The refreshed 2020 GMC Sierra HD will offer new technology and trims in the race to bring heavy-duty pickups into a more advanced era.
The upscale heavy-duty truck from the General Motors brand will have greater towing capacity compared with the outgoing model. However, its horsepower and torque figures stay the same. The Sierra HD faces stiff competition from the upcoming Ford Super Duty model and the 2020 Ram HD unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.
One way GM hopes to set the Sierra HD apart is through functional technology. The truck can be equipped with a 15-inch head-up display, up to 15 camera views and a rearview mirror display. It also offers a host of towing and trailering features and an off-road AT4 variant.
“Sierra HD acts as a flagship for the GMC brand,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC. The truck commands high transaction prices to bolster commercial sales, too, Aldred says.
“It’s a key part of GMC’s business and indeed General Motors’ business,” he said.
The Sierra HD uses the same architecture as its sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado HD. The two trucks share a new frame, dimensions and interior layout. Both models come standard with an integrated side step to access the bed.
The Sierra also uses the same Allison 10-speed automatic transmission as the Silverado HD.
Same power, more towing capacity
A 6.6-liter turbodiesel Duramax engine returns with 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. While the figures are identical to outgoing models, the 2020 Sierra HD features increased cooling capacity helped by a dual-path hood intake. GM will also introduce an all-new gasoline engine at a later date.
Even though its engine has not changed, GM said a bigger frame and smarter technology will deliver an improved maximum towing capacity that exceeds 30,000 pounds. The current generation Sierra HD tops out at 23,300 pounds.
Maximum torque and towing, while improved, may still fall short of the 2020 Ram HD unveiled at the Detroit auto show. Its Cummins turbodiesel engine delivers up to 1,000 pound-feet of torque. It can tow more than 35,000 pounds.
Ford is expected to debut a redesigned heavy-duty pickup with impressive figures as well later this year.
The calling card of the GMC Sierra HD is its luxurious amenities.
More than half of all Sierra HD customers opt for the deluxe Denali trim. The 2020 Sierra HD Denali features leather-appointed seats with contrast stitching, open-pore wood trim and dark aluminum accents.
“We like to think GMC is a cut above,” Aldred said. “The type of buyer who’s attracted to GMC and Denali lives life to a higher standard and wants that in their vehicle as well.”
Design of the 2020 Sierra HD moves in a different direction than the Silverado HD. The Chevrolet version uses a polarizing, wide and windswept front fascia that is heavy on chrome and makes the truck appear especially large.
By comparison, the 2020 Sierra HD is more traditionally styled. However, it has added an enlarged hood scoop with gaping nostrils. The chrome grille trim curls up into the headlights like a handlebar mustache. Daytime running lights are housed inside the curls in a shape GM calls “light blades.” LED headlamps, fog lamps and roof marker lights create a distinct lighting signature.
“We took every opportunity to visually express the strength and capability that lies beneath the surface,” said Matt Noone, director of exterior design for GMC.
The modular MultiPro tailgate that debuted on the 2019 Sierra 1500 is available on all 2020 Sierra HD trims. It is standard on the SLT, AT4 and Denali versions.
Technology plays a larger role in the 2020 Sierra HD than in previous versions. The 15-inch head-up display provides a range of information to the driver. It can show trailering updates, navigation mapping and a road grade gauge known as an inclinometer.
Other technology focuses on functionality, particularly when it comes to towing. GMC has upgraded the ProGrade Trailering package introduced on the 2019 Sierra 1500. On Sierra HD models it will offer up to 15 camera views, including one that virtually looks through a trailer to provide better overall visibility.
ProGrade also makes it possible to check lights, electronics and tire pressure on the trailer through the center touchscreen. The vehicle also has a digital departure checklist.
Some trailers will be compatible with the new In Command system that allows owners to monitor or control the trailer through a smartphone app. On such equipped trailers the user can turn on the air conditioning or water heater and check tank levels.
The 2020 Sierra HD also has towing technology that includes a Tow/Haul mode to enhance drivability with a load. Trailer Sway Control, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist are helpful tools in certain conditions. There is also Park Grade Hold Assist to enhance brake strength on a grade and an integrated trailer brake controller that remembers past gain settings.
GMC is introducing an off-road AT4 variant of every vehicle in its lineup. The 2020 Sierra HD is its latest host. Like the light-duty Sierra 1500 AT4, the Sierra HD AT4 drives off the showroom floor with a rugged equipment package.
The new 2020 Sierra HD AT4 will pose a challenge to the Ram 2500 Power Wagon, traditionally the only factory off-road truck in the heavy-duty segment.
Externally the AT4 can be distinguished by its dark chrome detailing, red recovery hooks and unique badging. The interior also has distinct, dark-tinted materials and all-weather floor mats. It is available as a crew cab version of the Sierra 2500HD or single-rear-wheel Sierra 3500HD.
The business end of the Sierra HD AT4 is its assortment of off-road parts. The truck has additional skid plates and an off-road suspension with Rancho shocks. Its rear locking differential is made by automotive supplier Eaton. The Sierra HD AT4 also has an Off-Road driving mode, Michelin all-terrain tires and cameras positioned to display the road ahead at low speeds.
The 2020 GMC Sierra HD will go on sale in late summer. Pricing will be announced closer to its availability date.