On the surface, the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is a capable workhorse being able to haul 1,500 pounds in the truck bed. It’s also capable of towing a maximum amount of 9,400 pounds. However, that’s just the beginning of the Sierra 1500 Denali’s story.
I’ve towed with an array of vehicles ranging from very basic to much more luxurious ones such as the Sierra 1500 Denali. Instead of merely trying to reach the destination while feeling anxious to get there and be out of the truck as soon as possible, the Sierra 1500 Denali makes the drive a pleasurable part of the experience. For those of you who are seeking a work pickup truck instead of just a tow vehicle, it is equally great to drive.
Once you step inside the truck, it’s evident that GMC’s intent is to provide an upscale experience for its occupants. The luxury inspired interior is created by using a combination of a nice blend of colors, wood grain trim, leather, and hard plastics throughout.
All controls are fairly basic, well-organized, and easy to use. Between the glove box, the large middle console storage area, and door pockets, you’ll find ample storage room. In the front, both the driver and passenger will enjoy not only dual climate controls, but also heated and cooled seats. During our time with the truck it was rare that I didn’t have my side of the dual climate control on a low temperature setting with the air conditioned seats on while my wife enjoyed warm air blowing her way and heated seats further warming her up. In most vehicles we’re faced off in a constant temperature battle. The Sierra 1500 Denali can be credited to sparing us at least a few debates, which of course I end up losing. The perforated leather seats are also comfortable and have 12-way-electric adjustments to suit your level of comfort. On longer rides you’ll find them to be a pleasure to sit in.
The steering wheel is also heated, it tilts but does not telescope, and incorporates a wood grain looking lip. Other than the thirsty fuel mileage of 12/18/14 (City/Highway/Combined), the steering wheel is my biggest source of contention with this truck. That wood grain lip is not fully flush with the rest of the leather steering wheel creating an awkward feeling ridge that I wanted to pull off. My wife said I’m oversensitive to it and it’s really not that bad. She also commented that it added to the looks of the vehicle and probably would cause the steering wheel to show less wear after time. Whatever! Maybe I’d get used to it over time but nonetheless, I found it to be a bit annoying.
In the rear of the truck, even adult passengers will find ample leg and head room. The rear seats are comfortable for three and have enough recline to them so occupants won’t suffer from back pain as a result, unlike many trucks which have rear seat backs that are almost completely upright.
When you’re looking to put bigger objects in the truck and want them inside the cabin, the rear doors open wide, and the bottom of the rear seats easily fold up to create more room.
Although this vehicle is solid, the driving experience isn’t exactly what we consider fun–to-drive, but that’s to be expected with most pickup trucks. Under full throttle, it doesn’t reward you by providing a sudden acceleration rush, and doing this made us quickly realize all we are doing is consuming more fuel. We did take it on some dirt roads, and introduced it to some mud to test its suspension and AWD system. Both of these were more than capable in the adverse conditions. The ride is quiet, smooth, and quite comfortable while absorbing large bumps with ease.
Towing is truly a pleasure. With its 403 HP and 417 lb./ft torque Vortec 6.2L V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control that allows you to manually select the gears, it has enough power so you won’t feel as if it’s struggling to get up to speed, even with a heavy load in tow. The truck itself is also heavy which helps to ensure that you feel in control of what’s being towed behind versus being pushed about. When backing up to hook up the trailer to the truck, you’ll also enjoy the back-up camera guiding you to the receiver ball.
Buyers considering the Sierra have vastly different expectations and needs, so it’s not surprising that this truck comes in numerous configurations. You will find choices for everything from powertrains, body styles, bed lengths, trim levels, and options.
When looking at the Sierra 1500, there are two distinct interiors aimed to cater to two types of customers. The SL and SLE models are geared more as a work truck. They utilize larger door handles and instrument knobs making it easier to work with while wearing gloves. You’ll also find that the interior look is more basic. The SLT and Denali trim models are more upscale in nature incorporating wood-grain trim, and more soft-touch surfaces. The range of body styles and configurations includes: three cab styles – regular, extended and crew cab – and three cargo box lengths: 5 feet 8 inches (short), 6 feet 6 inches (standard) and 8 feet (long). Then there are four engine choices: 4.3L V6, 4.8L V8, 5.3L V8 and a 6.2L V8.
As a result of the numerous models and options, the end purchase price also varies greatly starting at $22,595 for a Sierra 1500, and peeking at a base price of $48,635 for our tester Denali (not including optional equipment and destination charge). There’s truly a trim level and configuration that fits many tastes, needs and budgets. As if that’s not enough, there’s also its cousin, the Chevy Silverado.
The GMC Sierra 1500 has been around since the 2007 model year without a significant facelift and has stood the test of time. While there’s nothing significantly new about the 2013 Sierra and some people view the truck as a bit outdated, others truly embrace its conservative look. Regardless, the GMC Sierra 1500 is a competent and hard-working vehicle that can be configured to your needs. We expect an all new GMC Sierra for the 2014 model year. If this generation of the truck appeals to you, the fact it’s near the end of its lifecycle can provide a nice benefit as buyers can expect incentives to move the 2013 models off dealer’s lots in the coming months.
Price as Tested: $53,694 including $995 destination charge
Engine: VORTEC 6.2L V8