We were immediately taken with the plush leather and wood surroundings, a plethora of electronic goodies that we would rather not live without if given a choice, and a luxury-sedan quiet interior. But most of all, we were delighted with the performance of the 2014 GMC Sierra Denali, General Motors’ ultimate entry into the growing full-sized luxury pickup segment.
The Sierra is an all-new truck for 2014, so all trim levels benefit from weight reduction and more fuel efficient engines, modernized styling with a massive new grille and more sculpted sheet metal, upgraded interiors with a new dashboard layout and higher quality materials, a considerably quieter cabin, keyless entry and a rearview camera (excluding base trim), more interior storage space than before, an “E/Z” lift and lower tailgate, the OnStar assistance program, and improved structural stiffness and crashworthiness.
Moving through the trim levels—base, SLE, SLT—brings an increasing amount of goodies. But to get the real feel of workhorse luxury it’s necessary to move up to the Denali where you will enter the rarified pickup air of such competitors as the Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition, the Ford F-150 King Ranch, the Ram Laramie Longhorn, and the Chevrolet Silverado High Country.
On the exterior, the Denali has a signature in-your-face chrome grille, unique 20-inch chrome wheels, a polished stainless steel exhaust outlet, and body-color front and rear bumpers. Denali-specific interior details include script on the bright door sills and embossed into the front seats, and real aluminum trim.
Sierra Denali’s high-tech interior also features an eight-inch Customizable Driver Display that can show relevant settings, audio, and navigation information in the instrument panel. Sierra Denali’s standard eight-inch Color Touch navigation and radio with IntelliLink, located above the center console, serves as the main hub for Bluetooth-connected phones and portable devices through five standard USB ports.
Even with all the good stuff, it was the optional 6.2-liter V8 making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque that truly made our day. It’s a $1,995 option over the standard 5.3-liter V8, which is no slouch itself, developing 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
Factor in a 0-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds in a 5,672-pound truck, a quarter mile time of 14.1 seconds at 99 mph and a towing capacity of 9,500 pounds and we consider two grand a modest increase in the luxury Denali’s 4WD base price of $51,090 including destination charge. (Prices start at $47,910 for a rear-drive Denali with a 5-foot, 8-inch bed). All Denali’s are crew cab configuration with two bed sizes.
According to the EPA (where gas mileage is just a suggestion) and considering the 4WD Denali’s weight and horsepower it is possible to get 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with responsible driving. These relatively good numbers come courtesy of direct injection and cylinder deactivation, turning the big V8 into a V4 under light loads.
The first time we drove the new 2014 General Motors full-sized pickups we were impressed with the interior solitude. GMC says this solitude doesn’t only come from factors within the cabin. The 2014 Sierra features new aerodynamic measures that benefit fuel efficiency and reduce wind noise.
Updated mirrors that reduce wind turbulence, triple-sealed inlaid doors, as well as roof and tailgate design features all help air flow smoothly and quietly over the Sierra. Additional sealing around the grille, headlamps, and space between the cab and box are also designed to lower drag for the new trucks, along with new aerodynamic spats located in front of the rear wheels.
In addition to a cavernous interior where rear-seat passengers can literally sprawl out, the creature comforts and safety features of the Denali will rival any luxury sedan or SUV on the market. Standard are heated leather seats and steering wheel, wood and metal trim, dual-zone climate control, power sliding rear window, power adjustable pedals, Bose audio system, and numerous ports for charging devices including three USB, two 12-volt power outlets, and a 110-volt plug.
Standard safety includes hill start assist; stability control with trailer sway control; tire pressure monitor; rearview camera; front and rear park assist; OnStar with automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen-vehicle assistance; and six airbags. We like the optional Driver Alert Package for the bargain price of $450 that includes lane departure warning system, forward collision alert, and GM’s vibrating safety alert seat.
Our test truck carried a base price of $51,090 and an as-tested price of $54,730, which included several options two of which were the 6.2-liter engine and power sunroof.