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2019 GMC Sierra: Carbon Fiber, Shape-Shifting Tailgate, Off-Road Package

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GMC’s new 2019 Sierra pickup could be in the Guinness Book of Records for “most ways to use a tailgate.” The high end of General Motors’ pickup truck line will get a tailgate that can be used six different ways to make it easier to get in, to load cargo, and carry multiple layers of flat cargo. It’s a sight to see.

Monday, GMC also unveiled the AT4 off-roading version of the full-size pickup to do battle with Ford’s prominent Raptor, and a carbon fiber truck bed option to one-one up Ford’s aluminum truck bed. It was the first stop in two days of off-site media events before press days of the New York International Auto Show begin Wednesday.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Bed uses carbon fiber for a high-strength, weight-saving bed.

Carbon Fiber Bed Resists Dents, Cuts 62 Pounds

The GMC Sierra is the upmarket version of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, introduced in January at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show and due to ship in the second half. General Motors wants GMC to put more distance between the Sierra and Silverado pickups, which translates to finding more features, and finding a way to make a fully equipped Sierra Denali (the highest trim line) top $75,000. If you work it hard with the outgoing Sierra Denali, you can just hit $70K.

The Denali trim line will offer a carbon fiber box for the truck bed, called CarbonPro. It replaces the steel floor and inner panels with carbo fiber composite. GMC did not say how much the carbon fiber option would cost. The company says, “[The] composite … offers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance, making it the most durable pickup box in the segment.” That is a swipe at the Ford F-Series’ weight-saving aluminum bed that, in GM commercials, suffers cosmetic and other damage. But not so much damage as to knock off Ford from the top spot in sales. Its 896,764 sales was more than the No. 2 Silverado (585,864) and No. 4 Sierra (217,943) combined.

The gate folds halfway down to form a work surface or blender stand, powered by an AC outlet in the bed wall.

MultiPro Tailgate: 6 Configurations

The SLT and Denali trim lines (but not the entry SLE) get a MultiPro tailgate that opens several ways. Some are quite ingenious. The actions are controlled not by a handle, but by two buttons. First, the tailgate folds down, like a regular tailgate. A flap inside can be deployed in multiple ways, particularly as a stopper for an extended load. With the short cab, the load floor back to the stopper is just a couple inches short of carrying 4×8 plywood.

Above, the GMC Sierra Denali MultiPro tailgate can carry plywood or drywall with other cargo below. Below, the gate folds down to form an entry step.

Press the top button and a cutout (GMC calls it the inner gate) folds out down down parallel to the ground, forming a standing work surface. Press the bottom button and the inner gate drops down, letting you get closer to the cargo bay. With tailgate and cutout both down, the cutout forms a step; the main part of the tailgate can be used as a seat and there are even cupholder indents on each side.

As a complement, a bar just inside the left side of the tailgate folds out to become a grab handle to assist getting in and out of the cargo bay.

The AT4 off-roading version of the full-size GMC Sierra pickup.

Sierra AT4 for Off-Roading

Monday, GMC announced an extension of the Sierra line, the AT4 for off-roading. It’s raised two inches, has four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case, skid plates, locking rear differential, traction selection for various road surfaces, off-road shocks, hill descent control, a 5.3-liter V8 engine, and all-terrain tires on 20- or 22-inch wheels. Options include a head-up display, a six-cylinder Duramax diesel with 10-speed automatic, and surround vision cameras.

GMC already has a mid-size pickup for off-roading, the Off-Road Edition of the GMC Canyon. The Canyon is cousin to the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, which has a popular off-road version, the Colorado ZR2.

The Sierra is expected to ship this fall. On-sale date for the ATR has not yet been set. GMC will again have a three-line strategy: midsize in Canyon, full-size in Sierra, and heavy duty in the Sierra HD.

General Motors began selling a Cadillac pickup, the Escalade EXT, in 2007, but it was discontinued in 2013, so GMC is the high-end standard bearer among pickups. GMC marketers noted that the Denali trim line of the Sierra has a higher average transaction price, in the mid- to high-sixties, than famous brands such as Mercedes or BMW.

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