Compact pickup truck; Built in USA
  • ext. cab
  • reg. cab long bed
  • reg. cab short bed
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $4,700*


1991 GMC Sonoma regular cab


1991 GMC Sonoma interior


1993 GMC Sonoma Club Coupe extended cab


1993 GMC Sonoma Club Coupe extended cab


1995 GMC Sonoma Syclone regular cab

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Payload
  • Interior storage space (ext. cab)
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Refinement
  • Seat comfort

The S15/Sonoma is a versatile vehicle that can be used as a daily driver or for light-duty work. If you are shopping in this market, be sure to check out the Chevy S10 and Ford Ranger, too.

Overview

Identical except for badging and trim-package designations, GMC S15 and Chevrolet S10 compact pickups held 4-cylinder or V6 engines. Short-bed, regular-cab models rode a 108.3-inch wheelbase with 6-foot cargo bed. Long-bed versions had a 117.9-inch wheelbase, with a 7.5-foot bed. Extended-cab, rode a 122.9-inch span, with the 6-foot bed. A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine was standard on 2WD models. Optional were two V6 engines: a 2.8-liter V6 and a 4.3-liter V6. On-demand, part-time 4-wheel drive with shift-on-the-fly operation was available on all three sizes.

Yearly Updates

1991 S15/Sonoma Pickup
GMC replaced the S15 badge with a Sonoma designation as the compact trucks earned a facelift consisting of a new grille, wheels, bodyside moldings, and bumper rub strips. Later in ’91, the base 4-cylinder engine added power. At the other end of the scale, a vigorous GMC Syclone, packing a 280-horsepower turbo V6, went on sale.
1992 S15/Sonoma Pickup
Optional pushbutton shifting became available on 1992 4WD models. Head restraints became standard for outboard bench seats.
1993 S15/Sonoma Pickup
The super-performance Syclone and its sporty GT cousin were gone. Both 4.3-liter engines got an internal balance shaft, designed to reduce engine vibrations.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Three engines were available in the early ’90s: a 94-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 125-horsepower, 2.8-liter V6; or 4.3-liter V6, rated at 160 horsepower. By 1992, the 4-cylinder was developing 105 horsepower, and a high-output 4.3-liter V6 (standard on the GT) made 195 horsepower. Syclones got a turbocharged 4.3-liter V6, making 280 horsepower. Two-wheel-drive Sonomas had the 4-cylinder engine as standard and the 2.8-liter V6 as an option (except on the Special). The 4.3-liter V6 was standard on 4WD Sonomas, optional with 2WD. By 1993, GMC’s “enhanced” 195-horsepower version of the 4.3-liter might be installed on all models except the Special and 2WD long-bed. (Chevrolet compact pickups could not have the “enhanced” engine.) A 5-speed manual transmission was standard with the 4-cylinder, 2.8-liter V6, and regular 4.3-liter V6. Four-speed overdrive automatic was optional (mandatory with the enhanced 4.3-liter), but not available with the 2.8-liter V6. Insta-Trac part-time 4WD had automatic-locking front hubs and shift-on-the-fly between 2WD and 4WD High. An electronic-shift transfer case was optional on all 4x4s with the 4.3 engine and automatic, except the Special.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.8/173
Engine HP 125
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 150
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

19/25

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 160-195
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230-260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
17/22
17/22
17.2
Turbocharged ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 280
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 360
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

NA

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/151
Engine HP 94-105
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130-135
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/27
20/26

Road Test

We prefer V6 engines, because the automatic transmission robs too much performance from the 4-cylinder. The 2.8-liter V6 is acceptable for most requirements, while the 4.3-liter sends these trucks to the head of their class for acceleration and towing. Syclone models offer brutal performance with 0-60 mph times under five seconds. A 4.3-liter long-bed Sonoma with automatic averaged 21.5 mpg.

Ride quality is generally poor and gets worse on GT and Syclone models. No Sonoma holds the road all that well either. On the upside, the brakes are adequate and the steering responsive.

Sonomas vary considerably in cost and amenities, starting with the price leader Special, which has basic vinyl seats and no carpets. Accommodations are nearly as spartan on other models, unless they’re equipped with one of the trim packages, such as the S15 Sierra. Gauges and interior switchgear are easy to use, however, the optional electronic gauges are hard to read–day or night. Front seat space is good, but just about everyone will be cramped when sitting in the rear of extended-cab models.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 GMC Sonoma 4.3-liter ext. cab

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 32

Specifications

ext. cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
122.9 192.8 64.7 61.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1776 20.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 NA 42.5 NA
reg. cab long bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
117.9 194.2 64.7 61.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1901 20.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 NA 42.5 NA
reg. cab short bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.3 178.2 64.7 61.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1892 20.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 NA 42.5 NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 S15/Sonoma reg. cab short bed

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 2
40%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 93
Injury 87
Theft 114

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 700-R4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all because of a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-93)
Climate control
Description: The temperature control lever may spontaneously slide from hot to cold, usually when the blower is on high speed. (1992-93)
Dashboard lights
Description: The oil pressure gauge may read high, move erratically or not work because the oil pressure sensor is defective. (1990-93)
Engine knock
Description: Engine knock on 4.3-liter engines during acceleration or climbing a grade is due to carbon buildup on the pistons. (1992)
Engine misfire
Description: The EGR valve may stick open due to carbon deposits causing rough idle. (1994)
Hard starting
Description: Engines with TBI may be hard to start after hot soak. (1990-93)

Recall History

1990-92 without air conditioning
Description: Fan blades on 2.5-liter engine can break as a result of fatigue.
1991
Description: Fuel tank sender seal may be out of position.
1991 S15/T15
Description: Nut used to attach lower control arms, rear spring/shackle/shocks could “strip.”
1991-93 4WD w/ABS
Description: Increased stopping distances can occur during ABS stops while in 2WD mode.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.