Don’t mistake the 2014 GMC Sierra for a white-collar pickup truck. Though this 4x4 is a little more buttoned-up than its competition, especially with a soft-touch interior and liberal use of chrome, the 2014 Sierra is an eager performer that holds its own when the going gets muddy.
GMC redesigned the Sierra for 2014, with an array of muscular features to prepare it for the type of off-roading we experienced at Calamigos Ranch in Santa Monica. Underneath those boxy arches, all four 20-inch wheels are powered by a 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine. An auto-locking rear differential and two-speed Autotrac transfer case (standard on this Sierra 1500 SLT model) keep traction strong on any surface.
[Photos No. 4-10 courtesy of Myles Regan, ReganDigitalImages.com]
As the narrow dirt road dipped and dived all through the California hills, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab SLT showed its strengths and weaknesses. The responsive V8 engine had an eager throttle, and in 4 Low gear the accelerator thickened with the force of 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft of torque. Wheelspin was never a problem, even on inclines, in very loose gravel or wet mud. Hill Start Assist also worked very well, nudging the Sierra forward even with its nose pointed toward the sky.
Compared to other vehicles tested on the course, however, the 2014 GMC Sierra bobbed and bounced when the going got rough. The combination of new electric power steering and aluminum suspension – both excellent for ride comfort on pavement – left the Sierra feeling a little numb and delayed in the dirt. This particular car, also, did not come equipped with the off-road ZL1 suspension ($430 option) that would have greatly stiffened the ride in these conditions. There is also an available Sierra All Terrain model for drivers who head to the hills with any regularity.
While you could clearly feel the 2014 Sierra SLT struggling to keep still through the terrain, most of that jostling didn’t transfer into the cabin. The interior of the 2014 Sierra is well designed and very comfortable, even under such duress. Leather adorns the heated seats, pleasant steering wheel and most of the interior – what isn’t leather is a polished or soft-touch material that brings an air of sophistication to an otherwise rugged vehicle. This model also came with the SLT Value Package ($2,195), which offers those blingy wheels, Bose stereo, power sunroof and more. The package includes chrome side steps, but these repeatedly scraped along the rocky trail, even at low speeds, so ask yourself whether you care about scuffs before springing for the Value Package. Looks great; feels like side steps on a chalkboard.
All told, this 2014 Sierra 1500 SLT came out to $49,710 with destination. While it wasn’t the best off-road vehicle of the day, it may have been the most comfortable. And with the affordable ZL1 suspension, the 2014 GMC Sierra should be more than ready to tackle any terrain.