Whenever an automaker introduces a redesigned vehicle, they talk about how new and improved it is. Whether its the all new engine that delivers better performance and fuel economy, or a new suspension that improves ride quality dramatically. But I have always wondered what would a redesigned vehicle look and feel like if they kept some things from the old vehicle. Well it happens to be that General Motors recently did this with the heavy-duty trucks, updating certain aspects while changing others. Lets see how this works out in the 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD.
Let’s begin with what hasn’t changed. First off is the powertrain found in this truck which happens to be the optional 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V8 with 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a Allison six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system. While that might fall flat when compared to the likes of Ram’s 6.7L Cummins Inline-Six turbodiesel (385 horsepower and 850 pound-feet of torque) or Ford’s 6.7L V8 turbodiesel, (400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque), the Duramax can more than hold its own. Performance is excellent with the Sierra Denali HD able to get up speed with no signs of struggle. Even when the bed was filled up with brick pavers, the Duramax V8 made it feel like nothing. The Allison six-speed is still one the best transmissions on the marketplace with smart shift logic and smooth shifts, it seemed to know what gear the truck needed to be in. As for average fuel economy, the Sierra Denali 2500 HD averaged 14.3 MPG.
Also not seeing any big changes is the chassis which was redesigned back in 2011. This includes a fully boxed steel frame, independent front suspension with forged steel upper control arms and cast iron lower control arms; torsion bars, and leaf springs in the rear. Like I wrote in my review on the 2012 model, the ride is somewhat bouncy due to the leaf springs; but overall, it’s ok for most situations. GM has improved road and wind noise in the Denali and its very noticeable. Driving on the freeway, I felt that I was riding in a luxury car due to how quiet it was.
What has changed is the exterior and interior. Outside, GMC designers have smoothed out the design to make the Sierra Denali a bit more aerodynamic to improve fuel economy. The front gets a new grille and headlights to make it stand out a bit from its Chevrolet brethren. The back gets a new bumper with integrated steps and a spray-in berliner. Overall, the 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD has to be the best looking of GM’s heavy-duty truck lineup as it has some distinctiveness to it.
Inside is where some of the biggest changes took place. Like the light-duty trucks, the heavy-duty models get a redesigned dashboard with large vents, an eight-inch screen featuring GMC’s Intellink infotainment system, and just better materials all around. The Denali gets a a large multi-configurable digital display in between the the speedometer and tachometer to display key information such as oil and transmission temps. This screen is very readable and a nice touch for the most luxurious truck in GM’s lineup. Seats are supportive and provide excellent comfort. This is the interior that the Sierra Denali HD was deserving of, and its nice to see that it has finally got it.
General Motors made a very wise decision with their 2015 heavy duty lineup of changing exterior and interior to keep them fresh, while keeping the diesel engine and chassis the same. For the Sierra Denali, these changes help the truck from being a pretend luxury truck, to something that could give a Cadillac a run for its money.
Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Sierra Denali HD, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: Sierra 2500HD
Engine: 6.6L Duramax Turbodiesel V8
Driveline: Six-Speed Allison Automatic Transmission, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 397 @ 3000
Torque @ RPM: 765 @ 1600
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N\A
Curb Weight: 7,549 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Flint, Michigan
Base Price: $53,740.00
As Tested Price: $64,630.00 (Includes $1,095 Destination Charge, and $1,500 discount for the Duramax Plus Package)
Duramax Plus Package - $8,845.00
Power Sunroof - $995.00
20-Inch Forged Polished Aluminum Wheels - $850.00
Dual Alternator - $295.00
20-Inch All-Terrain Blackwall Tires - $200.00
Power Outside Camper Mirrors with Heat and Turn Signals - $55.00
Cold Climate Package - $55.00