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GMC’S SIERRA 2500 DENALI: Exploring the High Sierras

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GMC’S SIERRA 2500 DENALI: Exploring the High Sierras

GMC’S SIERRA 2500 DENALI:

Exploring the High Sierras


It’s getting to the point where trucks and luxury vehicles are almost interchangeable. Twenty years ago, most pickup trucks (especially heavy-duty pickups) were pretty spartan, almost always engineered as work machines designed to haul, tow, take a daily beating and come back for more. The idea of outfitting one with leather seats, soft-touch materials and an expensive sound system seemed ludicrous…until, of course, just recently.  Now, the race is on to see which truck manufacturer can bring the nicest (and, of course, most expensive) heavy duty pickup truck to its showroom.

Way back in the 2001 model year, Ford introduced the King Ranch F-150 and the following model year, GMC brought us the first Denali 1500 pickup; suddenly, truck buyers could have their truck and luxury, too. Of course, it wasn’t long before the heavy duty pickups were getting the same luxo-treatment and truck buyers loved it.  Expect all trucks to become even nicer in the coming model years due to luxury buyers continuing to want more – and willing to pay more for it.

I test drove an Onyx Black 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD that came with GM’s all-new (and all-big!) gasoline V8.  It handled like a mid-size truck and drove like a dream.  It also came with an impressive MSRP of $76,513.  You can pick up a bare-bones version of the same truck with the same hauling and towing capabilities for a mere $40,000, but the Denali is so much sweeter.

The Sierra HD is available with two engines, a gas and a diesel.  The gasoline engine is the one I drove, a 401 hp, 6.6 liter V8 offering 464 lb-ft of torque.  As you might imagine, the fuel economy of the gas engine is just abysmal.  But then, gas is relatively cheap these days so getting less than 15 mpg driving down the highway (which is what I got) isn’t so financially painful if you need a heavy duty truck.  

However, according to towing dublin, if that Sierra HD will be doing a lot of towing, consider stepping up to the diesel variant with much greater torque.  The Sierra HD also can be outfitted with a Duramax 445 hp, 6.6 liter turbo-diesel that produces 910 lb-ft of torque, enough to haul just about anything.  The diesel engine does come with a hefty $10,000 upcharge over the gasoline engine, but that diesel will clearly pull better and last longer.  And, you can’t beat the sound of a diesel engine.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to tow, the Sierra did come equipped with GM’s enhanced ProGrade Trailering system, which features fifteen available camera views, including a mind-blowing transparent trailer view to virtually see through a trailer in tow.  I would have loved to see the virtual transparent trailer view in person.

The Sierra also came with the MultiPro tailgate, which boasts six functions.  It’s designed for easier loading, unloading and bed access.  It’s a pretty cool feature – and my neighbors all asked for a demonstration.  Once you figure it out it’s a snap to operate.  Oh, and it’s available on all trim levels, not just the Denali.

With more than half of Sierra HD customers opting for the higher priced Denali trim, GMC is sure to continue to add more features that normally would be found only on luxury brand vehicles.  The 2021 Sierra can even be outfitted with a heads-up display, something you won’t find on other pickups.  The race to create the most luxurious truck  isn’t slowly down. And buyers with means are the true winners.  

Steve Kursar

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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