The 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is All Truck and Then Some: Review
What do you get when you mix a luxury car and a pickup truck? The closest thing you’ll probably find—outside the Lincoln Mark LT (sarcasm)—is the brand new GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. It’s everything you want from a truck, with all the amenities you'd expect to find in a full-size luxury SUV. And neither are the worse for it. Even if full-size trucks aren't your thing, you have to admire the craftsmanship of something like the GMC Sierra Denali. RELATED: See More of the 2016 GMC Sierra Pickup
The GMC Sierra Denali is a truck, through and through, make no mistake about it. It rides on the same platform at the Chevy Silverado, uses a big, powerful engine, and doesn’t skimp on pickup truck performance, even with the more luxed-up badge.
That being said, if you put the two side by side, only a few similarities would remain. GMC designers went above and beyond in designing this new Sierra Denali. The front grille gets right up in your face with its full chrome finish, overshadowing the simple LED light fixtures. The rear profile is also revised just enough to make thinks interesting.
Under the hood, you can opt for the standard 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower, or dish out a little more for the 6.2-liter V8 like the one I was driving. The latter will get you 420 horsepower, and to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, not that you’ll be doing any red light racing in a truck of this size.
That 460 lb-ft or torque, though—that you’ll use. Mud, rock, dirt—slip it in four-wheel-drive with a simple knob to the left of the steering wheel, and the Sierra feels right at home in the tough stuff. I found an empty field with plenty of tough terrain to whip it around. The entire time it felt right at home.
Towing capacity tops out at 9,400 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8. Sure, that's just shy of the 10,000-pound mark you'll find in most full-size pickups, but the Sierra makes up for it in other areas.
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Even when you’re playing in the mud and rocks, never once will you feel like you’re in a barren 4x4 pickup. As with the exterior, engineers and designers wanted to make sure that the Sierra separated itself from the Silverado with an even more luxurious cabin, including supple leather seats and an 8.0-inch touchscreen complete with Apple CarPlay.
4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot is also part of the deal, as is a wireless charging station right in the center console. It only works with Samsung products (for now), but iPhone users can buy a wireless charging case if they feel so inclined.
To match the high-class technology, GMC gave the cabin a high-class feel. Rather than a cheap plastic finish, designers opted for real aluminum fixtures on the interior. Even other ‘luxury’ manufacturers sometimes opt for plastic over the real stuff, showing off GMC's commitment to luxury.
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Even as a non-truck guy, I was pretty smitten with the 2016 Sierra Denali. It’s got everything you’d want in a full-size pickup—towing capacity, torque, space—combined with all the features you’d expect in a luxury SUV.
For $60,765 (as tested), it’s near the top of the price range for luxury pickups. You might be able to get an F-150 King Ranch or Ram 1500 for cheaper, sure, but if you’re looking for true luxury—including Wi-fi—the GMC Sierra Denali is the truck to buy.
Engine: 6.2L V8
MPG: 15 / 21
Price (as tested): $60,765
Feels like a truck
Rides like a luxury SUV
Plenty of storage room
Overly-chromed front grille
Unrefined touchscreen system
Photo Credit: Jeff Perez for BoldRide