Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

On the farm with a GMC Sierra - the true home for this luxury truck

I'm originally a prairie kid and, whenever Sting's Fields of Gold blasted through the radio as I drove the rural Saskatchewan roads during my high-school years, I always felt smack-dab in the middle of the song – surrounded by a patchwork-quilt of barley, wheat, canola, oat, mustard and lentil fields in shades of green and gold.

Many years have passed, but that old feeling returned when I returned to southern Saskatchewan recently. I left the Prairies when I was a teen, but go back each year to visit. This time, rather than rely on family to chauffeur me, I roamed free in a 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT All Terrain X. To be clear, this is a substantial truck. I'd driven pickups on my stepdad's farm, but at 7,200 pounds, nothing quite like this. And I was about to have many of my truck stereotypes challenged.

With a bright crimson-red four-door crew cab that seats five, and a large bed-mounted tubular sport bar, I was certain I stood out when I began my journey at Regina's historic Hotel Saskatchewan. Constructed in 1927 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was the city's first major hotel and remains a prominent landmark and social hub.

Story continues below advertisement

As I pulled into the hotel parking lot to stay the night, a telecom worker in his own truck nodded approvingly. I climbed down from the cab to talk and asked whether he was surprised to see a woman driving it.

"Are you kidding? No way," he replied. "Twenty-five per cent of truck drivers in Saskatchewan are women. If you want to get noticed, maybe you should take that thing to Toronto."

I encountered this unexpected ambivalence wherever I went. Later, I tried popping the hood to check the oil. I thought for sure someone would come to help a woman with a big truck. Nothing. That's when I began to shed my preconceived notions of women and trucks. Later, I was pleased to discover a woman, Jully Burau, was vehicle chief engineer for this generation of Sierra (and sister, the Silverado).

The next morning, I sped west down the Trans-Canada Highway to spend a few days in Moose Jaw. Trucks were everywhere; at any time, there were at least five double-cabs idling in Tim's drive-thru, and more in the parking lot. But there's a big difference between many of these trucks and those I grew up around. Those were work trucks, these are luxury.

Once the domain of farmers and ranchers, pickups are now family vehicles, too. And that's the point: $62,255 is a lot to outlay for a vehicle that might get banged and bumped on the farm. There are lots of bells and whistles here: leather interior, a six-speaker Bose sound system, wireless charging, 10-way power driver and front passenger seat adjusters, built-in OnStar 4G WiFi hotspot, eight-inch colour touch-screen navigation, 110-volt AC power outlet, and voice-activated technology for phone and radio. In the city, the rear park assist is a necessity for navigating tight spaces.

Not that the power of this beast was without merit. The four-wheel-drive 5.3-litre, 355-horsepower V-8 could be an asset on the vast agricultural plains where my stepdad makes his living. While he harvested canola near Mortlach, I proudly crossed his adjoining hay field to show him my toy. With the ease of a tractor, the Sierra All Terrain X performed without any strain. With 9,200 pounds of towing capacity, it's true home may be out on the land hauling livestock and farm equipment – despite its external flash.

And, impressed as I was by the high-tech gadgets and fancy extras, four of my nephews reminded me of the simple joys of life. A picnic on the prairie quickly turned into playtime in the box, the rear corner-step bumper key to a continuous game of up-and-down.

Story continues below advertisement

As my journey neared its end, I thought I had assimilated into the world of pickup trucks. I was brought back to reality by a gas station attendant who sensed some form of unease, and tried to reassure me.

"Relax, Miss!" he bellowed.

Maybe I really do stand out in this thing.

Sign up for our newly-designed weekly newsletter

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter

Story continues below advertisement

Video: The 11 cars worth waiting for in 2017
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.