GMC showed off the 2020 Sierra HD at a private event in San Diego today, and we got a sneak peek at the truck that will hopefully go toe to toe with the Ford F-Series Super Duty and Ram Heavy Duty when it goes on sale at the end of summer 2019. As always, the Sierra HD will be available in 3/4-ton 2500 and 1-ton 3500 grades, the latter of which offered in single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel configurations.
Predictably, the Sierra HD will share much under the skin with the likewise-new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD, which was announced in late 2018. However, the GMC’s styling is far less controversial, sharing many styling themes with its fashionable 2019 Sierra 1500 little brother. GMC is also rightly proud of a number of segment-first features exclusive to the Sierra HD. More on that in a moment.
Heavy Hitter“Trailering is the most important consideration for Sierra HD customers, and the new features and technologies in the 2020 Sierra HD make it easier than ever to hitch a trailer and tow it confidently,” said Jaclyn McQuaid, vehicle chief engineer of GM’s Heavy Duty Truck division. Putting GMC's money where McQuaid's mouth is, the GMC Sierra HD team organized a little surprise for the truck's reveal, tasking it with towing a 225,000-pound yacht-and-hoist combo across the stage.
While it would be illegal and stupid to attempt to tow that much in the real world, GMC would admit that it is targeting an overall towing capacity “in excess of 30,000 pounds,” a significant improvement over the current truck’s 23,300-pound max (official numbers have yet to be announced). Aiding that heavy-hauling capability is a 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V-8, the same L5P unit as the current Sierra HD. Like its predecessor, the 2020 Sierra HD’s Duramax engine will produce 445 hp and 910 lb-ft. In the 2020 Sierra HD, the L5P will be matched with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission, a gearbox codeveloped by GM and the legendary transmission company.
Furthermore, the Sierra HD will be available with an expanded version of GMC’s ProGrade Trailering System. Part of that suite of technologies is an expansive 15-view camera system, which includes an innovative invisible-trailer view that creates a composite image from the truck’s tailgate-mounted camera and an accessory camera remote-mounted to the trailer. This feature allows the Sierra HD driver to better see around obstacles when reversing or maneuvering through tight spaces.
The Sierra HD will also be compatible with iN∙Command, an electronics integration system for compatible trailers. Depending on the trailer’s featureset, iN∙Command—which will be accessible from the truck owner’s myGMC phone app—can pre-cool the camper interior, turn on the water heater, check water levels, or monitor the generator’s fuel level. We think iN∙Command integration in the myGMC app is a useful idea, as it would give recreation enthusiasts more control and comfort while vacationing.
As on the Sierra 1500, the ProGrade Trailering System also includes trailer tire pressure and temperature monitoring, light testing, trailer electrical diagnostics, and a pre-departure checklist. These help take some of the guesswork out of trailering, ensuring every hitched haul is safe and ready for a long trip. Predictably, trailer sway control is standard, and the Sierra HD incorporates an automatic exhaust brake and grade-braking technology to maintain the integrity of the truck’s service brakes on long downhill stretches.
Big and BeautifulThe 2020 Sierra HD scales up the Sierra 1500’s styling appropriately, but styling forward of the A-pillar and aft of the C-pillar is unique to the bigger truck. It keeps LED “light blades” for the daytime running lamps, and LEDs fire the headlights and taillights, as well as available foglights. Those headlamps bookend a notched grille with a large center cutout for the Duramax V-8’s cold-air intake. The grille itself is much larger than before, and although the front view is imposing, it’s much more cohesive and, to this editor’s eye at least, attractive than the similarly bold Chevrolet Silverado HD.
The cab is shared with the Sierra 1500, which means a larger interior with a taller seating position than before. The Sierra HD is available with the same 15-inch–diagonal heads-up display projected on the windshield in front of the driver, and the latest iteration of GMC IntelliLink is available. Overall, the interior should be very comfortable, though we’re still disappointed with its plastic-heavy, dated design.
In spite of the truck’s taller overall profile, the bed’s lift-in height has been reduced by an inch, aiding in loading cargo and hitching gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailers. GMC boasts class-leading bed volume among heavy-duty trucks, 12 corner tie downs, and an available 120-volt outlet in the bed. And the Sierra 1500’s signature MultiPro tailgate party trick ports over to the HD unchanged—that’s a good thing, as the tailgate is impressively versatile. The HD adds industry-exclusive cargo box side steps ahead of the rear wheels, joining GM-signature corner steps on the rear bumpers. Both should aid in loading or retrieving cargo.
Torque Dirty to MeIn addition to the SLE, SLT, and Denali grades, the Sierra HD will get its first taste of the AT4 treatment. As on the smaller Sierra, the HD AT4 will include a lifted off-road suspension, Rancho shocks, more extensive skid plating, and an inclinometer feature for the heads-up display. There’s also a specific off-road mode for the Traction Select System and a low-speed HD camera system to aid in path selection on rocky trails.
The AT4 HD will receive its little brother’s premium-trimmed interior boasting black leather with Kalahari tan accents and stitching. It also gets unique 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, with 20s optional. And it gets a glossy black grille surround, dark chrome exterior finishes, and AT4-signature vertical red tow hooks. We doubt it’ll be a true rival for the rock-eating Ram Power Wagon, but it should still offer plenty of off-road capability without sacrificing the trim level’s premium interior and ride comfort.
Coming Soon to a Dealer Near YouExpect more information on the 2020 GMC Sierra HD, including an all-new gas powertrain and additional capability details, within the next few months. The new truck is expected to hit dealers by the end of the summer, built in Flint, Michigan, thanks to a $1.5 billion investment at GM’s Flint Assembly.