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2007 GMC Sierra 1500

Slick Sierra

    We feel sorry for the Dodge salesman stuck peddling Ram pickups in today’s market. Aside from some small updates along the way the Ram hasn’t had much to write home about since the current generation debuted with the famous Hemi V8 back in 2001.
     Sure, the sales guys can still say our truck has a Hemi, but the window sticker says it’ll require 13 miles per gallon in the city and 17 miles per gallon on the highway. That’s pretty thirsty in today’s world of $3-a-gallon gasoline. Besides, even if a prospective customer can overlook the thirsty engine and tired styling there’s no getting past the interior, which is a rolling exhibition of the plastic automakers should never use. It’s really rather awful.
     Ford isn’t in much better shape with their F-150, which doesn’t offer any more than 300 hp and four gears in its automatic transmission, but at least the interior has, you know, style.
     But what really makes selling Dodge Rams difficult these days is the competition. Specifically, we’re talking about the new GMC Sierra 1500 (and for obvious reasons we’ll throw in the Chevrolet Silverado too). After a week in a fully loaded example we have one piece of advice for the Dodge guys: Keep consumers away from GM dealerships if you want a paycheck.
     The Sierra sits on a new fully boxed frame that uses high-strength steel throughout. GM says torsional stiffness is up 234 percent on the 2007 model and bending stiffness improves 62 percent. It’s this solid foundation that blesses every aspect of the truck with a sense of refinement and quality. We’re also fond of the 3.2-inch wider front track (1-inch wider rear) that combines with the new coil-over-shock front suspension to better control the truck’s handling when cornering and smooth out the ride.
     Like always, GM is offering a wide range of suspension tuning choices to customers ranging from the off-road oriented Z71 to the performance tuned Z60 suspension that is used when 20” wheels are ordered. Our truck was setup with towing equipment and featured the Z85 suspension tuned for improved handling and trailer towing. It never felt overly stiff or jittery like some trucks can.
     We appreciated the new rack-and-pinion steering setup, which offered a directness not usually found in pickups, and the brake pedal feel on the new Sierra is much improved over past GM pickups. Some base models make do with rear drum brakes, but our truck had large discs at all four corners and dual-piston calipers upfront. Our best stop from 60 mph was 137 feet, but we experienced some fade after a couple test runs.
     As part of the $1,840 Max Trailering Package our Sierra’s standard 5.3-liter V8 was upgraded to the 367-hp 6.0-liter V8. Engineers added GM’s Active Fuel Management system to improve fuel economy by running only four of the eight cylinders under low-load conditions. The switch between V8 and V4 is virtually imperceptible, and helps earn the Sierra EPA ratings of 15/19, which is highest among 4×4 half-ton trucks. The 7.4 second run to 60 mph is also respectable for a 5,300-pound pickup.
     The 4-speed super duty automatic transmission on our truck sounds old school, but it actually matches quite well to the truck. Still, we’re sure the impressive 6-speed automatic in the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Denali line will spread to the rest of the trucks soon.
     Aside from the super duty transmission, the Trailering Package also adds an auto-locking differential and a larger 9.5-inch rear axle, plus trailer wiring. There’s no doubt in our mind this would be a competent and comfortable towing vehicle.
     The uncluttered exterior looks especially good in Deep Blue paint and the faster windshield rake angle and seriously flared fenders give the truck a modern look. We think it’s a good looking truck that’s blessed with a longer shelf life than its Chevy sibling, which looks so uninspired upfront it’ll need a facelift by year’s end. Even the six-year-old Ram looks fresher than the Silverado. Maybe the Dodge guys can use that as a selling point.
     We have no objections with the interior and why would we? It features the same contemporary style and class-leading materials found in GM’s full-size SUVs, and we let our love be known when we reviewed them last year. Gone are the days of dull gray GM interiors. Our truck featured a two-tone tan interior mixed with attractive aluminum and light wood trim. It’s the best looking truck interior we’ve ever experienced. And the experience was made even more pleasant by superb leather seats, a user-friendly DVD nav system, easy-to-read instruments and a quiet cabin. We also liked that the back seat folds up to offer a fairly flat floor with nothing in the way.
     We only have a few complaints. It’s time GM update the old clunck-clunck-clunck tilt steering wheel setup, and how about adding telescoping adjustment while you’re at it. And vinyl floor mats in a truck that is otherwise equipped like a Cadillac and stickers for $45,685 seem out of place.
     But we could easily live with those shortcomings since the rest of the Sierra is so slick. We haven’t sampled the new Tundra yet, but it’ll have to be an out of the park homerun to best this truck’s commendable ride and handling, stout drivetrain and cushy cabin. If you’re looking for a new half-ton truck, the best domestic pickup going is sitting at your local GMC dealer.

The Good:
367 hp, class-leading fuel economy, class-leading interior, can tow 10,500 pounds.
The Bad:
Vinyl floor mats in a $45k vehicle, tilt steering wheel could be better, no 6-speed automatic available.
The Verdict:
Works like a truck, drives like a car.
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