Northwest NEWS

February 1, 1999


Test Drive: 1999 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Reg. Cab & 4WD Ext. Cab

Regular Cab

Extended Cab

The GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Regular Cab. The GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Extended Cab.

   A full-size pickup truck with a distinctive body? The 1999 GMC Sierra 1500 has it, and more.

   The softly rounded front with a black grille and the GMC logo and side molding, which GMC describes as an "an all-around muscular body shape," makes the Sierra a nice go-anywhere town and country vehicle.

   I test drove the two-wheel-drive regular cab back-to-back with the four-wheel-drive extended cab and found that both attracted a lot of attention, primarily from men who liked the new look. I even found a positive reaction from a 4-year-old boy who I took for a ride who said without any prompting, "It's wonderful; keep it." Since the typical buyer for this model is 90% male, the reaction was not surprising.

   The Sierra is a truck with definite road feel. Even though I was comfortably driving it in town, I had the sense that I should be on a wide open prairie with a load of hay towing a horse trailer. Trailing packages include a tow/haul transmission mode which will accommodate 4,000 to 8,000 pounds depending on the model.

   Buyers can choose from two body styles: the 1500 or 2500 series; wideside; sportside; three engine types (the 4.3 liter, the 4.8 liter and the 5.3 liter); either 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto transmissions; and regular cab, extended cab which comes with a third door as standard, or a regular cab and chassis in the 2500 series only.

   This pickup has high ground clearance. Despite the fact that GMC has lowered the step in area floor one inch, it was still too high for me at 5'2" to easily get into the driver's seat. GMC decided to only put the grips on the passenger side so I had to grab the steering wheel, put one foot up on the cab floor and a execute a little jump to get in. They did put a step on the side of the back pickup bed, but it didn't help me get in the cab. I would definitely have a step installed if I were a Sierra owner.

   There is no denying the power of these models. I found that both the Vortec 4800 V and the Vortec 5300 provided pedal response quickly with power to match.

   With roomier cabs in both models, the driver has plenty of room to maneuver. Comfortable and easy to drive, the Sierra has a bench seat with fold-down armrest and storage area.

   The dials are easy to read, but I did find with night driving in the Sierra regular cab the dials were reflected in the back window and the driver's side mirror. I had to turn them off so I wasn't distracted. In the Sierra extended cab, I only found the reflection to be in the side mirror, but it was still a distraction.

   For more than one passenger, the extended cab is necessary. Up to three passengers can comfortably sit in the rear bench seat of the extended cab and enjoy an impressive amount of foot room. I was surprised that the rear area seemed as spacious as some sedan models.

   The extended cab model comes with a third door which cannot be opened until the passenger door is opened.

1999 GMC Sierra
1500 2WD Regular Cab1500 4WD Extended Cab
VORTEC 4800 V8 SFI Gas Engine with Fuel InjectionVORTEC 5300 V8 SFI Gas Engine with Fuel Injection
4-Speed Auto Transmission with overdrive4-Speed Auto Transmission with overdrive
2-Wheel Drive4-Wheel Drive
4-Wheel Antilock Disc Brakes4-Wheel Antilock Disc Brakes
Power Driver & Pass. SeatPower Driver & Pass. Seat
Remote Keyless EntryRemote Keyless Entry
Gas Mileage:
  • City: 16
  • Highway: 21
Gas Mileage:
  • City: 15
  • Highway: 18