2014 GMC Sierra

INDIANAPOLIS — Trucks are not meant to be glamorous. Sure, they’ll pull a glimmering vintage Airstream trailer, put a wooden Chris Craft boat into crystal water, or carry home that mid-century credenza, but any trucks worth their fully-boxed frames can also haul a bed load of dirt, plow through snow, and charge through muddy fields.

I guess we would call that ruggedly-handsome. Whatever your preference, the re-designed 2014 GMC Sierra is dressed to impress.

Sierra comes in regular cab, extended “Double Cab”, or full-out Crew Cab bodystyles. By far the most elegant and accommodating is the Crew Cab, in back of which two full-size adults ride in cross-country comfort. Doors are significantly wider for ingress/egress. Projector headlamps with LED running lights, 20” chrome alloys, step bar, and chiseled flanks convey purpose with polish. The re-design was fairly conservative, but much more dramatic in person than photos indicate.

Interiors are industrial chic, combining silver finishes with soft-touch dash and doors. Buttons and knobs were thoughtfully designed to be used with gloved hands. Upper and lower gloveboxes, deep door cubbies, large cupholders, and a center console that can hold most laptops provides a full closet worth of space. There’s a port for almost every device: Five USB ports, four 12-volt power points, a 110-volt outlet, aux-in jack, and SD Card reader.

Luxury continues with a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated/cooled leather seats, power-adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, power sliding rear window, sunroof, and Bose audio. GMC Intellilink uses the reconfigurable touchscreen to control Pandora internet radio, satellite radio, phones, navigation, and a bunch of other toys.

Staying on course, our truck came with Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and adaptive cruise control systems. Fail to take heed and the “rump shaker” seats get your attention.

Engineers conjured up 285hp 4.3-liter V6, 355hp 5.3-liter V8, and 420hp 6.2-liter V8 engines for the Sierra, but I went for Goldilocks in the middle. The smaller V8 was just right, smoothly sending power to the electronic four-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic transmission. All three engines feature direct injection, variable valve timing, and variable displacement (shuts down half of the engine at cruise to conserve dead dinos).

Fuel economy is rated 16/22-MPG city/hwy., giving the Sierra comparable power and fuel economy to Ford’s EcoBoost V6. Towing capacity is 9,600 pounds, so go get that camper and get camping.

While some may enjoy bucking around in a pickup, they’ll be disappointed with the Sierra’s gentlemanly road manners. Steering is weighty, yet precise with no sense that it is electrically powered. Brakes are firm, giving assurance the truck can easily halt itself and heavy loads. On rough pavement, there’s less hop and the Sierra tracks more like an SUV than a pickup.

Step into the V8 on the highway and it awakens the other four cylinders, steps down a cog or two in the six-speed automatic transmission, and lays waste to wide expanses of asphalt. The overall experience is more satin, less barbed wire.

Adventurous, hard-working owners will appreciate the little details that enhance towing and hauling. Rear bumpers have steps built into the sides to make climbing into the bed easier. Tailgates lift with a finger. Movable tie-downs are standard while LED cargo lights beneath the bed rails enlighten whatever you’re doing in the bed. A trailer brake controller is integrated to the dashboard. Choose the Z71 off-road package for high style, but also a high capacity air cleaner, hill descent control, underbody shield, and Rancho shocks.

Soon, we’ll wave good-bye to the Cadillac Escalade EXT pickup as it will not be part of the next-generation line-up. If you want a glamorous truck from General Motors, think “Sierra.” A new Sierra Denali would be the best truck for glamor-seekers, but an SLT-grade Crew Cab suits just fine.

Clip on your wheeled loft and head for the woods — or unhitch and head to dinner. A base price of $43,425, or $50,485 as-tested, puts the Sierra against the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, and its cousin, Chevrolet Silverado.

— Casey Williams - MyCarData