If you’re looking for a big boys pickup truck with class, power and towing prowess, look no further than GMC’s Sierra Denali 4WD 2500HD with 6.2L Turbo Diesel V8.
This is truly an exceptionally capable three-quarter ton pickup, the heart of which is the optional 6.2L, Duramax Turbo Diesel V8. It generates 397-hp and produces an earth moving 765 lb/ft of torque at a low 1,037 rpm. With this much torque, the Denali could probably pull a mobile home off its foundation.
Now you may wonder who would need all this grunt. Well if you’re towing a sizable trailer, plowing snow, carrying heavy payloads or just want a truck whose engine will outlast a conventional gas engine, a diesel is for you.
For those who are diesel literate, the Denali 2500HD Diesel uses a Piezo-actuated fuel system for better performance, fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. It uses a selective catalytic reduction after-treatment system using diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection to provide the best overall diesel characteristics and performance, says GMC. And it has a range of about 5,000 miles between DEF refills. That, plus the engine’s combustion and after-treatment have been optimized to provide about 700 miles between diesel particulate filter regeneration. This is, says GMC, a 75 percent fuel saving improvement over the previous system, as the regeneration process requires additional fuel. And if the DEF runs low, top speed will be limited to 55 mph and if the DEF reservoir is empty, top speed is lowered to 40 mph. The Duramax diesel can also operate on B20 Biodiesel fuel.
A heavy-duty truck needs a heavy-duty transmission and the Denali uses a HD Allison 6-speed automatic. The combination has a payload capacity of 3,704 pounds and can tow up to 13,000 pounds with a standard ball hitch or 17,800 pounds with a fifth-wheel. When towing on downhill descents, the diesel provides 14-wheeler inspired exhaust braking to increase control and reduce brake wear.
But it’s not all about the powertrain. The Denali is the top-line model with the Work Truck, SLE and SLT models the less expensive versions. They’re also available in Regular cab, Extended and Crew cab, the latter of which I tested.
As such, the Denali was loaded with every creature comfort amenity offered on a luxury sedan. Goodies like perforated leather seating surfaces, faux wood trim on dash, doors, console, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, GPS, rearview camera with parking assist lines, power adjustable pedals, sun roof, power/heated outside mirrors and embossed chromed sill plates to list a few.
Denali’s interior is super comfy and spacious with a 26.5 inch step-in and a 38.5-inch cargo load height. The rear seat has gobs of leg and headroom and can accommodate four youngsters or three adults in pure comfort. They split and fold 60/40 against the bulkhead leaving a flat load floor for valuable items that need protection from the elements and theft.
All instrumentation is easy to see and use and my test truck also came with XM radio, Bose speakers, auto headlamps, OnStar, remote start and more.
Operationally, the 4WD provides conventional 2H, 4H, 4L gearing. But I’m surprised GMC hasn’t stepped up to adding 4Auto that can be left engaged on all road surfaces.
When driving the Denali, diesel rattle is only noticeable around town, especially with a window down, but disappears at highway speeds. And with the turbo, the 6.2L provides uncanningly quick acceleration. Step on the accelerator and you can easily feel the pent-up power under the hood.
Parallel parking is a bit trying for a 240.1-inch truck. But the rearview camera makes the task a bit easier and also aids when hitching up a trailer.
The ride for a heavy-duty truck is smooth, planted and controlled. Tow a trailer and the task is made easier with standard Stability Control with Trailer Sway Control plus Hill Start Assist and trailer brake controller. Add a bed full of mulch or topsoil and the truck rides even smoother.
But now comes the bad part. After a nicely loaded base price of $48,785, which includes a 6.0L, 360-hp V8, the price escalates to $62,859 with delivery. The big jump comes from the optional $7,195 diesel engine, $1,200 HD automatic transmission, $895 sunroof, $2,250 Touch Screen Nav system, $50 forged aluminum wheels and $689 for tubular assist steps. This is an exceptional price for an exceptionally capable and handsome truck. And yes, diesel fuel does cost more than regular fuel. But there are a lot of trade-offs in favor of diesel power.
To check out a Sierra Denali pickup, stop by Faulkner GMC off Route 22 in Bethlehem. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.