Between GMC and Chevrolet there was always a strong bound, as these two brands shared a lot of platforms and technologies. It’s the same case for the Sierra truck that even since its inception shared the same design and engines with the Silverado.
A new generation Sierra was launched at the same time with the first Silverado pickup in 1999 and both models were based on the old Chevrolet C/K pickup.
The new Sierra represented a huge step forward in terms of engines and technology, undergoing a lot of upgrades which helped it climb to the top of the pickups food chain.
The 1999 GMC Sierra was offered with a new family of V8 engines and also some upgraded old units. There were various configurations available including regular or extended cabs, short bed or long bed, three trim levels and rear- or four-wheel-drive versions.
The GMC Sierra’s exterior design isn’t something to rave about and with little search you would’ve find more attractive styles at other trucks in the industry.
Overall, the GMC Sierra looked almost identical with its twin with a Chevy badge. However, GMC added a personal touch to its truck, by redesigning the entire front fascia and ditched the chromed horizontal bar that traversed the Silverado’s radiator grille.
The headlights however continued to look pretty close to the ones from the Silverado and are split in two sections by a thin shiny strip.
The rest of the body lines are a detailed copy after the Chevrolet Silverado, with the same lateral creases and hood lines.
Compared to the old model, the new GMC Sierra wheelbase was 1.5 inch and 2 inches longer for the regular cab and extended cab models. There are also two load bed lengths available measuring 6 and 8.1 foots long.
Around the back, there is a set of big taillights and a convenient foot step sculpted into the bumper which offers easy aces to the load area.
Step inside and you’ll find a pretty rudimentary design combined with rock hard plastics and harsh materials. Fortunately, the build quality is pretty strong and the cabin can endure the punishment of rugged working conditions without breaking down.
The dashboard looks pretty close to the one of the previous GMC pickup, but the overall ergonomy is failry good and you won’t have any complains about the controls emplacement either.
The instrument cluster is also laid out in an intuitive way, but it’s a bit cluttered and can distract you from the road, while driving. Other than that, the Sierra’s cab is a pretty nice place to be in and it’s also fitted with a lot of premium features designed to help you get cozy behind the steering wheel.
Talking about the steering wheel it comes with a pretty rudimentary design and fails to offer a proper grab, as it’s too thin. At least there were offered a few adjustments, so finding a proper driving position wasn’t hard. The seats were also big and comfortable and they had enough adjustments to accommodate all size and body shapes.
The GMC Sierra’s cab is fairly spacious and you won’t complain about head or leg room. The rear seats are also spacious and offer a decent level of comfort. Moreover, the truck comes with a standard third side door to offer easier access to the rear bench.
You seat pretty high from the ground and you are surrounded by a generous glass area, so the all around visibility is fairly good.
The cabin is also fitted with a proper amount of storage places which include a big glove box, various cubby holes and door pockets. The rear backrest can be also folded to offer extra cargo space.
Engines and performance
The standard 4.3 liter V6 Vortec engine for the 1999 GMC Sierra was carried over from the previous model, but it received a few tweaks to help it compete with success against its rivals.
There was also a new 4.8 liter V8 which developed 255 hp and replaced the old Vortec 5.0 unit. The engine lineup continued with a stronger a 5.3 liter V8 which comes with 270 hp on tap. All units reward you with a tremendous pulling power offered by a flat torque curve.
If you want a truly ballistic acceleration and earthmoving torque levels, GMC offered the top of the range 6.0 liter V8 engine which cranks out 300 hp.
The new family of V8 engines was based on the 5.7 liter LS1 unit which powered the sporty Chevrolet Corvette, but come with a few essential tweaks which help them cope better with utilitarian purposes.
After the initial launch, GMC added a 6.5 liter V8 turbo diesel unit to the Sierra’s lineup. This engine delivers 215 hp and a generous 440 pound feet of torque.
The 1999 GMC Sierra was available with both five speed manual and four speed automatic transmissions (with Tow/Haul mode included).
Ride and handling
Compared to the previous GMC pickup truck, the new Sierra comes with a lot of technical upgrades which translate into improved road manners and driving dynamics.
One of the most significant upgrades is the addition of the new three section frame that is stiffer and lighter than the old one. Thanks to this feature, the 1999 GMC Sierra bas a better body balance, being more resistant to body torsion and also offers a more comfortable ride.
The vehicle is also offered with an adjustable ride control system which allows you to select various levels of suspension stiffness.
More upgrades were made to the steering system which now comes with a rack and pinion configuration available for the models with GVWRs (gross vehicle weight ratings) of up to 6500 pounds.
You won’t have any complains about the stopping power either, as the Sierra was equipped with standard four-wheel disc antilock brakes.
The 1999 GMC Sierra set new standards in terms of pickup technology, as under its dull looking skin there were a lot of innovative features and systems designed to improve the truck’s performances.
The cabin was also pretty comfortable and was fairly well kitted offering a lot of useful features designed to make your driving experience more pleasurable.
The Sierra was also offered with a pretty capable 4WD system, but despite its rugged image, it was considered more a life style vehicle than a true work horse.