2019 GMC Sierra Denali: Taking a Tour of Tahoe

Snow + Truck = Fun Times Ahead

Arturo Hilario | El Observador

Recently I had the opportunity to take the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra Denali out to the snowy mountain ranges around South Lake Tahoe. Although now the snow might be melting and the summer version of Tahoe is right around the corner, the exciting aspects of traveling around the Lake are visible all year long. This was especially true during the time I spent with the Sierra Denali as I enjoyed the views, food and occasional gambling at the casinos by the Lakeside.

Speaking of views, Lake Tahoe is a jewel to behold, and its nearly pristine, bold-blue color stems from the clean air and water in the region, which also absorbs red light; this leaves that rich blue color that’s hard to find anywhere else. In some areas, the water is crystal clear 70 feet deep, this gives it an otherworldly aspect to it.

Although I had been to Lake Tahoe during the snow before, it was the first time I had taken a vehicle that was all-terrain and more than able to handle the elements of a snowy April in California/Nevada. The unique thing about South Lake Tahoe is that the town sits squarely on the border of the Golden State and the Silver State. This is why there’s casinos so close in proximity. Beyond the “Vegas Jr.” status, there was a lot more to behold this trip, and it all started with our ride.

The 2019 Sierra Denali provides a very comfortable ride, not for being a pick-up truck, but for being a vehicle, and with that brings so much to the table in terms of comfort, driving tech and reliability. Some of the best features I’ve ever had in a car happened to be in this half-cab. I am not essentially the fit for someone that would need a pick-up truck. I do very little in terms of construction or such labor that would require me to carry up to six thousand pounds or towing up to 13,700 pounds. I write, and sometimes I go camping or head to the beach, activities that this pick-up would just be overqualified to do but do it with ease. In fact, I usually go camping in a Honda Civic so anything that you need to step up into to get in is an upgrade if I’m honest.

To start off, the truck’s intuitive infotainment system is smooth, extremely smooth. Clicking through menus, for setting a route through navigation or choosing one of my Spotify playlists, is done with such an ease. GMC has done a great service in how it’s made its main hub of information easy to use. My party and I used these features, and more, to get from Mountain View to Lake Tahoe, and back with nary a gripe.

As we set on course, it was apparent that the Sierra’s engine, an impressively smooth 5.3-liter EcoTec3 v8, was able to tackle almost any road. At this time of the season, snow tires are not needed, but according to the signage going up to Lake Tahoe, there definitely at least needed to be all wheel drive on any vehicle traveling up the mountain, which our truck was more than capable of. Even when we drove up into the mountains to get a better view of the lake, there was snow dusting the road and the all-season tires didn’t flinch.

Back to our journey to Tahoe, we headed out kind of late, and I noticed as I drove at night that my use of the HD Rear Vision Camera, which can easily be flipped on and off from a conventional rearview mirror, was amazing to behold. Usually, with most bigger vehicles, you’ll have a certain blind spot or two that you have to get used to. With this truck, the option to flip to the back-camera mirror allowed me to forgo any blind spots, showing a wide-angle view behind the truck, even in the dark. It was actually a great nighttime view, and I must give props to the GMC tech department for making a feature that is more useful and practical than it is a “gimmick”.

So, as my group approached the snowy alpines of the region, we noticed snow began to fall. Such a great sight and feeling to see snow, quietly and gently falling outside in our cabin of warmth and comfort. Leather seats, heat warmers (even in the back-passenger seats) made our arrival one of majesty and eagerness. We pulled into Heavenly, Nevada, and the trip was complete for now, and all that was left was going to bed, and getting ready to hang out in some snow the next day. Our itinerary for the trip included sights and food, as we would only be there for one full day.

Another thing I noticed, after longer use of the truck was that it used a lot less fuel than I originally imagined when I first set eyes on the very large, and very tall truck. It’s a huge but unfathomably easy to use vehicle, and its highway mileage is great.

The aforementioned 5.3-liter EcoTec3 v8 with dynamic fuel management is smooth as can be, and a feature which helps in the fuel savings department is an auto engine shut off while stopped. This can be turned off, but in my usage, it was barely noticeable, all you can feel is a small shudder as it turns on or off, but it doesn’t waste any time doing so.

Speaking of fuel, the 7,000-pound truck can do 17 miles city, 19 combined city and highway, with a whopping 23 miles highway mileage. I can attest to the highway mileage for sure, as the trip, from Mountain View to Tahoe and back, was just about one whole tank of gas. It was pretty great.

One other thing that was the wow factor for this truck was it’s new for 2019, and only available with the Sierra, the MultiPro Tailgate. This tailgate essentially splits the main tailgate in two, use it conventionally as you would any tailgate. The fun starts when you begin to adjust the smaller tailgate within the main one, which sits at the top portion of the tailgate. This adjustable portion can flip down to create a flat surface which is big enough to place your laptop on if you’re working outdoors, a boombox or drinks for camping/tailgating, or even just some tools.

When you lower the whole tailgate to its flat position, you can then release the smaller tailgate down so you could reach into the truck bed with more ease to grab items. Another setup is popping out an additional “step” from this smaller tailgate, which then serves as a step to get up into the bed, or as a place to rest your feet while sitting on the bed, or lacing up some shoes or boots as I did before we went into the snow. Picture the bed with the tailgate open down and flat, and the top part of the flat tailgate flipping down into an “L” shape.

It seems like it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but now I feel I’ll be judging all trucks based on this MultiPro Tailgate feature, which comes standard on all Sierra’s, not just the Denali version.

All in all, the day trip that included driving up into the mountains for some majestic views and back down for some pizza dinner at a ski resort was made so much more comfortable and easier with the Sierra Denali as our ride.

As we put the truck to bed, we set off to the Nevada side of the town to check out our luck in Lake Tahoe’s two main casinos. Although our group went home without any type of grand prize gambling, I think the trip itself was a win for us all.

So, for winter wonder by a bright blue lake, or summer fun, or even just to drive around, this truck will get the job done, and in great style. I also hope everyone gets a chance to experience Lake Tahoe once in their lives, because it’s a jewel that isn’t too far from reach.