.9 mpg average listed was really 19.2 mpg! Subsequent fill-ups after more city driving and stop-and-go traffic did cause the average to drop into the mid 18s, but our 5.3L was able to run in 4-cylinder mode at highway speeds over 70 mph to keep the highway average up. City mileage was right on what the EPA suggests, at 16 mpg.
We picked the 2007 Silverado as our Truck of the Year when it was released, and we were sorry to see it go when it was time to return it. Two years later and we haven't forgotten why we thought the GMT-900 trucks were the best. Even considering that the competition has had two years to narrow their sights on the Silverado and its GMC Sierra stablemate, the duo from GM can still hold their own. Despite the GMC's significantly lower price tag, it still did well in our competition, and represented what you, our reader, would likely drive off the lot. It's too bad we couldn't get our hands on another Crew Cab, or better yet, a Denali, to match the price point and size of the competition. Before we get anyone complaining that our extended cab tester was at a disadvantage this year, we're confident that even if we had used a comparably equipped Crew Cab model with all the bells and whistles, the winner of this year's tests would have been the same.
* Good combo of power and fuel economy
* Comfortable seating position
* Great steering feel
* Six-speed transmissions not standard across the board
* Dual-zone climate control display
* Can't get top powertrains in any cab/ bed configuration