2016 GMC Sierra drops it like Hamilton

Elvis Hamilton VenturaOne of my favorite possessions is a Hamilton Ventura watch that debuted in 1957. The parabola shape and stainless steel case are straight from the rocket age. It’s stylish, well-made, and useful – but not ostentatious. It’s not cheap, but is attainable. And, I love that it’s American. If my watch transformed into a pickup, it might be the 2016 GMC Sierra Crew Cab.

The Sierra’s exterior projects an air of rugged elegance – the kind of truck you’d use to pull an aluminum Airstream or a classic Corvette. A nod to ruggedness comes from the tall chrome grille, chiseled fenders, bulging hood, and sculpted tailgate. And, look at the subtle chrome details in the grille and how the fog lamps are slit into the facia. Elegance is displayed by HID headlamps, signature LED driving lights, chrome step bars, and 20” alloys. Long doors with deep tinted glass give Crew Cabs a sleek veneer.

2016 GMC Sierra SLT Interior front dash view from the rear seatsA tech-laden crafted interior reflects exterior themes. There’s an industrial feel to the aluminum-look chunks on the dash and control surrounds while stitched dash coverings and woodgrain on the doors and console add warmth. Heated/cooled leather front seats, thick heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic climate control enhance comfort – as do a power sunroof, power sliding rear window, and tilt/telescoping steering column. Upper and lower gloveboxes and a center console large enough for a laptop rival the cubic feet of your high school locker.

And, for the tech? How about a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, symphonic Bose audio system, navigation, wireless phone charging, and Apple CarPlay compatibility with the 8” touchscreen? To keep laptops powered and iPods connected, Sierra comes with a 110-volt household outlet, USB plugs, Bluetooth calling/audio streaming, and 12-volt outlets. Safety is enhanced with Forward Collision Alert and Lane Keep Assist systems. As in Cadillacs, the optional Driver Alert Seat vibrates to warn of danger.

5.3L V-8 EcoTec3 AFM VVT DI (L83) for Chevrolet SilveradoSierra brings the power. You can get a 6.2-liter V8 if you’re planning to do serious hauling, but it’s hard to imagine you would need more than the 5.3-liter V8, delivering 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque through the electronic all-wheel-drive system. A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission and cylinder deactivation enable fuel economy of 15/21-MPG city/hwy.

“Smooth” is the operative word here. I recently drove a $90,000 luxury SUV that did not ride or perform as smoothly as the Sierra. Even with 20” wheels and without Magnetic Ride Control, the truck rumbles over rough pavement without shaking or creaking. The same is not true of many body-on-frame vehicles. Precise steering keeps the truck from feeling huge, and a reasonable turning radius gets you through tight parking garages and city side streets.

Thoughtful touches enhance hauling. Rear bumpers have steps carved into the sides for climbing into the bed. Two fingers lift and lower the tailgate. Moveable tie-downs are standard, while LED cargo lights beneath the bed rails illuminate nighttime endeavors. An advanced trailer sway control system works with the trailer’s electric brakes and Sierra’s stability control system to quell untoward motions. The in-dash trailer brake controller enhances safety.

2016 GMC Sierra SLT Corner Step DetailGiven all of the luxury, style, safety, and capability of the Sierra Crew Cab, it’s a pretty nice truck. While you can buy a new Ventura watch for $845, Sierra starts at $27,715 and came to $55,050 all in. That’s dropping a bed load of Hamiltons, but falls right in with the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra, and near-twin Chevy Silverado.

Storm Forward!

2016 GMC Sierra SLT
Five-passenger, AWD Pickup
Powertrain: 355 hp 5.3-litre V8, 8-spd auto trans.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Solid axle
Wheels f/r: 20”/20”
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Interior, capability
Manufacturing: Silao, Mexico
Fuel economy: 15/21-MPG city/hwy
Base/as-tested price: $27,715/55,050