Beauty in this Beast – the 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali
Last year we saw the all-new 2020 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty hit the streets, bigger and bolder than ever before. Now in its second year, GMC is keeping the momentum going by offering a handful of updates and changes to the Sierra 2500HD.
First, an overview of the Sierra HD. The first thing people notice about it is that it’s huge and there’s certainly no mistaking it for anything other than a heavy-duty pickup. Every element of Sierra HD’s exterior – the sculpted headlamps, the prominent hood with large air intake, the distinctive grille, was carefully designed to represent the tremendous potential this truck is capable of.
And as the Sierra Denali Heavy Duty, an extra touch of luxury is applied with unique exterior accents, including a distinctive Denali-exclusive grille, chrome trim, and special 20-inch wheels – turning this working beast into a thing of beauty.
The large exterior equates to a roomy interior. As the Denali, the Sierra HD gets exclusive materials, including premium leather-appointed seating with contrasting stitching, authentic open-pore wood trim, and dark-finish aluminum décor, providing luxury conditions for its occupants.
Under that huge hood, the 6.6 liter gasoline engine remains the standard motor. It’s mated to the GM six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum output is rated at 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. Optional is the he 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel Duramax engine. It’s mated to the Allison 10-speed automatic transmission. Output is rated at 445 horsepower and an amazing 910 pound-feet of torque.
Also worth mentioning is GMC’s “MultiPro Tailgate” a split-folding tailgate that has six possible configurations including being setup as a work table, used as a step or used for seating purposes. Last year, the MultiPro Tailgate was standard on all trim levels starting with the SLT. For 2021, now the lower SLE gets the cool tailgate, leaving just the base model with the regular tailgate. For those who prefer the more traditional tailgate can still opt for it instead of the MultiPro Tailgate on all models.
Other changes for 2021 include a change in colors available (Dark Sky Metallic and Red Quartz are out while Ebony Twilight Metallic, Cayenne Red and Hunter Metallic are in), and power-retractable assist steps with LED lighting is an option on Denali models.
While the vehicle that I was in was a Denali, it wasn’t the new-for-2021 Denali Black Diamond Edition. This package, only available on four-wheel drive models, includes features like an auxiliary trailer camera, front and rear floor liners, power-retractable assist steps with LED lighting and 20-inch high gloss Black painted aluminum wheels. Also included is the MultiPro Audio System by Kicker. This allows the MultiPro Tailgate to play music – perfect for that outdoor concert.
Driving the Sierra HD, size must be taken into account, making you always think one step ahead. Lane changes need to be well planned and driving in neighborhoods can be quite the chore when passing parked cars or oncoming drivers. Even parking can be tricky as the HD seems to swallow up parking spaces. Steering, while a little vague, is nicely weighted, so the big Sierra does go around corners nicely.
While the inside of the Denali is quiet and plush, the ride is anything but smooth. Drive over breaks in the pavement and you’ll know it as the rear end bucks a little and tries to break loose. This is, after all, a heavy-duty truck, and it is made to work, not delivery a smooth ride. You want a smooth ride, get a Cadillac. You want to pull up to 35,500 pounds and be able to carry a payload of up to 3,900 pounds – then the Sierra HD is your thing.
The GMC Sierra Denali really is the best of both worlds. Need a truck to handle those extreme jobs? Want a vehicle that’s big enough to take the family on a road trip in and still be luxurious enough to take on a night on the town? The Sierra Denali HD covers it all.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 4WD Crew Cab
Base Price: $64,900.00
Price as Tested: $69,005.00
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: 6.6 liter V8
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Horsepower: 401 hp
Torque: 464 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: N/A
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