First Glance at the Sierra HD Truck - It's Not Chopped Liver
The Denali treatment is only available on 2500 Crew Cab 4x4 trucks with the standard (78.8" long) bed, or on the 3500 Crew Cab 4x4 with the long (97.7") bed. My 2500 HD test truck looked nicely balanced with its standard bed and 240.1" overall length.
Denali's most immediately identifiable feature is a massive, heavily chromed grille with a very assertive honeycomb pattern. Offset by a pair of stacked headlights, and underlined by a separate chrome honeycomb insert and fog lamps in the fascia lower, Denali presents an intimidating face in the rearview mirror of the traffic ahead.
Standard 18" polished aluminum wheels dress the corners -- though any self-respecting Denali owner will opt for the 20" forged polished aluminum wheels ($850) that my test vehicle wore.
I was quite unimpressed with the plastic drop-in bedliner in the Denali's bed. It was poorly sealed to the chassis, allowing water and dirt to sneak in behind, promising future corrosion problems. I'd toss it in the dumpster first thing, and get a spray-in bedliner installed post haste. That would also improve access to the tie downs, which are currently hidden behind snap-in panels in the bedliner.
In the Sierra Truck Driver’s Seat - Smooth, Like Butter
I appreciate the simplicity of Sierra's center stack, but I think it's time to rethink the location of the touchscreen controls for the navigation system. The screen is set in the center of the dash, when it would be safer and easier to operate if it was mounted at the top of the stack. This dash design is starting to look a bit dated after four years, though fit and finish are excellent.
Sierra's second row is SUV big, comfortable and well appointed. The 60/40 split seat easily folds up to give access to a big, flat load floor within the cabin, which is great for securing big packages. A medium-sized dog kennel would slide right in the cabin, which would make ideal, safe transport for man's best friend.
On the Road in the Sierra HD - Meat and Potatoes
The HD line of Sierra pickups feature fully boxed frames, torsion bar front suspension and multi-leaf rear spring suspension. Despite all that robustness, the empty truck still rides nicely, with much more compliance and smoothness than I expected. I didn't get to test a full-loaded Sierra, but I would expect an even smoother ride with some ballast in the bed.
The challenge with a 20'-long truck is maneuvering all that length on a day-to-day basis. One day, I pulled into an empty lot at a copy store, only to find the lot full when I returned to the Denali a few minutes later. I suffered a few nerve-wracking minutes of tight turns trying to escape the lot. I would not want this big truck to be my sole transportation.
Journey’s End - I'll Take One To Go
Ford and Dodge each make a competitive diesel-powered heavy-duty pickup, and each has its fans. Both competitors have been redesigned more recently than the GM edition, and feature a few more innovative features that GM has yet to incorporate, particularly with regard to clever interior and exterior storage. Nobody has matched the power of the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel yet, though.
I guess that the Sierra Denali 2500 is the truck for somebody who has already worked hard, and now wants to be surrounded by luxury while they enjoy the fruits of their continuing labors. If that describes you, you've found your truck. For the rest of us, I guess we'll just have to work harder and longer to deserve this combination of luxury and capability.