First Drive: 2019 GMC Sierra

Luxury and technology mated to power and performance.

by on Mar.12, 2019

The GMC Sierra continues the brand's legacy a near-luxury vehicle, especially tough for a full-size pickup.

As a brand, GMC has come a long way from the days when it was a “work truck” often sold on dusty lots deep in parts of the city zoned for industrial use.

It has undergone a transformation in recent years that has made its utility vehicles a rival of luxury brands and the changes have also altered the GMC brand’s bread-and-butter vehicle, the pickup truck, which is more than evident in the GMC Sierra, which has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year.

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The fact is when you’re riding in the cab of a 2019 GMC Sierra, if you close your eyes for a moment at a stop light, you might think you’re riding in a big, luxury sedan because the h, comfortable interior and the surprisingly smooth ride and refined, overall performance out on the road or on the highway.

Of course, the exterior design of any pickup truck is pretty much locked in by its carry-all function, centered on its cargo box. The redesign has stretched the 2019 Sierra, adding about three inches of additional room in the rear-seat of the crew cab.

(GMC unveils 2020 Acadia. Click Here for the story.)

The 2019 GMC Sierra Denali has enjoyed a strong start since it hit the market.

The designers who shaped the GMC Sierra gave it a bold and distinctive front fascia and have worked diligently on vehicle’s four “corners” where the LED lights are deftly used to elevate the truck’s presence with an eye-catching lighting scheme.

The real change, though, is in the interior where designers have continued to elevate the luxury feel of the cabin. They’ve managed this by using different materials and a well-organized instrument cluster that comes with a changeable touch screen in the center of the dials that control the HVAC and infotainment systems.

The 2019 GMC Sierra is loaded with technology, including an expanded suite of active safety features, as well lane change alert with size blind zone alert. It’s never wise to rely completely on such systems in day-to-day driving but they are very helpful.

The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and you can see clearly to the rear and sides of the Sierra and the interior lighting is well-modulated for nighttime driving. The controls were well lit and easy to read and find in the darkened cabin.

The truck is also equipped with a next-generation GMC infotainment systems and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as 4G with Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Sierra also comes with features such as remote vehicle starter system, a heated steering wheel, which are standard on the SLT, the version I drove, as well as on the AT4 and Denali.

The Sierra tailgate can be configured six ways.

(How did GMC fare in the latest JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study? Click Here to find out.)

Also available is a technology package that includes HD surround vision, which is very helpful when you are parking a vehicle in an underground parking garage as I found myself doing, rear camera mirror and color head-up display.

The technology is useful and increasingly necessary to help protect a vehicle that costs as much as $60,000 when fully equipped since it can help reduce your insurance bill.

However, the mechanical pieces are particularly critical to any kind of truck and the GMC Sierra is 368 pounds lighter and when powered by the 5.3-liter V8 with an eight-speed transmission that I drove it offers plenty of get up and go.

The version of the Sierra that I drove was specifically designed for off-road travel, but I did take for a long-drive on unpaved roads north of Detroit that were still covered with snow and slush and I found the truck handled well with four-wheel drive system engaged.

Another look at the Sierra tailgate.

The 2019 GMC Sierra also did well on the pavement and out on the highway as well, delivering a smooth, even ride thanks to the enhanced front and rear suspensions that incorporate new, lightweight components but seem quite capable of handling the trucks weight and taking the bumps out of Michigan’s bumpy roads.

The truck’s electric power steering is responsive and offers plenty of back, which is needed on a snowy dirt road and the brakes also have plenty of stopping power even on snow or slick pavement. In addition, the anti-lock braking systems have gotten so good they are practically invisible now.

(For a first look at the new GMC Sierra HD, Click Here.)

A lot of people are astonished the pickup trucks carry prices tags of more than $60,000 now. Trucks such as the 2019 GMC Sierra underscore that the reason they command such prices is that they have gotten better and better and offer owners more and more in the way of technology, comfort and ultimately usability on all kinds of roads.

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2 Responses to “First Drive: 2019 GMC Sierra”

  1. John says:

    “if you close your eyes for a moment at a stop light, you might think you’re riding in a big, luxury sedan… ”
    If I close my eyes, I sometimes think my Escort is a Porsche.
    Must have been some press release you attended.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      You still have an Escort?