Works Hard or Plays Hard
2000 GMC Sonoma
© 1994-2000 NewCarTestDrive.com
If you're in the
market for a cost-effective midsize pickup, chances are high that the
GMC Sonoma, in one of its myriad configurations, will serve your needs.
Attractive looks, healthy torque from V6 engines, three doors and tons
of options make the GMC Sonoma a popular choice.
News for 2000 includes
improved acceleration and braking along with a handling/trailering suspension
that comes standard on four-wheel-drive models. Along with the Chevy S-10,
the Sonoma competes with the Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma,
Nissan Frontier, Mazda B-Series and Isuzu Hombre.
in 1994, this truck has been refined and upgraded for the past six years.
Recent refinements include more powerful engines, increased trailer ratings,
improved suspensions and a greater selection of options, including a third
Whether you need
a reliable work truck that offers a good value or a capable off-road pickup,
you should be able to find a Sonoma to fit your lifestyle. GMC offers
a huge selection of options for the Sonoma, with two- and four-wheel-drive
models, regular and extended cab bodies, short and long beds, Sportside
and Wideside bodies, seven different chassis packages, and SL, SLS and
top-of-the-line SLE trim levels.
Retail prices range
from $13,124 to $20,736. (List prices include the $520 destination charge,
so that should be taken into consideration when comparing costs, as most
manufacturers do not include the destination charge.)
2.2-liter engine is standard on two-wheel-drive models. An alternative
fuel version of this four-cylinder engine is available that burns gasoline,
Ethanol-85, or any mixture in between.
The Vortec 4300 4.3-liter
V6 is standard on four-wheel-drive models (190 horsepower) and optional
on two-wheel-drive models (180 horsepower).
and four-speed automatic transmissions are available.
Buyers of two-wheel-drive
Sonomas have a choice of three types of suspension tuning: Smooth Ride,
Heavy-Duty and Sport. The Sport package enhances handling and goes a long
way toward making the Sonoma drive like a car. This is accomplished using
shorter springs, high-performance gas shock absorbers, urethane jounce
bumpers, front and rear stabilizer bars, specially tuned variable-ratio
power steering and wide 8-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear P235/55R-16
models automatically get the firmer Heavy Duty suspension, designed for
high payloads and towing. An option on four-wheel-drive Sonomas aimed
at off-road driving enthusiasts is the $695 Highrider Off-Road package,
which features upgraded shocks, springs, wheels and tires.
The Sonoma is an
attractive truck with a smooth, aerodynamic hood that wraps around the
front end. Its clean exterior lines include a body-colored front bumper,
fascia and grille, as well as a headlamp design that integrates all forward
lighting functions into a single unit. The composite headlamps are standard,
with fog lamps available as an option. The front license plate bracket
is molded into the charcoal-colored lower valance, while a center-step
cutout in the rear bumper gives easy access to the cargo area. The stiff,
box-section ladder frame dips in the center to make it easier to step
up into the seats, without sacrificing ground clearance for off-highway
third-door is a popular option for extended cab models. This driver's-side
panel swings out to make it easier to load personal gear, pets and an
Maximum towing capacity
on the 2000 lineup has been increased by 400 pounds and is now up to 6,400
pounds (when equipped with a 4.3-liter V6 engine, automatic transmission,
3.42 or 3.73 axle ratio and aftermarket weight-distributing hitch). The
standard step bumper is capable of handling trailers of up to 3,500 pounds.
Two final drive ratios are available, one for standard duty and a shorter
ratio for heavy hauling.
models come standard with InstaTrac, a shift-on-the-fly system that allows
the driver to shift between two- and four-wheel drive by pressing a button.
An optional locking rear differential improves traction in extremely slippery
The Sonoma offers
a good seating position, with an open, airy feel. A sloping hood, narrow
A-pillar and unobstructed views to the rear make for good visibility in
The interior is roomy,
comfortable and functional. The long, wide body along with a relatively
thin door design translates into impressive shoulder and hip room for
a compact pickup. Seat choices are high-backed bucket seats for two passengers,
a bench seat for three, or a reclining 60/40 split bench. The bucket seats
are standard on four-wheel-drive SLS and SLE regular cabs along with four-wheel-drive
extended cabs. Driver lumbar adjustments and standard recliners on the
seats enhanced comfort in our test model.
offer fold-down jump seats for rear occupants, though there isn't a lot
of space back there for adults. Three-door models lose one rear jump seat,
a worthwhile sacrifice for the improved loading access.
The sculpted instrument
panel includes radio and ventilation controls angled 15 degrees toward
the driver for improved accessibility. One neat detail is a passenger-assist
grip located on the dashboard. Upper models now have two dash-mounted
power outlets below the ashtray. The center console can accommodate an
optional cassette player. Other options include power windows, door locks,
tinted glass, and an upgraded remote keyless entry system with security
alarm. Safety features include taller integral head rests and a new seat
belt design that allows the belt to travel with the seat for a safer,
more comfortable ride for occupants of all sizes.
We enjoyed driving
the Sonoma 4x4. The ride quality is a bit jouncy with the Heavy Duty suspension
package. This setup is at its best when hauling a heavy load or pulling
a trailer, and it rides better with a cord of wood in back. The Smooth
Ride suspension is more comfortable for everyday use, yet still works
well for the light-duty work most compact pickups perform.
The Vortec V6 engine
serves up a robust 190 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 250 pounds-feet of torque
at 2800 rpm. It delivers healthy throttle response across the power band,
which makes everyday driving enjoyable. Passing maneuvers can be completed
without drama. (When fitted on two-wheel-drive models, the V6 produces
180 horsepower and 245 pounds-feet of torque at the same engine speeds.)
Both V6 configurations use sequential central-port fuel injection and
offer an excellent combination of horsepower and torque.
electronic transfer is a dream to operate. Simply push a button to shift
into low-range and you're ready for the toughest terrain. High ground
clearance, a locking differential, aggressive tires, gas-pressure shocks
and heavy-duty multi-leaf rear springs produced positive results during
our off-road excursions.
We particularly enjoyed
the feel of the Sonoma 4WD model's brakes. Brake pedal travel is relatively
short with good pedal feel. Four-wheel discs come standard on four-wheel-drive
models. Two-wheel-drive Sonomas come with disc brakes in front and drum
brakes in the rear. All Sonomas come standard with four-wheel anti-lock
It may not attract
a lot of attention, but the Sonoma is one of the most capable compact
trucks on the market. It seems to do everything well and it is constantly
With an almost bewildering
array of models and options, the GMC Sonoma offers plenty of choices to
suit a wide range of drivers.
GMC Sonoma Specifications and Prices
6.1-ft. box 108.3-in wheelbase 2.2-liter SL ($13,124), SLS/SLE $14,282);
7.4-ft. box 117.9-in wheelbase 2.2-liter SL ($13,475), SLS ($14,633);
6.1-ft. box 122.9-in. wheelbase 2.2-liter SL ($15,324), SLS/SLE ($16,583);
4WD Regular Cab
6.1-ft. box 108.3-in. wheelbase 4.3-liter SL ($17,358), SLS/SLE ($18,686);
4WD Extended Cab
6.1-ft. box 122.9-in. wheelbase SLS/SLE Sportside ($19,282), SLS/SLE
airbags, ABS standard
Cab 4WD Sportside
stereo, clock, tinted glass, full instrumentation, 60/40 front bench
seat, intermittent wiper/washer, painted rear step bumper, full carpeting
with floor mats, dual lighted visor mirrors, heavy-duty suspension package
with heavy-duty shocks; destination charge
Equipment Group 1SH ($3,037) includes air conditioning, third door,
automatic transmission, cast-aluminum wheels, CD stereo, tilt steering
column, cruise control, deep tinted glass; power windows, door locks
and mirrors, and remote keyless entry ($795); locking rear differential
($270); P235/75R15 tires ($218); air deflector and fog lamps ($115)
190 hp @
@ 2800 rpm
room, front: 39.5/52.0/42.4
48.1 cu. ft.
with 4-wheel ABS
otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
effective as of September 30, 1999 and include manufacturer's destination
and delivery charges.
Information not available or not applicable.