Large pickup truck; Built in USA, Canada
  • ext. cab long bed
  • ext. cab short bed
  • reg. cab long bed
  • reg. cab short bed
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $5,100*


1992 GMC Sierra


1996 GMC Sierra extended cab


1996 GMC Sierra extended cab


1995 GMC Sierra interior


1997 GMC Sierra regular cab

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V8)
  • Antilock brakes (later models)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Trailer-towing capability
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Climate controls (early)
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise
  • Ride

GM, Ford, and Dodge are closely matched in powertrain, body style, trim, and payload choices. Therefore, many buying decisions boil down to personal preference. Before deciding, be sure to try all three.

Overview

GMC’s Sierra and the nearly identical Chevrolet C/Ks had been redone as early 1988 models, in three series: 1500 (1/2 ton), 2500 (3/4 ton), and 3500 (1-ton). C pickups were 2-wheel drive; K indicated Insta-Trac part-time 4WD. Models without flared rear fenders were called Wideside, models with flared rear fenders Sportside. The short-bed had a 117.5-inch wheelbase and 6.5-foot bed. Long-bed trucks rode a 131.5-inch wheelbase with 8-foot bed. Extended-cab models had a 141.5-inch wheelbase with 6.5-foot bed, or a 155.5-inch wheelbase with 8-foot bed.The 6-passenger extended-cab (2500 only) had two full-width bench seats. A folding bench was available in other extended-cabs. Others got a 3-place bench seat or two buckets. Base engine was a 4.3-liter V6, making 160 horsepower. Options included 5.0- and 5.7-liter gasoline V8s, and a 6.2-liter diesel. All models had antilock rear brakes, and either manual shift or an automatic transmission.

Yearly Updates

1991 Sierra Pickup
A substantially revised 7.4-liter V8 could now be mated to an automatic transmission. Front bucket seats and a new gauge cluster while a tachometer joined the option list.
1992 Sierra Pickup
A flare-fendered cargo box became available on extended-cab models for ’92. No more 4-speed manual gearboxes were installed.
1993 Sierra Pickup
Sierra’s new automatic transmission gained electronic controls. A passenger seatback recliner was added to 40/60 split bench seats and low-back buckets. All windows now had tinted glass.
1994 Sierra Pickup
Grilles earned modest revision as new door guard beams and a center high-mounted stoplamp were installed. Two 6.5-liter diesel V8s joined the option list: a normally aspirated version rated 155 horsepower, and a 180-horsepower turbodiesel.
1995 Sierra Pickup
A driver-side airbag went into a revised interior, and 4-wheel antilock braking was installed on all models. The new dashboard featured cupholders and rotary climate controls.
1996 Sierra Pickup
Vortec engines arrived in ’96, delivering more power. The new 4.3-liter V6 gained 40 horsepower (reaching 200). The 5.0-liter V8 gained 45 horsepower, the 5.7-liter added 50 horses, and the 7.4-liter V8 gained 60 horsepower (now 290). The heavy-duty 5.7-liter V8 now was rated 245 horsepower (up 65). An optional rear side door (on the passenger side) was available only on the C/K 1500 series Club Coupe short-bed SLE and SLT. It cannot be used unless the front door has been opened.
1997 Sierra Pickup
A passenger-side airbag went into all 1500 models and the rear-drive 2500 series. A dashboard switch could shut off the airbag if a rear-facing infant seat was installed.
1998 Sierra Pickup
Sierra saw only modest changes for 1998, and a new model was released in ’99.

Engines

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

Base engine in most models was a 4.3-liter V6, rated at 160 horsepower. Three gasoline engines were available: 5.0, 5.7, and 7.4 liters, making 175, 210, and 230 horsepower, respectively. The 7.4-liter V8 was limited to heavy-duty C/K 2500 models. Also available: a 6.2-liter diesel, at 140 horsepower. The 4.3 V6 gained five horsepower for 1993. A C/K 2500 rated over 8500 pounds GVW could have a heavy-duty V6 with slightly less power, modified for hard use. By 1994, twin 6.5-liter diesels ousted the prior 6.2-liter, available with or without turbocharging. Horsepower got a big boost for ’96, as V6 and V8 engines adopted a Vortec designation. The normally aspirated diesel disappeared, but the turbodiesel remained available. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard on most models, though earlier examples might have a 4-speed. A 4-speed automatic transmission was optional. Insta-Trac part-time 4WD had automatic-locking hubs and shift-on-the-fly capability.

Diesel ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.2/379
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 255
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/21
18/24
Diesel ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.5/400
Engine HP 155
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 255
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/23
17/22
ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 160-200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 235-255
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
18/20
17/22
17/22
ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/305
Engine HP 175-230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 270-285
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
15/20
15/19
14.5
Turbodiesel ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.5/400
Engine HP 180-190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 360
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

16/21

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Engine HP 200-255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300-335
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
13/16
14/20
15/19

13.0

Road Test

We’re wary of trying much work with the base V6. A 5.0- or 5.7-liter V8 is more appropriate for rugged duty, and better suited for automatic. The 5.7-liter V8 feels livelier, furnishing a stronger kick in low-speed acceleration and highway passing. In fact, it’s our favorite Sierra engine. All V8s guzzle; expect under 15 mpg in urban driving.

Ride quality suffers when the cargo box is empty, and is less pleasing in models with higher payload ratings. The latest Ford F-150, redesigned for ’97, rides better. Sadly, unladen stopping distance from 60 mph averaged over 200 feet. And, despite standard antilock braking, rear-wheel lockup was difficult to avoid.

Forward visibility is good from a wide, spacious-feeling cab with ample room for even the largest occupants. Early heat/vent controls are complicated, but otherwise, the dashboard is neat and functional. The glovebox is tiny, but optional bucket seats came with a console that included a storage bin. The optional rear door on late models requires a V8, automatic, and SLE or SLT package. Regular-cab models don’t offer much room for reclining the seatback or storing items behind the seat, so they trail the latest Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 in that area. The rear seat in extended-cab models is wide, but the seatback is uncomfortably vertical, and knee room is tight.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 GMC Sierra 1500 5.0-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 - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 34

Specifications

ext. cab long bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
155.5 237.1 76.8 74.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5040 34.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 37.5 41.7 34.8
ext. cab short bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
141.5 218.4 76.8 70.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
3260 34.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 37.5 41.7 34.8
reg. cab long bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
131.5 213.4 76.8 70.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5380 34.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 NA 41.7 NA
reg. cab short bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
117.5 194.5 76.8 70.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
2410 25.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 NA 41.7 NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 Sierra 1500 reg. cab short bed

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

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 77
Injury 52
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission binds in reverse, upshifts harshly, fails to upshift when hot, or sticks in first gear. (1990-91)
Automatic transmission
Description: 700-R4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-92)
Climate control
Description: The temperature control lever may slide from hot to cold, usually when the blower is on high speed. (1992-94)
Cruise control
Description: The cruise control cuts out and won’t reset because the cruise control module is too sensitive to vibrations at the brake pedal. (1994-95)
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: Continued engine knock on 4.3-liter engines during acceleration or climbing a grade has been addressed by at least 15 PROM revisions due to carbon buildup on the pistons. (1992)
Engine noise
Description: Engine knock in gasoline engines is usually eliminated by using an oil filter with a check valve, but if this does not fix it, GM has revised PROMs for the computers and will even replace the main bearings. (1990-95)
Engine noise
Description: The exhaust valves on 4.3-, 5.0-, or 5.7-liter engines may not get enough lubrication causing a variety of noises. (1990-98)
Transmission leak
Description: Fluid may leak from the pump body on 4L60-E transmissions due to the pump bushing walking out of the valve body. (1995-96)

Recall History

1990 diesel
Description: Fuel lines can contact automatic-transmission linkage shaft or propshaft.
1990-92
Description: Brake-pedal bolt could disengage.
1994
Description: Brake-pedal retainer may be missing or mispositioned.
1994
Description: Brake-switch contacts can wear prematurely; may result in loss of brake lights without warning.
1994
Description: Some driver’s seats could loosen.
1994-95
Description: Extended C10/15 with high-back buckets or 60/40 bench: Seatback might recline suddenly.
1994-96 C15
Description: Solder joints can crack, causing windshield wipers to work intermittently.
1995
Description: Steering-column nut could detach.
1995-96 w/gas engine
Description: Throttle cable may contact dash mat and bind.
1995-98 C15 crew-cab
Description: Front inner corner of fuel tank can contact body sill, wearing a hole in or cracking the tank; can result in fuel leakage.
1996 C-10/15 w/7.4-liter engine
Description: Fuel may leak.
1996
Description: Rear-axle U-bolts could loosen and eventually fall off.
1996
Description: The windshield wiper motor may fail on certain vehicles. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
1997 C-15/25
Description: One or two of the front seat mounting bolts were not installed; seat will not protect occupant properly in the event of a crash.
1998 extended-cab and 4-door utility
Description: Steering-gear bolt can loosen and fall out, resulting in separation of shaft from gear.
1998
Description: On some trucks, one or both front brake rotor/hubs may have out-of-spec gray iron that can fail during life of vehicle.
1998 C10753 extended-cab
Description: Rear brake line can contact left front fender wheelhouse inner panel; a hole could be worn in brake line, allowing loss of fluid and reducing rear brake effectiveness.

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.