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2019 GMC Sierra Review By Larry Nutson

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2019 GMC Sierra
A Cut Above

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Different by design. Different by demand.

The development of the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra full-size pickup afforded the GMC product team the opportunity to bring about some difference. Differences that would better distinguish and separate the Sierra from its sibling Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of the differences were not only features GMC wanted but features that GMC customers wanted. Customers requested more differentiation. Talking to present Sierra owners—and listening to them, provide the impetus for more change.

On the outside the new Sierra has more unique design elements compared to the Silverado. A unique grille as well as headlights along with noticeable sheetmetal differences and wheelwell openings make the new Sierra stand out. In back, Sierra has its own, distinct C-shaped taillight design and prominent dual exhaust outlets tucked nicely under the rear bumper.

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The Sierra for 2019 rides on an all new architecture. In re-doing the Sierra GMC engineers chose a mixed-materials approach for the frame and body. Depending on model the weight saving is up to 360 lbs. High strength steel of differing grades is used in the frame. The body is steel and all the parts that swing—hood, doors and tailgate, are aluminum. A longer wheelbase and longer crew cab body offers about 3 inches more rear legroom than the previous model.

The change and differentiation in the new Sierra brought about a number of “segment firsts” as well as features not found on the Silverado.

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Standard on the top three trims, a new, six-function MultiPro tailgate is an industry first and unique to the Sierra. It’s designed to improve loading, unloading and access to the cargo box. A center mini-tailgate folds open to improve access and is configurable into a step or a load-stop. It also is designed to be a work surface or to enable two-tier loading.

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A CarbonPro Box is a GMC-exclusive industry-first carbon-fiber cargo bed liner. Claiming best-in-class resistance to dents, scratches and corrosion, the box will save 62 pounds in weight. GMC was closed-mouthed on pricing, so we’ll have to wait and see.

By the way, the Sierra’ short box (5ft., 8 in.) has more volume than the standard boxes on the two other U.S. brand competitors trucks.

GM’s adaptive ride control is now equipped on Denali models making for a smooth less-truck-like ride. An all-new Traction Select System allows drivers to choose from preset available drive modes that have been tailored for different terrain or weather conditions.

On the inside, the driver has a multi-colored head-up display with a very large 3-inch X 7-inch image. A flip-open door in the rear seat provides access to hidden storage.

For easy view to the rear, a rear camera mirror shows a wide expanse of what is behind you using a high-mounted camera above the rear window.

Prograde Trailering system is available that features an in-vehicle app to make trailing easy. Cameras are used to ease guidance to the hitch, side views down the side of the truck and trailer as well as a view behind the trailer using an accessory camera.

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A full contingent of driver-assistance safety features are offered, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning system with low-speed automatic braking, front and rear obstacle detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams, and 360-degree view camera system.

I drove two V8 powertrains at the recent media introduction: a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 with 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 with 10-speed automatic. Both feature Dynamic Fuel Management cylinder deactivation which will run the engine on seventeen different cylinder activation combinations depending on load and driving conditions. Engine idle stop/start system is also equipped. EPA test-cycle ratings are 15 mpg city and 21 highway for the 5.3-L and one mpg less on the highway for the 6.2-L.

Towing capacities range from 9,800 pounds up to a 12,200 pounds depending on Sierra model.

In addition to these two engines, the Sierra will eventually be available with a 4.3L V-6 with Active Fuel Management and a six-speed automatic, 5.3L V-8 with Active Fuel Management and a six-speed automatic, a new 2.7L Turbo with Active Fuel Management and an eight-speed automatic and a new 3.0L I-6 turbo-diesel and a 10-speed automatic.

Sierra 1500 offerings include regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles — all offered with 4WD. Trim levels include Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 and Denali.

The 2019 GMC Sierra starts at $29,600. The off-roading AT4 starts at $53,200 and the premium Denali is $54,700 and up.

On the recent launch program I spent most of my time driving the new Denali trim. It’s quite nice. Admittedly I’m not a truck guy. But, if I was, the Denali certainly would prove satisfying for me. The 420-HP engine delivers plenty of performance with smooth and linear acceleration and very adequate passing ability. Perhaps I should get a boat to trailer around!

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The Adaptive Ride Control provided decent ride comfort with good road isolation. There was an absence of both tire and wind noise. The interior is plenty comfortable. Items such as heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, hand-stitched grained leather seating and wood grain trim makes for a luxury ride. My driving partner and I enjoyed some classic jazz tunes on the new seven-speaker Bose Premium Sound System with its center console woofer.

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More information, specifications and details on the new 2019 GMC Sierra can be found at

The all-new 2019 GMC Sierra Denali is arriving at dealerships now. Other trims will follow. The new Sierra as well as the new Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 are candidates for the North American Truck of the Year. It might just be a tough vote for the jurors.

This report comes from an invitation-only GMC launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. GMC provided my overnight accommodations, meals, and transportation.

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy