- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

Looking inside GMC Sierra Pro Plus is like opening Uncle Bob's steel tool chest and discovering hideaway compartments filled with fine jewelry. Inside this three-quarter-ton show truck is a surprise package brimming with unexpected amenities.

"Sierra Pro Plus is engineered to deliver advantages beyond a customer's expectations," said Lorraine Babiar, Sierra's assistant brand manager. "It offers a new dimension in work capability, answering construction and commercial needs, as well as offering solutions toward organizing a vehicle on an everyday basis." GMC's goal was to create a flexible, reconfigurable truck that becomes an extension of how owners view themselves as professionals. It is the "ultimate professional-grade tool" a portable workstation, as well as a means to tote and organize tools.

Unveiled at the 2001 Special Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Sierra Pro Plus is an expansion of ideas introduced at SEMA in 1999 with the GMC Sierra Professional show truck. "It's GMC's professional-grade philosophy taken to the next level an answer to the question, 'If we're going to do more for the customer, what would it be?'" said Miss Babiar.

Unexpected amenities are numerous. Highlight features include rear-quarter side storage, tailgate with integrated ramps, under-seat rear storage and multifunction floor console. Rear-quarter panels are put to clever use by opening them to create work benches and access hollowed-out storage compartments. Hidden within each exterior side cavity are interchangeable bins, a toolbox, storage buckets, tool trays, portable snake lights and tool kits.

Heavy wheeled components such as air compressors, dollies or wheelbarrows can be rolled into the cargo box on ramps, which conveniently extend from their home in a self-contained tailgate. Along with providing ramps to prevent backbreaking lifting, this tailgate can be configured with extenders that lengthen the loading surface. Long items such as ladders, pipe and lumber can hitch a high ride on a TracRac Bed Rack System. This convenient, above-bed rack is offered on production pickups through GM Accessories.

Within its four-door, extended cab, Sierra Pro Plus offers a blend of an office environment and utility shed. Beneath the 60/40 split-bench rear seat is a lockable storage box that is reconfigurable to suit the owner's needs. This feature also includes a small toolbox, and removing the 40 percent seat section allows the space to be filled with organizer bins for tool storage.

A floor console storage lockable unit transforms the cab into a business center, including a personal digital assistant and cell-phone storage station with charging outlets.

Of course the console is fitted with cup holders, but the cool thing about these is they're temperature controlled to keep beverages hot or cold. A removable, thermoelectric cooler is included for use inside or outside the cab. Keeping organized is made easier with the option of removing the cooler to convert the center console into a hanging file folder.

Engineering a beyond-expectations pickup also calls for a powertrain that exceeds normal limits. Sierra Pro Plus is fitted with a Vortec 6000 V-8 engine like the one available for other GM trucks, but with a supercharged boost. In standard production form, GM's 6.8-liter delivers 300 horsepower. Supercharging pumps V-8 output to 328 horsepower. This supercharger is under consideration for future use, as are Sierra Pro Plus' organizational items.

Including potential-to-market features in a display truck offers show visitors a hint at the future. Their feedback often is a key to whether experimental design and engineering features will be used in future production models. Sierra Pro Plus pushes GMC's professional-grade philosophy to a higher level. Its design and engineering is inspired by the Terradyne, an elite, chiseled-bodied concept pickup. Terradyne teams with Sierra Pro Plus in sending the message that buyers of future GMC pickups should expect the unexpected.

Miss Babiar said GMC is serious about bringing into dealerships ready-for-order items dedicated to satisfy professional demands. Expect a Sierra Pro package, which includes Sierra Pro Plus-style center console and rear under-seat storage, to be available in the first quarter of this year.

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