Despite the word "crew" in its name, the 2002 Sierra 1500 HD 4WD Crew Cab hardly seems appropriate for hauling mud-laden construction workers.
The supple leather, heated, fully reclining, lumbar-support front seats speak luxury sedan. Apparently, the "crew" could be your kids, friends, race team, dogs, or in-laws. Three crewmembers of any stripe can comfortably ride in the spacious back seat. Yes, they have to rough it, not having the benefit of the fancy seats like up front. But they do get reasonably comfortable 60/40 fold-down seats, plenty of legroom, their own door, and a stowable center-console beverage holder.
The cavernous cabin includes all the amenities you'd expect in a high-end pickup: air, cruise, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, CD, remote keyless entry, etc. But don't let the cushiness fool you. Under the hood is a 6.0-liter V8 that pumps out a healthy 300 hp at 4,400 rpm and 360 lb-ft of torque at 4,000rpm. That's enough to haul a 3,139-lb payload or tow trailers up to 10,300 lb when equipped with a weight-distributing hitch and sway control, fifth wheel, or gooseneck hitch.
Handling the load are semielliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs and gas-pressurized shocks in the rear. Up front is an independent suspension with torsion bars, gas-filled shocks, and a 30-mm stabilizer bar. The ride is firm and sure, helped by a hydroformed front frame section that boosts overall body stiffness.
The Crew Cab comes only with a short box that still makes for a 20-ft-long truck and tricky parking in downtown garages. At 77-in. tall, the ceilings at one garage seemed only inches away from the roof as the antenna whacked low-slung conduit. Commuting isn't a strong point, but long hauls are another matter.
We loaded up our three dogs for a lengthy day trip down south. The 460 miles melted away while our canine crew kept cool thanks to adequate rear vents and deep tinted glass. Even with the optional lower 4:10 differential gearset (boosts towing capacity), the Sierra is remarkably quiet at highway speeds. A four-speed automatic overdrive transmission keeps the revs down to about 2,500 rpm at 65mph. The cruise control is so precise and responsive that I was able to increase speed in 1-mph increments by flicking the accelerate button. Ample four-wheel antilock disk brakes halt the 5,763-lb truck in short order. Unfortunately, the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow here in Cleveland prevented proper testing of the pushbutton 4WD. I did engage it once for fun and it worked as expected.
But all this luxury and capability doesn't come cheap. The Sierra is exempt from disclosure of EPA fuel economy information so none is published. I averaged about 13 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Standard vehicle price is $32,723. The SLT decor package tacks on $1,280, and the fully reclining bucket seats, another $1,255. A few other goodies plus destination charges brings the total to $36,573. For long hauls with crew and gear, in the lap of luxury and in any weather, the Sierra Crew Cab hits the mark.