2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab SLT Review: The Best Half Ton GM Truck Ever
I should make a few things clear before getting into why I think that the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT Crew Cab that General Motors has ever sold. This Sierra is the first of the new GM half ton trucks that I have gotten to spend any time in and while I have driven the new Silverado, it was only for a short time in a very controlled environment. I don’t mean to upset Silverado owners by suggesting that the Sierra is the better half ton truck, but in my time spent with both trucks, I was more impressed with the interior quality of the Sierra along with the high tech headlight setup that I believe is the better looking of the two new trucks.
More importantly, I admit that I have long been a critic of General Motors half ton truck program. I understand that the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra are among the bestselling trucks in America, but Ive had extensive seat time in all of the Detroit half ton trucks over the past few years and Ive always found that the Ford F150 and the Ram 1500 were leaps and bounds better than the comparably equipped Silverado or Sierra. Frankly speaking, I have spent the last few years wondering why people buy the Chevy and GMC pickups because the competition from Ford and Ram were just that great. With the introduction of the 2014 Sierra, I no longer will question those folks who buy new General Motors half ton pickups as all of the complaints that I’ve had over the past half decade or so have been addressed in a big way.
My test subject for this review was a 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT 4WD Crew Cab model with the short bed option which carries an MSRP of $43,610. Options on my test truck include the $400 SLT Preferred Package (Heated Steering Wheel, Power Rear Sliding Window), the $845 Driver Alert Package (Front and Rear Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Seat Alert), the $2,195 SLT Crew Cab Value Package (Chrome Side Steps, Bose Audio, 20” chrome wheels), the $795 Touchscreen Audio System, the $650 heated and cooled front seats, the $325 full leather interior package and the $230 integrated trailer brake controller. When you factor in the base price, the options and the $995 destination fee, the Sierra SLT carried a sticker price of $50,045 so while it is far from a budget package – there is very, very little to ask for when you buy a new Sierra that is as loaded up as my test vehicle.
When it was learned that the GMC Sierra was being refreshed for the 2014 model year, it was expected that the world would be introduced to an all-new design similar to what Ford or Ram (or Dodge) have done in the past when they moved to a new generation. However, when we were introduced to the 2014 Sierra (and Silverado) the styling was not that big of a departure and that caused some mumbles from the skeptics about how the new look wasn’t revolutionary enough. Those people are right – the new Sierra isnt all that different from the previous models, but with some noticeable changes here and there made to what is one of the bestselling trucks in the US market – the new Sierra is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The changes are there, but so are the styling cues that have made the Sierra so popular over the past few decades.
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 looks remarkably similar to the outgoing models, but the most significant changes come up front with the new high tech LED-trimmed HID projection headlights replacing the stacked look of the outgoing models. This high tech look is far more upscale while also offering a greater level of differentiation between the Sierra and the new Chevy Silverado. The basic shape of the grille and headlight area is similar, but the grille is bigger and the front end lines have been sharpened. In fact, many of the lines of the 2014 Sierra from the hood to the roof to the doors, fender and bedsides are harder and bolder versions of the 2013 models. The chrome bumper is also more refined looking with harder lines and more sculpting around the front tow hook openings.
Along the sides, the 2014 GMC Sierra features more lines that are stronger than the outgoing models with the most prominent feature being the accentuated wheel flares. The 2013 model year more rounded, softer flares whereas the 2014 Sierra has more pronounced flares with a unique ridge running along the top edge to create a look that I really like. The top lines of the cab are more squared off while the windows all around also have sharper lines for a far bolder look. My test truck was also fitted with a set of optional 20 inch wheels that I find to be one of the best looking factory wheel options on the half ton market today. Everyone should get the SLT Crew Cab Value Package if only for the 20 inch wheels shown here and the chrome side step bars are an essentially for shorter folks to have more ease of access.
Out back, the 2014 Sierra wear a huge logo in the middle of the tailgate with a subtle molded “spoiler” atop bed. While I found the short bed to be a bit small for my needs it should be more than enough for the average truck buyer and the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate makes it easy for everyone to open and close the tailgate safely – no more struggling to close it for smaller people or worrying about letting it slam down when opening. Finally, GMC has added integrated steps into the corners of the bumper which make getting into the bed much simpler for short folks, but these don’t offer much help when getting back out of the bed.
The 2014 GMC Sierra is like a bigger, bolder and tougher version of the outgoing model with a look that is very similar yet distinctly refreshed. This new half ton GMC pickup isnt a much bigger truck than the 2013 models, but the bolder lines and increased dimensions of features like the grille and hood give the Sierra 1500 a very heavy duty look that is sure to resonate well with prospective buyers.
The SLT package is the top of the line option (not counting the Denali) for the 2014 GMC Sierra and that is instantly apparent as soon as you climb into the driver’s seat. Black leather covers the front and rear seats, large portions of the dash, parts of the door panels and the huge center console cover with white stitching throughout providing a very upscale look and feel which is accented with high gloss wood trim on the center console and on the door panels. Shy of the light colored headliner, the vast majority of the truck has a classy, dark look with some simple silver accents on the steering wheel, around the HVAC ducts and in the center stack around the advanced infotainment system. While the six analog gauges in the cluster aren’t all high tech like some other trucks in the segment, there is a small LCD screen that can flip through a variety of information screens by using the, buttons on the steering wheel. There are also buttons on the steering wheel to control the sound system, the navigation system, the heated steering wheel, the cruise control and the hands free phone system so almost every aspect of the interior can be controlled without the driver taking his or her hands off of the wheel. Oh and that high end Bose sound system sounds awesome whether you are listening to Eminem, Pink Floyd, Pantera or Johnny Cash.
The prominent infotainment system of the 2014 GMC Sierra serves as the centerpiece of the cabin with a big, bright touch screen sitting high on the dash so the driver doesn’t need to look far from the road to check out the map or the sound system screen. GM has a great navigation system that works very well by using voice controls, but my key complaint is that there is no dedicated navigation button on the dash. You can jump right to the media or radio screen with the push of a button, but to get to the navigation screen you have to go through the “home” button and then choose the nav program from the menu. If you don’t fancy touch screens, the Sierra has a small array of traditional buttons and knobs to control the sound system (in addition to the steering wheel controls) and below the knobs and buttons that control the tunes is a very traditional panel that controls the dual zone climate control. In one nice, neat area you have the controls for the front and rear defrosters, the heated and cooled seats, the fan speed and individual temperature settings for the driver and passenger. There are also two roomy glove boxes, big, deep pockets in both front doors and a center console area that has ample amounts of storage so if you are someone who likes to have plenty of places to stick your personal belongings – this is a truck that will take as much of your clutter as you can pack.
Most importantly, the 2014 GMC Sierra interior feels great in terms of material quality and build quality. Where previous GM trucks have offered these high tech amenities in fixtures that felt a little cut-rate, the 2014 Sierra feels like a high end pickup in every way. There is no aspect of the Sierra interior that feels cheap so GMC 1500 owners finally get the same level of quality that the competition has been offering for years now. No longer can Ford and Ram owners make jokes about the rattles and creaks – or the cheap plastic panels – in the GMC Sierra.
The Crew Cab is the biggest configuration option for the 2014 GMC Sierra so it should come as no surprise that there is a ton of passenger space up front and in the rear. There is enough space to set both front seats to comfortably seat a pair of 6’2” occupants while still proving enough space for large adults to sit comfortably in the back. The large cabin allows the Sierra to offer great leg, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder and head room for even the tallest drivers and passengers whether they are in the front or back seats. The center rear seat is bigger than many others so you can actually seat in adult in the middle but I wouldn’t make any adults sit in that spot for very long – although three kids should be perfectly comfortable in the back seat of this new GMC pickup. Also, when you don’t have rear passengers, the back seats quickly and easily fold on to create a massive rear cargo area.
The 2014 GMC Sierra isn’t technically a luxury truck but many people who climb in with believe otherwise. The Sierra has a long list of high tech features along with big, plush leather covered seats that make this a great truck for the daily commute or for a trip across the country. The Sierra interior is inviting, comfortable and quiet so if you want a truly premium interior setting, the loaded up SLT cabin is one of the best options on the market today.
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT comes standard with the 5.3L Ecotec V8 that delivers 355 horsepower and 383lb-ft of torque to all four wheels by means of a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine affords the Sierra the ability to tow 9,600lbs with help from the optional 3.42 rear gear so it is among the more powerful half ton truck engines in the segment but in terms of go-fast qualities – the 5.3L V8 is a little light on power. For my money, I would shell out the extra money to get the new 6.2L V8 for the extra $1,995 but for those who aren’t worried about having that extra power, the standard drivetrain packs plenty of power. The combination of the 3.42 gears and powerful 5.3L V8 provides impressive acceleration whether you are pulling away from a stop or accelerating to pass slower moving traffic on the highway and even though there are more powerful trucks on the road today – the 5.3L mill doesn’t leave the Sierra feeling underpowered in any realistic driving situation.
In addition to providing plenty of power whether you are hurrying away a stop light or pulling a big horse trailer, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT offers strong fuel economy figures of 16mpg in the city, 22mpg on the highway and 18mpg combined. I spent some time towing and a great deal of time driving on very slippery snow covered roads – both of which had a negative impact on my observed fuel economy. In the end, I only averaged around 16mpg over the course of a week of driving but considering how much time I spent in four wheel drive mode, I was happy with the fuel economy that I observed. When driving the Sierra in rear wheel drive mode on a smooth, clear highway, I was able to hit the expected 22mpg figure over the course of a long drive so I would expect that I wouldn’t have had any trouble averaging 18mpg if not for the terrible weather.
Speaking of terrible weather, the day that I received the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT for delivery the area was pounded by a nasty snow storm that blanketed the area with 8 inches of deep, fluffy snow. A family health emergency forced me to head out late at night in what were undoubtedly the worst conditions that I have experienced in a couple years and with the good people at MDOT putting no effort into clearing the roadways – travel was treacherous. Fortunately, the Sierra never missed a beat on even the worst roads and keeping the truck in 4-high allowed me to get out of the knee deep snow in my subdivision and effortlessly make my way to my destination without a single worry of getting stuck. In addition to having no problems pushing through the snow, the new Sierra handled beautifully on snow covered, curvy roads and it had no problems getting stopped in the sloppy mess around pretty much every intersection in the area.
One place where I have been very critical of past General Motors half ton trucks was in basic ride quality and the interior noise levels. I’ve driven past Sierra trucks and I was surprised at how much of the road noise transferred into the cabin while being equally surprised at what a rough ride was offered on questionable road surfaces. The past Sierra was fine on smooth roads but when you hit rough or unpaved road surfaces, it was like every bump echoed through the cabin and created a series of squeaks and rattles which made the interior feel very dated. That was not a factor at all with the 2014 Sierra 1500 SLT. The area in which I live has plenty of unpaved roads and as soon as I hit the first muddy washboard road, I could instantly tell that things were vastly improved. Don’t get me wrong…this is still a hard working half ton pickup and it accordingly “rides like a truck” but the 2014 Sierra does a gorgeous job of muting those bumps so the ride quality is much better than the previous generation. The removal of that harshness translates to a cabin that is much quieter than the previous models and those few bumps that do jar the interior (and it takes a pretty substantial bump) doesn’t create all of the squeaks and rattles that I experienced in the past. This Sierra feels much “tighter” in any road condition and honestly, the heavily equipped interior provided Cadillac-like levels of noise reduction so I believe this to be the quietest GM truck I’ve ever driven whether you are rumbling down a dirt road or speeding down the highway.
In the past I have been critical of General Motors half ton trucks because they rode like a much, much older truck with a super stiff ride and so much interior noise that you could barely hear yourself think but the 2014 Sierra 1500 SLT fixes all of that. This truck offers a nice smooth ride, flawless surefootedness in the worst winter weather and the ability to top 20mpg on the highway – making this one of the most capable and most comfortable GM trucks that I’ve ever driven. GM has finally put together a half ton truck that can get down and dirty on the job site but it still rides like a dream under the simpler rigors of daily city driving.
Ive never been impressed with past GMC Sierra 1500 pickups relative to the rest of the industry but that has all changed with the introduction of the 2014 Sierra. While the exterior changes don’t provide that much of a departure from what we saw in the previous generation, the subtle refinements to the outside are enough to allow this truck to stand out from older, less impressive GMC pickups. On the other hand, the fit and finish of the 2014 Sierra interior, the impressive list of standard and optional amenities and the simple fact that this truck provides ride quality that is so much better than the outgoing models makes this a half ton GM pickup that can finally go toe to toe with the Ford F150 and the Ram 1500.
The 2014 GMC Sierra provides similar power, efficiency and working capabilities as the previous generation but it does so in a way that is vastly refined. The Sierra is still great at towing and hauling while also being very impressive in even the worst driving conditions but it now does this while also offering a surprisingly smooth, quiet ride as such hard working pickup trucks go. The Sierra looks great on the outside, it packs an incredible list of interior goodies with a fit and finish that is better than any previous model, it comes with a standard V8 that gets great fuel economy and offers solid towing figures and it is one of the most civilized GM trucks that I have ever driven in terms of ride quality and interior noise levels – all of which work together to make this the best GM half ton truck ever.