Meet the New Boss: 2019 GMC Sierra SLT
Never judge a book by its cover.
I’ve always found it funny that no matter how much smaller, more eco-friendly and city-oriented cars have been pushed, large pickup trucks have remained a constant. Despite everything that has fought against this market, whether it be a stock market crash or a fuel crisis, these majestic workaholics still stand as tall as ever with no sign of recession.
Yet there’s still strong evidence that the pickup truck market has changed throughout these years, going from being no-nonsense farm hands on wheels to much more upmarket leather-lined supervisors. You can’t take the market based on building a good enough truck alone, you have to go one step further. So, today, we’re going to see how far one of the top truck sellers takes it with their latest creation: the 2019 GMC Sierra.
People don’t really buy trucks to look good. They don’t buy them to win the Concours d’Elegance, or to make audiences swoon when they arrive at a night on the town. These are workers, not models. And yet, people get so up in arms when a new pickup truck debuts with a strange design. I’ve yet to see anyone say the new Sierra is downright ugly, but the consensus seems to stick around “It’s not that bad, at least it’s better than the Silverado” but I don’t think that’s giving this truck its due diligence.
You could say that there is a lot of muscular machismo on display here, and I’d be hard-pressed to disagree, but I appreciate how the Sierra wears it. There is class here, a certain handsome presence. Like a well-dressed prep that hit a few bars at the gym to become a more well-toned and far more handsome individual. I especially like how the chiseled body lines match perfectly between the cab and bed, giving it the illusion of being completely joined together. It gives the Sierra an appearance of being sleeker and more athletic than it really is, and especially benefits from the pure black paint job seen on this model.
The interior seems to transfer a lot of that macho utilitarian aesthetic and puts it to decent use for the overall layout of the cabin. There’s this definite “tough guy” feeling of how the center stack sits, with giant toggle switch row being used for the various safety and technological features featured in this well-optioned SLT variant. Despite not being the top-trim Denali, you will find most of everything you’d expect from these trucks nowadays, like heated and ventilated seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, cross-lane traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, and USB ports as far as the eye can see.
If I did have to find one downside though, I’m not a huge fan of where the stop/start button is placed ergonomically, being set at an angle of the bottom left-hand of the center stack. Plus, with it being GM, this 2000-mile truck was already showing some downfalls to the material choices, such as peeling faux-wood trim on the door handles. Nobody’s perfect, unfortunately.
Now for the elephant in the room: that darned tailgate. Well, it’s certainly a show-stopper: every single person that saw the truck asked about it. I didn’t really get a chance to use the truck for any hauling or anything that would really benefit from using that tailgate the way GMC wants me to, but I can definitely see the helpfulness of it being there. It’s certainly unique, and probably will sway some perspective buyers into the Sierra...if you’re into that sort of thing.
If there’s one thing that trucks are definitely not known for, it’s great performance and handling. Sure there are a few outliers like the Syclone or Ford Lightning, but for the most part, these are two ton behemoths that are built to haul. And yet, the Sierra manages to keep itself well poised while driving. The 5.3 that this SLT featured was plentiful potent, finding itself at highway speeds with ease thanks to 355 bhp ran through an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6.2L variant is available for those who prefer something above the 400 bhp range, and those on a lighter budget can opt for a 4.3L V6 for increased fuel economy.
If you really want to know what this humongous truck handles like, I can say it does the job fairly well. It won’t outmaneuver any sports cars, obviously, but considering its size and weight, it doesn’t carry itself as something far more daunting to deal with. It certainly won’t turn a tight space quite like the F150 will, but it can still take control in a tight parking lot or on a bustling city street.
Some could say in this current climate of trucks becoming far more gentrified for ease of access to more people, that most of the trucks on the market are much of the same, but I disagree. Every truck we have nowadays is different in its own way, and the Sierra is proof of that. If I had to describe the Sierra compared to the rest of the market, I’d say it’s the unpopular kid from high school that was always overshadowed by his sibling, but went out and cleaned himself up to be a class leader, and I respect that. If I was buying a new truck today, I really can’t think of anything that would sway me away from the Sierra, it’s nearly perfect in every single category I could think of, and it’s surely destined to be a smash hit as time goes on.