What defines the modern luxury pickup truck? GMC introduces the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali with the goal of taking the redesigned truck to the top of the class. GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado are critically important to the success of General Motors. We take the new Denali and the AT4 off-road truck for a first drive review to see how far the Sierra has advanced.
2019 GMC Sierra AT4
The AT4 is a new trim for the Sierra lineup. It starts where the previous All Terrain edition left off and takes it further with a two-inch suspension lift and available 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. The AT4 is practically a 2019 Chevy Silverado TrailBoss in Sierra clothing, but it’s not quiet that simple. Currently, the TrailBoss cannot be ordered with the desirable 6.2L V8, but the AT4 can be. In fact, the white truck you see here is an AT4 crew cab with the 6.2L V8 and a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The 6.2L V8 has the same rating as in the previous generation truck: 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. However, the new Sierra is a lighter weight truck in large part thanks to a redesigned frame, aluminum hood, doors, and tailgate (approximately 360 lbs lighter, according to GMC). The engine utilizes the new Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) cylinder deactivation solution. DFM allows the engine to run in 17 different cylinder firing orders or modes. The computer can decide to fire every third, every fourth cylinder, or 15 other combinations given the different load and request for power.
AT4 trim level offers unique styling inside and out. The grille has body-color accents, and the interior has distinct leather seat design. The two-inch factory lift comes courtesy of spacer/blocks, and longer specially tuned Rancho shocks. The oil pan and transfer case are protected with underbody skid plates. The rear axle still houses a limited slip locking differential (aka. G80 rear locker). The traction control modes can be controlled via a drive-mode selector on the left of the steering wheel. There is an Off-Road mode which is designed for higher-speed off-road driving. It changes accelerator calibration for a more precise control and relaxes the traction control system to allow more wheel slip.
We drove a fully loaded AT4 that was riding on optional 20-inch rims and 33-inch Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires. We could not drive the truck over rough terrain, but we had an opportunity to drive quickly on two-track dirt roads.
When pushed, the sheer size of the AT4 crew cab becomes evident, but the suspension does a good job to smooth out the bumps and calm things down. The AT4 is available with five cameras, and a 360-degree surround view. This is very helpful off-road as the driver can quickly access the front-grille mounted camera for a high definition view of what’s in front of the truck. It greatly helps to crest steep hills and see any obstacles ahead.
The price for a fully-loaded AT4 stood at $65,330. This represents $11,135 of optional equipment over a base AT4 with a 5.3L V8.
We will have to take the Sierra AT4 to Colorado for a proper off-road test on the Cliffhanger 2.0.
2019 GMC Sierra Denali
The new Denali truck is now the state of the art of luxury trucks at General Motors. The 2019 Sierra Denali half-ton further blurs the line between trucks and luxury cars. Indeed, it’s still a pickup truck that is capable of towing around 10,000 lbs (depending on the configuration). A fully loaded Denali can handle around 1,400 lbs of payload, which is a significant improvement over the previous generation. The new bed offers the most cargo volume in the segment. There are more tie-down points, lighting, and a 110V power outlet. There is no question that it can do the work that a full-truck must be able to do.
We towed a 6,000 lbs trailer with Sierra 1500 SLT crew cab 4×4, and it handled that trailer as if it wasn’t even there. Towing features include: 360-degree camera with optional wired trailer camera, towing guide/checklist, automatic parking brake when stopping after backing up for trailer hookup, trailer area light, trailer light check, optional trailer tire pressure & temperature monitoring, and more.
The new Denali is now ever closer to the luxury, comfort, and feature availability of some of the best luxury sedans in the world. It has a redesigned and luxurious interior. It may not be the best in class as far as material quality and design esthetic, but it’s nonetheless a very comfortable place to be. The truck is larger than before and offers tremendous interior space for the passengers (three inches more of legroom).
The truck is equipped with an adaptive suspension system that constantly monitors the road and can adjust the stiffness of the shocks in a fraction of a second. It is not the Magneride suspension system that we have seen before. The shock adjustments are done by adjusting internal shocks valving. The driver has a say in how the truck behaves via the drive mode selector. The “Tour” mode is the default and the most “relaxed” mode. GM says it provides the best bland of refinement and efficiency. When switched into “Sport”, several parameters are changed. The steering gets a little heavier, the throttle is more sensitive, and the transmission is more eager to shift. You would expect that, but the adaptive suspension system setting are also affected to make it a little more firm.
The color heads-up display is one of the largest and highest definition displays I have used in any vehicle. It offers navigation, off-road inclinometer, and driver assistance features. The new Denali has line keep assist that will actually help steer the truck back into its lane. However, the truck falls short in the technology world by not yet offering adaptive cruise control.
The final price for the loaded 2019 Sierra 1500 Denali that we drove was $67,595.
Here is our first drive review of the new Sierra SLT, AT4, and the Denali. You can watch it now at TFLtruck Youtube channel.