Interview with The Sierra HD Chief Engineer Marissa West | GMC Life

GMC LIFE

GMC CHIEF ENGINEER SHARES DETAILS ON NEXT GENERATION 2020 SIERRA HEAVY DUTY’S CAPABILITY, TECH

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When it comes to delivering a powerful and purpose-built heavy duty truck, the Next Generation 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty doesn’t just check the boxes on performance, capability and design. It sets standards.

From the available best-in-class heavy duty towing of up to 35,500 lbs. and a segment-first Allison® 10-speed transmission to available features like class-leading 15 camera views, segment-first Head-Up Display and Rear Camera Mirror, and the world’s first MultiPro™ Tailgate, the new Sierra Heavy Duty proves not all heavy duty pickups are created equal.

To get an inside look at its development and design, GMC Life sat down with Sierra Heavy Duty Chief Engineer Marissa West, who shared details about how they brought together incredible performance, enhanced trailering and the unmistakably strong look of a GMC for a competent and capable heavy duty truck.

Foundations

GMC LIFE: What was the team’s mission in creating the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty?

MARISSA WEST: Well our heavy duty customer base was essential in how we approached the engineering and design of this latest Sierra Heavy Duty. From the very start, we knew it was important to listen to our customers and get to the core of what they were looking for and what their needs are. What we learned is they want distinctive design, as well as distinctive capability.

So we set out to make the strongest, smartest truck on the market by starting from the ground up, redesigning the structure, the suspension and the distinctive look of the vehicle. This truck is now larger in every dimension and packed with enhancements aimed at delivering great performance and trailering capabilities. This Next Generation Sierra Heavy Duty is everything our customers expect from GMC ─ bold, capable and precisely crafted.

Towing Capability

GMC LIFE: Can you tell us about the powerful capability of the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty?

MARISSA WEST: To begin with, this offers the most capable heavy duty pickup for trailering in the segment. Every single one of the dual, rear wheel combinations of the Sierra Heavy Duty achieves greater than 30,000 pounds of towing capability. It also has a best-in-class maximum gooseneck trailering rating of up to 35,500 lbs. and a gross combined weight rating of 43,500 lbs.

Allowing us to achieve that kind of capability is a redesigned chassis that includes enhancements like a class-exclusive independent front suspension for carrying capability, as well as a smoother ride for improved comfort.

We also know engine cooling is important for when our customers are putting their truck through its paces. So we’ve added features that allow the engine to pull in as much fresh air as it needs when it needs it. That included a larger radiator and fan, as well as a dual-path intake system that draws in air from a hood scoop and the front grille.

Another feature that we’re really excited to offer is engine after-run. So if you’ve been pulling a really heavy load up a steep grade and you turn your truck off, the engine will actually turn itself back on for up to 15 minutes. This allows for that engine to cool down in a controlled manner, which helps with durability and reliability of the engine.

Advanced Powertrains

GMC LIFE: What are some of the innovations behind the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty’s standard or available powertrains?

MARISSA WEST: When it came to the powertrains, we really wanted to raise the bar in performance.

First, there’s also an all-new 6.6L gasoline V8 engine. This is the only gasoline direct-injected V8 engine in the heavy duty pickup segment when you exclude other GM vehicles. Delivering 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque, this powertrain offers more power and torque compared to the previous 6.0L gas engine.

Then there’s the available 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel V8. With 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque, this is just a phenomenal powertrain. It’s been paired with an all-new Allison® 10-speed automatic transmission that has closer gear spacing and a higher final drive ratio so you can take full advantage of the power and torque.

We’ve also upsized and upgraded almost every component of the driveline to enable this kind of capability and give you excellent trailering strength. The front and rear axles are larger. There’s a standard 11.5-inch ring gear on 2500 Heavy Duty models and a massive 12-inch ring gear on 3500 Heavy Duty diesel models. So loaded or unloaded, whether you’re merging onto the expressway or pulling away from a stop sign, you’re going to feel all of that power.

ProGrade Trailering System

GMC LIFE: What types of trailering technology is featured on the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty?

MARISSA WEST: Many of our customers have told us that they want more confidence when towing. So we integrated a lot of design elements to bring the trailering experience to another level.

This includes the available ProGrade Trailering, which is a suite of design features and technologies that come together to seamlessly improve the process of connecting and driving a trailer.

There’s an available 15 different camera views  that really give more confidence. We also have the industry-first transparent trailer camera view, which uses existing cameras and an additional camera installed by the driver to give a view that looks as if your trailer wasn’t even there.

Then there’s an available Rear Camera Mirror to help show what’s behind you, and the available 15-inch diagonal head-up display that will even indicate the grade you’re currently driving at.

We’re also introducing an in-vehicle trailering app , which allows you to store up to five trailering profiles. So whether you’re towing something for work or a camper on the weekends, you’re going to be able to store that information in the center stack and recall it for when you need it.

GMC LIFE: Overall, what do you think makes the 2020 Sierra Heavy Duty different?

MARISSA WEST: At GMC, we really take capability seriously. It’s in the DNA of the brand and this truck is really set apart from the other trucks out on the market. It’s the strongest, smartest and most capable Sierra Heavy Duty that we’ve ever built. We’re really proud of it.

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  • Requires properly equipped 3500 Regular Cab DRW Long Box 2WD model with available 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine and gooseneck hitch (late availability). Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

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  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). When properly equipped; includes weight of vehicle and trailer combination, including the weight of driver, passengers, fuel, optional equipment and cargo in the vehicle and trailer.

  • App functionality and features vary with vehicle equipment and trim level. Data connection may be required. Some features require active service plan and working electrical system. User terms and limitations apply.

  • Requires available accessory trailer camera and installation.  Not compatible with all trailers.  See your dealer for details.

  • Read the vehicle’s Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • App functionality and features vary with vehicle equipment and trim level. Data connection may be required. Some features require active service plan and working electrical system. Terms and limitations apply.

  • Canyon’s 7700-lb rating requires 2WD Crew Cab model with available Duramax 2.8L I-4 Diesel engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details. Click here to see all GMC destination freight charges.

  • Requires 4WD Double Cab with available 6.2L V8 and Max Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Crew Cab DRW equipped with 6.6L Duramax Diesel and fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch. Trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming properly equipped vehicle, plus driver and one passenger. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers and cargo will reduce the trailer weight your vehicle can tow. See dealer for details.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Denali Short Box model with 5.3L V-8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Passenger's 9,600-lb rating requires a 2500 or 3500 Regular wheelbase model with available 6.0L V8 engine and trailering equipment package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cargo’s 10,000-lb rating requires  the available 6.0L V8 engine and trailering equipment package.  Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual.  The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cutaway’s 9,006-lb rating requires a 4500 Series 159" Wheelbase model with available 6.0L V8 engine. These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

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  • Canyon’s 7000-lb rating requires available trailering package and 3.6L V-6 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Sierra's 12,500-lb rating requires Sierra Double Cab or Crew Cab Short box 2wd with 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine and NHT Max Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming properly equipped vehicle, plus driver and one passenger. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers and cargo will reduce the trailer weight your vehicle can tow. See dealer for details.

  • Sierra Denali's 9,300-lb rating requires 2wd. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Passenger's 10,000-lb rating requires 2500 Wheel Base with 6.0L V8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cargo's 10,000-lb rating requires 6.0L V8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). When properly equipped, includes weight of vehicle, passengers, cargo and equipment.

  • Requires properly equipped 3500 Regular Cab DRW Long Box 2WD model with available 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine and gooseneck hitch (late availability). Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details. Click here to see all GMC destination freight charges. Bed/Roof-Mounted Bicycle Carriers shown. Requires crossbars or Thule Rack Solution. Non-GM warranty. Warranty by Thule®. See dealer for more information.

  • Available. Requires 2.0L Turbocharged gas engine.

  • Terrain's 3,500-lb rating requires available 2.0L Turbocharged gas engine and available trailering equipment. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires available 3.6L V6 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Yukon’s 8,500-lb rating requires short wheelbase 2wd with 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine and HD Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Denali Short Box model with 5.3L V-8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

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