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A black 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is shown parked on a driveway.

Form Follows Function: The Design Principle Behind the 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD

Chicago architect Louis Sullivan coined the famous design principle of “form follows function,” teaching this technique to Frank Lloyd Wright, who popularized it once he became one of America’s most prolific and renowned architects. But this design theory has ballooned beyond the world of architecture, now pervading every industry—and automobiles are no exception. Even a vehicle as straightforward as the 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD bows to this theory, as a heavy-duty workhorse like this is designed entirely around how it will be used.

The 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is built to fulfill its legacy as the modern man’s oxen. From its high-strength build to its potent engine lineup and functional features, the Sierra 3500 HD embodies how Sullivan’s design principle and GMC’s ingenuity have given us one of the most advanced, capable, and luxurious heavy-duty trucks in the industry. Here’s a closer look at how this truck adheres to its design principle and makes your experience in the driver’s seat more engaging, intuitive, and enjoyable.

Purpose Built: What’s the Function of the Sierra 3500 HD?

The 2024 Sierra 3500 HD is GMC’s heavy-hitting road warrior destined to haul and tow heavy loads. It’s a truck that can navigate your weekday commute, lug heavy equipment between job sites, and seamlessly transition into weekend mode as you hitch up to a camper and head into the woods. Its function is to work hard and live up to its potential, which by the numbers, is incredibly impressive. The 2024 Sierra 3500 HD promises a maximum capacity of 20,000 lbs with a conventional trailer or up to 36,000 lbs with a gooseneck or fifth wheel. It can support a payload of 7,290 lbs and offers an industry-leading cargo volume of 83.5 cu.ft. via its remarkable Durabed.

While other automakers expect drivers to be blown away by the numbers or trailering specs alone, GMC knows that capability is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s one thing to be able to haul a 36,000 lb trailer, but it’s another to have the tools to do so with confidence. By applying the “form follows function” principle, the American automotive pioneer gives drivers the best of both worlds.

A black 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is shown towing a trailer.

Functional Features Designed to Enhance

The 2024 Sierra 3500 HD’s functional features start under the hood with two potent engines and a ten-speed Allison transmission. GMC ensures the Sierra 3500 has the power to handle every job, whether you opt for the 6.6L V8 or the newly updated 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel. The standard V8 engine produces 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque but is easily outshined by the Duramax as it delivers 470 hp and 975 lb-ft of torque. The increase in output is the byproduct of GMC improving the design of the Duramax, like equipping it with a new engine controller, cylinder heads, and combustion system with higher-flow injectors. But what other functional features does the 2024 Sierra 3500 HD offer?

Functional Trailering Technology

Knowing the 2024 Sierra 3500 HD will be pushed to its limits, GMC adapts the truck’s design to its function by equipping it with best-in-class trailering assistance technologies. The ProGrade Trailering System is integrated into the truck and streamlines the entire process of hitching and towing. With this technology, you have more confidence behind the wheel. So, what does it include?

The ProGrade Trailering System enhances the truck’s 14-view camera system to include the industry’s first Transparent Trailer View when pulling a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer. The unique view extends your visibility behind the rig, letting you see through the trailer to monitor what’s behind you. The suite also includes Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert that extends blind-spot monitoring to the trailer. Moreover, you can take advantage of Adaptive Cruise Control with Trailering when driving on the highway with a heavy load in tow. This advanced driver assist feature senses the additional drag of the trailer and responds accordingly to ensure there’s enough distance when braking.

The Sierra 3500 HD’s functional features also include new technology like the integrated GCW alert. While the Sierra 3500 HD can tow heavy loads, there’s often a question of how much your load weighs and if it’s within the truck’s capability. The GCW Alert eliminates the guesswork by warning you if the truck and trailer exceed the Sierra 3500 HD’s Gross Combined Weight Rating.

Functional Interior Features

GMC does an exceptional job of delivering capability without forcing drivers to compromise on luxury or affordability in the 2024 Sierra 3500 HD. The automaker achieves this balance by acknowledging the truck’s primary function and building an interior that enhances it. For example, the Sierra 3500 HD Denali Ultimate offers the brute strength expected of a GMC with the “Heavy-Duty” designation. Still, the automaker adds lavish amenities like best-in-class 16-way power-adjustable and massaging front seats to enhance driver comfort and minimize fatigue. In doing so, drivers are relaxed and more focused on the road.

Beyond these creature comforts that serve functional purposes, GMC also outfits the Sierra 3500 HD with over 40 inches of displays, transforming the cabin into a digital cockpit. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster provides insights into the Sierra 3500 HD’s performance, from mileage and fuel level data to speed and tire pressure. The 13.4-inch tablet-style touchscreen display is the largest in the segment and gives you seamless access to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, navigational features, a virtual assistant via Google Built-In, and the truck’s 14-view camera system. Finally, the 15-inch multicolor head-up display projects critical data on the windshield, optimizing your focus and keeping you connected and informed in every situation.

These digital displays are essential to the Sierra 3500 HD’s function. GMC recognizes the prevalence of distractions in the driver’s seat and looks for functional ways to minimize those distractions without compromising our awareness or connectivity. These displays achieve that balance, giving us intuitive access to the tools we need without stealing our focus.

Functional Trims

Another unique way GMC utilizes the “form follows function” design principle is with purpose-built trims like the Sierra 3500 HD AT4. The AT4 combines the capability of the Sierra 3500 HD with off-road components that ready it for adventure beyond the pavement. In doing so, GMC expands the Sierra 3500 HD’s function to the trail and gives drivers every opportunity to confidently answer the call of the wild.

For example, the Sierra 3500 HD AT4 offers the same standard 6.6L V8 or 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel engine and ten-speed Allison automatic transmission. You’ll also find the same digital cockpit with the addition of functional tools like the Off-Road Inclinometer on the head-up display. Beyond this, the AT4 readies itself for the trail with a uniquely tuned off-road suspension with twin-tube Rancho shocks and high-strength skid plates to protect the underbody. These additions recognize the function of the Sierra 3500 HD without compromising its legendary status as a road warrior or its penchant for adventure.

Designed With Purpose

The design principle of “form follows function” is a more eloquent way of saying, “Build something how you intend to use it.” Practicality isn’t always sexy because we live in a culture where more power, more capability, and more innovation are expected. Automakers like GMC work within these parameters but do so in a way that follows Sullivan’s basic design principle. The 2024 Sierra 3500 HD lives up to its legacy by staying true to its function, yet it still delivers ingenuity and advanced technologies that make it one of the most modern and well-equipped heavy-duty trucks in the segment. It’s an incredible balance and an exceptional example of how such a simple approach can make functionality and practicality appealing and even—dare we say—sexy.

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