2020 GMC Sierra HD 2500/3500 First Drive: More Muscle, More Style

General Motors pickup strategy is quite simple; Attack the market with two brands where competitors only offer a single choice. When it comes to heavy consumers, we've already seen what they've done with the brand new platform, controversial styling and impressive towing technology of the 2020 Silverado 2500 and 3500, and now it's time for the GMC side of the family to roll out their HD are and unique features.

The 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 models are based on a brand new, stronger, longer and higher risers, specially designed to deliver greater maximum towing and payload figures. Across each configuration, specific considerations for thicker, lighter and more advanced materials have been included in the frame, upgraded suspension components, and even in the drivelines, resulting in higher maximum payloads (over 7,000 pounds) and maximum towing figures (in excess of 35,000 pounds). Here's a fun fact that GM engineers want you to know: every configuration of GM's one tonne of double (no matter which cab, engine, drive) can tow more than 30,000 pounds. Neither Ford nor Ram can say the same.

A large piece of this HD puzzle is, as you might imagine, under the hood. Although the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel (rated at 445 horsepower at 2800 rpm and 910 pounds / ft at 1,600 rpm) is initially a transmission engine choice, it is now mated to a brand new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission , which sports a larger, faster data controller. In addition, there is a brand new petrol engine choice in the form of a 6.6-liter direct injection V-8, rated at 401 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 464 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. This new engine replaces the long-anticipated 6.0-liter with a mountain of proven and new technology and compares exceptionally well with the new Ford and Ram gas V-8 offerings.

From an outside design perspective, the international GMC continues to push to stand apart from the Chevrolet brothers. For better or worse, GMC has taken a more conservative approach by keeping their multi-block grille, front bumper and headlight design more in line with half-ton models. The most dramatic changes to the Sierra HD front ends are in actual size, driven largely by the additional airflow requirements needed for both diesel and gasoline engine choices. The front end still offers the option of dual intake for cool air (one is integrated in the hood, the other through the wider grille), but now also adds a substantial under-bumper mini grille to direct air either to the intercooler (for diesel) or transmission cooler ( for the gas). The window bars are lowered for better visibility for the driver and passengers, and the actual bedding is also lower. We particularly like that all HDs will offer integrated side bumps in the rear bumper and bed body (one in front of the rear wheel well, one in the bumper corner) on all models for easier, faster access to everything in bed.

We recently had the chance to do a great deal of towing highways, off-road driving and payloads in and around Jackson Hole, Wyoming (about 6,000 feet above sea level), with several new Sierra HD models, and in short, here's what we found:

Highway Towing: Duramax / Allison is an absolute monster when dealing with heavy loads. Unlike some max-tow powertrains, the 6.6-liter turbo diesel delivers 100 percent of the torque off the line, and the new 10-speed gearbox does an excellent job of smoothing and gradually getting all that power to the rear wheels. Our first 3,500 double-occupancy 4×4 Denali cab (with an entry for just under $ 82,000) towed a Keystone Montana five-wheeler dual-sliding RV, which weighed about 13,000 kilos of dry. With the exhaust brake on and in Tow / Haul (which gave us some pretty aggressive degree-breaking downshifts every time we applied the brake), our time with the truck and trailer was pretty comfortable and stress-free. Add to this a myriad of trailer camera options (front, both exterior mirrors, bed, tailgate and a final fixed wired camera on the back of the RV) and we could see just about anything or anyone wanting to sneak up on us. . We should note that GM is the only HD truck manufacturer that offers an integrated Transparent Trailer feature that (when configured correctly) allows the driver to look through the trailer you are dragging to the drivers who follow you (how many may pass). Not only is this technology cool, it provides an extra level of security and situational awareness we have never experienced. In addition, we slept with a swan-necked flat bed that reportedly weighed over 25,000 pounds with a tonne of double, and found that the powertrain seemed strong enough to pull the load confidently, and felt quite composed all the time. Of course, we have to reserve the final long distance towing domain (and any overheating issues) until we can get a test car and set up a multi-state run.

Off-Roading: One of the biggest sales surprises recently for GMC is their newest all-terrain package, called the AT4 (actually a developed trim from previous All Terrain packages). Available on both light and heavy platforms, the AT4 HD package offers larger wheels and tires, specially tuned Rancho monotube bumps, extra slip-plating underneath, a Traction Select system with a unique off-road mode, Hill Descent and ground management features, a 15-inch colored head-up display with a terrain lineometer and a high-def surround camera. The 2500 or 3500 AT4 is exclusive to the GMC brand (meaning there are no Chevy Silverado HD Trail Boss at this time), and with the exception of an anti-roll bar disconnect and winch, this may be the closest thing to a Ram 2500 Power Wagon competitor. We had the chance to punish some AT4s at both high speeds, jagged dirt roads, as well as some rocks and nasty 4×4 trails we found near Grand Teton National Park. Uniquely, the transmission sleeve provides both four-wheel drive, four-wheel drive high-range and four-wheel drive low-range mode, each with a different off-road mode setting in the gearbox to improve traction control and throttle response. We found this to be very helpful as we navigated a deep river basin that eventually became rocky and then returned to deck-swallowing, fluffy, slippery sand. Moving back and forth between the 4WD settings are all push buttons, which requires us to be only neutral when moving into or out of 4 Low. To state the obvious; this was the most fun we had in a GMC pickup all week. And we should also note that the AT4 package has no downgrade in maximum payload or towing compared to other non-AT4 HD's (something the Power Wagon can't say).

Payload Cruising: We also had the chance to run quite long stretches of mountain roads with both a Sierra Denali 2500 and Sierra AT4 2500 with about or over 2000 kilos of freshly cut logs in bed (all properly attached). Special attention, which is a pet of ours, we loved the fact that even with so much weight in the back there was very little rear end from the rear springs. None of our test cars showed any difficulty in meeting the weight or sacrificing a ride or handling quality as we cut through the canyons parallel to the Snake River. However, we must note that our AT4 with logs had the new V-8 gasoline engine, which seemed to have a little more trouble keeping up with traffic as we crossed a mountain pass, and with four fewer gears than Allison (but lower gear of 3.73: 1 axle – all Duramax HDs get 3.42: 1 gear), it seemed to wear out a bit. With all that said, we were still pretty impressed with how well both Denali and AT4 suspensions handled the load, providing a balanced and complex undercarriage under the corner of the mountain road.

But what about the interior? If you were looking for something dramatic or a huge upgrade in the GMC HD interior by 2020, you won't be happy. For the most part, everything we have already seen from GMC (mostly from the new interior of the lightweight trim clips) will be transferred to the HD series. Expect the best Denali to still be reminiscent of what Ram and Ford are doing with the top clips – which means you'll still see the usual chrome surrounds with brushed aluminum accents and plastic-lined wooden bits in the middle. console and door panels. We actually like the idea of ​​keeping the interior look between lightweight and powerful similar, but we really want to see more drama with materials and choices of better quality. Beyond that, the softer binders and stitch choices are still pretty good, just not for a truck that can easily run over $ 75,000. We consider this to be the major opportunity area for GMC, and unlike some of our colleagues, we are willing to wait and see what is likely to come in the next mid-model update.

Roll-out of new GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 models is happening now, but the more popular models (meaning crew 4x4s) come first, then the others later. Expect AT4 and Denali crews first, with other accessories and cabs rolling out afterwards. Gradually, the 2020 GMC HDs will offer three cab configurations, two bed lengths, two engine choices and five trims – the value-oriented Sierra trim, the more mainstream SLE and SLT, and then offer the more well-equipped AT4 and Denali for those who want full freedom of choice and have more style. The entry level Sierra HD standard cab starts at $ 38,790. The more popular 2500 SLE crew cab 4×4 will have a starting price $ 1,900 cheaper than the outgoing model and will include these upgrades: a stronger, more efficient 6.6-liter gas V-8, LED headlights, traction selection, more payload and towing capacity, more side steps, and more bedding in the bed. Prices for this specific model start at $ 46,990. The top 3500, dual Denali 4×4 crew cab, has a starting price of $ 69,490 and includes 6.6-liter Duramax and 10-speed gearbox, surround-view cameras, Multi-Pro Tailgate and much more. Realistically, however, you can expect one of the heavy haulers to get pretty close to or over $ 80,000 with all the boxes checked. Certainly not cheap with any measures, but consider the upgrades offered for the 2020 model year, which is a strong value proposition to come with.

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