Saturday, March 21, 2015

Finding that happy place in a big-brute Sierra

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – I will be the first to admit that I am not what they call a truck guy.

I don’t have a problem with pickup trucks.  It’s just that they’re not a part of my city/metro/commuter/suburban world.  Back in the day when I was visiting my maternal grandparents’ farm in the hills of rural Kentucky, I had an appreciation of trucks.

Now, me reviewing a full-size pickup truck is a little like Donald Trump citing the virtues of a John Deere tractor.

So, when my friends recently delivered a monster-size GMC heavy duty truck to me – it was a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab SLT to be precise – I was awestruck.

The standard model starts at around $50,000 but this ride was seriously boosted with the Duramax Plus Package that included the 6.6-liter V-8 turbo diesel with some 400 horsepower and 765 foot-pounds of torque.  Bottom line on the sticker: $62,300.

Intimidated?  Yeah, like stepping into a cage to face Ronda Rousey.

To be sure, I was impressed.  This was a pickup driver’s vision of perfection, with obscene levels of power and ruggedness.  Yet, the inside was a luxury sedan scene of comfort and convenience.

Straight on, to me, the tested Sierra looked as wide as a battleship, and perhaps as difficult to maneuver.

The exterior mirrors were the size of cafeteria trays.  When I looked out the driver’s side window, I found myself staring into the left-side mirror.  It took me some time to adjust to that.

I CAREFULLY drove the beast into parking spaces.  Early on, I drove the Sierra like it was made of high-value crystal.  Didn’t want to crush any cars by accident, you understand.

Amazingly, I adjusted rather quickly to the vehicle’s width, length and sheer brute size.  I even thought about towing, say, a garbage truck around the neighborhood just to see what this Sierra could do, but I could not find a garbage truck operator to agree to any form of bribery.  His loss, right?

I was entirely comfortable in the cockpit after just one day.  The Sierra is a big rumbler, but it steered easily, and I was not bouncing around in my seat even on rough roads.

Two biggest challenges I had: I’m 6-4 and I still had to take a step and a hop to climb up into the driver’s seat.  I can’t imagine what smaller folks do.  Perhaps hire a couple of stevedores to toss their bodies into the vehicle.  Second challenge was rolling through freeway commuter traffic and suddenly realizing I’m nearly touching 80 miles per hour.

Yes, the turbo diesel is that strong and efficient.  Frankly, 70 mph felt like 40 mph.  Hats off to GMC engineers for that experience, no small feat in a truck this size.

I was a fish out of water in this 2015 Sierra but ended up enjoying my week in the high-riding hauler.  As big-boy trucks go, this Sierra is a pleasure and a player.

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