The promotion of the new GMC Heavy Duty trucks fits nicely with the brand’s “professional grade” tagline.  That label of course refers to level of engineering found in these vehicles but it could just as well reference trucks that truly work for a living. GMC says that up to 90% of these trucks tow regularly; and it’s this trait that is front and centre on this next generation of GMC Sierra HD.

This 2020 GMC Sierra HD for example features a new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission mated to its 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel.  That new transmission is already a significant upgrade, but to demonstrate the power of this new powertrain a GMC Sierra 3500 HD towed an 80-foot Viking yacht, suspended on a marine lift, out of the San Diego harbour.  Granted, it was only a distance of about 75 feet, but this load totaled more than 225,000 lbs!  It’s these types of visual spectacles that all the manufacturers are now using to convey the message that its trucks are bigger and stronger.  

For 2020 the Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel is tuned to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.  Performance is also improved thanks to increased cooling capacity delivered by improved air induction. However, the all-new 10-speed Allison automatic transmission — (a first-ever offered in the HD segment) is the big story. This 10-speed with closer gear spacing allows the engine to operate in the optimal range at all times despite varying load and terrain conditions.  GM says that this truck with its bigger frame, stronger powertrain and smarter technologies will deliver a greater towing capacity; in excess of 30,000 lb. 

GM has also announced that an all-new gas engine is coming to the HD lineup.  Details are not available on it just yet; but this feature is of particular interest to truck buyers as many need the capability of an HD truck but don’t do enough kilometers to justify the increased cost of the diesel engine option.

News of power and weight capacity upgrades always seem to dominate any new release, but as important as these advances are it’s the new driver assistance features that could be considered even more important. Why? Because these are the ones that will help the owner tow these weights safely.  It’s clear to see that the engineers responsible for the new GMC Sierra HD have paid as much attention to these as they have to cargo capability.

For instance; an enhanced ProGrade Trailering system now includes 15 camera views, including a segment-first “transparent” trailer view to virtually see through a trailer in tow. This transparent trailer feature uses the tailgate-mounted camera and an available accessory camera mounted on the rear of the trailer. The resulting display helps the driver to virtually see through the trailer, a benefit when navigating parking lots, merging into traffic or making tight turns.

Also part of this system is an in-vehicle trailering app that features a trailer light test, trailer electrical diagnostics, trailer tire pressure and temperature monitoring, pre-maintenance reminders and a departure checklist. Many of this trailering app’s functions, including the lighting test and pre-departure checklist, are available with the myGMC mobile app –enabling use on a Smartphone from outside the truck. This level of Smartphone enabled technology will also extend to the control of in-trailer systems.

As an example, in a compatibly equipped trailer, owners of the 2020 Sierra HD may be able to turn on the trailer’s air conditioning or water heater, check water and holding tank levels, or monitor fuel levels on trailers equipped with generators — all before arriving at their destination.

Other available technologies, hardware and trailering aids include:

  • Auto Electric Park Brake which automatically applies the parking brake to maintain truck position when hitching.
  • A Park Grade Hold Assist enhances hill hold by using braking effort at each wheel for an extended period of time.
  • All-new larger, door-mounted trailering mirrors with a four-bar link providing power extend and retract for the driver and passenger sides.
  • Integrated trailer brake controller that works with the trailer profile in the Trailering App to recall a specified trailer’s most recent gain setting.
  • Tow/Haul mode that remains engaged on the next key-on cycle, for up to four hours.
  • Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
  • Trailer Sway Control.
  • Auto Grade Braking and Diesel Exhaust Braking.
  • Digital Variable Steering Assist that enables features like road pull compensation.
  • Trailering Info Label placed on the driver’s door jamb that clearly states the truck’s specific curb weight, GVWR, GCWR, maximum payload, maximum tongue weight and rear GAWR.

The look of the 2020 Sierra HD is slightly changed but stays the course of strong lines, square, powerful shoulders and elevated hood.  Inside the HD has inherited much of the premium upgrades from the smaller 1500-series truck that was refreshed last year. 

The top-of-the-line Denali, in particular, has added content in response to customers wants.  These items include: premium leather-appointed seating, open-pore wood trim and dark-finish aluminum décor. The leather has a distinctive, large-pebbled grain with a contrasting stitch pattern while the open-pore woods texture evokes hand-planed furniture. 

These trucks will be available at GMC dealers across Canada this summer.  Pricing and further weight and power details will be released then.  


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