2019 GMC Sierra: Brawn and Innovation

DETROIT, Michigan – It’s the third best-selling vehicle in Canada, so needless to say, the redesign of the Sierra 1500 is crucial. Once again, GMC is relying on a robust appearance, the upscale features of the Denali edition, but also some interesting innovations to keep their truck selling in strong numbers.

Instead of waiting for an auto show to unveil the new generation of the Sierra pickup, GMC set up a private event in Detroit for members of the media, during which they presented the two most upscale versions, SLT and Denali.

The truck’s design obviously shares many elements with the brand’s other products, but doesn’t stray too far away from the current-generation model’s blocky styling. We haven’t seen the base trim levels yet, but a lot of detail work has gone into the grille, especially the Denali’s. The GMC logo has also been reworked slightly to give it some more flash. On the Sierra SLT and Denali’s front fenders are badging to clearly indicate the presence of the uplevel, 6.2-litre V8 underhood.

Character lines have been drawn into the 2019 GMC Sierra’s flanks, giving it a more athletic stance, the handy rear bumper corner steps are still included, and at the rear, included on the SLT and the Denali, there’s what the brand calls its MultiPro tailgate. It’s a truly clever piece of engineering, which can flip and fold into six different positions. It can serve as a bed step, as an edge to hold longer objects into place, and half the tailgate height can be folded downwards to make loading objects into the bed much easier. The MultiPro tailgate is brilliant, it could be a real dealbreaker, and as this is being written, it’s not available on the Sierra’s cousin, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.

The truck’s cargo bed is larger than before, and includes more tie-down options and an available 110-volt power outlet. According to the company, the metal used to build it is 50 percent stronger than before. Another unique feature for the Sierra is the availability of a carbon fibre box, called CarbonPro. GMC claims it provides best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance. CarbonPro isn’t simply installed over the existing truck bed—it actually replaces the steel inner panels and floor, shaving 62 pounds (28 kg) off the vehicle’s curb weight. While we’re on the subject, the use of aluminum for the doors, hood and tailgate has helped reduce the Sierra’s weight by another 360 lbs. (163 kg).

No word on output yet, but revised versions of the 5.3-litre V8 and 6.2-litre V8 engines will be offered in the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, and the bigger V8 will benefit from a new 10-speed automatic. We don’t yet know what will happen to the gasoline V6 and eAssist 5.3-litre V8 engines, but a new 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel inline-six will be added to the powertrain lineup, connected to the 10-speed tranny.

The Denali edition will also boast an Adaptive Ride Control suspension, which uses sensors to monitor road conditions every two milliseconds in order to provide the best compromise of handling and comfort.

The Sierra 1500’s cabin also gets a reboot, and now includes the latest version of the GMC IntelliLink infotainment system that made its way into the 2018 GMC Terrain. Cameras will help the driver hook up a trailer more easily, and a new feature called ProGrade Trailering System with Trailering App is a technology suite that includes maintenance reminders, a trailer light test, trailer electrical diagnostics as well as trailer tire pressure monitoring, among other things. It’s standard on the SLT and Denali. There’s also a Trailer Theft Detection feature that can send text and mobile alerts to Sierra owners, through the OnStar system.

Other new features include a 3x7-inch colour head-up display, a rear camera mirror system, a 360-degree camera system, blind spot monitoring as well as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

GMC claims higher-quality materials will be used to dress up the Sierra SLT and Denali’s cabin, and the latter will also benefit from open-pore wood, real aluminum trim and exclusive leather upholstery. Rear-seat occupants get three inches of extra legroom, and concealed, rectangular storage bins can be added behind the rear seatbacks for hiding valuable items. They’re not very big, but every little bit helps.

The company ended the presentation by announcing that it’s reserving a surprise at the upcoming New York Auto Show. What could it be? More trim levels—the All Terrain edition comes to mind—or a new powertrain option?

Whatever that surprise is, it will likely make the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 a sweeter proposition, and we’re impressed with what the brand has unveiled so far. Pricing has yet to be announced, but the new truck will go on sale this fall.

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