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Note: The following story was excerpted from the August 2020 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
Even if you’re only vaguely aware of GMC products in general and Sierra full-sized pickups in particular, you probably know the brand’s most stylish and luxurious examples have long worn the Denali nameplate. Denali made its debut as GMC’s top-of-the-line 1998 Yukon sport-utility vehicle. Before GMC got around to cataloging a Sierra Denali, however, there was the mostly forgotten (not by us, obviously) 2001 Sierra C3.
Class: Large Pickup Truck
Miles driven: 347
Fuel used: 19.8 gallons
There’s a lot new in the redesigned 2020 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickups, but five things stand out:
- Maximum towing capacity of the 1-ton 3500 has been raised an astounding 52 percent to an equally astounding 35,500 lbs.
- For those who tow – and GMC says 93% of heavy-duty pickup buyers do – the Sierra offers up to 15 different camera views, including remote cameras that can “see” inside of and behind the trailer.
- Buyers opting for the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine – which most do – will find it’s now mated to an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission.
- All models are available with GMC’s exclusive MultiPro tailgate.
- Newly available is a large, multi-color head-up display, along with a rearview camera that can project its image into the rearview mirror (which keeps things like rear-seat passengers or tall cargo in the bed from blocking your view straight back).
Okay, maybe that’s six things. And yet there’s still more.
It seems pickup-truck boxes are no longer the simple cargo-carrying addendums they used to be. In fact, they’ve become the new battleground over which pickup wars are being waged.
The 2019 model year is a momentous one for domestic-brand full-size pickups. The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500 are all redesigned, and the Ford F-150 sees some notable updates. As always, these big haulers are available in a dizzying array of body and cab styles, trim levels, and powertrain options, and the GMC Sierra roster gets even bigger with the mid-year addition of the new AT4 trim level and an accompanying performance package.
GMC has long used the tagline, “Professional Grade,” promoting the brand as being a cut above others in the same class. That has been best demonstrated in the top-line Denali trim level — recently offered on nearly all GMC models — which has been elevated to essentially a “luxury” sub-brand. It’s been particularly noteworthy in the case of the company’s Sierra full-size pickups, as the rest of the lineup didn’t really offer much over its very similar Chevrolet Silverado cousin. But that’s changing.
Even if you are only a casual follower of the new-vehicle marketplace, you are likely familiar with GMC’s popular Denali trim level. Denalis are the best-equipped, most luxuriously trimmed trucks in any given GMC vehicle model line. Denali has proven to be a profit center for GMC, with the customer take rate on the pricey trim level running as high as 50 percent on the Yukon/Yukon XL large SUVs.