First Drive: 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Greetings, sir, welcome to your friendly neighborhood GMC dealership! Why of course, I'd love to show you the new 2019 GMC Sierra. It's new from the ground up, and we're very proud of it. It's right over here, please follow me.
How can you tell it's the 2019 Sierra? Well, uh, the proportions are different, and the new one has these curvy bits on the grille, and—um, wait, you know what? I believe this is a 2018 Sierra after all. My apologies, the 2019 model is right over here.
You're bound to spend more time looking at your new Sierra from the inside anyway, right? So let's check out the cab. Hop in. Don't you love the smell of new leather? What do you think of this fabulous new interior? Stunning, isn't it? Er… what's changed? Well, uh, as you can see, this one has push-button ignition! Yes, I know other trucks have had it for years, but it's new to the Sierra! And this bezel here around the air conditioner, that's a bit different… well, yes, it was a much nicer silver plastic in the old truck.
Did I mention the storage cubbies built into the rear seatbacks? Slick, huh? Why yes, the infotainment system does have a new interface. How astute of you to notice! I know it looks simpler, but it's less cluttered. Small? I wouldn't call the screen small, exactly… well, yes, unless you're comparing it to the one in the new Ram 1500.
Austere? Now, sir, I don't know if I'd describe the interior of the new Sierra that way. It's functional, sir. Besides, this is only the SLT model. Now, if you were sitting in the top-of-the-line Sierra Denali… oh, gosh, you know what, I do believe this is the Denali. You can tell by the genuine textured wood trim. Right there, on the door, that piece just ahead of the armrest.
Say, have you seen this new rear view mirror, which is actually a monitor for a rear-view camera? You won't find that on a Ram 1500. And how about this full-color head-up display? What? You can get that in a $25,000 Mazda? Well, maybe so, but not in the Ram!
Yes, of course we can take a test drive, but first I must show you the new Sierra's cargo box. There's some amazing new stuff back here, starting with this MultiPro tailgate. It has six different positions! And did I mention that the Sierra's 5-foot, 8-inch box has more volume than Ford or Ram's 6-foot, 6-inch box? Yes, sir! And it's made of good old solid steel, and soon you'll be able to get a carbon-fiber box. Toughest in the industry, you know.
So, yes, let's take it for a spin. Go on, make yourself comfortable. Power seat adjustments are in the usual place. Power-adjustable pedals? Those have been dropped, I'm afraid. But honestly how often did you use them? Oh, every time your wife drove the truck?
Anyway, this Sierra Denali has the 420 horsepower 6.2-liter V-8. It's been extensively reworked and features a new cylinder deactivation system that allows the engine to run using anywhere from two to eight cylinders depending on how you're driving it. Direct injection and continuously variable valve timing as well. Plus we've got a new 10-speed automatic, which means even better fuel economy! Well, yes, it's still a cam-in-block engine, but we're damn proud of that. Great for low-end torque, and if it's good enough for the Corvette, it's good enough for the Sierra!
Yes, you can still get the 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8, which has similar updates, and the 285 hp 4.3-liter V-6. And we're even going to have a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder! A four-banger in a full-size truck, did you ever think you'd see the day? We're really excited about the new diesel, a 3.0-liter straight six, though we haven't heard much from the factory about that one. But never mind all that—open up the throttle and listen to that big 6.2 wail! There's no replacement for displacement, right? Can you imagine how this baby will tow your boat in the hills?
Actually, I'm glad I brought up towing, because there's a lot to know. Put her on cruise control and I'll explain. See, we have this new—oh my, brake, brake, BRAKE!!! Sorry to yell, sir, we were just coming up on that Camry so fast… No, this Sierra doesn't have adaptive cruise control. None of them do. Yes, I know you can get adaptive cruise in a Honda Civic… yes, I know that icon on the HUD looks like adaptive cruise, but it's really for the collision avoidance system. Say, did you notice how crisp the head-up display is?
Why don't we exit the highway and I'll tell you about our new ProGrade Trailering System. It has several different camera views, including an exclusive hitch guideline to help you line up your hitch with the trailer… oh, the F-150 has that? And the Nissan Titan? Huh. It also includes a built in trailer light test feature, which you start from the center screen or the GMC app on your smart phone… oh, the Titan has that too—and right on the key fob? Well, that certainly sounds more convenient… er, I mean more confusing!
Er, no, GMC doesn't have anything like that Ford system that steers the trailer when you back up. Really? The Ram 1500's blind-spot monitoring system automatically senses the length of the trailer? Wow. No, we don't have that either. But look, we have a trailer hookup checklist right on the screen! Well, no, it doesn't sense anything from the trailer; you just sort of press the little check marks…
Never mind that, how about the way this baby handles? Yes, I suppose it does drive a lot like the old Sierra. But that's what we were going for, a traditional truck ride. You're right, the magnetic ride suspension is gone, but they've replaced it with new adaptive dampers that let you adjust the ride quality. I know, the whole purpose of the magne-ride shocks was that you didn't need to adjust them… yes, what the reviews said about them providing a great ride with no handling compromise was true, but… anyway, just twist that little knob over there, the unmarked one to the left of the steering wheel. See, you can adjust it between Tour and Sport, and—er, no, turn the other way, that's snow mode. No, that's tow/haul mode… yes, I know it's a little confusing that you can't see what mode you're in before you change it, but what is life without a few surprises, right?
What? You can't feel the difference between Tour and Sport? Well, after a few months of ownership of this fine truck, I'm sure you will! Here's the dealership, just turn into that first driveway. Park here and let's go back to my office.
Pricing? Oh, you're looking at around 50 grand for a 4x4 SLT Crew Cab, and that Denali we drove lists for just over $68,000. Of course, I can make you a better—sir, are you okay? Jeez, you'd better sit down. Marcy, get this guy a glass of water. I don't know what happened, one second he was walking right beside me, we're chatting away about pricing, and all of a sudden he looks like he's going to faint…
Ah, good, sir, your color is coming back. So, any questions?
Well, of course the 2019 GMC Sierra is all-new! All new from the ground up!
Yes, I suppose it is a lot like the old truck in some ways, but… Well, of course Denali is a luxury brand, but… Well, yes, I suppose a luxury vehicle should have those features, but… Yes, I suppose the interior could be a bit more upscale, but… Yes, we are asking an awful lot of money, but… but sir, what about that MultiPro tailgate? Nothing else like it in the industry!
2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab Specifications
|PRICE||$59,495/$68,095 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||6.2L OHV 16-valve V-8/420 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD pickup truck|
|EPA MILEAGE||15/20 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||231.7 x 81.2 x 75.5 in|