I’m a little annoyed at the PR and marketing professionals of the world — the 2019 GMC Sierra is to blame. Mainly, it has to do with their use of words like "reinvented," "reimagined" and "revolutionary." For example: "We’ve reinvented the floor mop" or "Soup — reimagined." Really? So the mop now cleans the floor by itself, and the canned soup no longer tastes like a van full of chickens that crashed into the Salton Sea? Probably not. More likely is that someone made that soup, mop, t-shirt, bicycle tire or whatever just a little bit better.
About the Tailgate
So what happens when a company, GMC in this case, actually does, kind of, reinvent something? Have they made a flying, fully-automated truck or created a full-size pickup that runs only on water and feelings? No. However, they have… well, I can’t use the word with a straight face, but they have rediscovered the traditional pickup truck tailgate and made it into something that seriously enhances the utility of the full-size pickup. It’s still just a tailgate, but the added functions and thoughtful features really have reinvented a common automotive component that’s been around for 100 years.
The optional tailgate has gimmicky but cool features like the ability to add a dealer-installed Bluetooth speaker system and a very wide, very sturdy step up into the bed. Thankfully, the side-bumper-mounted step is still there whether you order the tailgate or not. But then there are practical features, too. For example, the middle of the tailgate drops down to allow easier access the to bed — when loading or unloading on most trucks, the standard truck tailgate has always been in the way. Standing a good distance from the load means it can be hard to really manage whatever you’re hauling, especially if it’s bulky or heavy. Having the center of the tailgate drop down means you can get one big step closer to the load. It’s a simple but amazingly effective solution. Also, with the tailgate up, the top half will fold out, creating a work surface for verifying invoices, signing work orders or resting a laptop while working.
When I was in my 20s, I worked for Gold Rush Auto Parts in Lincoln, California. Part of my job was to drive about an hour South to get each day’s worth of special order parts then stock them in the back of the store. One of the company-provided vehicles was a 1979 Chevrolet Cheyenne C10 pickup. Having this tailgate system would have shaved hours off my day and made keeping track of the load that much easier. The other vehicle was a Pontiac Astre wagon — there was really no helping that one.
I imagine many business uses and applications for the Multipro tailgate. Even for non-professional uses, there are features and ways of managing loads that just make life easier.
The same goes for towing. If you’re already a trailer-pulling pro, you might not need the towing features. If you’re new or unsure of your ability to pull a 7,000-lb something behind you at highway speed, however, the ProGrade Trailering system will be a serious confidence booster. ProGrade Trailering incudes features like:
- Hitch Guidance with a Hitch View rear camera
- Auto Electric Parking Brake Assist to help keep the truck (and the hitch) in the perfect position
- A tailgate-mounted light that makes hook-up in the dark that much easier
In addition, there’s a trailering app built into the truck’s touchscreen. It has a step-by-step checklist, ways to track trailer service schedules, trailer tire pressure, theft alert and a trailer light test to make sure all electrical connections are good.
The truck itself is very good, too, even if you don’t plan to pull anything behind the Sierra. Thankfully, GMC decided to not repeat the "slightly nicer Chevy" formula from years past and instead gave the Sierra interesting, unique features and functions. I also think the 2019 GMC Sierra has a more attractive look than the Silverado.
On the other hand, GMC could have/should have gone a little farther with the Sierra’s interior (especially the Denali). The look and feel inside is easily outclassed by the Ram and, unlike the exterior, it doesn’t stand far enough apart from the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
Still, the 2019 GMC Sierra is a very good truck. Thoughtful features like a video-image rear view mirror, carbon fiber bed, Multipro tailgate, comprehensive trailering features and some luxury trim inside the Denali make it worth adding to your shopping list. In SLT trim, it’s hard to top the GMC Sierra and a lot of truck buyers are going to end up giving the Sierra a really hard look even if they went searching for a Ford or Chevy. The carbon fiber bed and MultiPro tailgate are exclusive GMC features.
One notable change with the new Sierra is the elimination of the magnetic ride suspension. The Sierra still has adaptive suspension, now called Adaptive Ride Control (ARC), on the Denali, it’s just not the Magnetic Ride Control system pioneered on the Corvette and Cadillac DTS.
The new adaptive system may seem slightly less advanced, but GMC says it’s just as good, if not better, than the magnetic system from the previous Sierra. Why ditch the magnetic ride control? There’s a lot of speculation. Some say it’s because magnetic ride control doesn’t work well with large wheels like 22s. Others say it’s to save money. Here’s what GMC says: "Adaptive ride control allows our vehicle performance team to better calibrate for a wide variety of drive conditions. It’s responsiveness, too, improves to reading and adjusting to changing road surface conditions in as little as two milliseconds."
Here’s what I noticed driving on both the highway and around town in both a Denali and an SLT. The Adaptive Ride Control is standard on the Denali but not offered on the AT4 or SLT.
The new adaptive suspension does make the highway ride smooth, but around town it doesn’t feel much different than a normal, well-built pickup like the Silverado or Ram 1500. If you spend a lot of time on the highway, whether commuting or travelling for work, the Adaptive Ride Control in the Denali is a worthwhile feature.
The new 2019 GMC Sierra has six specific versions available with the upper trim versions being offered first. The entire lineup consists of the base Sierra, the SLE, the sport-truck-looking Elevation, the midgrade SLT, the off-road-oriented AT4 and the luxurious Denali.
There are also six engine/transmission combinations:
- 4.3 liter V6 paired to a 6-speed automatic — 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque at 3,900 rpm
- 2.7-liter I4 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission — 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque at 1,500-4,000 rpm
- 5.3-liter V8 with a 6- or 8-speed automatic — 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm
- 6.2-liter V8 with a 10-speed automatic — 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque
- 3.0-liter I6 turbodiesel — Available late in the model year and no numbers on this one yet
Most buyers will likely opt for the 5.3-liter V8. It’s a good engine and delivers 355 hp in a smooth, refined manner. It even sounds cool. The 6.2-liter engine is best for those who tow or haul and has noticeable extra punch versus the 5.3.
Both an industry first and an exclusive feature to GMC is the Sierra’s available carbon fiber bed. GMC calls this CarbonPro. The entire bed isn’t made of carbon fiber, but the main areas where cargo comes into contact with the bed are. The overall bed is made up of steel fenders, some plastic trim on top of the bed and aluminium. It weighs a little less than an all-steel bed but is tougher than aluminium. GMC says: "The new CarbonPro box is 62 pounds lighter than the steel version and is one example of GMC’s strategic use of materials in engineering the Sierra. The strategy also incorporates aluminium for the doors, hood and tailgate, while relying on steel for the fenders, roof and standard cargo box to shave up to 360 pounds from the Sierra compared to today’s model."
That doesn’t sound like a lot of weight savings overall. However, consider the fact that the carbon fiber bed essentially unloads 60 pounds from the truck’s rear axle, and that may be a towing advantage.
Casually, some GMC officials admitted that part of the appeal (and probably the reason it’s on the Sierra first and not the Silverado) is simply so Sierra Denali owners can say "I’ve got a carbon fiber bed." Many will be pleased by the dent-and-scratch resistance. A carbon fiber bed will certainly look better with minimal wear over, say, 10 years than a metal bed or even a plastic bed liner. Could that be resale value criteria? Maybe. The advantage over a high-quality spray-in bed liner (also a GMC option) is less certain, but the weight savings is something that comes with carbon fiber regardless of its other properties.
There no question that the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali is a really plush truck. The only real fault is that the interior could be a little more luxurious given the $57,000 price. Then again, it is a truck and GMC has incorporated some nice materials and textures inside.
The Sierra SLT, however, is the way to go. It has features that simply make getting the job done easier. You get that amazing tailgate, the powerful but not quite as thirsty 5.3-liter V8, comprehensive trailering hardware and software, Wi-Fi, OnStar, Apple CarPlay, multiple USB ports and power front seats with leather among many other standard features. Without options, that’s about a $49,000 truck, and that’s a lot of truck for the money.