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Making Tracks: 2019 GMC Sierra Denali

Making Tracks: 2019 GMC Sierra Denali

GMC’s new-from-the-ground-up 2019 Sierra half-ton pickup has gone one-up on the competition including its sister truck, the Chevy Silverado, with two new innovations: an optional carbon fiber bed and a one-of-a-kind, MultiPro tailgate.

Sierra’s bed with carbon fiber inner panels is said to be dent-, scratch- and corrosion-resistant. With it and the use of aluminum doors, hood and tailgate, the 2019 Sierra is 360 pounds lighter than previous models despite being longer and roomier inside. GMC’s MultiPro tailgate is unique: It can be used in six variations/functions including second tier loading, load-stop functions and as a standing workstation.

But that’s not all as the new Sierra offers two segment firsts.

One is a rear camera mirror that can function as is or as a camera screen GMC says helps eliminate obstructions like rear seat passengers and head restraints while providing a wider field of view. The other first is a multi-color heads-up display that projects customizable vehicle data on the windshield in a 3X7-inch display.

The pickup is offered in regular, double and crew cab and in base Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT, off-road-superior AT4 and top-line Denali. I tested the latter, which did not include the new bed.

With Sierra Denali comes running boards that power out/in upon opening/closing a door to make ingress/egress a mere 14-inch step to the cabin floor. Also included is an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, rearview camera, apps, audio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Wi-Fi 4G hotspot capability. Beneath large, easy-to-use HVAC controls resides a wireless smartphone charger. On the left side of the dash, four buttons comprise Sierra’s Traction Select, two-speed automatic transfer case 4WD system that includes a standard locking rear differential.

Heated and cooled front seats are exceptionally supportive. Back seats are similarly comfortable. They split and fold against the bulkhead, exposing a bin for small-item storage. Also, two smaller storage bins are hidden behind the rear outboard seatbacks. This is a novel use of dead space and a first for any pickup.

Sierra Denali comes standard with a 5.3-liter, 355-hp V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission that earns mileage estimates of 15/21 mpg. However, Sierra can be had with six powertrains including a coming 3.0-liter, turbo diesel engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The tested crew cab Denali included an optional 6.2-liter, 420-hp V8 (recommended for towing) generating 460 lb.-ft. torque for mileage estimates of 15/20 mpg when coupled to a 10-speed automatic. Mileage ratings benefit from GMC’s Dynamic Fuel Management system that starts and stops the engine to let it operate between two and eight cylinders. With the 5-foot-8-inch cargo box, Denali 4WD is tow rated to 9,300 pounds. Also available is an all-new ProGrade trailering system with a smartphone trailering app that permits remote light and tire pressure testing. A hitch guidance system includes a rearview camera and an optional trailer-mounted camera.

Now, all this luxury, functionality and technology doesn’t come cheap. Denali starts life at $58,000 loaded with features, but options drive the tested crew cab to $67,735. This is a lot of money for a truck, but a lot of truck for the money.

Technical Specifications
• Drivetrain: 5.3L, 355 hp V8 w/8-spd. auto transmission std.; six powertrains available including 3.0L turbo diesel, 10-spd. auto; two-speed or Autotrac automatic transfer case w/4WD
• Brakes: 4-wheel disc w/electro-hydraulic power assist, ABS, vented rotors front/rear
• Suspension: independent coil-over shock w/twin-tube shocks front; solid axle w/semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multi-leaf springs, splayed twin-tube shocks rear
• Dimensions/Capacities (Crew Cab): overall length 231.7″; wheelbase 147.4″; width 81.2″; height 78.4″ (4WD); ground clearance 8″ (4WD); curb weight 5,015 lbs.; tow cap. 9,300 lbs. (4WD, 5′8″ bed)
• Price as Tested: $67,735 (Denali package; Denali base $58,000)

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