Detroit, MI – The pickup truck segment is heating up with a lot of all-new and improved products on the scene. It started at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit with reveals of the 2019 Ram 1500, 2019 Ford Ranger and the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
Fast forward six weeks later and the Silverado's more-refined brother, the GMC Sierra in SLT and Denali trim was the subject of a rare, but deliberate spotlight all to itself at the historic Russell Industrial Center in Detroit.
“We wanted to allow both GMC and Chevrolet to have very unique experiences for its new truck launches,” explains Michael MacPhee, Brand Director, GMC Canada. “Although both brands may be in the same showroom, our customer expects a very different experience and Denali is the pinnacle of that design for GMC.”
The new fourth-generation Sierra Denali is what GMC is calling 'the ultimate expression of premium trucks.' That all starts up front with a distinct chrome grille design that showcases a fresh and bold red GMC logo. Its front fascia is complemented by large C-shaped LED headlights that wrap around its fenders.
The new Sierra separates itself from the outgoing model with greater height, a slightly lifted nose, wheels that are pushed closer to the corners, and an increased wheelbase that creates an overall larger appearance compared to its more sloping Silverado sibling.
The Denali's premium expression is emphasized in the rear. New, unique-to-GMC LED taillights and a Denali block-style nameplate on the tailgate round out the refined pickup, but the real excitement is found when entering the bed.
Like the Silverado, the Denali has been built with an 18-cm (7-inch) wider box, a larger bumper step and an industry-first MultiPro tailgate – standard on SLT and Denali – with six unique functions and positions that make life easier including second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, as well as a standing workstation.
Arriving later in the model year is a carbon fibre box – another industry-first – that will have best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.
Technology and Power
Technology plays a big role in the Sierra’s advancements. Standard on SLT and Denali is an all-new ProGrade trailering system with trailering app that includes a lighting test and pre-departure checklist. For more assistance, the Sierra offers Hitch Guidance with Hitch View and Auto Electric Park Brake to assist with finding that perfect position when hitching. Additional features include a few more segment firsts including a multi-colour head-up display and rear camera mirror.
Powering the Sierra are the same three engine offerings found in the Silverado: a base 5.3-litre V-8, a 6.2-litre V-8 and an all-new turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel inline-six. A 10-speed automatic transmission is mated to the 6.2-litre V-8 and the diesel, while an 8-speed comes with the 5.3-litre unit.
Both naturally-aspirated V-8s use stop/start technology and a Dynamic Fuel Management system that has been improved to deactivate all but one cylinder for the sake of bettering performance and fuel economy. Fuel consumption numbers have not been revealed, but will be shared at a later date.
“Our industry-exclusive Dynamic Fuel Management system that can go from zero-to-eight cylinders puts GMC in a much better position compared to other hybrid strategies,” MacPhee adds. “Our strategy works for every one of our trucks, providing all of our truck customers with better fuel economy.”
The big pickup story at the NAIAS focused on weight savings and fuel economy gains, and the Sierra was no different. Weight savings of 163 kg (360 lb) thanks to additional high-strength steel and aluminum where it matters. Unlike its biggest rival Ford, aluminum won't be found in its box, but rather on its doors, hood and tailgate.
When paying a premium for the Sierra over the Silverado, and especially in the Denali trim, that comes with expectations. Premium leather seating, authentic open-pore wood and dark-finish aluminum decor help to set that bar high.
As for size, Sierra customers will be pleased by best-in-class front head- and legroom with its crew cab possessing a three-inch increase in additional rear-seat legroom from the outgoing model. Flip open the rear seat backs, and additional storage spaces are found.
With 2017 Canadian sales of the Sierra finishing strong – a record year that saw a 21.1 percent increase over 2016 – it will be interesting to see how well the all-new and Canadian-built 2019 Sierra will do when it goes on sale later in 2018 in the fall.