Inside the 2019 GMC Sierra

In the past, the GMC Sierra has managed to distinguish itself only slightly from similar full-size pickup trucks in the same field. Unfortunately, years of consumer loyalty to industry titans like Chevrolet and Ford have limited GMC’s ability to move out from their shadow.

However, GMC is looking to change that image. In 2019, a total redesign of the Sierra’s look and style makes it a stand-out even in this competitive category.

Trims

  • Base: $29,600
  • SLE: $37,800
  • Elevation: $40,300
  • SLT: $44,300
  • AT4: $50,800
  • Denali: $54,700

All trims have been made available with a myriad variety of bed and cab sizes.

Performance

It’s key to the very nature of pickup trucks that every driver will use them for something different. So GMC offers a range of powertrains for the Sierra to make sure that you can meet your every towing or moving need, even boasting the new AT4, a Sierra intended for off-road use.

At the base level, a 4.3-liter V6 engine paired with six-speed automatic transmission sports 285-horsepower, a serviceable amount for those who look for the pickup lifestyle but aren’t too consumed with using their vehicle for utility purposes. At higher trims, engines ranging from a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 with six-speed automatic transmission to a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 with a 10-speed automatic transmission provide increasingly high levels of acceleration and torque.

GMC promises to update the 2019 Sierra with an additional powertrain later in the year, adding the option of a three-liter I6 turbodiesel paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This engine will likely only be available in the high-end Denali trim, but promises to add additional power — not that the Sierra really needs it.

Equipped with the most powerful V8 engine, the Sierra can tow in excess of 12,000 pounds. This means that you’ll have to work to find something you can’t drag out of a ditch. While super-duty class pickups can tow in excess of 30,000 pounds on a good day, the Sierra meets standards for its size.

This truck moves competently both on the highways and on residential streets, upshifting with an ease that makes it clear GMC has refined their transmissions for this year’s redesign. A redesigned suspension keeps the Sierra tuned adequately for wider turns and available Sport Mode will stiffen the frame to ease turns and reduce bounce. You’ll run into the standard pickup truck problems with size, so don’t expect to parallel park in the Sierra, but in less cramped areas it handles smoothly.

Fuel Efficiency

Information has been made available for the middle tiers of the Sierra’s engines, and in most cases, they perform to expected standards for the field. The 2.7-liter turbocharged powertrain gets the best mileage with 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, while more powerful engines decrease in efficiency until the 6.2-liter V8 bottoms out with 15 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway.

Styling

This is one of the areas where the Sierra made strides between model years. The total redesign adds a sleekness and style to a previously boxy lineup. Previously sporting a semi-identical look to the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC has worked to give the Sierra a unique personality. This new personality comes through the scooped sections along the boxed steel frame and making use of innovative new materials for the vehicle’s outer sections. Furthermore, an aluminum hood and doors shave weight from the front of the vehicle and an aluminum tailgate keeps the carbon fiber bed held tightly secured.

The grille has increased in size from previous years and wheel wells are moved closer to the corners of the truck, adding increased stability and an aura of dominance that reminds other drivers you’re on the road. The Sierra has increased in size across the board making it a beefy pickup that distinguishes itself through grit.

Higher Sierra trims like the Denali make use of premium materials for the interior while all trims feature roomy front seats with plenty of room to move around. Crew cabs add a full three seats to the Sierra’s seating.

Safety and Entertainment

Infotainment systems in the Sierra utilize a seven-inch touchscreen that responds to commands with an impressive lack of lag and features an intuitive layout that needs little practice to master. Six speakers and a variety of Bluetooth synchronization options come standard in the base model. In higher trims, luxury additions like a sunroof and wireless chargers provide a true sense of class.

Standard safety options are relatively limited but do provide access to Teen Driver, a suite that allows you to place caps on the speeds your friends or family can drive your truck at. Whether you’re actually monitoring a teen driver or just keeping your friends in check, it’s a handy feature that can calm the nerves when someone else is driving your truck. In more extravagant trims, you’ll benefit from available safety features like blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection sensors, and lane departure warnings.

Industry safety ratings for the Sierra tend to lean towards the high side, although GMC falls short of perfection with vulnerabilities in the side sections. In fact, the NHTSA gave the Sierra its highest possible rating of five stars in side crash tests but four stars in rollover testing while the IIHS was more critical. The IIHS gave the Sierra’s headlights their lowest possible rating of Poor and their second lowest rating of Marginal for passenger side safety during frontal collisions.

Conclusion

The GMC Sierra’s 2019 redesign goes a long way towards establishing the Sierra as a standout member of the class. Although it is nowhere near perfection, the 2019 Sierra does manage to improve on previous years and provide a healthy dose of competition for fellow members of the full-size class.

Darren Brode / Shutterstock

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