2019 GMC Sierra: Hey, My Face Is Up Here!

Adam Tonge
by Adam Tonge

On a snowy Thursday in Detroit, GMC unveiled the newest, and arguably most important, product in its portfolio. The 2019 GMC Sierra was designed and engineered to lead the charge to take back control of Truck Mountain. In an attempt to redefine the luxury truck segment, GMC is introducing a truck that’s all-new from the ground up.

The next-generation pickup also boasts a number of segment-exclusive features, including a tailgate that can open in six different positions, and a bed made out of Blue Oval tears.

The Sierra is one of General Motors’ most profitable products. It has the highest average transaction price of any full-sized truck in the United States. Over 75 percent of Sierras roll off dealer lots decked out in SLT or Denali trim. Because of this, the Denali sub-brand continues to be a profit center for GM.

In 2017, the automaker sold 140,000 Denali vehicles. Overall, GMC’s Denali lineup enjoys greater volume and a higher average transaction price than most luxury brands in the United States. One third of all GMC sales are Denali trim vehicles. The new Sierra, therefore, is all about building upon these successes.

For 2019, the Sierra is bigger and bolder in almost every way. A taller stance and hood, plus a larger, more dominating grille gives the truck a broad-shouldered look that shouldn’t alienate the rugged American truck buyer. (In stark contrast to its image, the Sierra launched amid a laser light show in a techno music-filled warehouse normally populated with artists. Roving servers tempted journalists with tuna ceviche push pops.)

Back to the truck — the designers at GMC clearly took the last Sierra and turned it up to “11.” Larger wheels, a more pronounced C-shaped lighting signature, and more prominent badging adorn GM’s most premium truck. But looks aren’t everything, so GMC called on Professional Grade engineering to take care of the rest.

Building on the brand’s “Right Material for the Right Application” strategy, GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss called the revamped model a “mixed material wonder truck.” The new frame is stronger and lighter than before. Most body panels are steel, but GMC did incorporate more aluminum and structural adhesives in the new Sierra. Not satisfied with building the exterior of a truck out of only metallic substances, GMC also announced the addition of carbon fiber to the 2019 Sierra.

Under the hood, new versions of the venerable 6.2-liter and 5.3-liter V8 engines will be joined by an all-new 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel engine. GMC also mentioned that additional — and “exciting” — engine news will arrive later this year.

The 5.3L and 6.2L engines feature stop/start technology and a new Dynamic Fuel Management system that enables the engine to operate on one to eight cylinders, all in the interest of power and efficiency. GM’s new diesel builds on the company’s expertise with the Duramax turbo-diesels offered in the automaker’s heavy duty and midsize pickups. Joining the available 6.2L and 3.0L engines is a 10-speed automatic transmission.

For 2019, the Sierra’s interior also gets an update. Rear seat legroom increases three inches over the outgoing model. GMC has also added many storage bins and pockets to the interior. The Denali model’s interior turns up the glitz with leather-appointed seating, authentic open-pore wood trim, and dark-finish aluminum decor. The leather’s large-pebbled grain with contrasting stitch pattern is premium in both appearance and touch, without sacrificing durability.

During the reveal, GMC pressed home of the importance of every last one of the 2019 Sierra Denali’s features. Some of its segment-exclusive goodies include the following:

A multi-function tailgate GMC calls MultiPro Tailgate, the CarbonPro carbon fiber pickup box, the ProGrade Trailering System with Trailering App, a Multi-Color Head-Up Display, and a rear camera mirror offering an optimized view via an available dual-function interior mirror. This mirror expands the driver’s field of vision to overcome common visual obstructions like occupants or cargo. However, the features GMC focused most heavily on were the multi-function tailgate and carbon fiber pickup box.

Billed as the “most innovative tailgate ever,” the MultiPro Tailgate comes standard on SLT and Denali models. This trick gate boasts six unique functions and positions, offering enhanced second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, a standing workstation mode, and easier access to items in the box. Maximum weight capacity is 375 pounds, and it can be used as a step to get into the bed.

Let’s talk about how the tailgate works. There are two buttons on the exterior of the tailgate that activate the different functions. By pressing one, or both, the Sierra’s tailgate has six different positions. (Complete all six and unlock a secret tailgate level!)

We start the tailgate Kama Sutra with pose one. This configuration has the truck in the traditional horizontal tailgate position. Pose two starts with gate down — then, a pop-up load stop extends the bed for lumber and other items that are two long for the box. Pose three splits half of the tailgate, via the inner gate, to give truck owners easier access to bed contents. Pose four puts the primary tailgate in the “up” position and folds down the dinner gate, creating a work surface or Timbits-and-beer shelf. The fifth pose is basically pose two with the primary tailgate up. This works in conjunction with the second tier loading system. The sixth and final pose is a full-width tailgate “man step” that will not meet the approval of noted tailgate prude Howie Long.

The 2019 Sierra Denali will offer, later in the model year, an available GMC-exclusive and industry-first carbon fiber box. The CarbonPro was developed to increase the durability, efficiency and functionality of the truck. It replaces the standard steel inner panels and floor with a lightweight, purpose-designed carbon fiber composite that allegedly offers best-in-class dent, scratch, and corrosion resistance.

This all adds up to the most durable truck bed on the market. It is also might be one of the greenest. We’re told the supplier that developed the bed makes it with a significant percentage of recycled materials. Soon, Real People everywhere will be seen dropping loads of cinder blocks, toolboxes, and small children into truck beds. (GM did demonstrate that a $500 Yeti cooler does not scratch the carbon fiber bed when set down gently.)

Overall, the 2019 GMC Sierra is a continuation of the formula that has earned the model many repeat customers. It’s bold and ostentatious, with some new and interesting content.

While there’s little doubt this truck will sell extremely well, the biggest questions surround GMC’s exclusive new features. Will things like MultiPro and CarbonPro become things truck buyers want, or will they become another Quadrasteer and GM’s Pro-Tec composite bed? We’ll find out when the 2019 GMC Sierra goes on sale this fall. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

[Images: Adam Tonge/TTAC]

Adam Tonge
Adam Tonge

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  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain