GMC SIERRA 2019
Earlier this year, GMC promised greater differentiation between the Chevy and GMC brands. We’re finally starting to see what that looks like with the unveiling of the bold innovative feature packed 2019 GMC Sierra in Detroit.
This is one aggressive looking truck. You can’t help but instantly notice the asymmetric angled wheel wells, which add a new dimension to the simplicity forced on pick-up truck designers by the nature of a two-box design.
There are quite a few more exterior touches to talk about but let’s start with the exciting new features that we can use. This is a pick-up truck after all, which means it has work to do and when that’s finished, hopefully there is some serious playtime.
When we looked at the 2019 Silverado we talked about how Chevy started with the new features in the bed and tailgate, which is the business end of a pick-up. I now see why General Motors introduced the Silverado first, because once you see what GMC has done with the business end of the Sierra, you may not look at any other pick-up.
First is the six-function MultiPro tailgate that is comprised of an inner and outer gate. Every other tailgate since the invention of the wooden cart go up and down. 4,000 years later all manufacturers achieved were tailgates that were powered and work by a remote.
But GMC has turned the tailgate into a new tool to make our lives easier. For starters, it has a built-in load-stop to keep long items in the bed when you accelerate.
You can lower the inner gate to get closer to the box to load and unload.
The inner gate also drops and converts to a full sized step so you can comfortably
carry tools and toys into the bed. This handy step will hold up to 170 kg (350 lb).
Drop the inner gate when the tailgate is up and you can create a second extra-wide level for over-size construction or renovation materials and still take advantage of the load stop. That’s five so far and I have to say that six is a little weak to be called a unique feature. You can drop the inner gate when the tailgate is up, and GMC says you can use it as a work surface. They’re not wrong, and I’m going to give it to them because this is a fantastic tailgate. After the shock and awe, we realize there are a lot of moving parts, which, whether you are a pessimist or a realist, can mean more failures. However, GMC assures us that it has been thoroughly torture-tested and is as tough and durable as a traditional tailgate.
Saving weight while you are designing a truck is important. Unloaded, a lighter truck accelerates and brakes more quickly. All else being equal it is more responsive. Drive it in the same manner as a heavier truck and you save money in fuel. But most importantly, every time you save some weight, you can essentially increase the towing and payload capacity with little to no effort. It’s why most 2WD trucks have better max payload and towing features compared to their 4WD counterparts. The extra parts to drive the front wheels adds weight to the truck and comes off the total capacity.
Many of you already know this, but it’s important to mention because getting ‘best in class’ or at least competitive payload and towing numbers helps sell trucks. The bed of 2019 Sierra, like the 2019 Silverado, will provide best-in-class cargo volume 1,784L (63 cu ft) in the short box. You get the extra tie-downs, and an available 110-
volt power outlet, and additional lighting in a bed engineered from roll-formed, high-strength steel.
After the literal bashing the F-150 got for having an aluminum bed, where else could GMC go to save weight? The answer is carbon fibre. It’s used in aircraft and racecars for its flexibility, strength and reduced weight. We use carbon fibre in everything from fishing rods to golf clubs to waterskis. It’s the Superman of building materials, but even Superman weakens from kryptonite, and carbon fibres’ kryptonite is impact.
According to Mark Voss, the Engineering Group Manager for GMC, they have not used the layers of woven carbon fibre fabric that we are used to seeing. They use a nylon-based thermoplastic. One inch fibres create an isotropic matte, which can be compression molded to create the shape, size, features, ridges and textures you want. GMC says this bed is stronger and is more corrosion, impact, scratch, and dent resistant than aluminum or steel. Essentially saying you won’t ever need a spray-in or plastic liner, because this is essentially a super tough plastic bed.
The CarbonPro box is 28 kg (62 lb) lighter than the steel version, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you save a little here and a little there…
Like the Silverado, everything that swings will use aluminum, which includes the tailgate, doors, and hood, while various strengths of steel make up everything else. The bottom line is GMC has shaved 163 kg (360 lb) off the current model Sierra.
Often the biggest part of work and play is trailering, and while the mechanics of trailering haven’t changed much, the electronic aids have. The ProGrade trailering system is standard on both the Denali and SLT models. Some features I can never see myself using like the Trailering App featuring a Pre-Departure checklist, and Maintenance Reminders. But others like the Trailer Light Test, Trailer Electrical Diagnostics, and Trailer Tire Pressure and Temperature Monitoring will save time and make hooking up easier. With enough practice we all get good at hooking up…
But lots of folks only pull a trailer recreationally a dozen times a year, and the new features will probably save some marriages. Things like Hitch Guidance with Hitch View, and Auto Electric Park Brake will help position the truck when hitching, especially handy when you have to do this on your own. Two available side view and one rear view, trailer-mounted HD cameras are also smart features when changing lanes or backing up. The threecamera system will actually let you see both sides of the trailer and the rear view all at the same time.
My only hope is that these features don’t result in a dependency on the electronics. A walk around pre-check, a good set of mirrors, a healthy dose of common sense and a bit of old fashion fear should be your first line of defense.
As I’ve had a few buddies who have had their boats stolen while on a trailer I really like the Trailer Theft Detection, you get a text and mobile alert from OnStar when your trailer has unknowingly been detached from your truck.
The 2019 Sierra will be powered by new versions of the 5.3L and 6.2L V-8s, and an all-new inline six 3.0L turbo diesel. General Motors is still quiet on the key horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency numbers, but they have told us that the gas engines get the new Dynamic Fuel Management system that enables the engine to operate on one to eight cylinders, which was originally introduced in the Silverado.
The 6.2L and 3.0L engines get the 10-speed automatic transmission. Where does that leave the 5.3L? They’re not saying.
A very long list of every conceivable piece of cabin technology will be available in the Denali. My second favourite is the 7.5 x 18 cm (3x7 in) heads up display, which projects customizable key data on the windshield, not just engine info but turnby-turn navigation and call display. I’ve used it before and I don’t find distracting. You see it when you need it and your brain looks through it when you don’t.
My favourite is the rear camera mirror, which essentially turns your mirror into a rearview camera, but you don’t have to be in reverse. If you’ve ever had a load of furniture, an ATV or snowmobile in the bed, or your buddy’s fat head in the back seat blocking your view, you’ll appreciate the idea. You can toggle it on or off, zoom in and out and even tilt the view. The camera is mounted at the top centre rear of the cab for optimal view.
I’ve mentioned the wheel wells and like many exterior design features, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Aside from cosmetics though, the overall truck is physically larger than its predecessor. The hood is a little taller, the wheels are closer to the corners and GMC says they’ll stuff larger diameter tires underneath. LED lights are used for the headlamps, taillamps, fog lamps and accessory lighting.
I love the GMC cabin. Like the Chevy Silverado, drivers get best-in-class legroom and headroom and the seat sits a little higher so you get a better view of the road. The rear passengers get an extra 7.5 cm (3 in) of legroom this year and GMC has built some extra storage into the seat bottoms and backs. The rear cabin floor is almost completely flat for more loading options.
You’re going to pay a lot for these trucks, but when you get behind the wheel you can’t help but be overwhelmed by a sense of pride in ownership in the fit and finish, and materials like large pebble grain premium leather, contrast stitching, darkfinish aluminum, open-pore texture wood wrap, and the intuitive ergonomic design.
I think that counts a lot for having better days, especially if you spend a lot of time in your truck.