Trucks have always been synonymous with power. A sturdy and tough off-road vehicle with strong towing capabilities and your go-to for all things construction. Comfort and performance were secondary perks. 

But, the truck has since taken on a whole new identity, and it couldn’t be more evident than with the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra — the first truly luxurious truck on the market. 

GMC has provided customers with a versatile vehicle that not only fulfills its duties as part of the truck family, but it’s enjoyable to drive, too, providing a super smooth ride and a host of innovative new features; a true transformation of the truck we once envisioned.  

The manufacturer has installed supple bucket seats, wider back rows, high-end audio systems, navigation screens and beefy engines that still dig deep for low-speed power but also churn ahead with higher mph drive trains. They haven't lost the girth and strength to pull, carry and drag loads like a weather-beaten four wheeler. Yet they come close, looks-wise, to a plush spit-and-polish SUV.

General Motors takes the "truck as status symbol" pitch to a higher level in its retooled 2019 GMC Sierra, the pickup's first major makeover since 2014. Starting in the $40,000s, the full-sized vehicle peaks with the Denali trim. A richly equipped model at Baker Buick GMC Cadillac showed a sticker price of $68,035.

"The thing about the new GMC (Sierra) Denali is that this is really the first luxury truck in the industry," said James R. "Hollywood" Jeffery, sales and leasing consultant with Baker Buick GMC Cadillac.

Among the spotlights:

  • An innovative lift gate – The Multipro Tailgate — can be adjusted in six different configurations: a backstop to keep wood beams from falling out, steps to climb into the bed with help from a grab handle, tray to hold parts or tools and a base to balance a radio or even TV powered by a truck-bed plug, to name a few. The novel carbon fiber bed includes bits of aluminum to lessen overall weight.
  • LED head lamps, tail-lights and interior bulbs. The headlights will automatically brighten on a dark road, and door "puddle" lamps shine straight down so people exiting the car can see and avoid pooled water.
  • Safety features such as blind-spot zone alarm and lane keep assist, in which the seats vibrate if the vehicle crosses lane lines without a blinker.
  • Center console touch screen that controls navigation and maps, Bose premier audio system and settings, as well as rear camera viewing and eight additional camera angles including 360 degrees, overhead, front image, back image and trailer. Android Audio and Apple CarPlay are available via USB plugs.
  • 10-way power adjusted front seats.
  • Driver and passenger-side bench steps to enter and exit the cab, which fold out electronically and can be maneuvered with a light kick to move the steps back to reach into the bed.
  • First-time heating and ventilated rear seats that can be controlled from the back, and chairs that can be lifted up for added storage.
  • Automatic controls in front to open and close the rear sliding window.
  • Leather seats throughout with stitching that matches the floor mats.
  • Multiple suspension modes including sport, off-road and towing.
  • A “head-up” display that projects vehicle information, like your current speed or speed limit, onto the glass of the windshield, encouraging drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
  • Beefed-up grille with bold GMC lettering.
  • Keyless remote, push-button entry and start, as long as an ignition fob is on hand.
  • Smart phone tray between driver and passenger seats that also acts as a cordless charger.
  • High definition, digital rear-view mirror — a GMC first — that offers super-clear viewing and can be aligned with people's eyesight.
  • Trailer controller that can apply brakes automatically to prevent sway, and tire pressure monitor that keeps track of the trailer wheels.
  • Sunroof that opens over the front and rear seats.

"This one is souped up, " said John Coughlin, a fellow sales and leasing consultant at Baker GMC on Savannah Highway. Nonetheless many features found on the Denali are available on the base and SLT trims.

Engine choices include a 6.3-liter V-8 pumping out more than 400 horsepower. A dynamic fuel management system shuts off the motor at traffic lights and starts again immediately, saving on gas. The full-sized truck manages 20 mpg highway, 15 mpg city for a combined 17 mpg.

Coughlin notes that most features offer practical uses. “The remote start,” he said, “is not just convenience. It lets the (engine) fluids warm up." That means "less wear and tear."

At 9,600 pounds, the Sierra's towing capacity is one of the highest in the industry.

Jeffery said the model's complementary perks of upgraded luxury and high-tech convenience make it an ideal vehicle for weekend projects, for instance.

"The trip to Lowe's and Home Depot got a little easier," he said.

An hour or so test drive in a fully loaded Denali showcased the new Sierra's range of luxury, performance and innovation. The truck accelerates gradually and holds speed with a light touch, firm brakes easily slow the vehicle and handling is amazingly car-like in its ease and precision. GMC fit a lot of gadgetry into the five-passenger truck yet it wasn't overbearing or confusing. Reasonably simple knob turns or "back" strokes changed screen modes such as from Sirius XM Radio to a clear map of West Ashley. Just like a luxury car, the ride was smooth and quiet. It was clear visibility via a wide windshield and side mirrors, and the HD rear view mirror was a mesmerizing perk.

Quibbles were few. The suspension changing button on the driver information display didn't make it clear when the mode changed from regular to sport. The center console, which also included climate control knobs and cupholders, was a little crowded.

But those irritations were nothing compared to all the high-end features and inspiring adaptations — the virtuoso tailgate alone would be worth the price of a drive, especially on a road trip.

Sierra, you’ve altered our thinking and opened the doors to innovation. Welcome to a new truck era.

For more information and photos, go to www.postandcourier.com/business/real_estate/jim-parker.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

SPECS

MODEL: 2019 GMC Sierra

TYPE: Full-sized pickup truck

PRICE: $33,500 to $68,000-plus (Denali)

ENGINE: 5.3-liter V-8, 6.3-liter V-8

HORSEPOWER: 285-420

SEATING: Up to six passengers

TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic, 10-speed automatic (Denali)

POWER TRAIN: Front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive

FUEL ECONOMY: 17-23 mpg

WHEELS: 20, 22-inch (Denali)