The ultima luxury truck?

Just like its predecessor, the Sierra Denali sits at the top of the GMC Sierra lineup, itself a more upscale version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The fourth-generation pickup truck broke cover in March 2018, a few months after Chevrolet debuted the new-generation Silverado it is based on.

At the forefront of the premium pickup market since 1999, the GMC Sierra Denali steps into a new generation with redesigned everything. Larger and bolder, the truck benefits from new state-of-the-art technology, and a new transmission. It also boasts many industry-first features, including a carbon-fiber box, a multi-function tailgate, and a rear-view camera. Power continues to come from the familiar 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8s, despite the fact that GMC just introduced a diesel V-6 option for the regular Sierra.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior

  • Bigger and bolder look
  • Larger chrome grille
  • C-shaped headlamps
  • Body-colored bumpers
  • 22-inch wheels
  • MultiPro tailgate
  • Carbon-fiber box
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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We’ve already seen the regular Sierra, so the Denali version doesn’t take us by surprise one bit.

The truck looks bigger and bolder than before thanks to a much larger chrome grille and a taller engine hood.

The C-shaped headlamps were carried over from the previous generation, but the units are taller and feature squared elements under the lens. The outer edge is highlighted by a thin LED strip. Down below, the bumper is finished in the same color as the body, a Denali-exclusive feature, just like the bright-chrome appearance of the grille. The LED headlamps and fog lamps are standard on this model.

Onto the sides, the Denali stands out compared to the regular Sierra by just a handful of features. There’s "Denali" lettering on the lower doors, extra chrome on the mirror cars, and 20-inch aluminum wheels. GMC offers larger, 22-inch rollers if you want an extra dose of bling. Around back, the premium look is further enhanced by a body-colored bumper and integrated, rectangular exhaust pipes in a bright, polished finish.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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Beyond these Denali-specific features, the truck is also fitted with GMC’s MultiPro Tailgate. An industry-first feature, it’s the most complex tailgate design ever with six different functions and positions, including second-tier and load-stop solutions. It can also become a standing workstation and provides easier access to the items carried in the box.

Another GMC-exclusive, industry-first feature, the carbon-fiber box offers increased protection to dents, scratches, and corrosion.

This option replaces the standard steel inner panels with carbon-fiber, also shaving off around 62 pounds off the truck. Skip the carbon box, and you’ll get a traditional bed made from high-strength steel, which according to GMC is 50-percent stronger than usual.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Interior

  • Three inches of extra legroom
  • Premium leather
  • Open-pore wood trim
  • Dark-finish aluminum
  • Eight-inch infotainment
  • ProGrade Trailering System
  • Rear Camera Mirror
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Interior
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Much like any new-generation vehicle, the latest GMC Sierra benefits from a wide range of upgrades and novelties, starting with a roomier rear passenger section.

Specifically, the redesigned cabin offers nearly three inches of additional rear-seat legroom compared to its predecessor, which makes the Sierra one of the roomiest trucks in its class.

There’s also a ton of new tech to talk about. Fortunately, GMC includes many of the optional features as standard with the Denali trim, on top of the Denali-exclusive materials and items. For starters, the seats come wrapped in premium Forge leather, while the dash and door panels feature authentic open-pore wood trim and dark-finish aluminum inserts. All of them are exclusive to the "Denali" badge, and you can’t order them on another Sierra model.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Interior
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You'll also be treated to heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats.

The truck also includes GMC’s latest infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, embedded navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.

It has customizable profiles that can be stored in the cloud, voice recognition, and downloadable apps like Spotify, USA Today, and FOX Sports. The seven-speaker Bose premium system with Richbass Woofer is also standard.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Interior
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A brand-new system called ProGrade Trailering makes towing easier than ever.

It includes an in-vehicle Trailering App which uses sensors and camera to help ease all stages of the towing process. Features include customized trailer profiles, pre-departure checklists, assistance while checking external lights, and a trailer tire pressure monitoring system. An industry-first smartphone app allows you to operate and monitor the entire process from your phone.

Finally, GMC added a Rear Camera Mirror that gives you the option of using a traditional inside rearview mirror or a rearview camera mirror display. This system features the ability for zoom and vertical tilt adjustment and comes in handy when carrying rear-seat passengers or large items in the cargo box. Rear Camera Mirror is a segment-first feature.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Drivetrain

  • Standard 5.3-liter V-8
  • Optional 6.2-liter V-8
  • Up to 420 horsepower
  • No diesel option
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Two-speed transfer case
  • Improved brakes
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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GMC offers two engines for the Sierra Denali, both shared with the standard truck. Both are equally familiar, as they have been on offer for quite a few years now.

Of course, the new-generation truck benefits from a number of upgrades.

Opt for the standard drivetrain and your Sierra Denali carries a 5.3-liter V-8 under the hood. Shared with the Chevy’s and GMC’s large SUVs, the mill cranks out 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and features the brand’s latest start/stop and cylinder deactivation technologies. An eight-speed automatic transfers all that oomph to the wheels.

Optionally, you can replace the 5.3-liter with a 6.2-liter V-8. GMC takes great pride in this engine, as it’s the largest and most powerful in this segment, despite having no extra power compared to its predecessor. It generates 420 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. These figures are identical in other vehicles from GM, including the GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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So is the 6.2-liter the largest and most powerful in its class? Not really. While it is indeed the largest, neither Ford nor Ram offer a unit bigger than 5.7 liters; it’s less powerful than the range-topping version of Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which delivers 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Sure, this engine is found in the F-150 Raptor, a higher-performance version of Ford’s truck, but it competes in the same segment theoretically. If we remove high-performance vehicles from the equation, then yes, GMC’s 6.2-liter V-8 is indeed the most powerful in its class.

Unlike the 5.3-liter V-8, the 6.2-liter unit mates to a much newer 10-speed automatic transmission.

The engine also features Dynamic Fuel Management, a cylinder deactivation system that enables it to operate in 17 different patterns between two and eight cylinders to optimize power delivery and efficiency.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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GMC also offers a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel in the regular Sierra, but this unit can’t be ordered with the Denali trim.

Moving over to what makes this truck one of the best on the market, the Sierra Denali features an exclusive Adaptive Ride Control suspension system that delivers premium ride comfort and better road isolation.

The system uses real-time monitoring of the road and driver inputs to adjust the dampers every two milliseconds.

Next up is the all-new Traction Select System, which allows drivers to choose from an array of drive modes that have been conceived for different terrain or weather conditions. Each mode adjusts the truck’s transmission shift points, throttle mapping, and StabiliTrak to optimize performance for each situation. It also reacts with the Adaptive Ride Control to further refine the ride.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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You can choose between five modes, starting with Tour, the default operation mode at every start-up.

It’s designed to deliver the right blend of refinement and efficiency for everyday use, so it’s more than suitable for city driving in slow or moderate traffic. Next up is Sport, in which the transmission downshifts quicker in order to keep the engine in its peak powerband, while the steering becomes more direct and sporty.

The third mode, Snow, optimizes the drivetrain for wintry weather. This mode is only available on two-wheel-drive models. The fourth mode is called Off-Road and speaks for itself. Designed for use for higher-speed driving on non-paved surfaces, it has the same accelerator calibration as Snow Mode but allows a bit more wheel slip than on dry surfaces thanks to specific traction controls settings.

Finally, there’s Tow/Haul, which modifies the transmission calibration, so that shift points are higher, allowing the engine to deliver peak power. Downshifts also come earlier in order to reduce wear on brake components. This mode also engages Grade Braking functionality for more efficient braking on long, downhill stretches.

Other upgrades include the Autotrac two-Speed Transfer Case for improved torque at low speeds, a new electro-hydraulic power brake boost system for smoother brake pedal feel when the bed is loaded or when trailering, and a four-wheel disc brake system with larger diameter rotors and calipers.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Prices

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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Pricing for the Sierra Denali starts from $54,395, a $25,395 premium over the base truck. For this amount you get the short box model with two-wheel drive and the 5.3-liter V-8 engine. Opt for the standard box, four-wheel drive, and the 6.2-liter V-8 and the sticker jumps to $60,290. For the 2018 model year, GMC offers a $3,000 cash allowance, so you can order a Sierra Denali for as low as $51,395.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Competition

Ford F-150

2018 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior
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Ford F-150

While it doesn’t have a specific luxury model line, Ford offers a couple of trim with more premium features on the F-150 truck. For example, the Platinum version adds quite a few luxury items over the less expensive models. Highlights include auto start/stop technology, a 10-speed transmission with four modes, and polished 20-inch aluminum wheels. It also boasts leather-wrapped bucket front seats, dual-zone climate control, and an eight-inch infotainment display. Just like the Denali, it has body-colored bumpers, a satin chrome grille, LED lights all around, heated side mirrors and numerous safety features. Go with the range-topping Limited trim, and you also get 22-inch wheels, heated rear seats, voice-activated navigation, 360-degree camera, rain-sensing wipers, and the Technology Package. Engine options are numerous and range from the 290-horsepower and 265-pound-foot 3.3-liter V-6 to the 395-horsepower and 400-pound-foot 5.0-liter V-8. In between, you can find a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 rated at 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost rated at 375 horses and 470 pound-feet. Transmission choices include six-speed and ten-speed automatics. The F-150 Platinum starts from $54,485, while the F-150 Limited retails from $61,360.

Read our full review of the 2018 Ford F-150.

Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Including the off-road Rebel trim level

Redesigned for the 2019 model year, the Ram 1500 boasts a more aerodynamic and aggressive exterior design with wraparound headlamps and a new grille with "Ram" lettering instead of the traditional "cross-hair" grille. The cabin was redesigned from the ground up and includes a 12-inch touchscreen, a first for the pickup truck market. The full center console, optional on lower and mid-grade trims and standard on upper trims, adds movable cup holders, a wireless phone charger, storage for a 15-inch laptop, and five USB ports. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard as in any modern vehicle. Power comes from either a 3.6-liter V-6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 395 horses and 410 pound-feet. Models that can compete with the Sierra Denali include the Laramie Longhorn and the Limited. The former includes features like 20-inch wheels, premium leather seats, chrome side steps, genuine wood, and metal trim. The massive 12-inch display is optional. The range-topping Limited model adds the 12-inch touchscreen, Blind Spot Monitoring with Trailer Detection, Active-Level air suspension, and the wireless charging pad, among other features. Prices start from $52,935 for the Laramie Longhorn and from $55,535 for the Limited version.

Read our full story on the 2019 Ram 1500.

Conclusion

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Exterior
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While both Ford and Ram offer premium versions of their trucks, it’s GMC that started the trend almost two decades ago. For this reason alone GMC needs to up the ante with every redesign and facelift. Thankfully, the new-generation Sierra Denali lives up to expectations with many industry-first features, state-of-the-art tech, a carbon-fiber box, and a number of convenience items you can’t get from the competition. Sure, Ford and Ram made big improvements to their range-topping models in recent years, but GMC remains the go-to brand when it comes to luxury pickup trucks. The only downside here is that the Sierra Denali becomes expensive with the fancy options and that GMC doesn’t offer the diesel engine with the Denali trim.

  • Leave it
    • * No diesel option
    • * Expensive

Further Reading

2019 GMC Sierra Exterior
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It looks bigger and bolder

Read our full review on the 2019 GMC Sierra.

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Read more GMC news.

The all-new 2019 Sierra set the new benchmark for capability, refinement and innovation when introduced earlier this year. Now, the GMC Sierra Denali is arriving at dealerships and strengthening GMC’s position as the preeminent brand for premium truck buyers.

Denali is the flagship of the next-generation Sierra lineup, distinguished by iconic design cues and segment-leading technologies. It leads a broader, bolder range of precisely engineered trucks, including new AT4 and Elevation models1, developed for the segment’s most discerning customers.

“GMC ignited the premium truck market 17 years ago with the launch of the Sierra Denali and the next-generation model sets a new standard with unparalleled advancements and exclusive design,” said Rich Latek, marketing director of GMC. “It offers more upscale appointments, purposeful technologies and capability - solidifying Denali as the ultimate in professional grade.”

Along with its bold design and premium features, the next-generation Sierra Denali ups the ante in the segment with exclusive ride and handling and performance technologies designed to deliver a seamless balance of comfort, control and capability. They include new Adaptive Ride Control and the most powerful V-8 engine available in the class.

The new Sierra Denali is offered as a crew cab, with nearly 3 inches of additional rear-seat legroom compared to the previous model. That roomier cabin is trimmed with Denali-exclusive materials, including premium Forge leather-appointed seating, authentic open-pore wood trim and dark-finish aluminum decor.

The 2019 Sierra Denali affirms its position as the most premium Sierra ever, with segment-leading technologies and exclusive features, including:

GMC Exclusive, Industry-first MultiPro Tailgate is the most innovative pickup tailgate ever, with six unique functions and positions offering enhanced second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, a standing workstation and easier access to items in the box.
GMC Exclusive, Industry-first Carbon Fiber Pickup Box2. The CarbonPro offers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.
All-new ProGrade Trailering System with in-vehicle Trailering App offers a connected comprehensive suite of trailering technology that brings more confidence to the towing experience.
Segment-first Multi-Color Head-Up Display projects key, customizable vehicle data on the windshield in a 3 x 7-inch display to help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
Segment-first Rear Camera Mirror gives the driver the option of using a traditional inside rearview mirror or a rearview camera mirror display that provides a wider, unobstructed view that can help overcome common visual obstructions such as occupants or cargo. This next-generation system features the ability for zoom and vertical tilt adjustment.

Additional 2019 Sierra Denali highlights (standard and available features) include:

Denali-exclusive exterior elements, including a bright, multidimensional grille, chrome exterior accents and body-color bumpers.
New high-intensity LED headlamps that incorporate C-shaped "light blade" lighting elements, LED fog lamps and C-shaped LED elements within the taillights.
20-inch aluminum wheels are standard, with 22-inch wheels available.
Integrated dual exhaust with bright polished outlets standard.
Heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seat and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard.
GMC Premium Infotainment System with 8-inch-diagonal HD color touchscreen, embedded navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone projection compatibility.
Customizable profiles, saved with each driver’s settings and presets and stored in the cloud, can be accessed and used in other compatible 2019 GMCs.

Ride and Handling Delivers Confidence
Sierra Denali’s exclusive Adaptive Ride Control offers premium ride comfort with better road isolation and control than ever. Through real-time monitoring of the road and driver inputs while accelerating, cornering, braking and trailering, the system’s active dampers can be individually adjusted every 2 milliseconds, based on sensor feedback.

The all-new Traction Select System allows drivers to choose from preset available drive modes that have been tailored for different terrain or weather conditions. It adjusts Sierra’s transmission shift points, throttle mapping and StabiliTrak to optimize performance for the situation. The system also reacts with the Adaptive Ride Control in Sierra Denali to further enhance the driving experience and refine the ride.

The available Traction Select system modes are:

Tour: The default mode of operation at every start-up, Tour is designed to deliver the right blend of refinement and efficiency for everyday use.
Sport: The transmission is eager to downshift in order to keep the engine in its peak powerband. Power steering assist is slightly reduced, making the steering feel more direct, communicative and sporty.
Snow: Available only on two-wheel-drive Sierras, Snow Mode optimizes Sierra’s driveline for driving in wintry weather. In addition to leveraging Sierra’s standard Traction Control and StabiliTrak stability control systems, Snow Mode also provides a slower, less sensitive accelerator pedal calibration.
Off-Road: Designed for use for higher-speed driving on non-paved surfaces, Off-Road mode incorporates the same accelerator calibration as Snow Mode, giving the driver precise throttle control. Also incorporates unique StabiliTrak and traction control calibrations that allow for a little more wheelslip than on dry surfaces, in order to help carry momentum — important on gravel or in muddy situations.
Tow/Haul: Modifies the transmission calibration so that shift points are higher, allowing the engine to deliver peak power. It also initiates downshifts earlier in order to leverage engine braking and reduce wear on brake components. Tow/Haul also engages Grade Braking functionality so that on long, downhill stretches, a light touch of the brake pedal can initiate a downshift to slow the vehicle more efficiently.

The Autotrac 2-Speed Transfer Case, standard on Sierra Denali, offers a mechanical low range to provide amplified torque at low speeds — ideal for use on severe off-road terrain, slippery boat launches and in other low-traction situations.

Next-generation Sierra models, including the Denali, also feature a new electro-hydraulic power brake boost system rather than a conventional vacuum-assist system, for strong, smooth and consistent brake pedal feel when the bed is loaded or when trailering. The four-wheel disc brake system also features larger-diameter Duralife brake rotors and larger brake pads to support its performance capability.

Segment’s most-powerful V-8 engine
The 2019 Sierra Denali’s available 6.2L V-8 engine is the segment’s largest displacement engine and most powerful, rated at an SAE-certified at 420 horsepower (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft of torque (623 Nm). It is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) debuts with the engine, offering industry-first cylinder deactivation technology that enables it to operate in 17 different patterns between two and eight cylinders, depending on demand, to optimize power delivery and efficiency.

Sierra Denalis equipped with the optional 6.2L V-8 include a 10-speed automatic transmission designed to improve shift quality. It incorporates a new centrifugal pendulum absorber torque converter that reduces vibrations to improve smoothness, particularly during cylinder deactivation events.

Advanced connectivity
An 8-inch-diagonal GMC Premium Infotainment System with a high-resolution color touchscreen and embedded navigation that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android phone projection compatibility3 is standard for the Sierra Denali. Also standard is a seven-speaker Bose® Premium Sound System with Richbass® Woofer in the center console. The infotainment system also features advanced personalization features, enhanced voice recognition functionality and offers downloadable in-vehicle apps, including Spotify, USA Today and FOX Sports.

Simple and easy to use, an all-new in-vehicle Trailering App utilizes sensors and cameras to help ease the process of towing in all stages: during hitching and setup, on the road and when responding to potential hazards. Features of the in-vehicle Trailering App include customized trailer profiles, pre-departure checklists, assistance while checking external lights and Trailer Tire Pressure Monitoring System (additional equipment and installation required) while offering an industry-first smartphone companion app for compatible devices.

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