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GMC Sierra HD truck gets trailer-towing updates

GM adds the ability for drivers to “see through” the trailer they’re towing behind

GM thinks size matters — at least when it comes to trucks. The company’s press release announcing the updated design for its 2020 Sierra HD pickup line puts it this way, “The 2020 Sierra HD has a commanding, powerful design rooted in a new architecture with larger proportions.”

It’s hard to argue that truck guys — and gals — don’t like to see their rig look the part, big and tough that is. So GM may be onto something by adding height and length to the Sierra HD truck line as well as a longer wheelbase. In the truck world, size usually equates to capability, although that won’t make them any easier to squeeze into a parking stall at the mall on those trips to the city. But that’s what you have an SUV or half-ton for, right?

“We took every opportunity to visually express the strength and capability that lies beneath the surface,” says Matt Noone, director of GMC exterior design. “The elevated hood line, the strong shoulders, the striking front grille — these cues communicate the strength and performance that have been engineered and built into each and every Sierra Heavy Duty.”

With that powerful look come some new design cues, like the LED “light blades” that serve as daytime running lights. Inside the cab there is no shortage of legroom and a higher seating position to add to that feeling of size. There’s a more ergonomic layout of the cab and a segment-first heads-up display.

The Sierra HDs will get 18-inch wheels.
photo: GMC

But despite the higher and longer stance, engineers have actually lowered the bed height by one inch compared to 2019 HD models. So manual loading won’t require any extra effort, and hitching up to a gooseneck of fifth wheel trailer will be the same as before.

The ProGrade trailering system

And speaking of trailer towing, the new Sierra HDs offer the ProGrade trailering system.

“We’ve developed this new truck to offer the greatest trailering experience ever offered by GMC,” says Jaclyn McQuaid, vehicle chief engineer, Heavy Duty Trucks.

Part of that is the ability of the driver to get 15 different camera views on the dash display from around the truck and even at the rear of the trailer, which offer the virtual ability to see “through” the trailer to make keeping an eye on traffic, backing and parking easier.

Up to 15 camera views are available on the ProGrade trailering system package, which includes a virtual see-through trailer perspective.
photo: GMC

Anyone with much experience pulling a trailer has likely been faced with finicky electrical problems with lights and brakes. The new Sierras help drivers deal with that, using an in-vehicle trailering app with trailer light test, trailer electrical diagnostics, trailer tire pressure and temperature monitoring, pre-maintenance reminders and departure checklist. Many of the trailering app’s functions, including the lighting test and pre-departure checklist, are also available with the myGMC mobile app.

The list of other towing features is a pretty long one, which includes trailer sway control and hill start assist when staring out on a grade and diesel engine exhaust braking for the downslopes — you know, like the Jake Brakes the big rigs use.

And speaking of diesels, GM has plunked its 6.6-litre Duramax turbo diesel under that taller hood and mated it with a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission. With that drivetrain option, the Sierra HDs get a towing capacity rating north of 35,500 pounds (16,100 kilograms) on the 3500 model.

GM and Dodge number their “one-ton” models the 3500s and Ford calls theirs the F350. With ever-increasing tow ratings across the brands like this latest one on the new Sierra HDs, that one-ton moniker seems increasingly less relevant now than it ever did.

About the author

Machinery Editor

Scott Garvey is the machinery editor for Grainews.

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