2019 GMC Sierra Elevation Review – Truly a Canadian Truck

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2019 GMC Sierra Elevation – Photo by GM/Scarfone Photography

General Motors is very savvy when it comes to customers need for personalization, particularly in trucks.  For the past several years they have offered unique and limited-time trim packages that give its products that added flare that buyers are looking for.  These appearance packages usually follow a theme – off-road, blacked-out, hot colour accents or luxury.   However, sometimes, a package is also put together to reflect a regions tastes. This recognition of a specific market is what the Elevation is. 

This trim package pays homage to Canadian truck buyers with styling that we identify with  Built on the GMC Sierra Crew Cab it has obviously hits its mark with 22% of total Sierra sales; making it the number one ordered truck in the country.  The key features of the Elevation include: the 5.3L V8, 20-inch black wheels, LED lighting, premium interior, Elevation appearance package and the factory trailering package. 

This type of package is becoming a trend.  Ram, for example, clued into this last year and released the Sport.  This Canada-only package was a collection of the most ordered trim/options in Ram trucks across the country.  Looking at those orders they smartly bundled them together and created the Sport – again, for Canada-only. 

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A key feature of the Elevation is a chrome-delete look.  Body mouldings and bumpers are mostly body coloured above the blacked-out rims; seems Canadians prefer an understated look on their trucks.  I always find this curious in comparison to another unique truck market – Texas.   Each manufacturer has at least one dedicated Texas-only model and they all have one thing in common – an abundance of chrome.  In fact it seems that in Texas there is no such thing as too much chrome – the body-coloured, black accent Elevation wouldn’t fly down there.  

 For 2020 Elevation has expanded with another version called Elevation Extension. This package adds to the blacked-out theme with available body-coloured grille surround with black insert and wheels that are either gloss black aluminum or satin graphite aluminum.  

The Elevation trim was originally available on the Sierra 1500 but it’s success has now spawned further brand penetration with a GMC Canyon Elevation and coming this fall to the SUV line; GMC Terrain Elevation.  

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Also of note for the 2020 model year is a new engine choice – the 2.7L turbo.   This mighty four-cylinder turbo charged engine is now an option in several versions of GM trucks and will be standard equipment on SLE and Elevation trim equipped 1500’s.  This new plant makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque.  And, as the block weighs in at just around 300 lb, that makes it a one to one ratio engine.   One pound of weight putting out one horsepower – that’s impressive. 

This 2.7L turbo is GM’s response to Ford’s EcoBoost engines – which are also turbo-charged and produce significant horsepower vs. block weight.   Unlike Ford though, GM is still heavily invested in large displacement V8’s (the 5.3L and 6.2L in particular). These naturally aspirated V8’s offer a more traditional power-band with loads of torque.  These characteristics are particularly attractive when towing.   The drawback to the V8’s is fuel economy – however GM has also attacked this problem with a sophisticated cylinder deactivation system that runs automatically matching power with demand.  This innovation has gone a long way to making the cost of running these V8’s acceptable. 

So then, with the amount of tech that has gone into the 5.3 and 6.2 V8’s what’s the point of building this small turbo?  Even better fuel economy.  GM recognizes that certain customers (who don’t heavily load their trucks or tow much) would rather have the fuel savings that this turbo-four will give them.  However, at 310 hp, this is not a losing compromise.  Instead it’s the best of two worlds. 

The 2.7L turbo has a 0 to 100 km time of just 6.8 seconds (just 0.2 seconds slower than the 6.2L V8).  Its EPA tested fuel economy numbers are 12.6L/100km city and 10.9L/100km highway (based on a 2WD truck).

Other features on the 2.7L turbo equipped trucks are an 8-speed automatic transmission, standard Auto Stop/Start technology and Active Fuel Management.   It is also rated to tow 6,900 lb – still a reasonable figure. 

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