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2018 GMC Sierra vs. 2019 GMC Sierra: What’s the Difference?

  • The 2019 GMC Sierra is less of a carbon copy of the Chevrolet Silverado than ever before.

  • New features and technology exclusive to the 2019 Sierra make it an attractive option in a competitive field of full-size pickups.

  • This new fourth-generation Sierra is more of a luxury pickup truck than ever.

GMC has been branding itself as a luxury alternative to Chevrolet trucks and SUVs for a while now. For every Chevy truck, there’s a GMC that can be optioned to be a little nicer and more expensive. Yet at the end of the day, GMCs and Chevrolets have been mechanically identical, differentiated almost solely by badge.

Now, however, GMC is trying to further distinguish itself from Chevrolet with the all-new 2019 Sierra. The Sierra is still mechanically identical to the Chevy Silverado, but it’s being packaged and marketed more distinctively.

To see how, let’s compare the 2018 GMC Sierra with the 2019 GMC Sierra.

Exterior

The 2019 Sierra looks very different from the 2018 Sierra. It features a perfected version of the rugged sophistication GMC has been developing over decades. A big, bold grille, C-shaped headlights and a boxy body constitute its modern, refined and functional aesthetic. This model has evolved nicely from the outgoing 2018 truck — which likewise looks classy, but is less distinctive than the latest model.

The 2019 Sierra is also bigger than the 2018 Sierra, with more room for back-seat passengers in crew-cab configurations. Speaking of which, as of this writing, it looks like the 4-door crew cab will be the only cabin configuration available for the Sierra. If so, the single-cab and extended-cab work-truck variants will no longer be available, and the Sierra will solidify its brand as a luxury pickup.

One interesting industry-exclusive exterior feature of the 2019 Sierra is the GMC MultiPro tailgate. This is a flexible 6-function tailgate that can fold down like any other tailgate, make a load stop pop up at two different heights depending on cargo length, create a cutout for easy access to cargo while the tailgate is open, transform into steps to make it easier to climb into the bed, and even turn into a convenient work surface like a desk. That’s a lot of functionality in something as simple as a tailgate, and it’s not offered in any other truck, including the Chevy Silverado.

We think the 2019 Sierra is a much better truck with a more innovative and functional exterior than the 2018 model.

Interior

As mentioned, the 2019 GMC Sierra will likely be available only with a crew cab, which means a roomy interior with a spacious back seat. The back seat of the 2019 crew cab has a couple more inches of legroom than the 2018 crew cab, making the newer model even more family-friendly.

The interior design of the 2019 Sierra does not depart radically from that of the 2018 model. Everything in the 2019 model appears a bit newer; a nice open-pore wood trim is available, among other luxuries, if you upgrade to the fancy Denali model. Speaking of luxury, as of this writing, it looks like every 2019 Sierra will have leather seats that are heated in front.

Two major differences between the 2018 Sierra and the 2019 Sierra are the cabin configurations and the interior options. The 2018 Sierra is available as a single-cab truck with cloth seats, but the lowest trim for the 2019 Sierra is the SLT model, which only comes with a crew cab and leather seats.

Mechanics and Capability

Despite being an all-new truck, the 2019 Sierra is pretty familiar under the hood.

2018 GMC Sierra Engines:

  • 4.3-liter V6; 285 horsepower, 305 lb-ft of torque; max towing capacity of 7,600 pounds; 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway

  • 5.3-liter V8; 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque; max towing capacity of 11,100 pounds; 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy

  • 6.2-liter V8; 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque; max towing capacity of 12,500 pounds; 15 city/21 mpg hwy

2019 GMC Sierra Engines:

  • 5.3-liter V8; 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque; max towing capacity of 11,100 pounds; 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy

  • 6.2-liter V8; 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque; max towing capacity of 12,500 pounds; 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy

It looks like you won’t be able to get fewer than eight cylinders in a 2019 Sierra until the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline six becomes available in summer of 2019. Until then, the only powertrain options are revised versions of the same V8s available in the 2018 model. The difference is a new "Dynamic Fuel Management" system paired with new transmissions to save fuel. However, this feature ultimately adds only one additional highway mpg.

The engines in the 2019 Sierra are proven, but they don’t bring much that’s new. And you probably won’t be able to get a 2019 Sierra with a V6 or with the Silverado’s new turbocharged inline four.

Naturally, both trucks are available with 4-wheel drive, which improves off-road capability and is a must if you live in a snowy climate. For the 2019 Sierra, an all-new traction-select system is available that allows you to choose from multiple ride modes like Tour, Sport and Off-Road depending on the model.

Technology

The 2019 Sierra makes towing safer and easier with some new technology that isn’t offered in the 2018 model. The 2019 model offers an in-vehicle trailering app with a phone-companion app. This new system is packed with features like trailer detection (which tells you when the trailer is hitched), a trailer light-sequence test, trailer theft detection, customizable trailer profiles (which enable you to program trailer brake-level settings and maintenance reminders), and even an available trailer tire-pressure monitoring system.

The 2019 Sierra is also available with a trailering camera package that increases visibility around your trailer. Its two rear-facing side-view cameras built into the truck’s mirrors provide better rearview visibility while you’re hauling a trailer.

The new Sierra also offers a fantastic multicolor head-up display that feeds you key information while you keep your eyes on the road.

In terms of safety, convenience and connectivity technology, the 2019 Sierra is a big step up from the 2018 truck.

Pricing

Pricing is another key distinction between the 2018 and the 2019 GMC Sierra. The price reflects the 2019 model’s further move toward luxury.

The 2018 Sierra has a reasonable starting MSRP of $29,000, while the luxurious Denali model will set you back at least $52,900, with many configurations in between. For the 2019 Sierra, the SLT model starts at $46,700, the off-road-ready Sierra AT4 starts at $53,200 and the range-topping Denali starts at $54,700.

It’s debatable whether the higher prices of the 2019 Sierra are justified by the model’s much more generous standard features and lack of lower-level trims. Nevertheless, $46,700 is a pretty high starting price for a pickup truck.

Conclusion

The 2019 GMC Sierra excels in functionality, technology and style, but it would be nice to see something new under the hood. Although it’s mechanically a bit dated, the Sierra is more luxurious and competitive than ever, and it looks more different from the Silverado.

GMC is clearly positioning the Sierra as more of a luxury vehicle in 2019 than it did in 2018. If your budget for a new truck is under the mid-$40,000 range, then you’ll want to head to a Chevy dealership. But if you’re seeking a stylish new luxury pickup truck that’s packed with cool tech and exclusive features, then the 2019 Sierra should be on your shopping list.

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