2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

2019 GMC Sierra 1500 - Bright, new Sierra Denali lights up highways.


GMC 's 2019 Denali model of the Sierra pickup truck is new from grille to tailgate. This should be good news to the luxury pickup buyer. The new look includes chiseled shoulders and a grille bigger than Sierras of the past plus advanced lighting technology to accentuate the front of the truck. Whether fog, turn signals or headlights are on or not, the front glistens like an explosion of gems.

Even if the new look is more boxy and big, the Sierra shares the muscular look with others in the light duty pickup truck market, namely Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra and Chevrolet Silverado.

GMC offers a variety of engines for the Sierra including a 4.3-liter V6 plus 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s. A 6.2-liter, 420-horsepower V8 was tested recently in a $58,000 Denali model of the 2019 GMC Sierra.

The Sierra's V8 is described by GMC as an EcoTec3 engine. This means advanced technologies govern direct fuel injection, fuel management such as cylinder deactivation and continuous variable valve timing. The system, which is on other General Motors products, contributes to fuel efficiency. Tthe Environmental Protection Agency has the Sierra Denali averaging 17 miles per gallon of fuel usage in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. During a week of testing in the Denali with two adults aboard and in combined city and highway driving, the average was 18.8 mpg.

The 6.2-liter is the brute among the Sierra powerplants with a towing capacity of 12,200 pounds. The other powerplants tow less, mostly in the neighborhood of 9,600 pounds.

At the rear is a power tailgate. That Denali tailgate is multifunctional and is an industry first. The functions include lowering the top half or transforming it into a step or a seat. Two buttons on the tailgate handle lowers part of the gate to serve as a step or a place to put feet if one wants to sit down on the rest of the tailgate. In essence, this is a tailgate within a tailgate.  

Leg room is impressive. There are 44.3 inches in front and 43.4 inches rear, which is comparable to or more than that in a luxury full-size sedan.

Several features are worth noting on the Denali, such as the power lock and release (lowered) tailgate, power sliding rear window and heated exterior mirrors that not only power to various positions but also fold by power. Besides driver's seat, exterior mirrors and tilt and telescope steering wheel, memory settings include perimeter lighting and puddle lamps.

The large bed of the Denali box has a spray-in bedliner, 12 tie-downs and sufficient width between wheel wells to accommodate, with several inches to spare, the cliched four-foot-by-foot-foot skid. An optional carbon-fiber bed will be offered soon. At the corner ends of the rear bumper are inset steps into the rear box. These steps have been enlarged this year. It means more step room for work boots.

Although the cabin is replete with leather and metal trim, the main purpose is practicality. It is seen immediately as storage bins begin at the top of the dashboard and continue down and through the center console. Lift the lid of that console and one uncovers a deep and wide bin. A fully equipped tool belt will fit into it.

At the top of a lower partitioned bin and arranged in a row are the 120-volt outlet and USB,  smartphone recharger and auxiliary device ports.  

The Sierra wears 20-inch wheels, but those on the tested Denali were optional  22 inchers. Both have  a polished  aluminum finish. The 22-inch wheels are in a $5,580 option package which also includes a power sunroof and power running boards.

With the redesign, Sierra has distanced itself from the Silverado, its light duty truck stablemate in the GM family.

Vehicle: crew cab Denali model of 2019 GMC Sierra 1500
Type: four-door, five-passenger, full-size light duty pickup truck
Price: $58,000
Engine: optional 6.2-liter, 420-horsepower EcoTec 3 V8
Transmission: 10-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel tank: 24 gallons
Fuel: regular unleaded
Towing: 12,200 pounds
Leg room: 44.5 inches front, 43.4 inches rear
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 147.4, 231.7, 81.2, 75.5, 7.9
Cargo box: five-feet, eight-inches long with 50.6 inches between wheel wells
Turning diameter: 46.9 feet
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain and roadside assistance, free first maintenance visit within year of purchase
Information: www.gmc.com/trucks/sierra

Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.