General Motors has more pickup choices than Campbell’s has soups.
Under the Chevrolet brand you have big (Silverado) and not-as-big (Colorado). Sibling GMC has the same trucks wearing different trim, minor details and brand names Sierra and Canyon.
Unlike our neighbours to the south, Canadians prefer GMC trucks over those wearing the Chevrolet Bow Tie emblem on the grill.
The marketing wizards at GMC have determined that the average buyer of a full-size pickup is looking for an all-purpose vehicle. It must be able to serve for family duties and commuting. It also has to be able to work. As a result, it is very rare to see a $35,000 base model pickup with a hose-it-out interior.
At the other end of the GMC Sierra lineup is the Denali, with a price tag that starts at $70,000 before you get to the option sheet. It has become fairly common to see loaded, luxurious pickups costing $80,000 and more. But, the meat of the market lies in between.
Welcome to the 2021 Sierra 1500 Elevation.
While early-production Canyon trucks with the Elevation Appearance Package (black wheels and grille but otherwise based on a run-of-the-mill SLE package truck) were available for our recent drive event, it’s the 2021 GMC Sierra Elevation that warrants a closer look.
We like the Sierra Elevation trim level because it occupies a middle ground in terms of price but comes with a desirable appearance package that looks cool. You’ll also have to select between a few different cab configurations and bed lengths depending on what fits your needs.
All-wheel drive is available at an extra cost should you require it.
The average transaction price for a new pickup in Canada last year was right around $50,000. It should come as no surprise that the new Sierra in Elevation trim, is tagged at $50,248.
This is the truck you’ll see in GMC ads because Elevation-branded trucks are visually different than the rest of the line.
This fresher look involves a monochromatic look with blacked-out door handles, bumper, grill and big (20-inch) alloy wheels. High intensity LED headlights, and the now GMC signature C-shaped daytime running lights complete the picture.
The standard multi-pro tailgate should satisfy both family and work sides of the equation.
Similarly, whether at work on play, everyone will enjoy the standard heated front seats and steering wheel.
The standard motivation for the Sierra Elevation is GM’s excellent 2.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This burly four-pot, reported on here previously, acquits itself well in town and for regular duty.
Our tester was equipped with the optional ($1,800) 5.3-litre V8. If towing is on your list, this is the way to go.
The eight gives up a little to the four in terms of fuel efficiency when empty. But toss a few hundred pounds in the bed or a couple thousand on the hitch and the eight is clearly superior.
It can also be a bladder buster.
The 91-litre tank and my average of 11.1 litres/100 km meant a fill was not required until more than 800 km had passed beneath the wheels. That was not a non-stop day!
The interior of the GMC Sierra is starting to show its age but remains an excellent space to spend long periods of time.
There is exceptional head and legroom in all seating positions. This is an excellent long-range drive.
Kudos to the NVH engineering team for making the cabin all but silent at highway speeds. Some credit goes to the on-road all-season tires which also provide good ride comfort.
The upright dash is logically laid out with both major and minor controls where you expect them. There are buttons and knobs for most functions rather than elusive sliders and touch controls.
There is adequate provision for temporary storage of both large and small items. The infotainment system accommodates both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and there’s a mobile WiFi hotspot.
The 2021 GMC Sierra Elevation 4WD with the 5.3-litre V8 is an excellent compromise between work and family duty.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab Elevation
As tested: $59,543 including freight
Six-speaker AM/FM system with 18-cm diagonal colour touch-screen, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones; wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability for compatible phones, 4GLTE wi-fi hotspot
Power windows and locks, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, electric rear defrost, 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, cruise control, tilt & telescope steering wheel, 120-volt outlet, power tailgate lock and release, compass
Integrated trailer brake controller, $350; 5.3-litre V8, $1,845
5.3 litre V8, 355-horsepower, 383 lb.ft. of torque. eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 14.3/10.7
Length, 5,885-mm; wheelbase, 3,744-mm; width, 2,063-mm without mirrors; weight, 2,184-kg
Chevrolet Silverado, Ford 150, Ram, Toyota Tundra