In the world of big trucks, there is lots to choose from. This is one area where domestics dominate the playing field.
On the one hand, the Chevrolet Silverado can be had for thousands less and is mechanically similar, but cosmetically the GMC Sierra has more to offer with its carbon pro edition, well-clad interiors and ride quality.
Pros: Commanding view, powerful engines, comfortable cabin
Cons: Pricey, staid interior layout, rougher ride than rivals
GMC towing capacity, like Silverado, is nearly 12,500 pounds — but both are less than major rivals’ Ram 1500 and Ford F-150.
The Sierra is all about making choices with bed size, trim level, engine and transmission selections, rear or all-wheel-drive. Prices range from the high $20s to low $70s. For comparison, the Chevy Silverado prices hover between the high $20s to mid $50s.
Our test vehicle for a week, the top-of-the-line, all-wheel-drive Crew Cab Denali was propelled by a rugged 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower. Mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Denali trim and cabin amenities boosted the price to nearly $72,000 before tax.
Trim levels include the Base with a 285-horsepower V6; SLE and Elevation with a 310hp turbo 4-cylinder; 355hp V8 available on all trim levels, and the 6.2-liter V8 available on upper trim levels.
On the highway, we were impressed with the Denali performance. It is surprisingly quiet for such a large truck fitted with 22-inch high gloss black wheels and paws. Its optional ecotec3 engine technology includes cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing with direct injection for $2,495.
Passing acceleration is immediate with thrust to move through traffic as needed. Although the Denali is equipped with sensors all around and blind spot monitors for side views, we noticed front and side vision obscured at times due to its height.
Handling such a large pickup was simple and well composed due to limited body roll, responsive steering, adaptive ride control and a full suite of available safety equipment including lane keeping assist, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
There is oodles of cool gear to embrace with the Denali including power running boards for easy entry and exit to cabin and bed, 12 fixed cargo tie downs, LED cargo lighting, chrome recovery hooks, remote start, heads up display and full engine vitals graphically displayed in the instrument panel.
In addition to a Bose sound system inside the pickup, tailgating parties are a cinch with an available kicker audio system built into the exterior six-position tailgate. The GMC exclusive features a tailgate extension to nearly eight feet, office workstation with all essential plug-ins, a table and large steps for loading and unloading with a pullout grab bar for lift assist.
Another feature that makes the Denali, well, expensive is the optional carbon fiber composite bed and badging, part of an $8,965 option package that includes most of the onboard safety gear, upgraded wheels, bed view and trailer cameras.
At 7,100 pounds, the Denali is a classy set of wheels for multi-use. Be sure to compare with Ram and Ford before making your buying decision.