2017 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 Crew Cab Test Drive

Jerry Reynolds | April 4, 2017
2017 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 Crew Cab Test Drive

This week, we take a look at the four-wheel drive Crew Cab.  This truck had a complete re-do in 2014, then last year received a freshening.

People often ask me the differences between this truck and the Chevy Silverado.  The truth is, the only difference is in the grill, the headlights, and taillights, and the GMC has a slightly more upscale interior.  Underneath the outer sheet metal, the trucks are identical and have the same towing capacity.

One thing that draws people to the GMC is the aggressive look. 

The huge grill, body flares, wide stance, and huge wheels are a big draw for some people. The Sierra comes in four trim levels: the base, the SLE, the SLT, and the top-of-the-line Denali like the one I am reviewing.

Under the hood, the base engine is the 5.3-liter V8, but my tester has the massive 6.2-liter V8 that has 420-horses and 460 lb-ft of torque.  Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The interior is upscale and very well done with high-quality leather and stitching throughout. 

The instrument cluster features a lot of gauges and has a driver info readout in the middle that you can change from the heated steering wheel.

The Sierra Denali has a huge center console that features two 110-volt outlets and two 12-volt power outlets.  On top of the console is a built-in phone charger, and inside the console are two USB ports and another 12-volt outlet.

You operate the Bose stereo, navigation system, Apple Car Play, and Bluetooth from an 8” color touchscreen.  It also houses the rearview camera, and when the truck is started, the interior becomes a Wi-Fi hotspot.  Everything is easy to operate and there are a host of apps to choose from including current weather, traffic, and the projection app, which will mirror your phone when plugged into a USB port.  For additional storage, there are dual glove boxes also.

Under the air conditioning controls, there is a row of switches that operate the adjustable brake & gas pedal, the traction control, rear cab light, parking sensors, lane keeping assist, hill decent, and the power running boards.

Let’s talk about the power running boards for a second. 

They come out for use when you open any door and fold in when you close the door, but from the interior switch, the scissoring running boards will shift to the rear of the truck to allow you access to the truck bed, and that’s pretty cool.

There are many standard features on the Denali.  Some of the major features include:  automatic low-speed braking, forward collision alert, EZ lift and lower tailgate, assist steps in the rear bumper, LED lighting, and heated and cooled seats.

It also comes with navigation system, remote start, CD player, power sliding rear window, and dual-zone air conditioning.

This particular truck has the $7450 Ultimate package, which includes the larger engine, 22” wheels, power sunroof, trailer brake controller, the power running boards I told you about, and chrome recovery hooks in the front.

This truck rides and drives really well and is unbelievably quiet inside the cab. 

There is a ton of headroom and legroom all around, and for inside the cab hauling, just fold the rear seats up and you’ll have a huge area for cargo or your favorite pet.

A couple of cool things this truck has are a system that allows you to set limits on what your kid can do, and it will even give you a report card on their driving.  It also has a back seat reminder, which tells you to look in the back seat when you turn the truck off.

Just two complaints with this truck…the exterior mirrors seem too small to me for a truck with a trailer-towing package.  It also bugs me they put a 3:23 rear axle ratio in this truck.  I’m sure it was to get better fuel economy, but this truck will only tow 9100 pounds where many of the competitors tow well over 11,000 pounds.  To be fair, this truck with a 3:42 rear axle and the max trailer-towing package will tow 12,000 pounds with the 6.2-liter.

Speaking of gas mileage, this 5500-pound pickup is rated at 15 in town and 20 on the highway.

MSRP, as equipped, is $63,795 before discounts and rebates.  That puts it in line with comparable Ford, Chevy, and Nissan pickups equipped the same.

2017 GMC Denali

  • What I liked most:  The interior and exterior appearance.
  • What I would change:  Those “trailer mirrors” just aren’t cutting it.  
  • MSRP: Base price $55,306. As equipped $63,795.
  • Fuel Economy:  Rated at 15 in town, 20 on the highway, 17 Combined.
  • Official Color: Dark Slate Metallic.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 1400 miles.
  • Weight:  5482 pounds.
  • Length-Width-Height:  229” long/80” wide/74” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 26 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
  • Towing Capacity: 9100 Pounds.
  • 2017 Sierra Denali in a few words: Certainly a contender in the luxury truck wars. 
  • Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and two maintenance visits.
  • Final Assembly Location: Silao, Mexico.     
  • Manufacturer’s website:
Tags: denali, GMC, pickup, review, test driver, truck
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