The Short Version: Lightfooted. Tiny turning circle. Indestructible bedsides. Pushbutton T
GMC Sierra 1500 Quadrasteer
For '03 the Sierra 1500 received a significant change, which made it eligible for competition: the addition of Quadrasteer. This optional system turns the rear wheels up to 12 degrees in relation to the front to increase low-speed maneuverability and high-speed stability. The rest of the truck did not see a significant makeover, but got a host of smaller changes. Significant amongst these are new seats and an upgraded instrument panel that freshen up the interior. On the outside, the front of the Sierra receives a new three-horizontal bar grille and chrome bumper.
What we liked
On top of each judge's list of favorites for this truck was the Quadrasteer system. It made the truck extremely easy to maneuver on the trail and into parking spots. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn with the front wheels, and this helped to make the GMC carve through twisty paved roads easier than a coyote through a flock of house cats.
Another favorite of the majority of our testers was the interior. "Very plush," and "extremely comfortable," were phrases that came to mind while sitting in the cushy, yet supportive, leather seats. If we had to pick one truck to drive across the country, this would be it.
While the GMC's comfy interior definitely helped, so did its plush ride. Road irregularities really didn't seem to disturb the GMC. The combination of the plush ride--thanks in part to its two-position electronically controlled shocks--and cushy interior made us feel like we were driving in a Cadillac. Only some wind noise from a poorly sealed window in one of the rear doors disturbed our serene highway experience.
In the dirt, the GMC really proved its worth. On high-speed trails, its chassis flat-out worked. None of the other trucks could come close to the comfort and control that it could deliver across our section of disturbed Earth. Even at a crawl over nasty terrain, the suspension provided admirable compression and rebound control and decent articulation. Somehow, the GMC always seemed to find traction. It crawled up most sections without dramatic wheelspin. The Quadrasteer system also received great praise on the trail, as the GMC could take lines that the other trucks couldn't. What 12 degrees of rear-wheel steering can do is flat amazing.
What we didn't like
While every one of our judges liked the Quadrasteer system, most of them were highly suspicious of its vulnerable location hanging on the back of the rear axle. We did not smack it on our off-highway jaunts, but we could see how that could happen. Another gripe was the steering feel of the Sierra. One of judges put it best by saying that it felt like a steering wheel in an arcade game because it offered zero feel and felt like it was disconnected. We admit that we are horsepower junkies. When it comes to ponies under the hood, there better be a lot of them, or they need to be extremely angry. While the 5.3L V-8 is not underpowered, it just didn't appeal to our horsepower-crazed judges. Words such as marginal and adequate filled judge's notebooks when describing the 5.3L. Not a bad engine, but it could use a few more ponies. The only other major gripe of the judges was the feel of the brakes. While the brakes did a good job of slowing the GMC down, the spongy feel of the brake pedal didn't agree with many of our judges.
The GMC Sierra 1500 with Quadrasteer won Pickup Truck of the Year because it handles most tasks with ease. While the other trucks in our test specialized in certain areas, such as hauling and towing heavy loads, or performance in the dirt, the GMC can handle a wide variety of tasks comfortably and very competently. For that reason, it is Four Wheeler's 2003 Pickup Truck of the Year.
Check It Out If:
You want to be in on the cutting edge of the Next Big Thing.
Avoid It If:
The notions of four-wheel steering and plastic bedsides seem weird to you.