GMC revealed its volume seller, the 2019 Sierra 1500, in Detroit today, showing off a vehicle that finally gets its own unique styling and feature set to establish it as the flagship of GM’s truck lineup.
The Sierra 1500, which shares powertrains and chassis bits with the likewise-new Silverado 1500, was shown in two grades: mid-level SLT and top-spec Denali. At first glance, neither truck seems to bear any resemblance to the 2019 Silverado. In fact, GMC says the only shared exterior bits are the roof stamping, the front windshield, and the rear window.
While the Chevy imparts an aggressive, boxy look, the Sierra is a bit more distinguished and classy. The front end features a geometric design for the grille, with a little notch at the bottom and a shield motif along the other three sides. The headlights, with their C-shaped LED light pipes and body-color notch cutout, do bear more than a passing resemblance to the Ford F-150, but they still look good on the bluff front end of the Sierra.
Their swept-back appearance modernizes the truck, flowing into sharp-edged front fenders. As on the Chevy, there are sculpted character lines on the side profile, although they’re in a different place on the GMC, and they look just as nice here as on the Silverado.
It’s business as usual around back, at least at first glance: a reshaped tailgate and a spoiler on the trailing edge of the cabin combine to reduce drag, and there’s a bigger, bolder GMC badge. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find one of the first GMC-exclusive features found on the 2019 Sierra.
GMC ExclusivesAn industry-first MultiPro Tailgate, which comes standard on SLT and Denali grades, features six unique functions and positions, incorporating a workbench, step entry, and even greater cargo and load-stop flexibility. We had a chance to try out a few of the features, and they work as advertised. Like Ford’s integrated tailgate step from a decade ago, the MultiPro Tailgate is a feature you don’t know you need until you try it.
That funky tailgate is attached to some of the most exotic materials in the automotive industry, as the Sierra Denali will be available with a segment- and GMC-exclusive carbon composite box. CarbonPro, as GMC calls it, saves 62 pounds over the steel bed, and the company claims it offers best-in-class scratch, dent, and corrosion resistance. Not too shabby, considering carbon fiber first came into use for aviation and space travel. Combined with the carbon composite cargo box, the GMC Sierra 1500’s other weight-saving strategies shave a total of 360 pounds from today’s Denali.
Other niceties for the Sierra 1500 include a segment-exclusive heads-up display that features speed and navigation information, as well as a segment-exclusive rear camera mirror. Taken from the ultra-luxurious Cadillac CT6, the rear camera mirror offers a high-resolution display that illuminates behind the standard mirror glass, providing a wider view. GMC’s version also incorporates tilt and zoom functionality for even better visibility, particularly when hauling tall cargo that blocks the regular rearview mirror.
Powertrain TechAs on the 2019 Silverado 1500, the powertrain for the Sierra is still shrouded in mystery somewhat. All GMC will confirm is that the 5.3L and 6.2L V-8s will return for 2019, with an optional 3.0L turbodiesel I-6 as well. Diesel Power Editor KJ Jones speculates the diesel will likely be the most powerful light-duty diesel available in a Big Three truck, with power eclipsing both the 240hp 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 in the Ram and the 250hp 3.0L Power Stroke V-6 in the F-150. Expect about 450 lb-ft from the GMC I-6, as well as that particular engine configuration's inherent smoothness. The diesel will get a 10-speed automatic transmission (shared with the 6.2L V-8), and we presume the 5.3 will soldier on with an eight-speed auto.
Also confirmed will be Dynamic Fuel Management, which allows the V-8 engines to run on any number of cylinders, from one to eight. The technology means that in certain low-load scenarios, such as coasting downhill or trundling through traffic, the truck might only be making use of 0.66L of displacement, and that’s got to be good for efficiency. Also helping with fuel savings and emissions reduction is the standard auto stop/start.
As on the current truck, GMC will continue to offer the Denali with Adaptive Ride Control, a feature that provides a smooth, cushy ride and impressive body control.
Department of the InteriorThe Sierra Denali remains the ne plus ultra of GM interiors, with genuine open-pore wood trim, dark-finished aluminum accents, leather seating front and rear, and contrast stitching. GMC says the new interior was designed to evoke the high quality and craftsmanship of hand-planed furniture, and in that regard, the company’s interior decorators have succeeded. Everything your hand touches feels rich and pleasant, and the driving position is higher than before, benefitting sightlines and offering a commanding view of the road ahead.
Both Denali and SLT boast best-in-class front headroom and legroom. Optimized ergonomics place the most frequently used controls close at hand, and the 2019 Sierra features the latest in GMC’s intuitive IntelliLink infotainment technology. Like the Silverado, the Sierra features a few clever storage solutions, like the storage cabinets inside the rear seatbacks. Space in the back is improved, with three inches of additional legroom. But, not that anyone will complain about the cavernous 2019 Sierra, there doesn’t seem to be as much space in the back as one might find in the Ram or F-150.
Our only complaint about the 2019 Sierra 1500’s interior is the resemblance to the Silverado. For as different as the exteriors of the trucks are, the interiors are all but interchangeable, save a few extra standard features in the GMC. And we’ve already expressed a little disappointment in the Chevy’s design, which doesn’t change enough compared to older trucks. We’d have hoped the GMC would introduce a totally new interior to go along with the shapely new sheetmetal.
Regardless, the 2019 GMC Sierra represents a significant improvement over the truck it replaces, and some of its GMC-exclusive features finally give GM’s professional-grade brand an edge over other pickups in the class (including the Sierra’s platform-mate). And with the same proven V-8 engines and upcoming I-6 turbodiesel, there’s never been a better reason to bypass the competitors and head for the GMC showroom. The 2019 Sierra 1500 is a knockout.