REVIEW: 2015 GMC Sierra Denali

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2015 GMC Sierra Denali 4WD

This week, we’re behind the wheel of a 2015 GMC Sierra Denali full size pickup, delivered in four-door crew car dress with 4WD mechanicals. Notable up front is fuel mileage, where a standard equipped Sierra with the 355-horse 5.3-liter V8 and six-speed automatic delivers the best fuel economy of any V8 powered truck at 23 MPG.

Considering Sierra’s overall mass, this EPA number is indeed something to cheer about in a competitive marketplace that features Ford, Ram (Dodge) and Toyota. GMC is a Chevrolet Silverado “twin” usually available at non-Chevy GM dealerships.

Much to our liking, our Denali came with a $2,495 engine and transmission upgrade featuring the 6.2-liter, 420 horsepower LS style V8 coupled to GMC’s new 8L90 eight-speed Hydramatic transmission. Thus, thanks to the excellent gear ratios available and the variable valve timing cylinder deactivation while cruising, this bruiser still delivers an amazing 21 MPG highway and a very impressive 17 city.

Thus, thanks to GM’s continued fuel economy prowess, consumers who need extra power for heavy workloads or intensive towing can take solace knowing that when a new Sierra is ordered, the “heavy duty” V8 doesn’t end up being like so many did in the past – a 12 MPG fuel hog.

Denali signature appointments include a chrome grille, polished stainless steel exhaust outlet, body colored bumpers, chrome side trim, useful corner step rear bumper and unique 20-inch chrome wheels with “DENALI” stamped into the outer wheel edges. Also standard is an exclusive Denali script interior with embossed front seats and real aluminum trim. The heated /cooled leather bucket seats also enhance its full-size crew cab interior.

Of course, not all GMC Sierras cost $57,820. The entry 2WD short box with a 285 horse, 4.3 V6 starts at $26,670 and delivers 18 and 24 EPA numbers while a 4×4 V6 starts at $31,805.
With a towing capacity of 11,800 lbs. with a 3.42 gear ratio or 9,200 lbs. with a 3.23 rear, our Denali was a pleasure to drive during our week-long test. With those 420 ponies available at the tap of the right foot, it was clear from the moment we hit the highway that not only did Denali deliver a comfortable ride, it also has gobs of acceleration ability thanks to the new eight-speed automatic.

Notable standard features on the amenity laden Denali include EZ lift and lower tailgate, projector headlamps, chrome step-in assist running boards, recovery bumper hooks, four tie downs, trailer equipment package, daytime running lamps and a beautiful spray on bed liner. Additionally, a 60/40 folding rear bench seat, remote start, all the powers, dual zone air, WIFI Hotspot, power adjustable pedals, rear vision safety camera, park assist, Bose stereo system, eight-inch touch display, USB, Bluetooth and SiriusXM with Nav are all part of the standard Denali fare. The Denali base price starts at $49,665 in near fully loaded dress.

Safety and security is top notch. In addition to the inherent safety from a curb weight of over 2.5-tons and all modern safety features, Sierra earns the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration top rating of Five Stars in frontal and side crash perfection for all passengers and driver. Your dealer will explain all Sierra and Denali offerings including current buyer incentives.

Our tester came with a recommended $450 Driver Alert package with lane departure and forward collision warnings and safety alert seat; polished aluminum wheels for $300; a $230 trailer brake controller; and a power sunroof for $995.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 143.5 inches, 5,370 lb. curb weight, 8.9-inch ground clearance and a 26 gallon fuel tank.

In summary, GMC Denali is the pinnacle of large pickup trucks. It offers outstanding looks, luxury style passenger comfort, Corvette-bred V8 engine, surprising fuel economy and the mechanics to do yeoman workloads day after day.

You owe yourself a test drive if shopping the large truck market, as Denali receives a Best Buy nod from Test Drive once again.

Entry price: $26,670

Price as tested: $57,820


Beautiful design

Great fuel mileage

High tech wonder


Tough to parallel park

Expensive options

Ride a bit bumpy

Greg Zyla

Greg Zyla