GMC Sierra Denali proves a big truck can provide comfort and a safe drive

Both the Sierra Denali 2500, starting at $73,265, and the Sierra Denali 3500, starting at $73,110, feature the Duramax 6.6 litre Turbo Diesel engine which delivers 397 horsepower.


    • What’s Best: The interior of the GMC 2016 Sierra Denali 1500 would put any luxury car maker to shame
    • What’s Worst: The size takes a while to get use to
    • What’s interesting: The well thought out safety features include front and rear park assist

‘It’s very big’

If I heard that once, I heard it 100 times during my week with the GMC Sierra Denali.

I will admit, the truck is big, but luckily GMC has kept that size in mind with numerous technologies available to keep you in your lane and make sure you don’t hit anything while parking or backing up.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Sierra is a large truck and it drives like it is.

My tester for the week was the 2016 Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew.

Both the Sierra Denali 2500, starting at $73,265, and the Sierra Denali 3500, starting at $73,110, feature the Duramax 6.6 litre Turbo Diesel engine which delivers 397 horsepower.

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The 1500 Sierra comes with the 6.2 litre EcoTec3 V8 engine which offers 420 horsepower.

My tester had the 5.3-litre V8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In my first hour behind the wheel I was constantly concerned that I was driving outside of my lane. I had trouble seeing over the hood to the passenger side of the truck and was concerned I was veering into the other lanes around me.
denali sierra

As I mentioned, GMC has help for that. A lane departure warning system continued to let me know when I was outside my lane. After a day I was confident enough to turn the warning off.

The next obstacle with a big truck like this is parking. Again, I had trouble judging where the front of the truck ended.

As I parked in front of a wall, or in a parking lot in front of another vehicle, I was concerned about hitting them. GM had an answer for that.

The front park assist system engages as you slow down to park. A half circle appears and each line fills in as you get closer and closer to the object in front of the truck. I never did get use to parking the Sierra so I left that safety feature on during my test drive.

The forward collision system is also active as you drive, letting you know vehicles are in front of you and as you get closer, to a preset distance, the system warns you of a possible collision.

The safety warnings are offered in two forms. First the driver’s seat vibrates to make you aware of a potential safety issue. Then if you do not react, a red light is reflected on the windshield to let you know about the danger.

According to GM’s spec sheet, the enhanced driver alert package, which also features a system that automatically turns on the high beams, comes at a cost of $620, an option every driver should choose with this truck. The front and rear park assist, the rear features a back-up camera, are standard on the Denali.

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Driving this behemoth was like driving a luxurious car. Once you close the doors outside noise is not an issue.

The V8 engines provides more than enough power for highway driving and passing and once you get use to it, it is a very easy truck to drive and not once did I feel like I was out of control.

But while this truck is great on the road, it shines when it comes to the interior, one many luxury car manufacturers should be jealous of.

Getting into the cab of the Denali is made easy by a retractable running board.

sierra denali

Open the door of either the driver or passenger side and the running board slides out, allowing access into the truck. Two seconds after the doors are closed, the running board slides back beneath the truck.

GMC notes the Denali has room for five and unlike some vehicles where room for five means two adults and three children, this truck fits three adults in the second row easily.

The back seat seems to go on forever. No one would be complain about leg or seat room sitting in the back seat for an extended drive.

Up front the Denali has all the comforts a driver would want.

The dash is well laid out and the speedometer is right in front of you, circled by a very pleasing-looking compass which rotates as you turn the vehicle.

All the controls are within your fingertips. The interior features too many options to list here but for the crowd that can’t live without their cell phones it has wireless charging and easy Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to your tunes while driving.

sierra denali

While I didn’t get to try out the heated steering wheel, I can say the air conditioning was very quick in getting the cabin cool.

My tester for the week started at $63,550 but with the added after features, a sunroof, the power running boards and other features, the price came in at $73,270.

But many people don’t buy trucks for the creature comforts. They are expected to work for a living.

The Denali can carry up to 1,740 lb and tow up to 9,200 lbs.

My week in the Denali showed comfort comes in all sizes and GMC proves if you are going to go big you might as well do it right.

Also ReadHonda rethinks, refines 2017 Ridgeline pickup

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