I spent the week driving yet another truck. That’s what I came away with after the first day in this 2001 GMC Sonoma Crew Cab pickup truck. But then I had just tested the Ford Ranger, which I thought was nice, but similarly just another truck.
Ford has the distinction of being far and away the leader in this class selling 6-1. Even so, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ford is better. I believe it’s too close to call and the majority ‘can’ be wrong. Look at some of our political races where the winner is a turkey.
Well, I don’t want to go there, so let’s get back to what the public wants in the cars and trucks. We all like to have our cake and eat it too, and that’s precisely what manufacturers are giving us in vehicles like this pickup truck. We get the utility of a truck plus car-like rides to boot, even if that doesn’t seem possible. In any case it is possible and you can discard the Kidney Belt, because the ride is more for comfort than carrying a load of rock.
Handling & Performance:
This is really good on the highway even with an empty box. You forget you’re in a truck. It really is impressive and it’s hard not to like this truck.
I also like the way it looks – for a truck. It doesn’t have that classic styling of the 1946 Chevy half-ton pickup I used to deliver the L.A. Times in South Pasadena, California. Remember the cabs with the curved side windows? Those were exciting days for styling because we weren’t yet jaded by the ho-hum perfection of the cars we’d drive 50 years later. But back then we were more into looking cool and modifying the designs that Detroit gave us. Today, carmakers have wised up and continue to give the consumer more of what they want. Buyers are more demanding and aren’t satisfied simply because the car actually runs. Heck, they don’t even provide hand cranks any longer as a backup in case the starter doesn’t work.
Another thought is that perhaps we’re more practical minded today in even receptive to “Un-cool” 4-doors. Those two door trucks looked cool but they were really a pain in the rear. The “Crew Cab” may look awkward but they are growing in popularity because they are more functional.
The Sonoma is available in 4×2 and 4×4 versions, with regular, extended or this Crew Cab that is new for 2001. You can have long or short beds in three trims: SL, SLS and SLE. A 2.2L Vortec 4-cylinder engine powers the 4×2 models and the 4×4’s are powered by a 4.3L Vortec V6. Five-speed manual transmission is standard and a 4-speed automatic optional. Anti-lock brakes and variable-assist power steering are standard on all models, but 4×4 adds four-wheel disc brakes.
Fit and Finish:
They don’t get any better and you really will forget you’re in a truck, because they are so car like in features and comfort. The 1940’s and 50’s pickup trucks were all metal inside and basic is an understatement. Most trucks didn’t even have carpet – A rubber mat, maybe.
They can be equipped with virtually everything available on a passenger car.
You pay for what you get. There is no free lunch, as they say, so if you want a car like truck, you’ll have to pony up the bucks.
I think this will appeal to a wide strata of people from the construction supervisor, the surfer dude who wants to carry a surfboard or scuba gear to the beach, and even moms who will tote the kids or pick up garden supplies from the nursery or a load of hay for the horses. Yes, these things are really versatile, but before you buy one, take a look at the Chevy Avalanche. I tested one recently in Portland, Oregon and will give it a more thorough work out in October. I’ll let you know more then.
Chevrolet S10 $12,849-24,909, Dodge Dakota $14,010-22,370, Ford Ranger $11,960-24,335, Isuzu Hombre $11,360-20,100, Mazda B-Series $12,345-22,085, N5ssan Frontier $11,699-24,399, Toyota Tacoma $11,845-21,965.
Powerful V6, great ride, good for light use hauling people and materials, adjustable height seat belts, super comfort.
Small cargo area box, poor mileage and too much money for a pickup truck.
4.3 liter V6 engine, 4-speed auto trans, insta-trac 4X4, double wall box with bedliner, cruise control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, heavy duty suspension, dual air bags, fog lamps, 4-door cab, stereo with CD and cassette, power windows and locks and mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel, full floor carpeting, sliding rear window and high back bucket seats,
15 City and 18 Highway MPG.