Not content to dwell in the shadow of its Chevy sibling, the 2019 GMC Sierra features distinct styling, features and innovations that make it stand apart.

The newest version of the GMC Sierra was shown in downtown Detroit  recently in a converted industrial building, as gritty as the city itself.

 The Sierra is undeniably related to the Chevy Silverado but, General Motors are making it clear through a strategy of separation and  unique identity that Sierra isn’t content playing second fiddle to its Chevy sibling.

It’s a big reason behind GMC’s “professional grade”  marketing message for well over a decade and also why GMC showed several new features not found on the Silverado at this debut.

Driven out onto the stage in Detroit was a new truck with distinct sheet metal styling and two standout components. First, a convertible tailgate with multiple functions. Second, that tailgate is fixed to an industry-first carbon fiber cargo box. Neither of these is available on Chevy.

Sierra’s new convertible tailgate is called the MultiPro. It features six unique functions and positions. The key feature is the split function that folds half the gate down to create a second tier for loading and/or a backstop for long cargo. If the tailgate itself is down the split function now creates an extra wide step up into the cargo bed as well as a cut-out for easier bed access. The weight capacity is 375 pounds and the tailgate will also function as a workstation. This fits nicely with the addition of an 110V outlet added to the box. This tailgate will be standard equipment on Denali and SLT trucks.

Less obvious, but perhaps more revolutionary, is the carbon-fiber box, called the CarbonPro. This innovative option lands squarely into the steel vs. aluminum debate that’s been raging for quite a few years. Whether it’s superior to either of the other materials is not in question. This material is virtually indestructible. A director of the company that developed it for GMC (Continental Structural Plastics) explained that one of tests they subjected the bed to was loading a snowmobile with a steel studded track into the truck bed and pinning the throttle - spinning the track in place.  This uniquely Canadian-ish torture test didn’t damage the material. The CarbonPro is formed as a one-piece bed that uses purpose designed carbon-fiber composite that is 62 lb lighter than the base steel version and offers best-in class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance. Not that GMC has shied away from aluminum. Where weight savings are possible it’s used in doors, hood and tailgate shaving 360 lbs off its previous weight. The standard bed continues to be made of roll-formed steel.

Sierra’s distinct nature continues style-wise. Its new grille is more upright and dominant with a proportional chrome pattern. The lights are large and C-shaped anchoring the taller hood to the powerful shoulders on the truck’s front end. The truck body itself is larger than the old model with the increases mostly devoted to the interior comfort of passengers. That’s a benefit work crews will appreciate as the 2019 Crew cab has nearly three inches of additional rear-seat legroom compared to the current model.

Driver focused technologies are also prominent in the new Sierra; among them is an electronic trailering system called ProGrade. This system includes a trailering app that features pre-departure checklist, maintenance reminders, trailer light test, trailer light diagnostics and trailer tire pressure monitoring.

The interior of the Sierra features a 3x7-in head-up display that projects vehicle info onto the windshield within the driver’s sight-line. The standard 8-inch infotainment screen offers a new smartphone-like experience, faster responses and improved voice recognition. This screen also offers a bird’s-eye view of the truck in addition to side and rear views and the advantage of backing up to trailers.

Also offered is a segment first rear camera mirror. This dual function interior mirror offers an optimized view of what’s behind you. The camera has a wider field of vision than a standard mirror and can also be tilted and enhanced.  A standard glass mirror is still available.

For power, new versions of the 5.3L and 6.2L V8 engines will be joined by an all-new 3.0L inline-six turbo diesel engine (late availability). The 6.2L and 3.0L engine will be paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

And then there is the Denali. This trim package was introduced back in 2000 and has taken on a unique identity all its own. Ask any Sierra Denali owner and they will tell you they simply refer to the truck as a “Denali”. This trim level has almost become a name brand all on its own.

Knowing how Denali owners feel about their trucks GMC is adding even more upscale styling and materials inside and expanding the badging to include a Denali nameplate on the tailgate. This block-style typeface emphasis the special nature of this key player in the Sierra lineup.

The 2019 GMC Sierra features some unique innovations that should appeal to commercial customers. Along with the best new Denali in almost a decade, Sierra isn’t prepared to take a back seat to anyone.

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