4WDrive - - Contents - Words by Perry Mack Pho­tos cour­tesy GMC

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.

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