With all the attention the all-new and pickup trucks have been getting since their debut at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and Chevrolet providing looks at the next-generation 2020 Silverado 2500/3500 (in both and trims), it now seems it's GMC's turn.
During a media drive event in San Diego for another GMC product, journalists got an up-close, early look at the upgraded and redesigned 2020 Sierra 2500/3500s. The new trucks look bigger and are loaded with more tech; 2020 Sierra 2500 and 3500 models will arrive at dealerships in late summer, with pricing and more detailed specification information coming after we get our first drive in them later this year. Here's what we know at this point.
GMC's overall redesign strategy should be familiar to everyone; many of the changes seen on the carry over to the heavy-duty lineup. Just about every aspect of the new HDs has been touched by engineers and designers, including an all-new, longer, stronger and lighter frame; a retuned suspension for every cab and wheel configuration; and a new cabin design providing more room and more distinction between each trim level.
All Sierra HDs — all photos here are of the new off-road-oriented AT4 and Denali trims — benefit from a more rugged and massive stance with the taller, wider grille and bulging hood features. The headlights have been re-sculpted to give the trucks the appearance of more height. AT4 grilles will be dark gray, while the more upscale Denali will get a new, barred chrome grille. All Sierra HD hoods have a pronounced horizontal air intake slot to provide the extra cold air (cooling as it runs through the hood channels) necessary to feed the new gas engine and carryover turbo-diesel 6.6-liter Duramax (445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque, the latter of which falls short of the new diesel Ram 3500's 1,000 pounds-feet of torque).
We've been hearing reports that the GM HD lineup will get a new gas engine — the stalwart 6.0-liter V-8 is long overdue for replacement — but we have not gotten official confirmation. However, we do know all new turbo-diesel HDs will be offered with a stronger, more technically savvy 10-speed Allison transmission that is likely to make the HDs stronger pullers and faster off the line than ever before. And just in case you don't remember, a Chevrolet Silverado 3500 powered by the current 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 and six-speed Allison won our .
All three cab configurations for Sierra's three-quarter and one-ton pickups — regular, double and crew — are bigger and have been thoroughly redesigned, just as with the GM light-duty pickups. Some will say these new pickups could be more luxurious inside and offer larger touchscreens, but we would add that the HD market is different from the light-duty market and in less need of experimentation when it comes to high-end materials and Tesla-like features. On the other-hand, for a vehicle that is likely to be towing pricey toys, livestock trailers or recreational vehicles, maybe it makes sense to pour as much luxury into an HD pickup as possible. We'll be able to better judge overall value when we get pricing information for the new pickups in several months.
Better Beds and Towing
New GMC Sierra HDs also will have the Sierra 1500's new bed design and shapes with three tough tie-down points at each corner of the widened bed. We're also told the bed floor has been reinforced. To more easily use the bed, the new Sierra 2500 and 3500 will sport side steps integrated into the front of the pickup bed like those on the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500. The side step makes it easier to reach the front of the bed from outside the truck. Not surprisingly, GMC also will offer its exclusive and versatile six-position MultiPro Tailgate, which provides better bed access and storage options, on all trim levels. At this point, however, the HD lineup will not have a carbon-fiber bed option like the Sierra 1500 does.
Of special note, the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 will offer a massive 15-inch diagonal head-up display to keep the driver informed about vehicle data, especially when off-roading or towing; the system offers dedicated screens for both. Likewise, a new ProGrade Trailering System offers up to 15 different camera views as well as a new class-first "ghosting" feature that allows you to see through and all around your trailer when equipped properly. The new trailering system provides engine diagnostics, light checks and even a trip checklist. The 2020 GMC Sierra HDs also get larger door-mounted, extendable and retractable towing mirrors, auto electronic parking brakes, hill hold, a more sensitive trailer-sway control, more aggressive auto grade braking, digital steering assist and a trailering information label on the driver's doorjamb that provides the gross vehicle weight rating and other trailering information specific to that vehicle, making it much easier to tow safely.
Two trim levels stand out in from the new HD trim lineup: the Denali, which accounts for about half of all GMC HD pickup sales, and the new off-road-centric AT4, a first for any GM HD pickup.
The top-of-the-line Denali offers unique large-pebble-grained leather seats, open-pore wood trim and dark-finished aluminum; it also gets a unique front grille and headlight design along with extra badging.
The new AT4 will have unusual dark chrome accents with body-colored grille surrounds and bumpers, and what's becoming GMC's signature red vertical front tow hooks. The AT4 will offer a Jet Black interior with dark trim and textured aluminum finishes on the steering wheel and throughout. Underneath, the AT4 will sport Rancho monotube shocks, extra skid plating and an Eaton locking rear differential. The new Traction Select System will have an Off-Road mode, and the HD surround-view cameras will allow the cameras to stay on while crawling at low speeds.
Look for more details and specifications when we get a chance to hook a 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 or 3500 to a trailer and take it up and down some steep grades. GMC says maximum tow ratings for the HDs will be in excess of 30,000 pounds, which we guess means gooseneck max-trailer ratings on the 3500. We'll be sure to pass more information as we get it.