2019 GMC Sierra lightens up by bringing carbon fiber to the pickup truck world

The GMC Sierra has always driven in the shadow of the mechanically identical Chevrolet Silverado. But with both trucks due for a redesign for the 2019 model year, GMC is doing more than ever to distinguish the Sierra from its bow-tie-wearing sibling.

The 2019 GMC Sierra boasts many of the new features introduced on the 2019 Silverado, which debuted in January at the Detroit Auto Show. But the GMC also gets a few notable tech features of its own, as well as a “CarbonPro” carbon-fiber pickup box. Carbon fiber is often used in performance cars, but GMC is the first to use the lightweight material in a production pickup truck.

2019 gmc sierra 2018 ny  at4
2018 NY – 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Chris Chin/Digital Trends

The carbon-fiber box is 62 pounds lighter than a standard steel box and will be an optional extra; a steel box will come as standard equipment. As with the 2019 Silverado, GMC used multiple materials in the body of the 2019 Sierra, including aluminum for the doors, hood, and tailgate, and steel for the fenders, roof, and the pickup boxes of base models. Altogether, the 2019 Sierra is up to 360 pounds lighter than the previous generation, GMC said. Those weight savings should equate to better fuel economy, although official numbers aren’t available yet.

GMC also created what might be the world’s most complicated tailgate. The “MultiPro Tailgate” opens at the push of a button, just like on many of the Sierra’s rivals. It can also be reconfigured into a step or a place to rest your laptop (or your beer), and includes a fold-out chock for keeping longer items in place while the tailgate is down.

Like many other automakers, GMC is trying to bring a higher level of tech to trucks. The Sierra gets a “Trailering App” that includes a pre-departure checklist, maintenance reminders, trailer light test, tire pressure and temperature monitors, and a feature for diagnosing trailer electrical issues. Other notable features include a surround-view camera system, the rear-camera mirror previously seen on certain Cadillac and Chevrolet models, and a head-up display. GMC claims the latter two features have never been offered in a truck before.

The Sierra itself has a somewhat more conservative exterior design than the Silverado, which might be a good thing for buyers put off by the Chevy’s more unusual looks. As with all of its other models, GMC will try to separate the Sierra from its Chevy sibling with higher-quality interior materials and a glitzy Denali version, which will also come standard with adaptive suspension and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation.

The engine lineup is identical to the Silverado’s, meaning buyers can choose between carryover 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter gasoline V8s, and a new 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline-six. The 6.2-liter V8 and the diesel get a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Ahead of the 2018 New York Auto Show, GMC also unveiled an off-road focused AT4 model that adds a 2.0-inch suspension lift, Rancho monotone shocks, and exterior trim that’s a bit less blinged out than other Sierra variants. It’s the start of a new GMC sub-brand.

“Every GMC will have an AT4 version of it within about two years,” Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC, told Digital Trends at the 2019 Sierra AT4’s New York unveiling.

The 2019 GMC Sierra goes on sale this fall. Additional details and pricing will be released closer to launch.

Updated: Added details on AT4 variant

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