The GMC Sierra was completely redesigned for 2014, but that didn’t stop GM from adding a whole pile of improvements for 2015. A new 8-speed transmission, upgraded tow rating and, enhanced infotainment system, and new magnetic ride control suspension are all on the list. With a top-level Denali sitting in my driveway, complete with 6.2-liter V8 and 4wd, I decided to beat this truck into submission. From helping friends move, to taking care of life on my farm, I towed, hauled and got dirty in this handsome pickup.
The Sierra was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, so visually, there is very little that has changed for the 2015 truck. It still has that same square shape, angular fender flares and imposing grille. Since this is the Denali model, the truck is covered from end to end in chrome trim. The grille, wheels, door handles, mirror caps, window trim, badge trimming and the side steps are all covered in the polished metal. From a proportion standpoint, the Sierra could use a little work as the large cab and small bed look at odds, and while it helps with wheel travel constraints, the tire openings look a bit too large for the standard rubber.
Inside the Denali, GMC has worked some wonders to turn this truck into a full fledge luxury office space. From a practicality standpoint, the Sierra is best in class. There are plenty of large and easily reachable storage spaces, and the smart features like a center console that doubles as a hanging file make this big pickup and ideal candidate for a rolling office. To provide power to all of the working man’s modern electronic gizmos, there are five USB ports, four 12-volt outlets and a standard 120v outlet all within reach of the front two seats.
You can also order the Sierra with 4G LTE Wi-Fi built in to provide internet for your laptops, smartphones or tablets. Speaking of smartphones and tablets, up font in the main console, there is a double set of rubberized trays that are designed to hold your phone or tablet so you can use them for work or even as extra navigation units without having to hold them.
The truck is also incredibly luxurious. Nearly every surface is covered in some sort of soft touch material, and the surface that aren’t look like metal or wood. There is a surprisingly small amount of plastic within reach of the driver, and most of the plastics you can reach feel high quality. The leather seats up front feel great, and the leather on the steering wheel is softer than I expected. Those front seats not only feel great, but they are heated and cooled.
Entertainment duties are handled by the large GMC IntelliLink system mounted in the dash. Along with the standard items like FM, satellite, Bluetooth and auxiliary functions, when paired to a smartphone, you can access features applications such as Slacker and iHeartRadio.
Under that long angry hood is the new 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine. It based on a lot of the engineering that went into creating the new Corvette Stingray engine, and that shows in the power ratings. This truck produces 430 horsepower and a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque, making the Sierra Denali the most powerful light-duty truck on sale today. Getting the power from the engine to the wheels is a new-for-2015 Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission. Under the body is GMC’s 4WD system that features a two-speed transfer case, a locking rear differential, and the ability to shift on the fly between 2H and 4H. Thanks to a pile of advanced technology, the truck even has an “Auto” 4WD mode that can vary torque from front to rear when it detects slippage, just like modern AWD systems for cars.
Our truck came equipped with a trailering package and we intended to use it. We hauled a loaded horse trailer, and the truck barely even broke a sweat under the 6,000-pound load. When properly equipped the Sierra Denali is capable of towing an insane 12,000 pounds.
Driving the Sierra Denali is a lot like you would expect. In basically every regard, it feels and acts just like a traditional truck. The ride is a little bouncy when the truck isn’t loaded down, steering is light, and the fuel economy is only mediocre. The EPA says you can manage 20 mpg on the highway, but the best I ever saw was 18. Average after the week was 16 mpg. The suspension and ride quality is one thing I was very interested in for the Sierra Denali. For 2015, the truck comes standard with Magnetic Ride Control, but I had a hard time telling a difference compared to a more traditional suspension setup.
If I had to make a complaint about the Denali, it would be the price. The base price is $52,155, but after a selection of options for more safety equipment, the 6.2-liter V8, sunroof, 20-inch alloys, and the trailering package, that MSRP bumped up to $57,820 after destination. In today’s truck market, that price is not outrageous, but it still feels a bit steep to me for a pickup with a bit of leather.
On the whole, I really enjoy what GM has done with the new Sierra. It is powerful, it rides well, the interior is smartly designed, and it performs all of its truckly duties efficiently , on and off the road. The price is hard for me to swallow, but that is a very small blemish on an otherwise fantastic truck. If I had the means, I wouldn’t hesitate one moment to park this beast in my fleet to help with the weekly farm duties. The only potential problem lies with the competition. I have yet to spend substantial time in the all-new F-150, so I can’t say which truck would be the better buy, and RAM has that sweet EcoDiesel engine on offer that is tempting as well. As it stands today, though, I love the new Sierra 1500 and think it is easily one of the best trucks on the market.