2008 GMC Sierra 2500 HD: Tough work truck adds upscale interior
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The truck arm of the GM Empire is GMC, and a GMC truck generally means power, torque and ruggedness in a work-truck universe. Sometimes, however, GMC assembles vehicles that are essentially indistinguishable from its Chevrolet siblings with the exception of the proud GMC badge and a few options. In the 2008 GMC Sierra 2500 HD, the General has created a very good, tough, sturdy truck with some interior accouterments, but one that is fundamentally a twin to the Chevy Silverado.
GMC’s old slogan:” We're professional grade,” merged with Chevy’s former “Like a rock,” catchphrase, still runs true in form and still appeals to its audience – men. Perhaps the most gender-specific vehicles on the market, the Sierra and Silverado are purchased by a group of buyers of which 93 percent are male.
Manufactured in Flint, Michigan, the 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD has been refined slightly following its redesign in 2007. The heavy-duty pickup truck comes in 6-foot-6-inch and 8-foot bed lengths and three cab designs: regular cab; extended cab and crew cab. My test version, an extended cab, employs rear access doors that can’t be opened independently of the front doors, but which enjoy a 170-degree expanse when fully opened.
Brawny in appearance, the GMC Sierra proudly thrusts out its chest with a prominent GMC emblem set in a large, chrome-ringed grille, bordered by large, jeweled-appearance headlamps that sells an upscale demeanor. Clean lines are achieved with doors that extend over the rockers, large grab-style door handles, and a 50-percent reduction in the space between the cab and cargo box – which enhances the overall sleekness of the design.
The 4WD extended cab SLT rides on GM’s GMT900 chassis and measures 230.3 inches in length, 80 inches in width, and is 76.8 inches high on a 143.5-inch wheelbase, with minimum ground clearance of 9.5 inches and a step-in height of 32.4 inches.
This work pick-up, which is also at home for play and family matters, powers up with a muscular 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 SFI engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission that thunders out 353 horsepower and 373 lbs.-ft. of torque, running on regular unleaded gasoline. Unrated by the EPA at the time of my examination, my Stealth Gray Metallic test Sierra weighed in at 5847 lbs. as a standard-box truck, and performed with a fuel-consumption average of 15.2mpg.
With the Sierra 2500 weighing at close to three tons, the Vortec’s muscle is enough to garner a tow rating of 12,400 lbs. according to the manufacturer. There is also enough horsepower and torque to generate a sub-9-second run from zero to 60mph en route to a 17-second quarter-mile.
Quiet inside, muscular and throaty outside, the Sierra’s stiff platform made for a smooth ride with sharp handling. Standard long- and short-arm independent front torsion bar suspension, semi-elliptic 2-stage multi-leaf spring rear suspension smooth out highways and easily handle country road potholes.
From a safety perspective, Sierra 2500HD is designed to help drivers avoid crashes and protect passengers in the event one occurs. The Sierra’s ladder frame and strong body structure provide occupant protection. Crush zones crumple to absorb crash energy, while the body structure incorporates the strategic use of high-strength steel and structural adhesives designed to help maintain passenger compartment integrity and manage energy in a crash. Additional safety features include frontal air bags, segment-first front safety belt pretensioners with both front and rear crash sensing, high-capacity four-wheel disc brake system with four-channel ABS system, tire pressure monitoring system and one-year On-Star Safe and Sound.
Sierra’s aggressive exterior styling is complimented by a refined, luxurious interior. With seating for five, and an extended cab, interior dimensions measure out at a roomy 41.2 inches of front headroom (39.3 in the rear), 41.3 inches of front leg room (34.33 in the rear) and 65.2 inches of shoulder room up front (65.3 in row two).
The SLT trim comes standard with 10-way power-adjustable heated bucket seats with leather appointments, leather-appointed steering wheel, auto dual-zone air conditioning, easy-to-read instrument panels that provide a more airy feel to the cabin as well as a panoramic field of vision, a “double” glove box and an underseat storage bin built into 40/20/40-split bench seats.
The quiet cabin is achieved through the use of sound-deadening and sound-absorbing material in the body structure – including liquid-applied dampener on the floor and front-of-dash – as well as the inherent, vibration-minimizing traits of the stiffer frame and quieter attributes of the aerodynamically tuned exterior. Also, improved-design door sealing and a doors-over-rockers design help eliminate road and wind noise.
Base priced at $37,520, the GMC Sierra 2500HD Extended Cab model came in with a price-as-tested of $43,325. Options included Z71 Off-Road package ($600), rear parking assist-remote start option ($560), navigation system-CD/MP3 format ($2,250), power sunroof with spoiler-type design that slides back over the roof surface ($995), power sliding rear window ($250), E-Z Lift tail-gate package ($95), engine block heater ($75), power heated outside camper mirrors ($55) and destination charges of $925).
The 2008 GMC Sierra 2500 HD … it’s tough enough to warrant the GMC badge and refined enough to pamper its occupants.
This is our final 2008 model-year vehicle review. Beginning next week, we examine the 2009s.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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