GMC Sierra Denali: High-Class Truck'n

By Sue Mead, December 28th, 2013

GMC pumps up luxury and fashion with an all-new, special-edition of its full-size pickup. The 2014 Sierra Denali comes with a payload of new perks, updated performance, and technological advancements.

The GMC Sierra Denali is the more posh and plush version of the new GMC Sierra full-size truck; it competes with special-edition pickups from Ford, Ram and Toyota. Chevy has a similar uplevel special-edition, the Silverado High Country.

Alluring design cues on the outside of the new truck carry over with the signature Denali wide honeycomb chrome grille, unique 20-inch chrome wheels, exclusive decorative trim inside, a polished stainless steel exhaust outlet, and body-color front and rear bumpers. Denali-specific touches add script on the bright door sills made of real aluminum trim while Denali badging is embossed into the front seats.

The five-passenger 2014 Sierra Denali comes in a four-door Crew Cab configuration, which means that buyers can choose either a 5.8-foot cargo bed (standard) or a longer 6.6-foot bed. Rear corner steps in the bumper and grips make it easier to get in and out of the bed.

We recently drove the all-new Sierra Denali on a course that included street driving over a variety of roadways; it also allowed the opportunity for towing different-sized trailers. One of the first things we noticed is the quietness of the cabin that comes as a result of new sound-deadening materials, redesigned outside mirrors, and triple-sealed doors.

Also notable are the great power on tap and the potent sound it produces when you motivate the throttle of the Denali's powerful engine and its smooth shifting transmission. The truck's variable assist, power rack-and pinion steering makes this big truck feel smaller than it is and brought easy maneuverability on some of the narrow and winding roads along our route.

Inside, leather trim abounds on the wide and welcoming seats, which are controlled by 12-way power. Multiple power and USB connections are dotted throughout the cabin, and an 8-inch touchscreen has controls for audio and other technology features. The steering wheel is heated and the rear window behind second row of seats has power-sliding functionality.

Under the hood is a standard 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 that makes 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. Optional is a new 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 that maximizes power, torque and fuel economy through GM's active fuel management system (it runs on 4 cylinders instead of 8 when conditions allow), direct injection and continuously variable valve timing.

The 6.2-liter V-8 engine produces 420 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque -- the most power and torque of any light-duty truck engine, says GMC, and that should enable it to have a class-leading maximum trailering capacity of 12,000 pounds. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and come in either a 4x2 or 4x4 configuration. Standard is an automatic locking rear differential.

Also standard is cruise grade braking, which downshifts the motor to reduce brake wear on downgrades. Power assist, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, six airbags and a rearview camera are standard, as are traction and stability control systems. The independent front suspension with coil-over and twin-tube shock absorbers is matched by a rear solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multi-leaf springs and splayed and engineered with twin-tube shock absorbers in the rear. This set up has been engineered for smoothness and comfort in everyday driving, as well as for towing heavy loads.

The stylish interior is adorned with elegant aluminum trim and materials have a premium look and feel. We also liked the reconfigurable display in the instrument cluster that can be customized for different drivers. Fuel economy estimates for this engine are 15/21 mpg city/highway for 4x2 models; 4x4 versions deliver 13/20 mpg city/highway.

Specifications

Base price $48,315 (as tested: $49,410)
Curb weight 5,042 lbs.
Displacement 5.3-liter
Epa mileage rating 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26 gal.
Horsepower (net) 355 at 5600 rpm
Motor type OHV EcoTec3 V-8 w/DI
Overall length 229.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 383 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4x2 full-size pickup
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