The beginnings of the Christmas Blizzard of 2010 passed through the North Carolina mountains and dusted the 2011 GMC Sierra HD crew cab pickup test vehicle sitting in our drive.
The Sierra HD had originally arrived to Carolina blue skies and clear roads. Under those conditions, the Sierra HD performed much like a luxury car with a pickup bed and substantial ride height. The Denali trim level meant it came fully decked out with power leather bucket seats, dual zone AC, power windows and door locks, heated seats with 2 position driver memory, a 60/40 split rear seat, AM/FM XM equipped stereo with six disc C and USP port, driver information center, 12-volt aux power outlet, power adjusting pedals, tilt steering, steering wheel radio control and a universal home remote, a Cadillac driver could not hope for more.
That said, most truck people purchase a truck for when the payload hits the road. They want a workhorse. The Sierra does not disappoint in that area. Beginning with its fully boxed frame, which in our opinion is the best choice for a truck as is greatly reduces and chance of frame flex over a “C” shaped frame, to its best in class towing and payload capacity. Max conventional towing is rated at 17,000 lbs (that would be with the draw type frame mounted hitch and includes a Class 4, Class 3 convertible receiver). Max 5th wheel towing is 21,700. Why is it more? Because a 5th wheel carries the weight directly over the rear axle. Our 2500 series Sierra HD was rated at a 3,872 lbs. payload, or with the 3500 series, you get 5, 255 lbs.
It is significant to note that competitor trucks of this size require the use of a weight-distributing (sometimes known as an equalizer hitch) to tow the max “conventional” trailer weights. The Sierra HD and its corporate sibling the Silverado HD tow the maximum rating using the factory installed trailer hitch – no weight-distributing hitch required. This is a big deal for the trailer set, as an equalizer hitch typically cost around $500 and can be a hassle at time to install and use.
The HD series of trucks also provides the best warranty coverage in the segment with 3 year/ 36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 year / 100,000 mile power train for both gas and diesel, 5 year 100,000 mile road side assistance, 5 year / 100, 000 mile courtesy transportation ( a service not offered by Ford or Dodge) and a 6 year/ 100,000 mile corrosion warranty.
Technology has moved into the truck segment, and once again GMC and Chevrolet deliver the standard. GMC and Chevrolet Wi-Fi by Autonet Mobile turn HD pickups into mobile hotspots and provide multiple users with secure Internet access, inside as well as up to a 150-foot radius around the truck’s exterior. Since the system uses you own laptop it is less expensive and easier to use than services offered by the competition.
Truck people need to have confidence in the performance of their truck and the HD series works hard to provide that level of confidence with standard stability control, standard intelligent brake assist, standard exhaust brake with you opt for the Duramax 6.6L V8 turbo diesel, trailer sway control (keeps the dog from wagging its tail), hill start assist and finally integrated trailer brake controller.
The real test of a truck is living with it. We found the Sierra Denali 2500 4WD a welcome Christmas visitor and is effortless negotiated out snow filled drive and allowed us to inspect the pastures for any storm damage. It never missed a beat, never spun a wheel and reminded me of why I have long been a fan of HD pickup trucks.
Our test truck carried the Duramax 6.6 L V8 Turbo diesel. Now the EPA does not rate HD trucks, but we saw 17.1 mpg in combined driving. That was not towing anything, and with no payload. But for a vehicle of the Sierra HD’s size and ground clearance, those are very welcome fuel numbers. Another important feature to the trailering set is a fuel range on a full tank of well over 500 miles.
The Sierra series has come a long way from the 454 big block powered one-ton trucks of the ’70’s and ‘80’s. But just as those trucks were the standard of the trailering/commercial applications of their day, the tradition continues with today’s generation of really serious heavy-duty trucks. Trucks that have been made even better with the presence of luxury car level amenities.
STATS: Horsepower 397 hp Torque 765 lb. ft. Mileage not EPA rated Pricing begins at $45,865 – as tested $61,189 Seating capacity Five Recommended fuel low sulfur diesel required OPTIONS: Duramax 6.6 V8Turbo Diesel $7,195.00 Nav System-touch screen w CD Player, WX Nav Traffic $2,250.00 Allison 6 speed transmission $1,200.00 Power sunroof $895.00 20” Forged polished alum wheels $850.00 6” Tubular chrome assist steps $689.00 Front heated/cooled seats $650.00 Rear vision camera $450.00 Heated steering wheel $150.00 TOTAL OPTIONS $14,329.00