GMC Didn’t Hold Back on the 2019 Sierra Denali, and Neither Should You

Is this the gold standard of luxury pickups?

October 1, 2018 9:00 am

So you want to buy a truck. Whether it’s for real, veritable trucking purposes or just because you want to demonstratively slap the hood at passersby and say, “Hey, check it out. I drive a truck!”

Anyway, once you’ve made that decision, you’ve got options. From that side-of-the-highway job with a phone number in the window to fancy shmancy new “e-trucks.”

We’re here to tell you to drown out all that noise. The correct choice may be on the pricier side, but it offers all the technical prowess and creature comforts you need. Meet the 2019 Sierra Denali.

Sierra’s specs are up to its usual thunderous snuff: it’s a 5,443-lb grizzly bear powered by a 6.2L V-8 engine, pumping out 420 HP with 460 lb-ft of torque. It sits high on the road, can rally enough giddy-up to hike a hill or dust up the left lane, and trailers a good four or five ATVs without breaking a sweat. (Trust us, we saw it happen.)

What’s special about this newest Sierra, though, isn’t necessarily its ability to stuff other, smaller models in the proverbial locker. It’s in the fine-tuned adjustments that GMC made to elevate this truck, earning its “luxury pickup” moniker and then some. From an updated tailgate system to a rearview mirror that hooks up to a camera feed (yeah, you read that right), the newest Sierra demands your truck-seeking attention, stat.

Lucky for us, we got to test out the thing. Below, some of our takeaways.  

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Where we drove it …
Newfoundland. Land of cod, puffins, whales, glaciers, affable locals, huts splattered in primary colors and many a narrow, winding road. Canada’s perennially slept-on northeast province was a gracious, natural host for the beastly new Sierra; the area’s rugged, homely panache gave the truck a chance to both earn a figurative scratch or two while proving its wherever-you-are-comfort, especially along those areas of mountainous coastline where the Sirius XM radio is reduced to crackle.

The head-up display (HUD) is a total gamechanger …
Generally speaking, people who own trucks need trucks. There’s a difference between loading a bed with grocery bags and 2x4s. But the 2019 Sierra’s price tag (we piloted a $67,200 fully loaded version) will inevitably attract a certain clientele of first-time or aspirational truck drivers. And these people will not be disappointed. The toast of the Sierra driving experience is the head-up display. Common in many contemporary luxury vehicles as a speedometer projected onto the windshield, the Sierra’s HUD is a colorful, 3×7-inch monitor that tells a driver pretty much all he or she could need to know: speed, speed limit (especially helpful on foreign roads) and distance to the yellow line (easier to cross in a big truck, obviously — and if you do cross it, your seat will vibrate), not to mention the option to customize your feed. If you’d rather set it up to stare at what song you’re listening to, that’s possible. Driving with the standard features on genuinely makes your journey safer and more efficient, though, and helped us turn in an expected two-hour trip on the Newfoundland freeways in just 1:45.

Ever seen a camera connect to a rearview mirror?
We have. GMC calls it a “Segment First Rear Camera Mirror”; we’ll just call it a bit wonky but supremely helpful. Sierra’s rearview mirror can toggle between utilizing a traditional mirror and hooking up to a camera that’s set up high over the tailgate, giving you an on-demand, high-resolution feed of the road behind you — or your trailer, should you be towing one. The camera can also capably tilt up or down and zoom in or out to monitor your six.

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Big Friendly Giants rejoice …
True story: an hour and change out of Newfoundland’s capital, St. John’s, we stopped in the parking lot of a local fire department. There were four or five guys leaning against GMC models of yesteryear and one of our particularly friendly fellow drivers wanted to see how they’d like the new model. We climbed out and they climbed in. Their biggest takeaway? Legroom. GMC went out of its way to provide ample space for passengers in the back, and we tested it by having one six-footer sit behind another; both could’ve gone full first-class lounge if so inclined.  

Best of the rest …
What else? The tailgate can handle a beating (they tested it with battle-axes). There’s an infotainment system that pulls out all the stops: Bose speakers, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging pad. There’s a Traction Select System that lets you shift from “Tour” all the way up to “Off-Road” with the turn of a knob. There’s a new trailering system with a hitch view camera, an app and a performance package that’ll allow you to tow more than 12,000 pounds. This truck is stacked. If you’re buying one, it starts at $47K, but we vote for outfitting it with the full package.

Find more information on purchasing yours here. The truck officially goes on sale this fall.

Images courtesy of Jim Fets

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