2018 GMC Sierra Denali mixes luxury with functionality
The full-size half-ton pickup market is where you find trucks designed for both personal enjoyment and for work. GMC's Sierra 1500 is a comfortable and convenient truck with an impressive set of capabilities, but when you upgrade to GMC's Denali trim, you get something really special. Denali features have become so popular that about half of GMC's sales include that package, and GMC has taken to thinking of Denali as a separate brand instead of just a trim level.
When you upgrade to Denali, you get access to features like the 6.2-liter Ecotec V8 engine rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque in the Denali Ultimate package. The base GMC Sierra engine is a 285 horsepower 4.3-liter V6, or you can get the 355 horsepower 5.3-liter V8. Both V8 engines are available with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and trucks equipped with 4WD have an electronically-controlled two-speed transfer case, with a setting for automatic part-time 4WD that you can leave on all the time.
Denali trim also includes some useful extras including GM's great Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which allows you to set a soft and smooth ride for long trips, or a firmer ride when you're trailering. You'll also enjoy an electronic locking differential, hill descent control, and an integrated trailer brake controller built into the dash.
The Denali trim includes leather upholstery, with both seat heat and ventilation, and a heated steering wheel. Everything about the Denali interior is high-quality, but understated rather than flashy. The Denali includes GMC's 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, which includes all the features you want such as navigation, HD and satellite radio, and support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All GMC products include the ability to create a wi-fi hotspot inside the car using the truck's onboard 4G/LTE connection. You can buy your truck its own AT&T data plan.
You'll also get Qi (pronounced "chee") wireless phone charging ability, a rearview camera, and some interior extras like a power sliding rear window, power sunroof, and standard Bose audio on all Denali vehicles.
On the road, we used the Sierra to tow about 6,000 pounds worth of trailer and off-road vehicles, and the truck worked like a champ. Even under load, the 6.2-liter engine and 8-speed transmission worked together to climb steep hills with no stress. Unhitched, the truck is solid, confident, and supremely comfortable. We did some light off-road driving and found the truck is as capable as anything in its class. If you're considering a luxury pickup truck for 2018, the GMC Sierra Denali is a leading contender and should be on your test-drive list.
Base price: $57,050
Price as tested: $64,345
Type: Full size half-ton pickup
Engine: 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 15/20
Overall length: 239 inches
Curb weight: 5,509 pounds
Final assembly: Silao, Mexico