Newfoundland, Canada seems weirdly populous for the edge of the earth. It’s a surreal place, populated with cheery Canadians who seem genuinely happy to see you, even when they’re next impulse is to ask you to kiss a frozen cod in some sort of local rite of passage. Luckily, we’re here to drive the mighty GMC Sierra, so anyone needing to restore their dignity after the cold embrace of local seafood can simply clamber into the driver’s seat and once again reclaim a sense of empowerment, especially with the big 6.2-litre V8.
In addition to the updated 6.2-litre, the new Sierra gets a revised 5.3-litre V8, as well as an all-new 3.0-litre inline-six turbo-diesel engine that we’ll never see here in the UAE. The 5.3-litre and 6.2-litre engines take advantage of stop/start technology and new Dynamic Fuel Management for better efficiency, operating on one to eight cylinders, depending on demand, to optimize power and efficiency.
In the Denali you get Adaptive Ride Control suspension system for a more premium driving experience — which I guess some truck owners want? Anyway the tech is quite cool: sensor monitor road conditions and chassis responses in real time, allowing the system to adjustment its active dampers as quickly as every 2 milliseconds.
Outside the 2019 Sierra Denali moves the ball forward on GMCs easily recognized design DNA.
Poised, and high riding, the Sierra trades on a chrome grille with a sharp, precise dimensional pattern to establish its family resemblance. In addition to this larger, more-dominant upright grille, a taller hood, and a bolder, more pronounced take on GMC’s C-shaped lighting signature.
Naturally, safety advances are on offer here as premium brands compete for the consumers trust. The 2019 Sierra Denali offers a raft of advanced safety features, including Side Blind Zone Alert, Pedestrian Detection and Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking.
Which is good, because this is the biggest Sierra yet — it sports a larger grille and dramatic lighting accentuate this, bigly. The wheels are pushed closer to the corners and shod in larger diameter tires. Denali offers 22in Ultra Bright aluminum wheels while the SLT model offers its own unique 22in dark aluminum wheels finished with chrome accents.
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Inside, things are extremely well thought out. GMC has put the driver at the center of the Sierra experience, and that begins with a higher seating position that offers a confident view behind the wheel. The 2019 Sierra is the first full-size truck to offer a multi-color 3x7 Head-Up Display, which projects key vehicle information on the windshield within the driver’s line of sight. There’s also GMC’s new infotainment system: This new platform offers a smartphone-like experience with an intuitive interface, faster response and improved voice recognition.
At the wheel, the optimized ergonomics make it easy to use the technology on offer, especially GMCs spectacular, segment-leading and all-new Trailering App which uses an array of camera’s to make lining up the hitch and reversing with a trailer attached much more intuitive for neophytes.
This well thought out trailering system includes an all-new Trailering App featuring a Pre-Departure checklist, Maintenance Reminders, Trailer Light Test, Trailer Electrical Diagnostics and Trailer Tire Pressure and Temperature Monitoring. Most of the Trailering App’s functions, including the lighting test and pre-departure checklist, are also available with the MyGMC app on compatible Android and iOS smartphones, a feature that offers great convenience when outside the truck or trailer.
Hitch Guidance offers Hitch View and Auto Electric Park Brake to help with perfect positioning when hitching. The available side view cameras and a trailer-mounted HD camera provide additional assistance when driving down the road or in reverse. Naturally, this is GM’s premium truck brand so there’s a raft of Denali-exclusive materials on offer, including premium leather-appointed seating, authentic open-pore wood trim and dark-finish aluminum decor. During the launch event we had a chance to check out a bespoke Airstream trailer that GMC had fitted out with their interior materials — they should team up with Airstream because the results are incredibly appealing. So to is the cockpit of this hulking truck, it’s a great space to inhabit on a long road trip, as we did circumnavigating much of the island on our test drive.
Obviously space and storage vital to truck customers, and the 2019 Sierra’s crew cab boasts more than 7cm of additional rear-seat legroom compared to the current model. The outboard rear seat backs open to reveal rectangular storage spaces large enough for storing tablets or laptops, tie-down cords, umbrellas or other important accessories.
One of the coolest features on offer here is the new MultiPro Tailgate, with it’s step entry and egress mode that, when paired with the assist handle, offers both step and seated functionality, with a maximum weight capacity of 170kg. Ease of use is enhanced with two buttons on the tailgate handle that allow convenient inner gate release. Standard on SLT and Denali, the MultiPro Tailgate features 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. And while new technologies can sometimes seem like a gamble in their first model year, this multifunctional tailgate offers proven strength and durability, having undergone more testing and validation than any tailgate in GM’s history.
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The truck bed offers 1,784 litres on the short box, as well as additional tie-downs and a new, available 110-volt power outlet. The bed continues to be made of roll-formed, high-strength steel, yet a revised alloy offers 50 per cent more strength than the current model. Meanwhile the 2019 Sierra Denali will eventually offer the industry’s first carbon fiber box, the CarbonPro, offering increased durability, efficiency and functionality. This design replaces the standard steel inner panels and floor with a lightweight, purpose-designed carbon fiber composite for best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.
The CarbonPro box is 28kg lighter than the steel version, and is one example of GMC’s strategic use of materials in engineering the Sierra. The strategy also incorporates aluminum for the doors, hood and tailgate, while relying on steel for the fenders, roof and standard cargo box to shave off 163kg over the outgoing model.
All in all the new GMC Sierra is robust, full featured truck that is well suited for work and leisure. My only reservation about say, hauling a load of bricks in this vehicle is that it’s just so dang nice, I’d be afraid of scratching it. But then, trucks mean a lot of different things to different people, and I’m confident that the Sierra is up for all of them.