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Lend Me Your Wisdom

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Hello Everybody,

Let me start off by saying I know very little about cars. I'm a software engineer by trade so please keep that in mind as you respond to my post(s). I know most of the basic components work. I can fix a flat and change my oil but that's about it.

Here's my story: I've been contemplating for the past, oh I don't know...year and a half, about buying a new car. I'm at the point in my life (and career for that matter) where I can afford to buy myself something nice. During that time, the Sierra Denali has been front and center in my thinking. I haven't really been thinking about it all that seriously though because I don't really drive that much anymore. I take the metro (subway) to work and am able to walk to the metro station for my house. So, the only time I really use my car is on the weekends and even then, I don't use it all that much. Because of this, I haven't really been compelled to visit a dealership and check one out. That is, until recently.

My sister needs a new car. She's been driving a '94 (I think) Honda Civic that has lived its life and then some. It's beginning to break down and she needs something more reliable. However, she doesn't make a great living; she works at a daycare center. So, my father has offered to provide her with a more reliable means of transportation. This is where the plot thickens. He knows I've been thinking about buying a new car for a while now and rather than buying her a new (or used, Carmax) car, he has offered to assist me in purchasing one if I were to give her my very reliable 2000 Ford Ranger. It's a very tempting offer and the more I think about it, the more I want to do it. Keep in mind, I could pay for the whole thing if I wanted to but it's not a burden I would happily bare. I've checked out GMC's website and have read a bunch of reviews, articles, etc. about the Denali but there are a few questions I haven't been able to answer. That's where you come in. Hopefully.

1) I've read that many of the new GMC models have this fancy feature that will allow you to switch between 4 and 8 cylinders depending on the type of driving being done. However, if my understanding is correct, the engine's computer regulates this behavior and not the driver. Does that mean the driver can't tell the engine to go to 4 cylinders and stay in 4 cylinders for, say, city driving? And switch to 8 cylinders when I'm hauling something? Does the Sierra Denali have this feature? If it doesn't, what's gas mileage like?

2) What would be an estimated monthly payment? I realize this isn't an easy question to answer and depends on many variables but let's say I make a good living, have good credit, etc. and that I would like a few of the optional features like the sunroof and the deluxe stereo system/navigation. I just would like a ballpark number here. Nothing exact. I know GMC gives you the estimated monthly payment on their website but I would like to get some real world numbers.

3) Initially, I was going back and forth between the Sierra Denali and the Yukon Denali but I like pickups and with the four doors, I would have enough room for people to ride in. However, I would be open to hearing arguments from if somebody thought the Yukon would be a better choice. I would even be open to different makes and models if anybody had any suggestions. Basically what I want is a somewhat larger than average pickup truck that rides nice, has a luxurious interior and looks good. The Sierra Denali is the only one I can think of that fits all three criteria but if you think others do, please suggest them.

4) Are there any other things you think I should know before I go through with this? I will obviously go to the dealership and take a test drive before making any decisions but I don't want something to creep up and bite me in the butt. If you own or have driven one of the newer Denali models, what has your experience been like?

I think I'm leaving a couple of questions out but if I think of them, I will post them.

Thank you.

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First, welcome to C&G! Second, you have great taste for selecting the GMC Sierra Denali. Third, I hate you because I can't afford the Sierra Denali and you can! :P(okay, I really don't hate you, but you get what I mean)

The Sierra Denali comes in either 2WD (two wheel drive) or AWD (all wheel drive); if you opt for the AWD option, it is an automatic system and you have no input into its operation (compared to a part-time 4WD system). It has the 6.2 liter V8, which will not offer you the best in gas mileage - 2WD Sierra Denali's offer 12/19 MPG ratings, while AWD models have 12/18 MPG. They also come with a 26 gallon tank, so fill-ups will be expensive and often depending in your actual usage. Unlike the 5.3 liter V8, it does not offer the Active Fuel Management System. But to answer your question, the AFM system works like the AWD system - it opeartes automatically without driver input. If your driving condition does not require V8 power, then the system operates on 4 cylinders until you require more power (such as for passing or climbing ah hill). Since I don't own a truck with that engine, I can't speak firsthand on how it operates in actual driving. Transmission-wise, you're getting the heavy duty 6-speed automatic, which I understand to be one of the best transmissions out there in full-size pickups.

As for monthly payments, I'd suggest you contact your bank or credit union (or whomever you'd get the loan from) and ask them for this information. Your credit score and credit history will determine what interest rate you'll receive and then you can base monthly payments on certain dollar amounts with them. This is something personal and it's not easily answered here. The GMC website's payment calculator will give you a much better estimate should you not want to go to your lender at this point.

I think the GMC Sierra Denali is the ultimate in luxury pickup trucks. You could always look at the Lincoln Mark LT pickup, but I feel it's no where as nice as the GMC (and I prefer GM over Ford anyway). If a pure pickup isn't needed, you could always look at the Cadillac Escalade EXT (which is a sport utility truck). Me personally, I'd stick with the Sierra Denali. The Yukon Denali is a great luxury SUV, but it's not a pickup and if that's what you truly want, then a Yukon Denali will not make you completely satisfied.

Hopefully I gave you some guidance. Ask more questions as you come up with them. I'm no expert either, so I'm sure more experienced guys will give you alternate perspectives and additional information (like WildmanJoe - he's a great "real" truck guy).

By the way, here are some pictures of a 2008 GMC Sierra Denali AWD I took at the 2008 Philadelphia Auto Show recenty:





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I would actually recommend the 2008 Sierra 1500 Crew Cab Short Box 4WD SLT 4SA. That way you can get the Active Fuel Management and its 1mpg bump. I'm not 100%, but I think you can get almost everything on this trim as on the Denali.

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