Commanding Presence: 2019 GMC Sierra 1500

Commanding Presence: 2019 GMC Sierra 1500

Story and photos by Benjamin Yong

General Motors has officially released the GMC Sierra 1500, bigger and badder in almost every aspect, while managing to weigh less than the outgoing vehicle to boot. The list of all-new features is long, among them an industry-first “CarbonPro” carbon fibre pickup box. We got to spend a little time behind the wheel of one recently and here’s what we found.

Sold in an array of trim levels, the 1500 starts from the titular entry-level model to SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 and the top-of-the-line Denali that Trucks Plus tested.

“The heritage of the GMC brand is rooted in full-size trucks, of which the Sierra is our cornerstone, with our SLT and Denali models contributing 87 percent of our total crew cab sales,” said Duncan Aldred, Global GMC vice president, in a news brief. “The next generation Sierra caters to these unique customers who demand a premium, innovative truck that supports their professional and personal passions.”

Part of the brand’s goal was to give the truck an even more commanding presence, something I’d say they were successful in doing. It starts with the huge billet grille, the frame gaining extra angles, a raised appearance and a notch in the bottom section. A 3-D mesh surrounds the central red GMC logo. The adjoining headlights possess a bolder C-shaped signature daytime running light powered by LED, as are all the other front and rear lamps. The hood is also taller.

The wheels — up to 22-inches — are pushed further out and, combined with a longer wheelbase, look quite aggressive. Denali customers get special badging in large block letters affixed to the tailgate.

Speaking of which, another innovation is debuting on this Sierra: an exclusive MultiPro Tailgate, standard on the SLT and Denali, featuring six different functions and positions for enhanced utility. For example, a second-tier setting makes for no-problems loading and unloading, and a standing workstation mode means quick onsite jobs are a breeze. Getting in and out of the bed is simple as well thanks to easy step entry and egress.

The box is roomy — measuring 1,727 millimetres in length, and it can accommodate 1,784 litres of cargo. There are plenty of tie-downs and a 110-volt power outlet may be added. Made from roll-formed steel, the manufacturer played around with the alloy recipe and the result is 50 percent more strength than before. As mentioned, a carbon fibre variant is being offered, the lightweight material replacing the inner panels and floor. Not only weighing 28 kilograms less, CarbonPro is dent, scratch and corrosion resistant.

Pickups today are by no means cheap, reflecting the amount of technology and labour going into these impressive machines. Yet, the interiors in many examples don’t necessarily reflect the price tag. The Denali’s does, boasting premium leather upholstery, contrasting stitching, open-pore wood trim, aluminum trim, colour head-up display, rear-view mirror camera, oodles of leg and head room — all things found in a luxury vehicle.

Those who tow will appreciate the ProGrade Trailering System with accompanying app, which includes tools such as a pre-departure checklist, maintenance reminders, and trailer light test, electrical diagnostics tire pressure and temperature monitoring. Hitch Guidance helps find the perfect positioning during trailer connection, and multiple exterior cameras provide peace of mind allowing drivers to check up on what they’re carrying while cruising down the road or in reverse.

A whopping six engine and three automatic transmission pairings are available from the base 4.3-litre V6/six-speed to a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel/10-speed. Our presser had the 6.2-litre EcoTec3 V8 (+$2,895) mated to a 10-speed gearbox. The motor utilizes Dynamic Fuel Management, enabling operation between two to eight cylinders depending on the load, in order to boost efficiency.

The Denali sits on special Adaptive Ride Control suspension, capable of adjusting dampening every two milliseconds depending on the conditions. Potholes, rocks and tree roots were all gobbled up by our top-of-the-line Sierra on the highway and in an off-road I took the truck through, and if I had stored my coffee cup properly, wouldn’t have spilled a drop of liquid in the process.

As with other GM products, customers can opt-in all sorts of collision-mitigation tech like blind spot warning, pedestrian detection, emergency braking, lane keep assist and automatic high beams. The full suite is part of the $7,095 “Ultimate Package” equipped on our truck.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 starts at $36,300.



Base price (MSRP): $78,905
Type: pickup truck
Layout: front engine, four-wheel drive
Engine: 6.2L V8
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 425 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 450 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Brakes: front/rear disc with ABS
Fuel Consumption (L/100km, city/hwy): 15.5/11.9