Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pickup truck to haul home that Yule Tide tree instead of putting it atop (and scratching) the family sedans roof? Well GMC’s Sierra Denali 2500 4WD Crew Cab can not only haul a Christmas tree, but four kids and two adults in luxury sedan comfort. That, plus it has a towing capacity of 13,000 pounds or a whopping 17,300 pounds when equipped in a fifth Wheel configuration. The Sierra also carries a maximum payload of 3,020 pounds and a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.
Now these impressive capacities are certainly not needed for the average pine tree. But if there’s a need for heavy utility be it for towing a camper trailer, sizable boat or snow plowing, the Sierra can do it with ease and do it with a lot of class.
Between the GMC Sierra and its counterpart the Chevy Silverado, the GMC has traditionally been the classiest of the two siblings in that all GMC’s sport nicer interiors and as such a higher price tag. Buyers of a Denali are paying extra for more poshness and ride. For 2015, both the interior and exterior of the 2500 have been redesigned to match its 1500 light-duty brother.
The interior is comparable to what can be found in a luxury sedan. The Denali, in particular, adds contrasting stitching on the perforated heated/cooled leather seats and leading edges plus splashes of faux wood on doors, dash and console with touches of aluminum trim elsewhere.
Among a host of extra goodies like power pedals, receptacles for computers, iPads, phone charging Bose audio and more. Then there’s the huge console box and dual glove boxes. Together with door pockets, there’s gobs of small item storage.
The dash is complete with a 6.75×4-inch display screen for rearview camera, GPS nav and audio functions. And like all new GM vehicles, it’s WiFi ready.
Step-in is an easy 17.5 inches to the running boards or 26 into the cabin. The 60/40 split back seats fold up against the bulkhead offering protected storage space of 27×60 inches.
As for the 4WD system, it offers 2H, 4H, 4L modes and it’s surprising that Auto mode was not included.
The only complaint about Sierra’s design is the side view mirrors. They’re gigantic and stick out 15 inches from the body. While they’re powered and heated and house a wide angle lower mirror and signal light arrows, GMC designers should have mounted the mirrors on extender arms that can be manually (or powered) extended when towing a trailer or retracted under non-towing conditions. As is, they’re asking to be ripped off either by a passing vehicle when parked or when traversing a tight street if forgetting to power them against the doors (a $55 option).
Back in the bed, that has a 39-inch load height, it features indirect LED lighting plus a dampened tailgate so when opening it, it lowers slowly and can be lifted with one finger (EZ-Lift). Stepping into the bed is eased with side bumper steps, a design that has been a long time coming.
But the real nicety of this truck is that it’s powered by a robust 6.6L, Duramax V8 turbo diesel that generates 397-hp and a stump pulling, 765 lb/ft of torque. This brawny engine transfers power via an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine comes standard with diesel exhaust braking that maintains control when going downhill. There’s certainly no want for power with this much grunt. The turbo diesel pulls quickly from a standing stop and maintains traction with automatic locking rear differential, which is optional on some trucks.
And for a full-size heavy-duty truck, the Sierra rode almost full-size sedan-like on 20-inch Wrangler LT tires mounted on 8-lug nut chromed wheels. Add some weight in the bed and it rides even better.
Now here’s some sticker shock. Equipped with amenities equivalent within a luxury sedan like heated seats/steering wheel/outside mirrors, remote start (good for those freezing days), Bose audio, rearview camera, GPS nav, stability control and loads more, the bottom line reflected $64,575 with delivery after a base of $53,575. The base escalated with the diesel engine ($8,845) that also included Driver Alert Package, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, power sunroof ($995), forged wheels ($850), dual alternators ($295), 20-inch all terrain tires ($200), power outside mirrors ($55), and included a no charge engine block heater. Now this price is in line with the competition for comparable diesel configurations. But remember, the diesel will help keep the resale value up when deciding to sell or trade. That, plus the Sierra doubles as a family rider and hauler with the Crew Cab rear seating. A family sedan or SUV can’t do what the Sierra can do, haul or tow.