Alongside its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra 1500 is fully redesigned for 2019. This new generation of General Motors trucks puts the Sierra another step further from just being a rebadged, re-skinned Silverado, which we think is a good thing. With a classy new look, impressive new tech and a trick tailgate you can’t get anywhere else, the new Sierra is an especially competitive player in one of the most competitive automotive segments.
What’s New for 2019?
The first thing you’ll notice about the all-new 2019 Sierra is the sophisticated, yet rugged exterior. There won’t be much mistaking this truck from a Chevrolet since the new Sierra employs the brand’s design language in a well-executed way with C-shaped headlights, a big, bold grille, and a body with angles in all the right places to make it stand out as a GMC. As you work your way up the model range, the look of the Sierra can change quite a bit like with the off-road-ready AT4 trim and the luxurious, chromed out Denali model.
We can’t talk about the Sierra’s exterior without talking about the MultiPro tailgate. This is a feature you can’t get on any other truck, including the Silverado. It has six different functions, making it ready to handle a wide range of different tasks without requiring any add-on accessories that you might normally need. Obviously, it folds down like a regular tailgate as its primary function. Once it’s open, a load stop can pop up to help keep long items secure. The inner gate can fold down to give you easier access to your cargo without having to reach all the way across the tailgate. Once that’s folded down, you can fold it down into steps that can support up to 375 pounds, making it a breeze to climb into the bed. You have the option of folding down just the inner gate and putting the load stop up, which is perfect for hauling wide items like plywood. Finally, you can use just the inner gate folded down as a handy desk or work surface.
The MultiPro tailgate is a little complicated, but it’s a very cool feature that you might find yourself using more often than you ever planned on. Once you get used to its many functions, you may forget what it was like to live without it. Another cool thing about the bed of the Sierra is that it’s available in carbon fiber making it lighter and stronger — – an industry first.
Despite being an all-new generation, the new 2019 Sierra is pretty familiar under the hood. It uses the same base 4.3-liter V6 engine as the outgoing model and the same 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 options. What is new is a 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four, which offers a nice blend of performance, capability and fuel economy. It’s not available as of this writing, but an efficient, high-torque 3.0-liter Duramax diesel option is on its way to the Sierra. See the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 models for sale near you
What We Like
Classy new styling; industry-exclusive MultiPro tailgate; ProGrade trailering system; user-friendly infotainment system; available carbon fiber bed; roomy seats; smooth ride, especially with optional Adaptive Ride Control luxurious Denali model; strong V8 engines.
What We Don’t
Interior is still too similar to the Silverado; arguably overpriced in the higher trims when compared to competitors; outclassed in interior luxury by some rivals; AT4 trim could use more off-road capability.
The most efficient version of the Sierra is the 2-wheel drive turbo 4-cylinder truck, which achieves fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The next most efficient engine is the 5.3-liter V8, which gets 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy when equipped with the 8-speed automatic transmission, 2WD and optional Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM). The base V6 returns 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy and the 6.2-liter V8 gets up to 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy. Like in every other truck, upgrading to 4-wheel drive results in a slight fuel economy penalty. We think the 5.3-liter V8 with DFM is in the sweet spot of capability and fuel economy that a lot of truck shoppers are looking for.
Standard Features & Options
Despite being marketed so heavily as a luxury vehicle, there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles that come standard on the base model of the Sierra 1500 since it’s still a work truck at heart. What does come standard on the base Sierra ($31,195) is LED headlights and taillights, an illuminated cargo bed, rear corner steps, a 7-in infotainment system with Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You also get one USB port. Other than that, it’s a pretty bare-bones work truck, which we actually like as a simple, yet modern tool for getting the job done on a budget. This is the only version of the Sierra you can get with a single cab configuration and the base V6 engine.
Moving up to the SLE trim ($39,395) gives you a much nicer truck. The base engine becomes the 2.7-liter turbo-four and it can only be had in double cab or crew cab configurations. You get an upgrade to an 8-in infotainment system that is 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot capable plus standard creature comforts like cruise control, carpeted floor covering, 6-speaker audio, a color driver information center in the dash, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise control, multiple USB ports and more. It’s also nicer on the outside with alloy wheels, chrome bumpers and body-color door handles.
Next up is the Elevation trim ($41,895), which puts a sporty spin on this rugged truck. It has a monochromatic appearance package with a big, black grille, LED fog lamps and body-color painted bumpers plus 20-in black rims. In terms of standard and available features, the Elevation model is pretty similar to the SLE.
Upgrading to the Sierra SLT ($45,895) is where things really start to get fancy. The standard engine is the 5.3-liter V8 with DFM and it’s where the MultiPro tailgate becomes available. It also adds high-intensity lighting, a traction select system and the ProGrade trailering system, which includes Hitch Guidance with a Hitch View rear camera, auto electric parking brake assist and a tailgate-mounted light for easy night-time trailer hook-ups. There’s also a handy trailering app in the Sierra’s infotainment system. On the SLT model, you also get an integrated trailer brake controller, leather seats that are heated and power-adjustable in front and a heated steering wheel. This is also where the 6.2-liter V8 becomes an available option. Truck shoppers looking for a satisfying blend of luxury, capability, technology, and value should take a close look at the Sierra SLT.
The next step up the Sierra food chain is the AT4 model ($52,395). AT4 is a new off-road sub-brand of GMC with this Sierra being the first member of the AT4 family. However, don’t expect Ford F-150 Raptor levels of off-road insanity. The Sierra AT4 comes with standard 4WD, the MultiPro tailgate, a 2-in lift kit, an AutoTrac 2-speed transfer case, Rancho off-road suspension and skid plates, an automatic locking rear differential, black leather seats with Kalahari accents (an AT4 exclusive), heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear outboard seats. The appearance package includes red vertical recovery hooks and a black chrome grille and accents. The Sierra AT4 certainly looks the part of an off-roader and it has a few nice improvements over the standard Sierra, but it would be nice to see a Sierra that’s more competitive with the likes of the mighty Raptor.
Finally, we’ve reached the summit of GMC pickup excellence: the Denali ($56,295). This luxurious pickup comes standard with perforated Forge leather seating and open-pore ash wood trim making for premium materials you might be surprised to find in a pickup truck. Of course, the seats are heated and ventilated in front and heated in back plus you get an 8-in digital driver information center in the dash, Bose premium audio, lane-change assist with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, safety alert seat and even more safety tech. Available tech in the Denali includes a head-up display, a surround-vision camera, a rear camera mirror, MultiPro power steps and more. On the outside, you get a signature Denali grille with high gloss black mesh and chrome inserts plus plenty of Denali badging inside and out. The Sierra Denali has a gorgeous interior, but it has a tough competitor in the likes of the high-end Ram 1500 models, which are available with similar premium materials and a massive 12-in infotainment system.
The 2019 Sierra 1500 gets pretty good marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), getting a Good rating in most categories, but with only a Marginal rating for passenger-side small overlap front crashes. It gets a Poor rating for headlights, but a Superior rating for crash avoidance and mitigation with optional equipment.
That optional equipment in question includes two different Driver Alert packages. Driver Alert Package I has front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change alert with side blind zone alert. Driver Alert Package II throws in safety alert seat, automatic high beams, a following distance indicator and forward-collision warning.
Behind the Wheel
One of the first things we noticed when we spent some time behind the wheel of the new 2019 Sierra is just how smooth and comfortable it is. It’s not hard to see why trucks are so popular, even for folks who might not necessarily need their muscular capabilities that often. Regardless of the payload you’re carrying or the load that you’re towing, if any at all, the Sierra is just a nice highway cruiser, especially the Denali model equipped with Adaptive Ride Control, which makes it even smoother on the highway, but doesn’t make all that much of a difference in city driving.
The MultiPro tailgate might seem gimmicky, but we love it. We think its many functions can actually save you a lot of time for specific hauling purposes like long items that require load stops. It also makes it a breeze to climb in and out of the bed and easier to reach your cargo. We even found the desk feature to be useful for setting a laptop on and getting some work done. The MultiPro tailgate isn’t an absolute necessity, but it’s a worthwhile upgrade if you’re planning on doing a lot of hauling.
Mechanically speaking, we have few complaints about the tried and true V8 engines available under the hood of the Sierra. We like the fuel economy of the 5.3-liter and we like the muscle of the 6.2-liter. The turbo-four is a good option if saving fuel is your top priority, especially if you do a lot of city driving. The V6 is good enough for the base model, but we’re not too upset about it not being available in most trims.
The age-old problem of hooking up a trailer being a pain in the neck, especially by yourself, has been largely remedied by GMC, which is saying a lot. The ProGrade trailering system is a must for anyone who does a lot of trailering and doesn’t always have the luxury of someone to wave their arms around behind you, indicating how close you are to your target while hooking up the trailer. Having that camera showing exactly where you need to put the truck plus the safety benefit of auto braking assist make for a much-improved trailer hook-up experience that we think is worth the cost.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Chevrolet Silverado — An obvious choice for a truck you should be cross-shopping with the Sierra is its mechanical twin: the Chevy Silverado. The Silverado lacks available features exclusive to the Sierra like a carbon fiber bed and the MultiPro tailgate, but if neither of those matter to you, the Chevy has the same strong engines and a similarly roomy interior at a slightly lower price. Which one is right for you largely comes down to your personal taste.
2019 Ford F-150 — There’s a ton of brand loyalty in pickup trucks, but if you don’t mind which badge is on your truck, the best-selling Ford F-150 is a great choice. Like the Sierra, the Ford had a wide model range from a stripped-down work truck to an opulent luxury pickup to an off-roader.
2019 Ram 1500 — The Ram 1500 is also all-new for 2019 and like the Sierra, it has seriously stepped up its game in terms of styling, technology and capability. The Ram gets great fuel economy with the mild hybrid system that comes standard on the base V6 and optional on the Hemi V8. Its higher trims, especially the Limited model, give the Sierra Denali a serious run for its money.
Used GMC Sierra — Mechanically, a used Sierra 1500 from its previous generation isn’t all that different from the all-new model. The outgoing model doesn’t have the option of a 4-cylinder or a diesel, but it does have the same V6 and similar versions of the two V8s in the 2019 model. A used Sierra is a good way to get a nice, modern truck at a discounted price.
One of the great things about the all-new Sierra is the variety within its model range. We think the sweet spot is in the SLT model, which gives you the cool MultiPro tailgate, a leather-trimmed interior, the ProGrade trailering tech and a great V8 engine in the mid-$40k range. That makes it a strong value for most truck shoppers. Obviously, if you want more luxury the Sierra Denali is a great choice and the Sierra AT4 looks cool and has some nice off-road kit for the occasional off-road adventure. No matter which one you go with, you’re getting a classy, modern, high-tech truck in the all-new 2019 Sierra 1500. Find a GMC Sierra 1500 for sale