TechnologyTell

High Sierra: 2014 GMC Sierra Actually Not So High

Sections: Chassis

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2014 GMC Sierra Photo Shoot 011

(Lyndon Johnson photo)

Confusing though the title might be, I wanted to take a moment to commend the folks at GMC for designing a four-wheel drive pickup truck that doesn’t require a step ladder for ingress and egress: The 2014 GMC Sierra.

Being that I live two hours from anywhere, you can imagine full-size pickup trucks are quite popular in my part of the country. I’m no stranger to the art of clambering up into four-wheel drive trucks like the 2014 GMC Sierra that came into my possession for a week recently. But the thing that immediately struck me when I opened the door to the Sierra and the thing that I noticed every subsequent time I sat down in it was how the seat was surprisingly low.

Previous trucks I’ve tested — namely the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X and Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition — required me to do a fair amount of tip-toeing to get in the driver’s seat. That’s saying something about the borderline ridiculous height of full-size 4×4 trucks these days, as I’m 6 feet, 3 inches tall. The Sierra didn’t seem notably lower in terms of its roof height or the all-important bedside liftover height, but it was by far the easiest to enter and exit of four current full-size trucks I’ve tested from different makers. The overall impression was not that the truck itself sat lower, but rather that the seats themselves did, with the dashboard and cowl slightly higher in my field of vision than it tends to be in other trucks. Headroom — even with the sunroof our tester had — was more than plentiful. I probably could have worn a top hat while driving, should I have felt like a total sir.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with climbing up into a truck, especially when a four-wheel drive truck necessitates extra ground clearance for utilitarian reasons. Let’s just say that using a vehicle on a paper route, with its rapid-fire stops at every little store and gas station in town, will give one a ready appreciation for ergonomics. My definition of ergonomic design goes well beyond a comfy driver’s seat. It means no awkward movements are required when getting in and out of the vehicle. Lots of cars are guilty of the same kind of ergonomic fault as those tall pickups, but in reverse: You have to tumble down into the driver’s seat, then pull yourself up out of it when next you stop. That’s no better, in my opinion.

Among compact cars, that latter problem has always been a big turn-off for me. Luckily, my wife wasn’t too keen on it, either. We looked at a number of small/midsize SUVs before settling on our Nissan cube primarily because of the easy ingres and egress. In a sense, the GMC Sierra I tested is, so far, the cube of trucks when it comes to seat height. Though GMC fitted the test truck with a slick-looking set of running boards, they were wholly unnecessary. My father appreciated them, however, having been in a crash earlier this year that broke his leg in several places and left him walking on a cane.

I know ergonomics isn’t a sexy aspect of in-car tech, but it’s definitely one that’s too-often overlooked, in my opinion. We sacrifice much in the name of vanity, especially when bigger, taller, higher are qualities that speak to the masculinity of trucks that are today more hyper-masculine than ever.

Disclosure: GMC provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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