GMC Typhoon and Sonoma GT

Automotive Industries


Focus on performance trucks is a way to create a new identity and new niches.

GMC is a name many people don’t recognize. It certainly does not have the visibility General Motors’ passenger car divisions, such as Cadillac or Chevrolet enjoy. But that could change soon. Last year GMC unleashed the Syclone, a turbocharged A WD pickup that was written up in every automotive magazine in the US mainly because it can blow the doors off just about anything on the road. This year GMC is adding two more high-performance trucks to its line-up, the Typhoon and Sonoma GT, which are likely to generate as much publicity as did the Syclone.

GMC has focused on performance trucks as a way to create a new identity and new niches for itself. Anticipating a serious move by the major Japanese automakers in the mid-1990s into the full-size truck market, GM’s light truck division doesn’t want to get caught flat-footed. Figuring that Chevrolet can slug it out in the high-volume segment of the truck market, GMC wants to establish itself at the high-end of the truck market. GMC expects to sell 10,000 of these trucks.

Its first move upscale involved the introduction of the $26,000 Syclone in 1991. The next moves include the new $28,000 Typhoon and $16,000 Sonoma GT. And be on the lookout for GT versions of the Suburban and Yukon (the Jimmy replacement) to debut in the 1993 model year.

Mechanically, the Typhoon and the Syclone are virtually identical. The main difference is that the Typhoon is based on the S-15 sport utility vehicle. The Syclone, of course, is based on the S-10 Sonoma pick-up. As a result, the 3800-lb. (1723 kg) Typhoon weighs 200 lbs. ( 90. 7 kg) more than the Syclone, which makes it slightly slower -0-60 mph in ‘only’ 6.5 seconds vs. 5.5 seconds. And though the Typhoon has higher spring rates, it actually rides smoother, thanks to the added weight and a better front-to-rear weight balance-57/43 percent vs. 63/37 percent.

For those truck buyers who aspire to own a Syclone but find the price tag too steep, GMC is introducing the Sonoma GT for $10,000 less. It does not offer the turbocharger, all-wheel-drive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, or wheels and tires that come on the Syclone, but it does offer very good performance. It’s powered by GMC’s L35 4.3 L V-6 engine, which develops 195 hp @ 4500 rpm and 260 lbft @ 3600 rpm. The engine is mated to the Hydramatic 4L60 (700R4THM) and propels the Sonoma GT from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds.

All three of these trucks come fully loaded, the only option being a CD player. And just like the Ford Model T. you can buy these trucks in any color you want as long as it’s black.