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First Look: 2019 GMC Sierra: More Than a Silverado Clone

Full-size pickup gets world’s carbon fiber bed, six-way tailgate.

by on Mar.01, 2018

The 2019 GMC Sierra loses as much as 360 pounds compared to the outgoing pickup.

It’s traditionally been easy to dismiss the GMC Sierra as little more than a glorified Chevrolet Silverado, but with today’s unveiling of the 2019 Sierra it seems the GMC truck is going to be due a lot more respect.

True, it shares the same underlying platform and basic dimensions of the more down-market Chevy, but the 2019 truck is no clone, claiming a variety of first-ever innovations that include a carbon fiber bed, a six-way tailgate, a swiveling backup-camera mirror and a large head-up display.

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“GMC ignited the premium truck segment 17 years ago with the original launch of the Sierra Denali,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC. “The next generation 2019 Sierra Denali establishes a new benchmark in capability and refinement. It exemplifies precision in every detail.”

Parent General Motors has long been promising to deliver more differentiation between the GMC Sierra and the Chevy Silverado, the latter making its own debut at the North American International Auto Show in January.

(Click Here for more on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.)

The 2019 GMC Sierra will be the first pickup ever with a carbon fiber bed option.

The new Sierra comes closer to delivering on that promise than ever, though both share the same, beefed up underpinnings, body variants and powertrain options – the latter including a 5.3-liter V-8, a 6.2-liter diesel and, for the first time, a 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax turbodiesel. That oil-burner and the bigger of the eight-bangers will come paired with GM’s new 10-speed automatic, but all powertrain packages can be ordered in either rear- or all-wheel-drive.

As has been the industry trend, of late, the 2019 GMC Sierra gets a taller hood and an even bigger, bolder grille, with different detailing for the standard and Denali editions. The grille is frames by new lights in the GMC C-shaped signature. The Denali edition gets a number of distinct touches, including new LED “light blade” running lights and LED head, fog and taillamps. The truck’s wheels are pushed closer to the corners and larger tires are available – up to 22-inches on the SLT and Denali editions.

Under the skin, Sierra now makes extensive use of more advanced-grade steels that not only toughen up the truck but also shave a significant amount of weight. On an apples-to-apples comparison, in fact, it’s close to what Ford has achieved by switching to even lighter aluminum. All told, the various Sierra models shed as much as 360 pounds compared to the outgoing truck.

The Sierra tailgate can be configured six ways.

A full 62 pounds of that reduction come from the switch to what GMC has dubbed the CarbonPro bed. It marks the first time any pickup has opted for carbon fiber in that application. The choice was made to improve durability and functionality, explains GMC, while helping prevent dents, scratches and corrosion.

“In 116 years of making GMC pickup trucks, our industry-first carbon fiber box is the toughest and most durable pickup box we have ever made,” Aldred said.

The super-durable bed is an option, but with 63 cubic feet of cargo space in the short bed – the most in its segment, more tie-downs and a new 110-volt outlet, even the base, steel bed is an improvement.

We’ll have to wait to see whether the CF bed becomes the most talked-about feature with the new Sierra or the six-way MultiPro tailgate which, like the bed, will not be offered on the Silverado. It can be repositioned in a variety of ways, among other things, transforming into a step for easier access to cargo.

Another look at the Sierra tailgate.

There are a number of other new features not found on the Silverado. The Rear Camera Mirror did first appear on the Cadillac CT6 sedan but, even here, GMC has some bragging rights. The basics are simple: flip a toggle on the rearview mirror and it becomes a high-resolution video display showing an image captured by a high-mounted camera at the back of the cab. While not everyone is comfortable with the image, those who like the system praise the way it displays a wider field of vision – and the fact that it isn’t obstructed by anything in the passenger compartment, whether cargo or the heads of backseat passengers.

The Sierra system not only points back at the road but can tilt down at that cargo bed and even zoom in and out.

Add to the Sierra’s list of options the first multi-color Head-Up Display, or HUD, offered in the full-size pickup segment. It shows a variety of vehicle information, including navigation instructions, on a 3×7-inch reflective glass segment on the windshield.

Add new features meant to ease trailering, as well as an assortment of advanced driver assistance systems and the 2019 GMC Sierra appears to be making a big leap from the outgoing model.

(Ram weighs in with all-new version of its full-size 1500. Click Here for a closer look.)

The 2019 GMC Sierra Denali will be offered with two gas engines and a diesel, in 4WD or RWD.

The Denali edition, meanwhile moves even more upscale with more refined interior flourishes, as well as an adaptive suspension system.

We’ll have to wait until closer to the on-sale date, this coming autumn, for pricing, but it would surprise few if GMC doesn’t nudge the Sierra up a bit – though it might need to hold the base price steady considering the current, competitive market. Remember that Ram is launching an all-new version of the 1500 for 2019, as well as the internal challenge of going up against the new Silverado.

But it’s all but certain that GMC will push substantially up-market with the Denali edition. After all, we’re seeing Ford nudge the $100,000 mark with the Super Duty Limited version of its F-Series. Industry planners say they’ve yet to see what the upper limits of pricing are for a pickup,

(Even strong pickup demand couldn’t prop up February’s U.S. auto market. Click Here for the latest.)

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