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Interactive Review: 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 Crew Cab 4WD


Drew Dowdell

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Interactive Review:

2011 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 Crew Cab 4WD

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Well the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe went back to GM just before the Thanksgiving holiday. When I got home from work, I found a black, 4-door, GMC Sierra Denali stuffed into my driveway... it just about scared the poor CR-V off the cliff in my back yard. Equipped with the 6.6 liter V8 Duramax, one of the first impressions I got with this truck is how fiercely fast it is for being so huge. GM just refreshed the chassis, engine, and transmission for 2011, but didn't touch the sheet metal or interior. I already know I'm going to ding the interior in places, as some of it isn't even up to GM's new standards for interior quality. The window sticker for this truck rings up at $61,189 after destination charge. I won't be able to get the windows sticker scanned in until I get back into my office on Monday, but if you have any specific equipment questions, I can let you know what it's got in the meantime.

Oh, and I'm going to need one of you truck guys to 'splain me about the locking differential. Apparently this truck has it, but it dug a 10 inch deep hole in my driveway when I tried to pull out in 2WD.

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RLD - Ability to lock the wheels on the same axle together as if they have a common shaft. Basically to help the traction while driving on surfaces offering very poor traction.

I wished I could test drive the beast. What mileage are you getting?

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14.4mpg.... the gauge hasn't budged

RLD - Ability to lock the wheels on the same axle together as if they have a common shaft. Basically to help the traction while driving on surfaces offering very poor traction.

But it should engage automatically, yes? Why did it dig a hole?

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Lucky you! Enjoy the Sierra for the time you have it. I'd love to get the opportunity to have an extended test drive with one of these new GMCs. I was happy to have a 2010 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT 4WD Crew Cab for two days in October from Eterprise while my Envoy was getting some warranty work done :)

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Is the dial set on automatic? Were you giving it a lot of gas? Was your other tire on a firmer surface?

The three options are 2H, 4H, and 4L

other tire was on the same surface.

I have a flat parking pad that is gravel, but then I have to climb up a very steep hill on concrete.

How on Earth did you dig that hole, Drew? Did you have your HOUSE chained to it? Were you powerbraking? That's one hell of a luxurious beast.

Nope. I'm going to have to take a picture of my driveway in daylight so you guys can see what happened.

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The three options are 2H, 4H, and 4L

other tire was on the same surface.

I have a flat parking pad that is gravel, but then I have to climb up a very steep hill on concrete.

Those are wheel drive modes, apparently GM made the RLD automatic, so it just detects the slickness. I think, while the surface may have looked similar visually, the differential detected slip on one side and that is why the hole.

Here is a cool video explaining how the A-RLD works.

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You know that long pedal on the right?

In gravel or other low-traction surfaces, you only want to breathe on it. The Duramax makes so much torque at idle that anything above a tap on the pedal will induce tirespin. On my '05 I would literally just give the pedal a slight tap and take my foot away immediately letting the truck idle its way into its initial takeoff roll.

Reverse is even more dramatic.

I can't tell you how many times I chirped the tires when backing up before I got a feel for the torque.

That engine is flat-out amazing.

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No, no 4WD.

Just use as light a touch as you can manage on the pedal, and be patient. The diesel responds a shade slower than a gas engine - you'll get a feel for it as you drive the truck.

Just a tap will get you rolling.

When you get the chance, engage the engine braking on one of those Pittsburgh hills, keep your foot off of the brake, and prepare to be amazed. That system is one of this truck's best features.

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Is the tailpipe a huge turnoff?

Yes, diesel torque comes on in a relentless, artful wave unlike a gas engine.

See, I've "built and priced" a Steel Green Silverado 1LT Duramax extended cab 4X4 so many times now it's ridiculous. The only thing that holds me back is the clunky Chevy website. If I lived in the country, had the money and a garage big enough, a Duramax would be in it.

Edited by ocnblu
sorry, I had to edit that bit out OCN.
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I do have a few questions... How is riding/driving it? How did it perform in tight areas (parking lot) and on the back roads? Did it feel as feel like a big truck? Also if you get a chance how did the bed handle a load? I am already enjoying the photos, and might like one of these for myself but with a 6.0L.

Edited by gm4life
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It's a bit rough over choppy pavement. You really bounce along over our poor PA roads. It's very difficult to park. Turning radius is huge. Getting it in and out of my driveway is a pain. I've yet to actually get it into a parking space straight... I just get it "good enough" and give up.

I doubt I'll get to haul anything with it. I would have to assume that the bed will handle a load as good as any other.

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Well, I'll have an F-350 in two weeks to compare it to. The only other vehicle close to this size that I have to compare it to is my old Avalanche which was incredibly maneuverable for it's size.

BTW, this truck is making me really miss my Avalanche.

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