2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Duramax Diesel Test Drive

Jerry Reynolds | July 18, 2017
2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Duramax Diesel Test Drive

This week I bring you the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 Duramax diesel truck.   

The big news for the Sierra is the revised diesel engine under the hood, otherwise, most of the truck is largely unchanged for 2017.

The new 6.6-liter Duramax is putting out a class-leading 445-horses, and 910 pound-feet of torque.  It is mated to the terrific 6-speed Allison automatic, and my test vehicle is four-wheel drive.  Towing capacity on this truck with the 3.73 rear axle is 13,500 pounds.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Trims

The Denali is the top-of-the-line GMC, but there are three other trim levels available.  You start with the base, move up to the SLE, the SLT, then on to the Denali.  Like all ¾ ton trucks, the 2500 Sierra Denali is large and tough-looking with 20” wheels, and pay particular attention to the new functional hood scoop.  This is one of the key factors in the much-improved performance numbers of the Duramax turbo diesel.

Upscale Interior

The Sierra Denali has a terrific interior with stitching throughout the seats and dash areas, and the headrests remind you that you are in a Denali.

When seated behind the wheel, the gauges are easy to read, and between the tachometer and speedometer, you can get a lot of driver information that is controlled from the large, heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

This truck has a huge center console with a built-in cell phone charger, handy cup holders, and a large storage area.  GMC opted to leave the transmission shifter on the steering column to allow for all the front seat storage.

To the left of the steering wheel are light controls, a knob to engage the 4-wheel drive system, and the built-in trailer brakes.  To the right is the color screen to operate the GMC Intellilink system. 

Infotainment and Technology

Apps there include the Bose Audio system, your phone interface, navigation system, real-time weather info, vehicle settings, Wi-Fi and current traffic.  The system will allow you to text by voice and you can project your phone screen onto the truck’s screen.

Just below the screen are your radio controls, the climate-controlled air conditioning, and controls for the heated and cooled seats.  Below that is a row of buttons that operate the adjustable pedals, the traction control, the exterior cab lights, parking sensors, lane departure warning, and the exhaust brake.

Below that are plug-ins for two USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, and a 110 Volt AC outlet.

So what’s an exhaust brake you might ask?  Simply put, when towing, especially downhill, the truck uses the engine and transmission instead of the brakes to slow the rig.

Rear seat room in this truck is amazing, and the bottom of the seats will fold up to give you a massive amount of interior storage.

Standard Denali Features

Notable standard features on the Sierra Denali include: forward collision alert, bed liner, chrome running boards, lane departure warning, remote start, power sliding rear window, rear camera, power adjustable pedals, and the safety alert seat, which vibrates if the truck senses a collision.  It also has the teen driver system, although I don’t recommend letting a teen driver behind the wheel of this beast, and it has the life-saving rear seat reminder.

A few other neat features at no charge are: front and rear park assist, digital steering assist, and the easy-lift tailgate that remotely locks.  The rear bumper has built-in steps to make getting in and out of the bed easier.

This truck also comes with front and rear park assist, front fog lights and tow hooks, and it is compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and comes with a Bose stereo system with HD radio.

Review Vehicle Options

Total options on my test truck add up to $11,545, which includes $9550 for the Duramax Plus package and includes the automatic transmission, and chrome power trailer towing mirrors.  This one also has power sliding sunroof, the off-road suspension package, and the prep package for a 5th wheel gooseneck hitch, and a rear equalizer hitch.  This truck comes ready to tow.

Ride and Drive

The Sierra Denali is actually very comfortable to drive, and you don’t feel like you are fighting it.  I suspect you would get that same sensation even when towing a trailer.

The cab is quiet and you can barely hear the engine.  The torque under heavy acceleration will pin you to the seat.  Overall driving in this truck is quite enjoyable.

Although not officially rated by the EPA, the Denali got 13 in the city and 20 on the highway running 75 miles per hour.

Total sticker price on this truck is $70,485 as equipped.

I’m often asked, what is the best diesel truck all around?  The truth is, they are all good, and if you choose the GMC, you won’t be sorry, it’s a real contender.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Duramax Diesel

  • What I liked most:  The ride and performance.
  • What I would change: Really nothing, it’s a great truck.
  • MSRP: Base price $58,495. As equipped $70,485.
  • Fuel Economy:  Got 13 in town, 20 on the highway not really trying.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 4700 miles.
  • Official Color:  Dark Slate Metallic.  
  • Weight:  7400 Pounds.
  • Length-Width-Height:  239” long/80.5” wide/77.9” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity:  36 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side. 
  • Towing Capacity: 13,700 as equipped.
  • Spare Tire: Full sized spare.
  • Final Assembly Point:  Warren, Ohio.
  • 2017 Sierra Denali in a few words:  Very capable truck. 
  • Warranty:  3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and two free maintenance visits.         
  • Manufacturer’s website: 
Tags: 2017, diesel, GMC, GMC Sierra 2500 HD Denali
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