Days after revealing the revitalized Chevrolet Silverado, General Motors has shown off a refreshed version of the GMC Sierra as well. The current generation Sierra hasn’t been out for much more than two years, but competition in the full-size truck segment is tough, and manufacturers have to continually update their products to stay competitive.
GMC isn’t necessarily struggling in the sales department, though. Per GM’s press release, the Sierra had its best June since 2006 and has seen 12 months of year-over-year sales increases. Without a separate model from Ford to directly compare sales to, it’s hard to tell how the Sierra and its even more high-end version, the Sierra Denali, are doing against the F-150, but improving sales year-over-year is far from a bad thing.
The changes aren’t revolutionary, and instead serve to subtly make the Sierra more attractive. GMC claims the main reason people gave for buying the Sierra was its exterior design, so subtle improvements there can go a long way towards increasing sales even more.
In general, the refreshed Sierra looks more muscular and masculine than the outgoing version, but the biggest changes are in the lighting. LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, and LED taillights are now included, with the shape of the running lights mirroring the shape of the taillights. The bumpers, grilles, and front fascias have all been redesigned as well.
Especially in comparison to the updated Chevrolet Silverado, the Sierra SLT and Sierra Denali pile on the chrome. The Sierra All Terrain, on the other hand, mostly does without. Whether you like the look of chrome or not, it’s probably a bad idea to take a truck covered in chrome off-road.
While the exterior changes will probably get the most attention, and GMC has been silent on any powertrain upgrades, the interior of the Sierra gets some improvements as well. Most notably, it will be receiving Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability by the end of the year.
Both systems will work through GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system. Models equipped with the more basic, 7-inch touchscreen will receive both options first, while models equipped with the larger, 8-inch touchscreen will only be compatible with Apple CarPlay until later in the year when Android Auto is made available as well.
Both systems promise a simplified and improved infotainment experience that works by more or less mirroring the driver’s smartphone on the screen, running apps through the phone. Drivers can make calls, send and receive messages, navigate, and listen to music all through their phones’ native apps. Drivers who prefer to use IntelliLink will still be able to do so, but assuming Apple CarPlay and Android Auto catch on, manufacturers may find it too expensive to continue updating and developing their own independent infotainment systems.
The changes GMC has made to the Sierra for 2016 aren’t drastic, but it has a good thing going with the current version, so evolving the design instead of giving it a complete makeover makes sense. Ford will always be GM’s biggest competitor, but with the new Nissan Titan expected to go on sale by the end of the year, GM is going to need to be on top of its game to avoid being the brand that loses the most sales to Nissan.
The Titan hasn’t been an serious contender in the full-size pickup truck segment in years, but with a clean-sheet redesign and the option of a Cummins V8 turb-odiesel that makes a stump-yanking 555 pounds-feet of torque, it actually stands a chance of gaining some sales momentum. A redesigned Toyota Tundra is also expected soon, which would add even more competition to the segment. If GM plays its cars right, though, in another year, it will be celebrating 24 months of year-over-year sales increases for the GMC Sierra.