What’s in a name?

According to GMC, the range-topping Denali line wasn’t exclusive or haughty enough, so the automaker debuted something more… ultimate. Yep, the GMC Sierra 1500 can now be had in something called the Denali Ultimate.

You might be asking yourself what else does GMC have in its parts bin that could possibly make the Sierra Denali more upscale. Ponder away, but nothing else exists in the lineup. So what’s the deal?

The new-for-2016 Denali Ultimate package basically makes everything otherwise optional on the truck, standard equipment. Those 22-inch wheels – standard. 4WD – standard. Power-folding moonroof – standard. Driver Alert Package – standard. You get the idea. In fact, the only thing left as an option is the 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8.

The Denali Ultimate edition does add some new features not found before, including wireless phone charging and what GMC calls its Tri-Mode Power Steps. Push a button and the running boards slide rearwards, providing a step into the bed. Overly complicated? Sure, but it’s power operated and will attract hordes of onlookers.

Maybe.

Otherwise, the Sierra Denali Ultimate is basically a Sierra Denali. The truck does have the visual updates for the 2016 model year, which boils down to a new front fascia and taillights. Those are certainly welcomed additions to the truck, but the remainder of the bodywork carries over.

Nevertheless, the GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate is expected to rake in big sales and profits for GMC. The automaker says growth in this segment has exploded. GMC has seen its market share jump from zero percent in 2013 to an impressive 15.5-percent hold on the premium full-size truck segment.

GMC says the 2016 Sierra Denali Ultimate will arrive in dealers during the first quarter of 2016.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate.

Exterior

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The GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate carries a new look for 2016, though the changes are thanks to the Sierra-wide update for the 2016 model year. The grille, headlights, hood, and bumper have all be changed, making the truck look more sophisticated and modern. The large grille gets the classic, chrome Denali cheese grader appearance, which doesn’t change with the Ultimate package.

The grille, headlights, hood, and bumper have all be changed, making the truck look more sophisticated and modern.

The sides of the truck remain unchanged, save for the new Tri-Mode running boards. The bodywork all remains the same as it did when the Sierra had its last change-up for 2014. Out back, the tailgate, bumper, and bed are unchanged as well. Only the taillights have been replaced for 2016.

One of the bigger changes with the Denali Ultimate package is the addition of the 22-inch wheels. Previously optional, the wheels come with your choice of chrome or black inserts.

Interior

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Things inside the GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate haven’t changed either, save for one item – the redesigned center armrest with a built-in wireless phone charger. Compatible with devices with wireless charging built in or with special wireless charging cases fitted, the charging station allows the device to be charged without the mess of cables and wires.

GMC’s IntelliLink software also comes with an update that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Simply plug a compatible device into one of the many USB ports, and the infotainment system will run the Apple or Android OS.

The interior is otherwise the same between the Denali and Denali Ultimate.

Drivetrain

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GMC engineers left on major item as an option: the 6.2-liter V-8. Coming as standard is the 5.3-liter V-8, which provides 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Of course, opting for the Corvette-derived, 6.2-liter V-8 is the only sensible choice – I mean, who doesn’t want 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque?

Both the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter features GM’s EcoTec3 technologies

Both the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter features GM’s EcoTec3 technologies, which include variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, and active fuel management. Both engines also come standard with the new 8L90, eight-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the Denali Ultimate requires getting 4WD, so the electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case comes standard.

Those two extra gears in the new transmission help the V-8s get better fuel economy. On our last test of the GMC Sierra Denali, our 6.2-liter-equipped truck was EPA-rated to get 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined – a one-mpg improvement over the six-speed automatic-equipped truck.

Prices

GMC has yet to announce pricing for the 2016 Sierra Denali Ultimate, but we suspect its MSRP will begin in the low $60,000 range.

Competition

Ford F-150 Limited

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Decked out with just about every option and feature possible, the F-150 Limited competes with Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac in terms of equipment and amenities. Massaging seats, power-operated everything, and a twin-turbocharged engine are all standard fare.

That twin-turbo engine is Ford’s now venerable 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that cranks out an impressive 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission does the shifting.

Pricing for the new-for-2016 Limited starts at $54,100.

Read our full review here.

Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

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Like the F-150 Limited and Sierra Denali Ultimate, the Ram 1500 Laramie Limited is the crème-dela-crème of Ram’s trim level range. It represents the most expensive, most well-appointed truck in the automaker’s lineup. For Ram, that means yards of accents stitching, leather coverings over nearly ever surface, real wood accents, and a slew of standard features.

Not set in stone is the engine choice. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 comes standard, but optional is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. Both engines have their strengths, so customers should choose wisely, keeping their daily needs in mind.

Prices for the Ram 1500 Laramie Limited start at $50,675 for a Hemi-powered 2WD truck and grow to $57,300 for a 4WD EcoDiesel. Of course, the customer can then select other extra-cost options on top of that.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

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The GMC Sierra Denali is the mack-daddy of all GMC Denali trucks, offering the most standard equipment in a simple, bundled package. While this luxury package doesn’t aid in the Sierra’s truck-ish abilities, it does make for a suburb urban roller. Think of it as the Escalade EXT Cadillac no longer builds.

GMC is likely to expand the Ultimate package to other Denali models making it one-box option group that equips the truck, crossover, or SUV with all the popular and luxury-lined features high-end buyers are looking for.

  • Leave it
    • * Expensive
    • * Just a collection of popular options

Press Release

GMC is taking the range-topping style, craftsmanship and capability of the Sierra Denali even higher with the 2016 Sierra Denali Ultimate.

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It builds on the Sierra Denali’s already class-leading attributes with a package of precision-crafted features designed to elevate its comfort, design and capability in the growing premium niche of the full-size truck market.

GMC introduces the Sierra Denali Ultimate today, ahead of its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It goes on sale late in the first quarter of 2016.

“The Sierra Denali has helped drive the growth of premium portion of the light-duty crew cab segment,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC Sales and Marketing. “This truck is the ultimate expression of the Sierra Denali with greater emphasis on the bold and refined presence and advanced features that make Denali models synonymous with precision and exclusivity.”

Thanks in large part to Sierra Denali, which was redesigned in 2014, GMC commands 15.5 percent of the premium full-size truck segment, where average transaction prices exceed $55,000.

The segment has nearly doubled in 2015 and grown tenfold since 2013, when GMC had zero percent of the market. In fact, Sierra Denali has helped GMC earn a higher share of the premium portion of the light-duty crew cab segment than of the overall full-size pickup segment.

Unique features and more standard technologies

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The Sierra Denali Ultimate is offered exclusively on four-wheel drive 1500 crew cab models with either a 5’ 8” or 6’ 6” cargo bed. It is distinguished with 22-inch wheels with chrome or black insert), a standard sunroof, chrome tow hooks and standard technologies, including Tri-Mode Power Steps – that move rearward to serve as a step into the forward section of the cargo bed. Lane Keep Assist and IntelliBeam automatic headlamp control are also standard.

Sierra’s 6.2L V-8/eight-speed automatic powertrain combination offers the light-duty segment’s highest output: 420 horsepower (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft of torque (623 Nm). Active noise cancelation technology contributes to a quieter driving experience and is featured with the 6.2L engine. A 5.3L V-8 with the new Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission is the standard powertrain.

An integrated trailer brake controller is standard on the Sierra Denali Ultimate and allows the driver to adjust the amount of output available to the electric trailer brake and to manually apply the brakes.

Additionally, Sierra Denali’s standard, segment-exclusive magnetic ride control delivers more precise body motion control, for a greater feeling of responsiveness to the driver and a smoother ride for passengers. Its sensors “read” the road every millisecond, triggering damping changes in as little as five milliseconds in electronically controlled shock absorbers that replace conventional mechanical-valve shocks.

Professional grade style and crafted interior

In addition to the special content, the Sierra Denali Ultimate includes all of the crafted interior, advanced features and design elements of other Denali models, including body-color bumpers, chrome exhaust tip, unique interior decorative trim, a polished stainless steel exhaust outlet and a factory-installed spray-on bed liner with a three-dimensional Denali logo.

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It also wears new front-end styling introduced for 2016, including high-performance LED headlamps with GMC LED signature lighting, an all-new Denali grille and LED taillamps.

The high-tech interior features an eight-inch-diagonal Customizable Driver Display – with Denali-themed screen graphics at start-up – that can show relevant settings, audio and navigation information in the instrument panel. Sierra Denali’s standard eight-inch-diagonal Color Touch navigation radio with IntelliLink, located above the center console, is the hub for Bluetooth-connected phones and portable devices connected through four standard USB ports.

IntelliLink also features Apple CarPlay capability, with Android Auto capability coming later in the model year. Additional standard technologies and convenience features include:

OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot
Bose premium sound system
Wireless phone charging – new for 2016
Remote vehicle starter system
Remote keyless entry with new remote locking tailgate
Power-adjustable pedals
Power-sliding rear window with defogger
Rear-vision camera with dynamic guidelines.

The Denali Ultimate features premium soft-touch interior materials, aluminum trim and contrast stitching on the standard leather-trimmed interior – including 12-way power adjustable heated and vented front leather bucket and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Elevation of luxury

Named for Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America, the GMC Denali brand represents the pinnacle of luxury, design and performance – the ultimate expression of professional grade.

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GMC’s top-of-the-line models include the signature Denali chrome grille – premium materials and the latest safety and infotainment technology. Features such as a 10-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster on the Yukon Denali series and Magnetic Ride Control on Sierra Denali are exclusive to their respective vehicle segment.

The luxury-focused Denali models outsell the entire product lines of some of the most aspirational marques, including Land Rover, Jaguar and Porsche, with almost 60 percent of all GMC Yukon/Yukon XL models and more than 45 percent of Sierra HD sold wearing the Denali badge.

Overall, Denali vehicles have accounted for about 25 percent of all GMC retail sales in 2015 and more than 850,000 have been sold since the nameplate was introduced on the 1999 Yukon.

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