The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 promises big things in the full-size pickup truck market, especially when it comes to distancing itself from the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. That’s because these two trucks are corporate cousins, sharing the same platform and powertrains. Over the years, the differences have sometimes been razor-thin, making it hard to justify spending more for the supposedly fancier GMC version.
Fresh from a redesign and ready to offer some clever solutions when it comes to hauling cargo, the 2019 Sierra 1500 looks poised to make a stronger case for its existence. Starting with the exterior design, the new Sierra appears more like its own truck. The styling is more traditional than the updated Silverado, though we like the square-edged shape and design.
There’s no question that the Sierra 1500 has the power to get plenty of tough jobs done with a minimum of fuss. The two available V-8 engines serve up loads of power and have strong towing capabilities. But things start to come unglued when you look a little deeper — particularly if you’re cross-shopping a GMC Sierra in range-topping Denali trim with upscale rivals from Ram and Ford.
For our full review on the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, be sure to follow the related link above. If you’ve got work that needs doing and want a quicker take on what impressed us — along with the things that bogged this GMC down — then keep reading.
Things We Like
1. Big V-8 Engine and 10-Speed Transmission
Let’s start with the top-dog engine: a powerful 6.2-liter V-8 that comes coupled to a quick-witted 10-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain makes no excuses when it comes to squaring off against the competition or when it’s time to accomplish the toughest task. Output from this engine rings in at 420 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque.
2. Agile for a Full-Size Truck
You don’t expect too much agility in a vehicle this size, but the GMC Sierra is easy to drive and doesn’t feel ponderous. In our review, we complimented the “much sharper” steering as compared with the previous Sierra (and its stablemate, the Silverado, which we reviewed separately). A knob on the upper left of the dashboard also allows the driver to adjust the steering by turning it to Sport mode. This provides more feedback and is handy if you’re trying to maneuver in tight confines.
3. The Smaller V-8 Is Plenty Strong
You don’t necessarily have to shell out extra money for the bigger engine to enjoy the Sierra. The standard 5.3-liter V-8 delivers a stout 355 horsepower and 383 pounds-feet of torque, and it’s coupled to an eight-speed automatic. Of his time with testing both engines, Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman said the 5.3-liter was “punchy, smooth and never lacked for grunt.” When the Sierra was empty of cargo, Bragman said telling the two engines apart was almost impossible.
4. Ease of Everyday Towing
GMC hasn’t gone for maximum bragging rights when it comes to ultimate towing capability in the 2019 Sierra. Instead, the emphasis is on making everyday towing easier and less complicated. We came away extremely impressed during a towing demonstration that involved a Sierra, equipped with the larger V-8, hauling a trailer that tipped the scales at about 5,000 pounds.
5. Traditional Trucklike Exterior Design
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, in our opinion, the more traditional trucklike style of the GMC Sierra 1500 holds a lot of appeal. It might not be as eye-catching as the new Silverado 1500, but the more conservative design should have staying power. We especially like the Sierra in all-terrain AT4 trim, which includes a 2-inch lift, monochrome paint job and larger off-road wheels.
6. MultiPro Tailgate
GMC has you covered if you want a pickup bed that’s more than an empty box to throw things in. First is the MultiPro Tailgate, which performs an origami-like flip-and-folding act depending on what kind of task you have in mind. There are six configurations in total, and the MultiPro comes standard on many trim levels.
7. CarbonPro Pickup Bed
For even more utility, the CarbonPro pickup bed is made to tackle the toughest jobs. The inner panels are constructed of a carbon-fiber resin, which according to GMC is almost impossible to dent or damage. We’ll let you know how this boast stacks up down the road when we have more time to test the durability of this high-tech truck bed.
Things We Don’t
1. Too Similar to the Silverado
Despite differences in trim levels and exterior design, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado are still essentially the same truck. That’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the improvements that have been made to the pair. But if you’re trying to justify spending more for the GMC when its Chevy counterpart might cost thousands of dollars less, the numbers don’t necessarily add up.
2. Ride Quality Is a Mixed Bag
The ride quality of the 2019 GMC Sierra is very dependent upon which model you choose. During our test drive, we found the SLT trim had a smoother and quieter ride than the range-topping Denali. That’s despite the Denali being fitted with an electronically controlled suspension versus the simpler mechanical setup in the SLT.
3. Cabin Quality Can’t Come Close to Competitors
Sorry GMC, but when it comes to top trim levels of the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, there’s no question about which comes out on top. The cabin design and the materials used in the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali don’t come close to the positively plush cabins of this truck’s main rivals. Despite being brand-new, the Sierra’s interior already looks dated compared to what you’ll find in the Ford and Ram.
4. Denali Trim Isn’t Worth the Extra Cost
Have you noticed we’ve been heaping a lot of praise on the Sierra’s lower trim levels? Justifying the extra price of the Denali trim is hard to do. The SLT rides better; the cabins of the two trim levels are nearly identical; and you can get the same choice of engines in either model. If it was our money on the line, we’d choose the less expensive SLT.