Who would have imagined that carbon fiber would be used in truck beds one day!

GMC has done wonders with the 2019 models of the Sierra. The time has come where it finally frees itself from the clutches of the Fords, and the Rams, and the Chevys, and creates its own identity. Sounds too dramatic, right? Well, that’s because the Sierra’s story has been nothing short of wonderous. A truck that played second fiddle to the Chevy Silverado has finally managed to put itself shoulder-to-shoulder with the competitors, and there seems to be no stopping it. After the revamped and the reloaded models, GMC has introduced a CarbonPro Edition for Sierra 1500 trims. Now, this is a big deal because carbon fiber is something that supercars and hypercars dress in. Will this be a unique selling proposition for Sierra moving forward?

Exterior

  • C-shaped LED DRLs
  • Chrome Overdose On The Face
  • MultiPro Tailgate Standard On Denali Trim
  • Carbon Fiber Bed Is Stronger and Lighter
  • Cut-outs To Haul Dirt Bikes And Street Motorcycles
  • Huge 22-inch Tires Available As Option
2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The CarbonPro Edition has been introduced on the Sierra AT4 1500 and the Sierra Denali 1500.

Denali is the top-of-the-line trim in the Sierra series, and just when we thought that we have seen it all, GMC decides to come up with something outside the box; inside the box, rather. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition’s face.

Upfront, the Denali looks different from the other trims. The XL-sized headlights house the C-shaped LED daytime running lights. This trim also comes with a fully functional hood scoop that helps pass cool air to the gruesome powerhouse underneath the bonnet. The muscle lines on the hood further enhance the monstrous appeal of the truck. The GMC Sierra just cannot be ignored due to its sheer size and presence. The Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition is a lot richer, a lot more detailed, and a lot more blingy than its counterparts! I honestly think the term ’Denali’ needs to be proposed as a new word in the Oxford Dictionary which means "oodles of chrome". It’s not just the grille; there’s the chrome window sill, chrome bumpers, and chrome fog light surroundings. Wait, we’re not done yet. There are chrome wing mirror caps, and elements of chrome on fenders as well.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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When viewed from the side, the GMC Sierra HD Denali CarbonPro Edition looks like a monster.

The best part about it is the ’CarbonPro 6.2L’ badge that it proudly wears on the front fenders. The squarish wheel arches are covered with black plastic cladding. As for the wheels, GMC has offered a plethora of options to choose from, but it rides on 20-inch rollers as standard. But given how big the truck is, even 20-inch wheels look puny on it. If I were to pick, I would configure my truck with the 22-inch wheels. Why make a beast look tame when it is out there to conquer the world?

The rear is where all the action lies. Other than the carbon fiber bed, GMC has installed its famous MultiPro tailgate in here. The six-mode tailgate can work as a standing desk or can be folded down to create a step into the bed. It is basically two tailgates - inception of sorts - wherein a fold-out stopper can be deployed from the inner tailgate. It can be operated at a push of a button or the key fob. The MultiPro tailgate can support up to 375 pounds, and has two buttons for operation. Ram has the equally talented Multifunction tailgate, but we don’t want to start a rumble here by picking sides. Other than this, the rear is fairly simple. It wears the Denali badge proudly on the tailgate, under the GMC moniker, and comes with integrated dual exhaust setup finished in silver that looks stunning on the black body.

What makes the CarbonPro Edition Special

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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Now, coming to the highlight of the article - the Carbon Fiber bed.

The reason why this is such a big deal is because the material is known to be literally unbreakable and is very light. We have seen hypercar manufacturers use this as well. But in the Sierra, GMC has used it for a different reason altogether and by the looks of it, the automaker has hit the bull’s eye. GMC took the development tests to the limit to check the actual strength of the bed. Cinder blocks where dropped from various heights, 450-pound steel drums, and 1800-pound gravel and water-filled steel barrels were dropped into it, and the company even had a 250-pound man drive a snowmobile into the bed and go full throttle, but the carbon fiber soaked it all up without breaking a sweat. The bed survived it all with hardly a scratch!

Other than the lightweight qualities of the bed, the CarbonPro Edition has also received a higher payload rating; 59 pounds more than the standard Denali trim's bed.

The CarbonPro bed’s grained surface has increased its durability and it doesn’t need a spray-in bed liner or rear wheelhouse liners, which further helps in saving weight. GMC has provided special cutouts and indentations - two smaller ones on the corners for dirt bikes, and a large one in the middle for a street motorcycle with wide tires. Two tie-down hooks are also in place to help hold the bikes in place. This reminds me of the Jeep Gladiator Flatbill Concept that marked its debut at the 2019 Easter Jeep Safari. GMC says that it will launch the CarbonPro Edition trucks in limited numbers this year, but you can expect it to enter large scale production in 2020 should demand be high enough.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The manufacturing process of the Carbon fiber truck bed is quite interesting. The bed starts off as a flat sheet of thermoplastic carbon fiber. The sheets are then heated in a large oven to soften them up before getting stamped by a 3,600-ton press. The smaller bits are shaped by a 1,000-ton press. Post this, water jets are used to cut holes, create slots for hooks and lights, and trim off any rough edges, Once this is done, all the parts are joined with a heat-cured adhesive. GMC does not let the little carbon fiber bits go waste. They are gathered, heated, and shaped into smaller pieces of the truck bed.

Interior

  • 15-inch Head up Display
  • Touchscreen System With Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Best-in-class Legroom and Headroom
  • All-Black Cabin Theme Looks Hot
  • 15-Camera Setup
  • Trailering System Is A Useful Feature
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Interior
- image 793713

Gone are the days when only sedans defined luxury inside the cabin. Trucks, which were considered as haulers and had the most basic cabins ever, now come with premium cabins that could give the luxury cars a complex.

On the inside, the CarbonPro Edition comes with the same cabin as the standard Denali.

Being the top-of-the-line trim, the GMC Sierra Denali not only reeks of quality all around, but it also has the best-in-class front headroom and legroom in the Crew Cab models. To justify its high price, it is offered with exclusive materials to distinguish it from other trims, like premium leather seats and dark-finish aluminum decor. It is precisely why more than half of Sierras sold are in Denali trim.

To add a little spice, GMC has offered the 15-camera setup as an optional accessory on the Sierra 1500 Denali. It comes as standard in the 2500 and the 3500 Denali trims. For people who like to haul thousands of pounds on the truck’s ass, it becomes inevitable for them to know what’s going on behind. It is quite surprising that we had not seen this on other trucks before. These 15 cameras help you see what’s around the truck and the trailer. The Sierra Denali CarbonPro, with this optional setup, lets you see right through a trailer by stitching together footage from a camera mounted on the tailgate and a footage from an accessory camera that needs to be installed on the back of the trailer. This makes navigating parking lots, merging into traffic, making tight turns, or backing in a trailer a breeze. Did your life just become easier?

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The Sierra Denali CarbonPro has been equipped with smart storage designs inside the cabin.

It also comes equipped with the iN∙Command control system that provides the ability to monitor and control select functions of equipped trailers through the myGMC mobile app. For instance, if it’s a camper, you can use the app to turn on the A/C or the water heater, check the water level, and check the generator’s fuel level. With a second app called "Trailering", you can also verify the trailer’s tire pressure, whether the lights work, and access a pre-departure checklist. Apart from this, the GMC Sierra CarbonPro Edition also comes with features like:

  • An Infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Compatibility
  • 15-inch-diagonal head-up display
  • Park Grade Hold Assist
  • Auto Electric Park Brake
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Trailer Sway Control

Drivetrain

  • 6.2-liter, V-8 engine
  • Produces 420 horsepower
  • 460 pound-feet of Torque Is Sufficient
  • 5.3-liter, V-8 engine
  • Develops 355 Ponies
  • 383 Pound-Feet of Torque
  • Can Tow Up To 12,500 Pounds
  • Payload Capacity Of Up To 2,030 Pounds
  • Denali-exclusive Adaptive Ride Control
2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The Denali trim is offered with two engine options.

The first one is a 6.2-liter, V-8 engine that churns out 420 horses and 460 pound-feet of twist.

It is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The torque is sufficient to pull the truck easily even with cargo in the back. The Denali trims feature an exclusive Adaptive Ride Control that helps keep the suspension composed over all types of pavement. It monitors the road and adjusts the damping rates within milliseconds, so even rough roads don’t feel very bad. The other one is a 5.3-liter, V-8 that develops 355 horses and 383 pound-feet of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both of these engines can be paired to a two-wheel or four-wheel drive setup. Being a light duty truck, it does not benefit from the 6.6-liter engine that has 445 horses and a massive 910 pound-feet of torque.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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There are Tour, Sport, Off-Road, and Tow/Haul drive modes, and you can add Snow and Terrain modes, depending on your configuration.

When compared to the competition, both of the engines fall short in terms of refinement and smooth ride quality. But thanks to the responsive steering wheel, the Sierra 1500 Denali is fun to drive. The Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition is a thirsty vehicle. The four-wheel-drive setup delivers 19 miles per gallon with the smaller 5.3-liter engine, whereas the 6.2-liter mill returns up to 17 miles per gallon. Unlike the Ram 1500 which comes with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, the Sierra Denali relies on 17 cylinder-deactivation combinations that work silently on the fly. This means that, depending on the surface you’re driving on and the power needed by the machine to drive smoothly, the engine deactivates cylinders to conserve fuel.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The Sierra 1500 Denali ProCarbon Edition can tow up to 12,500 pounds. The Ram beats it by 200 pounds, but the Sierra easily beats the Ford F-150’s 11,400-pound capacity. As for the payload capacity, it can haul up to 2,030 pounds. If you need a higher towing and payload capacities, you can opt for the Heavy Duty versions of the same; so, a minimal difference in the rating should not be a deal breaker if you’re shopping in the light duty trucks segment.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali drivetrain specifications
Engine 5.3L V-8 VVT DI with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start 6.2L V-8 VVT DI with Dynamic Fuel Management and Stop/Start
Bore & Stroke (in / mm): 3.78 x 3.62 / 96 x 92 4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92
Block Material: Cast aluminum Cast aluminum
Cylinder Head Material: Cast aluminum Cast aluminum
Valvetrain: Overhead valve, two valves per cylinder, variable valve timing Overhead valve, two valves per cylinder, variable valve timing
Fuel Delivery: Direct high-pressure fuel injection with Dynamic Fuel Management Direct high-pressure fuel injection with Dynamic Fuel Management
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 355 / 265 @ 5600 (SAE certified) 420 / 313 @ 5600 (SAE certified)
Torque (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm): 383 / 519 @ 4100 (SAE certified) 460 / 623 @ 4100 (SAE certified)
Transmission 8-speed automatic 10-speed automatic

Pricing

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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Pricing for the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali CarbonPro Edition is not yet revealed officially, but we expect GMC to charge approximately $3,000 extra for the carbon fiber bed. The standard Denali trim starts at $54,700, so the CarbonPro Edition could be priced around $58,000 before optional packages. Spec it to its limit, and you will find yourself shelling out in excess of $70,000.

Competition

Ford F-150

2019 GMC Sierra Exterior
- image 771289
It looks bigger and bolder

The Ford F-150 is most popular truck of the segment and squares off against its American counterpart. What makes it the people’s champ is the fact that it is available with six engine options! From a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine to a 5.0-liter V-8 engine, you have a whole palette to choose as per your requirement. The engines are smooth, refined, and will keep you happy when driven without trailers attached to its derriere. As is the norm in this segment, the Ford F-150 also comes with a huge chrome grille slapped on its face.

On the inside, the truck is a typical Ford - large, comfortable, and utilitarian. The top-trim comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, and heated and cooled seats, to name a few. The cabin is not a tech-head’s dreamland by any means, but there is enough electronic shenanigans to keep him sane. The F-150 is comfortable and spacious enough to keep you from complaining. As is with any Ford truck and SUV, there is not dearth of customisation. Right from spoiling yourself with creature comforts, to mechanical, Ford has made sure you can build this truck as per your convenience. However, if you are a thrifty spender, this Ford truck will make you lighter by more than $80,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford F-150

Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500 Exterior
- image 760707

Undoubtedly, the Ram 1500 comes with the biggest mouth amongst the three. There is enough silver to deflect sun rays to other objects on the road while driving. Just like the Sierra, the Ram 1500 also shifted gears recently and has proven its worth in the market. It is available with a 3.6-liter, V-6 engine and a 5.7-liter, V-8 Hemi engine. When speced properly, the Ram 1500 can tow up to 12.700 pounds, making it the winner in the American trio-fight.

Unlike the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali and the Ford F-150, Ram has focused on the mechanical rather than the interior. The Ram 1500 does not feel as plush as the two, but the quality of materials used will last a lifetime. The truck does not scream budget from any angle. Ram has managed up to 12 smart storage solutions for you. You can hold bigger items like tablets in it now. The base trim comes with a five-inch infotainment system, while the higher trims can be availed in 8.4-inch or 12-inch screen. It also comes with five USB ports, three 115-volt plugs, and wireless charging docks.

Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500

Final Thoughts

2019 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition
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The biggest positive for GMC is that the Sierra sells more than half its examples in the Denali trim. Almost every car, in any segment, sells the most in the mid trims as they are affordable and the customers can equip them with their choice of goodies and shun out the extras that they don’t require. But the Sierra Denali has struck gold here despite its premium pricing. Features like the 15-inch head-up display, 15 camera setup, its compatibility with apps, and a multi-mode tailgate make things a lot more interesting in day-to-day use. With the CarbonPro Edition, GMC has upped the game and the benchmark for the competitors to match. There is no denying that the carbon fiber material makes this truck the most abuse-friendly truck on the market today.

  • Leave it
    • Looks are subjective and will draw polarising opinions.
    • Since its a first-in-segment feature, the price for the CarbonPro Edition could touch the sky
    • Carbon fiber bed available only in the AT4 and Denali trims. People on a tight budget do not have an option to avail it.

Further Reading

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali.

2020 GMC Sierra HD
- image 818478

Read our full review on the 2020 GMC Sierra HD.

2019 GMC Sierra Exterior
- image 771288
The 6.2 and 5.3-liter were updated

Read our full review on the 2019 GMC Sierra.

Starting production in early June, GMC Sierra CarbonPro TM Editions will begin appearing at select dealerships this summer, available on the Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500. The purpose-built CarbonPro bed is the first application of its kind for carbon fiber composite and delivers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.

“CarbonPro is made of the same raw material found in seven-figure super cars and even aerospace applications,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global GMC. “Coupled with offering the world’s first six-function MultiPro tailgate, the 2019 Sierra packs a one-two hauling punch for whatever the situation demands.”

The two back end segment firsts are just some of the innovative features to debut on the 2019 GMC Sierra. An available ProGrade Trailering System with in-vehicle trailering app offers a connected suite of trailering technology to bring more confidence to towing while an available Rear Camera Mirror1 uses a camera mirror display that provides a wide, unobstructed view to help avoid common visual obstructions like occupants or cargo. Also available is a Multicolor 15-inch Diagonal Head-Up Display.

Key benefits of the CarbonPro bed include:

Strength, durability and scratch resistance: The carbon fiber composite material provides the most scratch, dent and corrosion-resistant pickup bed in the industry.
Corrosion-resistance: Carbon fiber composite naturally resists corrosion, helping the bed withstand weathering and maintain a premium appearance over the life of the truck.
Reduced weight: The CarbonPro bed weighs 25 percent less than a traditional steel bed, removing roughly 60 pounds of vehicle mass. Its grained surface also negates the need for bed liners, potentially saving further vehicle mass.
More volume: The CarbonPro bed design enables best-in-class cargo volume, increasing the already class-leading volume of the Sierra’s roll-formed steel bed by 1 cubic foot.
More functionality: The CarbonPro bed features indentations specifically designed for tires of dirt and street bikes. Two additional tie-down locations are installed at the front of the bed.
Rigorous validation testing

The CarbonPro bed was rigorously developed to help ensure long-term pickup bed durability and functionality.

Examples of the validation testing include:

Drop tests: Large and heavy loads were repeatedly dropped on the CarbonPro bed to replicate extreme use scenarios. Testing included dropping cinder blocks, 1800-pound loads of gravel and 450-pound water-filled steel drums from varying heights.
Corrosion test: CarbonPro was subjected to corrosion testing but carbon fiber composite is naturally resistant to corrosion.
Snowmobile test: A snowmobile with metal studs on the track was driven into the bed and accelerated at full throttle with a 250-pound rider on board with only minimal scratching evident on the bed.
Extreme temperature testing: Validation work was performed in Yuma, Arizona, and Kapuskasing, Ontario, to help ensure CarbonPro holds up in unforgiving environments.
Generator test: High heat exposure involved aiming the exhaust from a portable generator directly at the corner of the bed to ensure heat and vibration would not degrade the bed.
Form meets function

The CarbonPro bed offers best-in-class cargo volume thanks to its sidewalls being pushed out farther, made possible by the formability of carbon fiber composite that allows molding deep and complex shapes with variable thicknesses. Like the steel bed, the CarbonPro bed provides the ability to slide a 2-inch by 6-inch wooden divider into pockets in the bed wall for cargo organization and separation.

Purposefully grained corrugation optimizes traction and cleanup, with more aggressive graining at the tops of the corrugation to help increase traction in wet weather and a smoother grain at the bottoms of the corrugation for easy dirt and debris removal.

The carbon fiber composite bed does not need to be painted, since the composite material creates a premium surface and is UV stable.

“The bed is the working end of a truck; it’s what brings buyers to the segment,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer, Full-Size Trucks, General Motors, “Loaded with motorcycles, snowmobiles or dirt bikes, CarbonPro in the 2019 GMC Sierra is sure to impress with its strength, space and innovation.”

Additional details

Spray-in bedliner not needed: Because carbon fiber composite is exceptionally durable, a spray-in bedliner is not necessary to help prevent damage and therefore will not be packaged on models with the CarbonPro bed. The composite material is rugged yet nonabrasive.
Rear wheelhouse liners not needed: Because of CarbonPro’s increased dent resistance versus aluminum or steel, no wheelhouse liner is installed from the factory.
Payload increase: Models equipped with the CarbonPro bed offer an increase in payload over a steel bed due to the mass savings of carbon fiber composite. Payload for these models is at least 59 pounds higher, depending on the configurations and equipment.
Availability

Sierra CarbonPro Edition makes a limited debut for the 2019 model year and is available for both the Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500. CarbonPro will be available in greater quantity on both trims for the 2020 model year.

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