While the existence of the GMC brand with its array of models that overlap with counterparts from Chevrolet has been seen as superfluous by many, fact is the middle child in the General Motors family continues to be a big seller. As with its SUV range, GMC has been quite popular among buyers in the full-size pickup segment. Despite the Sierra being near identical to the Chevy Silverado, GMC has been selling these in the hundreds of thousands, with the pricier Denali version being in high demand in many markets including ours. Named after America’s highest peak, the Denali variant has always been positioned as the pinnacle of what GMC offers in its respective segments.

For 2019, GMC has given the truck a revamp with a revised exterior design and upgraded features. One of the main additions to the new model is the innovative MultiPro tailgate with six different functions and positions that allow second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, a standing workstation as well as easier access to cargo in the box. It also comes equipped with a Rear Camera Mirror that helps circumvent common visual obstructions like rear passengers or large cargo in the bed. Another addition to the 2019 Sierra is a full suite of advanced safety features and chassis tech like Adaptive Ride Control.

In terms of looks and presence, the Sierra Denali makes a powerful statement from the front with its large upright chrome grille a taller, defined bonnet, and a set of bold C-shaped headlights. The commanding stance is not just a design trick, but a result of the truck being bigger in every dimension compared to its predecessor. The Denali features 22-inch Ultra Bright aluminium wheels shod in larger diameter tyres.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Although GMC claims the new Sierra Denali’s interior refinement and sophistication has been enhanced, in reality it’s not as luxurious or premium as that of a RAM Laramie Longhorn or a Ford F 150 Lariat. With an increasing number of customers in this segment looking for luxury trappings than anything else, the Denali’s cabin doesn’t look like it will impress. Although it has generous amounts of leather and some aluminium accents, the cabin design and ambience aren’t anywhere near as upmarket as that of rivals. But no complaints regarding head- and legroom, storage space, power outlets etc.

The GMC infotainment platform is simple and intuitive with a standard 8-inch screen acting as the interface. The Denali gets a suite of advanced safety features including Side Blind Zone Alert, Pedestrian Detection and Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. The 6.2-litre V8 features stop-start technology and Dynamic Fuel Management that optimizes power and efficiency by letting the engine run on one to eight cylinders depending on demand. The 10-speed automatic handles upshifts well but appears hesitant with downshifts. The new Sierra Denali features GM’s Adaptive Ride Control suspension system that uses sensors to monitor road conditions and chassis responses in real time, and adjusts the dampers accordingly.  However, the ride quality cannot be termed as class-leading, as most of the other players in this category are as plush and smooth as the Denali, if not slightly better.

Those in the market for a full-size pickup truck for its practicality and utility will find the new Sierra with its highly flexible tailgate quite an appealing option. However, if extravagance and a posh, swanky cabin is a requisite, then there are better alternatives out there.