The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 has a slew of new features like a 6-way tailgate, carbon-fiber bed, new exterior styling and a 3.0L turbo-diesel engine coming out later in the model year. While these new items are sure to grab everyone’s attention, we spotted several unique details about the new truck causing us to raise some questions. Here are some insights.
If you look closely at the top of the tailgate, you will see a plastic lip that rises slightly above it. This mysterious plastic lip is only found on GM trucks – both Sierra and Silverado. It does not exist on any other current generation full-size trucks.
Naturally, we wondered what the heck is it? Primarily, it improves the aerodynamics of the truck according to GMC engineers, but it also serves a secondary purpose.
“It act as a great handhold for opening and closing the tailgate since it has no latch,” GMC Design Engineer Roger Olle said.
Indeed, both the new Sierra and Silverado have push-button tailgates and no physical latch to open them.
The lip may be for aerodynamics, but consumers will likely see it as a clever handhold like we did testing out the new tailgate.
Walking around the front of the truck, we were surprised to notice the tow hooks are mounted in a vertical direction rather than the traditional horizontal placement. Also, the tow hooks are actually tow circles – there is no “hook.”
First, why are the tow hooks vertical on the Sierra? GMC Exterior Design Engineer Matt Noone says it was done intentionally to set the truck apart.
“While there is no discernible performance improvement over a horizontal configuration, they do stand out as different and will be eye catching to the customer,” Noone said. “The vertical tow hooks are a great example of sweating the details and giving our customers something new and exciting without compromising function or capability.”
Secondly, looking closely at the tow hooks, the metal is a complete circle sticking out from the bumper. Traditionally, there is a hook at the end of the metal. The circular shape works well to stop tow straps from sliding off and with clips often used on tow straps. It could be seen as an improvement or a detriment depending on how you use tow hooks.
Perhaps no other truck causes more conversations about the wheel well styling than GM trucks. For years, they have had a square shape which was accentuated by design to create a broad shoulder look. Now, the new Silverado has round wheel wells and the new Sierra has an even more unique design.
From the side profile, the wheel wells appear to be square with a slight hint of round and an odd notch added on the left of both the front and rear wheels. This notch only appears on the Sierra and stands out on purpose according to Noone.
“With the launch of any new truck, the shape of the wheel wells always becomes a discussion point relative to square versus round,” Noone said. “The design of the wheel wells is angular and directional which matches the line work and form language that can be found all around the truck. If you compare the shape of the wheel wells with the shape of the grille or body feature line in the front door you will find that the line work and detailing all belongs to one family.”
He also says you can find this line used on other exterior items like the headlamps, grille and exhaust tips.
It is a unique approach between the predominant round or square designs used on other trucks.
The much discussed carbon fiber is a real unique feature for the truck among its competitors. While bed’s materials are unique and GMC is still working on how to price as well as assemble a truck with this bed, practical matters like how it drains are a real concern.
For this, GMC engineers added a multitude of little holes (about a 1/4” diameter) throughout the bottom of the bed near the cabin. Typically, steel beds have drain holes as well (plugs near the front of the bed), yet the carbon fiber bed multiple drain holes are a different way to solve the water draining issue.
Finally, it is hard not to notice the square exhaust tips used on the new GMC Sierra and the Chevy Silverado. This new approach to exhaust tips creates a much cleaner looking bumper and also raises the exhaust higher allowing for, what should be, better exit departure angles when off-roading.
“The integrated beveled exhaust tips are a key feature that our customers told us they absolutely love!” Noone said. “While projecting power and strength, the sculpted shape of the tips, plus tight gaps between the tip and the steel bumper project a quality level that is beyond compare.”
Noone adds this will also help the Denali trim stand out among the luxury trucks on the market.
With the square tips and integration into the bumper are a unique look, they do have the drawback on limiting some of the exhaust-system customization options. For example, there really isn’t a lot of room to put on larger exhaust tips and re-routing the exhaust will leave holes in the bumper.