2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali: Quick Drive

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By Aaron Bragman

Luxury pickup trucks are a purely American phenomenon, one that friends in foreign lands have a hard time understanding. But honestly, when you have a big cattle ranch or own a construction company, what are you going to drive to work, a BMW 7 Series?

Of course not; it wouldn't look right.

Instead, the choice for hundreds of thousands of people has been big, expensive luxury trucks from U.S. manufacturers. When you think about it, given the prices, capabilities and luxury equipment, the top-line full-size pickups are the ultimate American luxury vehicles. Much of it started with the model seen here: the Denali trim for the GMC Sierra. It's pretty much the fanciest GM pickup you can buy now that the Cadillac Escalade EXT is history. The Sierra Denali represents the latest high-zoot trimmings and technology from GM.

We've already driven the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500; it did well in our 2013 Light-Duty Challenge, coming in third place and ahead of its counterpart Chevrolet Silverado. We were impressed with many of its characteristics; the Sierra won two of the 13 quantitative contests and came in second in four of them. We also liked it more than any other for exterior styling, and were mightily impressed with its new interior. And this was just the SLE trim, not the luxury Denali trim. See our review of the 2014 GMC Sierra here.

Pony up some extra cash, and you get an even nicer truck than the SLE. Outside, the signature Denali chrome mesh grille is prominent, nestled atop a Denali-specific body-colored bumper and flanked by the standard projector beam headlights that come on all Sierras. Twenty-inch chrome wheels are part of the package, as is a polished stainless-steel exhaust outlet. The look isn't quite as distinctive as it used to be, or perhaps we're just getting used to seeing high-dollar pickups with acres of chrome on lesser models, but it's still dramatic.


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Inside, the Denali gets special embossed leather seats, bright door sills and real aluminum metal trim for the dashboard. Again, it looks good, but not all that different from the already upscale interior in lesser Sierras.

The Sierra Denali does feature a few exclusive features, however, including an 8-inch customizable display screen in the gauge cluster that can be tailored to show a variety of things at the driver's preference. The Denali also comes with a standard 8-inch touch-screen featuring GMC's Intellilink, five USB ports for various personal electronics, a Bose audio system, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, and a power sliding rear window with defroster. Given that this is the top trim level for the Sierra, it makes sense that it comes loaded.

Exclusive to the Denali and SLT trim levels is the biggest engine available in the latest GM pickups, the 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. It's a monster, providing impressive thrust and 12,000 pounds of maximum towing capacity. My week with it didn't include any towing, but freeway passing and stoplight acceleration was done with ease, accompanied by a throaty soundtrack and fuel economy that hovered right around the 16 mpg mark (the EPA rates the two-wheel-drive version with this engine at 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined). Certainly not exactly hybrid levels of efficiency, but for a truck this size with these capabilities, it is as expected.

Driving the Sierra Denali is a serene experience; a lot of attention has been placed on creating an extremely quiet interior. The leather-covered seats are big and cushy, but the super-wide center console actually makes the interior feel more cramped than competitors like the Ram 1500 or Ford F-150. Ride is nicely damped for a big, unladen pickup, and steering is unperturbed by pavement imperfections or even the massive craters that have opened up around Detroit this winter. Just like in lesser Sierras, there's plenty of room in back for passengers as well; nobody has a bad seat in the Denali.

The Sierra Denali is easy to use as well, with the big displays on the center stack and the gauge cluster displaying anything and everything you could possibly need, with simple controls on the multimedia center allowing for quick operation of everything from the navigation system to one's plugged-in iPod. There's still a column shifter for the Sierra, but that frees up room in the center console for more storage, so the rather anachronistic placement isn't a burden.

All that bling and brawn comes at a hefty price, but not one that's outside the competitive realm of luxury pickups. My test truck started at $51,060 including a hefty $1,095 destination fee, adding $450 for the driver alert package (lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rumbling safety alert seat), $1,995 for the 6.2-liter engine, another $995 for a moonroof, $255 for an off-road suspension package, $230 for an integrated trailer brake controller and $200 for all-terrain tires. The grand total for this luxo truck came to $55,185, right in line with competitors like the Ford F-150 Platinum or Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. For buyers in the market for the ultimate expression of American luxury trucks, the new Denali still hits all the right marks.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman

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I've been looking at a Sierra All Terrain, I think it looks better then the Danali and its cheaper. I will say it is a quiet truck but the seats could be a little bigger both front and back. Backseat passengers would hit thier head on the glass in a minor rear end collision since the seat back and rear headreast don't go above the bottom of the rear window. That said I will probably buy one anyway.

A very nice truck it would be my first choice but it needs time to prove itself and get bugs worked out like all other new trucks. So for me right now it is behind a Ram 1500 Laramie Limited and Ford F150 Platinum Ecoboost in that order as I am a V8 guy.

There no comparison in luxury specially with platinum f150 that a real luxury truck and the 15 f150 is gona make these Gm truck look like the cheap model ford interiors are way better then ani other truck in the market that said that why is number one on sales year to date yez the Gm is 12,000 towing enjoy while u can because the 15 f150 is gona surpass those numbers as the model now have 11300 towing capacity built ford tough as always

Sat in one at the Atlanta Car Show and Marks right the console is to big. Makes the seat and interior feel small when it isn't.

To me, to spend that kind od money on a 2wdtruck is not very smart! even if you do not need it, it would be there, and the resale is nicer! For my money, I would rather buy the All Terrain AWD/4x4, as save some money! even with the 6.2 if you can get it with that package.

You say the Center console makes the truck feel cramped compared to the Ram? Have you seen the center console in the Ram? Its ridiculously wide to point it cuts down on leg room, you feel like you have to sit like a girl and not let your legs spread out. I would say the Rams center console is at least 4-6 inches wider then this.

@jose Chavez the numbers on the trucks now are not j2807. So ford might increase those numbers or they might actually be a little lower. As we saw with the tundra the towing numbers dropped. But it shal be interesting. And the new F:150 interior is a major improvement but I don't think it with make any of the other automakers trucks look cheap. I think they will all be neck and neck quality wise

Dam thats one ugly interior. They need the new Tahoe interior in this truck.

This is all fine and dandy, but pickuptrucks . com contributer and tundraheaquarters ediotr, Tim Esterdahl, placed the GMC Sierra Denali in LAST place for top of the line interiors. By the way, the Tundra 1794 comes in at #1:

"I would rank the higher trim levels as (#1) 1794, (#2) Laramie Longhorn, (#3) King Ranch and then (#4) Denali/High Country. Kudos to GM for introducing a new trim level, it is just too conservative for my tastes. Actually, the word “conservative” is how I would describe all of GM’s efforts. The truck’s new styling, their pricing strategy and product roll out have all been conservative."

Tim also says the Chevy High Country does NOTHING for him.

He was STUNNED by the 1794 interior and said it was GLORIOUS and incredible

The new GM trucks do feel less roomy than the others but the passenger footwell isn't as bad a Ram.

The numbers that 6.2 puts out is impressive. Sharp truck when I seen it at the auto show except rear step bumper looks weird on it.

@Joe, those rear headrests are extendable for taller passengers.

GM trucks are more care like in the interior packaging. You sit more legs out in front of you v.s sitting higher with legs less bent. Not necessarily a bad thing but different than the others except maybe the Toyota. GM's have 46 inches of front leg room v.s 41-42 for the others reason being is you need more when you set more legs out in front of you.

@Tim Esterdahl,



GMC = boring!!!!!

I aint got no room for boring GMC interior!

No we aint go no room for boring!

For boring GMC's we aint got no room!

The All New Toyota

Let's go places!!!!!!!!!

"No Room for Boring GMC" Song (Extended/Full Song) | 2014 Toyota:


No we aint go no room for boring GMC's!!!!!!!!

The All NEW
2014 Tundra
Let's go Places

GM needs to Buy Other Sound Equipment!!!
Bose sucks!

I'll say this. Check out the interior colors and stitching and then compare it with the Ram Laramie Longhorn or Ford King Ranch (i'll exclude Tundra before I get blasted). It is just boring compared to the leather the others have used.

I do think it is a good truck. All I am saying is that when you look at the other trucks in the segment, it just doesn't grab your attention. Read the review, he doesn't specifically call out the quality of fit and finish or the materials when discussing the interior. It just doesn't grab your attention for a truck in that price point.

1500 words about the truck which we already knew about, and 40 words about the "drive". Can we get a re-write about the drive and less about the 150 accessories.


You hit the nail on the head...GM should offer the current interior for the entry level trucks, and offer the new 2015 Tahoe dash for the uplevel trucks, (like how the previous gen had the LT and LTZ interior)

IIRC you cannot get a Denali with a 6.5 box. I have yet to see a Chevy High Country. I'd be more inclined to go with the Chevy just because of the box option if a high end GM product was on my wish list.

Chevey should put the new Suburban front end on its 1/2 ton trucks, it looks way better not like a box with squares.

Oh boy! My cousin finally came around! and traded his tundra reg cab 4x4 5.7 for a new Sierra SLT 4x4 double cab, with the 6.2 ( he said it was on the lot, and after his 5.7 Toyota he could not bring himself to drive a 5.3!) and does he love it! and he says it runs circles around the tundra! and on the very first tank of fuel, he got over 80 miles more to the 22 gals! it took to fill the truck after his first trip! than the same amount of gas in the tundra reg cab! granted it is new, and he was not to keen on going much over the speed limit, or 50 mph for the 1st 100 miles! but he did throw caution to the wind and smoked the tires up with the traction control button held down for 5 sec. it shuts of the traction control and he was able to leave 2 ten ' black stripes! before the system kicked back on! after the first 300 miles! of course. The truck is all black, and has the All Terrain Package, with black leather seats, and is loaded with everything but sun/moon roof! Not only does in run great, but it rides better also! Plus he was able to save over 6K! so he was able to get a 50k truck for just over 43K! Up dates to come! He always has to have a faster truck than me! now he does again!

I remember when GMC trucks were work/farm trucks and Chevy's were for the regualr guy. People bought GMC trucks cause they had stronger motors like 4 bolt mains where the Chevy had 2 bolt mains. Now GMC is for the plush people???

I'm torn between getting a new GMC Sierra All Terrain double cab in black or a Ram quad cab in black. The GMC seems roomier and handles a little better. The Ram looks a bit sleeker looking but the All Terrain GMC looks is starting to look good in a different way then the Ram.

My biggest gripe is GET RID OF THE FUNKY COLLUM SHIFTER!! Cant wait for the 2016 Tundra Cummins!

I think GM just left the comlm shifter for now until they get the 8 speeds in the trucks, then they will be going to a dial or something similar. No need to engineer a floor shifter for one or two years.

@ rick - column shifters are nice because they free up a lot of space.
I do think that GM should have an optional console shifter.

@sandman4X4 - I think that traction control/stability control systems are legally required to turn back on at speeds greater than 35 mpg. It is a big pain in the ass for anyone who uses their trucks in rougher environments.

Greg: look on the GMC site, and see how you can build a double cab with the Max Trailering Package, with the All Terrain Package, you do give up on the off road suspension, but you do get the bigger rear axle, and 3:73 gears with the auto locking gears, and trailering equipment, instead of so so off road shocks and stuff, plus you can still get the body colored bumpers and grill! and the nicer 20" wheels and al the towing equipment! if you go to the nest higher model level, in the SLT, you could even gt the 6.2 engine! but to do that the truck will be over 40K otherwise like the above? you can stay under 40K with navigation, or under 39K without! But you will have a nice truck with the new 5.3 and have the 3:73 gears and the 9.76" rear axle, but can you imagine the 6.2 with that rear axle? Nothing anyone else makes will run with it! You can also do this with the Chevy, and save a little more money doing so. I would love to see these packages available on a reg cab!


Your argument is invalid, a Tundra HQ writer rating a Tundra first, HaHa. Surprise surprise, ask any company writer what their first favorite is and they will say theirs. Pretty sad argument if that is all you got.

@Ken Tundra HQ

Boring? Says the guy who is a fan of the truck who flat out copied the ancient F150. Sesh, grasping for straws are we?

At least the GM interior A) Looks like nothing else and B) is actually a truck designed interior and not stolen out of their CUV's.

You thought I was bad now you know why I don't like the Tundra Headquarters guys they are worst fanbois then some of the Ram guys. I can at least tell the truth about it when I see it.

I have a 2014 gmc sierra denali, I had a 2007 gmc sierra denali and before that I had a 2002 gmc Yukon denali. how many of you people posting actually have owned anything compareable? i'm betting that number is pretty small. shut the hell up unless you you can actually compare your life experience to it!

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