Trucks: GMC’s Sierra VortecMax pickup truck

If you’re looking for a gas-burning pickup with plenty of power to spare, then the VortecMax package could be a potentially valuable addition to your construction fleet.

Plain and simple, the VortecMax is GMC’s high-performance package for its light-duty pickup line. It’s an understated package: There are no SS rally stripes, gaudy chrome rims or flashy paint schemes setting this truck apart. Pull up next to it at a traffic light and you’ll hardly give it a second glance: It’s got GM’s classic truck lines and four-door, full-size cab just like a standard Sierra. You’ve got to look close at the fender badge to spot the bright red VortecMax logo. That’s the only clue that you’re sitting next to some serious horsepower.

Automotive editors scoff at the notion of the high-powered pickup truck. And they’ve got a good point: True performance is a blend of many attributes, most notably power and a lightweight chassis. Since half-ton pickups aren’t known for being featherweights, it takes a lot of horsepower – and fuel – to deliver performance when you stomp on the gas pedal.

The Sierra VortecMax does deliver what it promises, though. GMC accomplishes this by packing a high-output Vortec 6000 gas engine under the hood. This power plant churns out 345 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. That’s enough power to burn the tires in first gear and fishtail the back end when you hit second; it’s also serious power for towing and hauling on a jobsite.

That’s because all that power is matched with a four-speed, super-duty automatic transmission and 4.1 rear axle ratio with locking rear differential. There’s a ride control suspension package, external engine and transmission auxiliary oil coolers and a heavy-duty trailering package, too. All told, the VortecMax can handle up to 10,400 pounds of towing capacity. Performance enhancements aside, that puts the Sierra in a towing performance capacity on par with the Nissan Titan and Hemi-equipped Dodge Ram.

Because most of the VortecMax’s tweaks are under the hood, its interior is similar to a standard Sierra pickup truck. The leather seats are easily adjustable and comfortable. Dual climate control, tilt steering, full instrumentation and Bose stereo can be spec’d as well. The front and rear cabs are roomy and luxurious enough to handle a night out on the town with clients.

The ride is exceptionally smooth thanks to the beefed-up suspension. Steering is precise and the truck doesn’t wander at all going down the road. Despite its weight (around 6,500 pounds) the big V-8 will definitely snap your head back if you put your foot down at a traffic light. There’s plenty of high-end power for highway acceleration and passing as well. All told, the VortecMax is a well-heeled work truck with enough pizzazz and power to hold its own on weekdays and weekends.