Gluttonous glory: Luxurious GMC Sierra Denali gets big engine, big performance

Trucks are really an American phenomenon. The bigger the better. The more power the better. I’ve talked at length as an automotive writer about what I call the “over trucking” of the American consumer. How many people need a truck? And of those who can justify it, how many need heavy duty ones? Yet, drive through the Midwest and much of the south and you’ll see jacked up trucks with diesel engines and tons of towing ability. Why am I on a such soap box? My tester this week is one such big time truck.

The 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 has it all – diesel power, height, size, towing ability. It’s freaking awesome! Oh, and its interior is as nice as many luxury SUVs. It really does have it all, even if it has too much.

All of the numbers for the Sierra are big. It’s more than 250 inches long and 78 inches high. It has a curb weight that exceeds 6,000 pounds. Even the engine is big as it’s equipped with a 6.6-liter turbo diesel engine.


The big Sierra 2500 has some new looks to it. There’s an engine scoop that helps cool off the powerful Duramax. It flows perfectly well with the aggressive design of the front end. The front end has a chrome-accented honeycomb grille. The chrome accents found all over help give it a sexy, luxurious look. And that’s certainly by design as GMC is the more upscale brand, when compared to its sister vehicle the Silverado. The Sierra is not only stout, but rich looking.


Under that new engine scoop is a big 6.6-liter V8 Duramax diesel engine that makes 445 horsepower and a stunning 910 lb./ft. of torque. Make no mistake, despite its appearance, this is a truck that’s ready to work and get dirty. It has a towing capacity of 13,000 pounds which is great for those with large boats and recreational vehicles. There’s a six-speed Allison transmission and digital steering assist to make backing up a trailer much easier. The Sierra’s size and fuel consumption is more suited as a weekend warrior than a daily driver. That all goes back to my “over trucking” mentality. The Sierra 2500 is great for what it is and what it can do.


Perhaps the biggest allure of this truck as a regular driver is the swanky interior. The cabin is cavernous and full of amazing amenities and soft touch points. The back seat is large enough for adults to cross their legs or stretch them out. And the head room is more than adequate even for taller passengers. Three adults could comfortably sit in the back. Up front, the driver seat is firm, supportive and offers a great driving vantage point. It’s not quite semi-truck-like but it’s close. There’s an electronic rear window, a common trend in today’s big trucks.

General Motors has mastered making the Denali trim the go-to trim option across their product line. Everything about the Denali trim screams lap of luxury, and that’s certainly the case with the Sierra. From hand stitching on the leather seats to faux wood trim to LED ambient lighting, the interior is special.

The technology is outstanding too. The intuitive infotainment system has a colorful 8-inch touchscreen that integrates with smart phones. It’s well placed in the center stack which isn’t overly cluttered but still leaves plenty of space of cups and storage in the center compartment. The center area between the front seats is one of the best organized areas of any vehicle on the road.


Make no mistake, all of these niceties come at a price. Any time you see the Denali name, you can add another several thousand dollars onto the base price. The standard Sierra with the 6.0-liter diesel has a starting price of $58,495. But, bigger is better, so adding the 6.6-liter which comes with a gooseneck trailer/fifth wheel package along with the extra chrome accents, and my tester heads north of $70,000. To get the Sierra trimmed out like this, the final price is $70,145. And that’s a big price. Certainly, big boat owners are willing to pay that price.


And speaking of paying a price, the cost to refuel the Sierra will be steep. With a 35-gallon tank, one fill up of diesel could easily exceed $125. Fuel ratings for the truck range from 10-13 mpg in the city (why are you driving it in the city) to 15-18 mpg on the highway. Certainly, maximizing the towing abilities of this truck will eat into the fuel economy too.

I find the term ‘Merica to be somewhat obnoxious and unpatriotic, but if ever it was applicable, it’s in the country’s love affairs with big trucks. None more typify this than the luxurious, gluttonous glory of the GMC Sierra 2500.



2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500

Price/As tested price……………………….. $58,495/$70,145

Mileage…………………………………… N/A

Engine……………………………………… 6.6-liter V8 turbo diesel

Horsepower…………………………… 445 hp/910 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………………… Four-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point……………….. Flint, Michigan

Jimmy Dinsmore
For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - and follow him on Twitter @driversside.