GMC Sierra Moves Upmarket with Adaptive Ride Control

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2019 GMC Sierra Denali

GM’s attempts to differentiate the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado leave one big option off Chevy’s order sheet.

General Motors often implies that the GMC Sierra is a more luxurious alternative to the Chevrolet Silverado. But in the past, these two full-size pickups have remained virtually identical save for minor styling cues. But with the all-new 2019 models, it seems that GM is finally doing more to differentiate these two otherwise identical offerings with more in depth styling differences than your typical grille/headlight treatments. And changes that go much more than skin deep.

The 2019 GMC Sierra offers goodies like a carbon bed and MultiPro tailgate. And even more interestingly, Adaptive Ride Control. A modified version of GM’s Continuous Damping Control technology, ARC has been specifically adopted for use on body-on-frame vehicles, including trucks and SUVs. The system effectively increases both responsiveness and driving refinement. And perhaps more importantly, it isn’t available on the Silverado.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss

Which makes sense when you think about it. If GM is truly serious about moving the GMC Sierra upmarket and differentiating it from the Silverado, they have to convince customers they’ve done so. RPO code Z45 comes standard on the GMC Sierra Denali, but isn’t available as an option on any other trim level.

At least for now. But it is an important step forward in GM’s mission to move away from their “brand engineering” past. On the previous gen GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado, either could be had with Magnetic Ride Control, after all.

The lack of an ARC option on the 2019 Silverado could indicate that MRC wasn’t a hot seller in the past. But by all accounts, the 2019 Silverado’s base suspension provides an upgrade even on the old models equipped with MRC.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali

So perhaps GM deemed ARC unnecessary for the Chevy. Maybe they simply left it as an option for those wanting a “top of the line” pickup. But no matter what the motivation, this likely isn’t the last we’ve seen of these attempts at brand differentiation!

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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