High Sierra: GMC Introduces Elevation Package for 2019

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There are several truths in this world: death, taxes, and the profitability of pickup trucks. General Motors has shown us several iterations of its 2019 half-tons since they dropped one from the sky at Texas Motor Speedway in December, despite the trucks not being scheduled to be found on dealer lots until this fall.

Now, GMC is rolling out another trim of its Sierra cash machine, the Elevation. Think of it as a color-keyed whip that can be opted with an “off-road lite” package. One thing’s for sure: fans of the brand will be spoilt for choice when the new truck appears in showrooms.

And, oh yeah, it’ll come standard with a 310 horsepower inline-four. Will truck buyers embrace a machine with half the traditional cylinder count?

At the GMC’s introduction earlier this year, The General chose to display copies of the luxo Denali and off-road AT4, complete with goodies like a carbon fiber bed and trick multifunction tailgate. Photos have since popped up of the volume SLT trim, as well. This Elevation trim is a color-keyed and black-accented truck, sporting a set of 20-inch wheels and based off the double cab model, not the crew. It’ll be offered in two- or four-wheel-drive configurations.

Optional is a X31 Off Road package that’ll imbue the truck with a decent level of kit, including unique suspension tuning with Rancho shocks, locking rear diff, and Hill Descent Control. Think of it as an AT4-lite and you’ll be on the right track. That X31 package also includes protective underbody skidplates, what GMC describes as a dual exhaust system, and a two-speed transfer case with low range.

All-terrain tires are described as standard equipment and indeed shown in the photo, but a quick zoom-in on the picture shows they are scrubbed of any sidewall markings, leaving us guessing as to manufacturer and size specifics beyond their 20-inch diameter. Twenty-inch hoops will clear GM’s performance brake system, although that option goes unmentioned.

Bound for the middle of the Sierra range, the Elevation packs GM’s 8-inch infotainment system, which incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB ports abound, of both the Type-A and Type-C variety, making this as more than a garden-variety work truck.

Under the hood of 2019 Sierras with the Elevation package is GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged engine as standard equipment. Interestingly, the company is careful not to identify the unit as a four-banger in its marketing materials. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic and said to deliver 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque.

The 5.3-liter V-8 is also available, deploying a Dynamic Fuel Management system that enables the engine to operate on one to eight cylinders. Early next year, the truck will also be offered with a tasty 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The example shown here has its engine size, 5.3L, displayed on its upper fender port. It’ll be interesting to see if that styling flourish is included for the four-banger, as some owners may not be keen to advertise their four angry squirrels. Surely, macho diesel models will have those six letters hammered into the Sierra’s body somewhere, likely in a ten-foot tall font, or optionally carved into the owner’s face with a hunting knife.

Showing all these trims may seem like the world’s most pointless striptease, but GM will at least avoid the ire currently being directed at Ram, which arguably rushed its new pickup to market by sending it to dealers initially in only a handful of bodystyles and with a single engine choice. Popular options such as the neato RamBox were also unavailable at launch. By choosing to fling its new pickup into the market fully baked, The General stands a better chance of capturing a wider customer base.

[Images: General Motors]