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2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Test Drive Review

In case you hadn’t noticed, the full-size truck market is one of the most brutally competitive segments with every automaker clawing and scratching to get any advantage possible. The easiest way to do this in the truck world is to boast insane amounts of power output and towing capacity. The updated 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD does just that with a new version of the proven Duramax engine that now delivers 12 percent more horsepower and 19 percent more torque. And just to be safe, this truck adds a heaping dose of style and luxury.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Exterior:

To feed more air to the new engine, the Sierra HD adds a functional air intake to the hood, which makes the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD look even meaner. Available only in the Crew Cab body configuration, the Sierra Denali HD has a unique look with its iconic mesh grille (that looks big enough to swallow a compact car), chrome side steps, 10-spoke, 20-inch wheels and body-colored front and rear bumpers that match the new-for-2017 Dark Slate Metallic paint job. For a little added ruggedness, this Sierra Denali 2500HD also had the Off-Road Suspension Package, which brings Hill Descent Control and off-road Rancho shocks for just $180.

Up front, the stylish LED-accented headlights make the Sierra HD instantly recognizable, and this truck also had power-adjustable trailer mirrors with LED turn signal indicators and LED spot lights as well as the optional ($55) roof marker lights finish off the big-rig look. For the working side of this truck, the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD comes with a spray-in bedliner with removable plugs and a seven-pin trailer connector to accommodate a gooseneck hitch, and there are also LED lights mounted under the bed rail and multiple cargo tie-down points.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Interior:

The 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD is always ready to get work done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do so in style. To go along with practical features like the numerous power sources (including standard power outlets, three-prong outlets and even USB charging ports), toggle switch controls and dual glove box, the Denali gets added tech like the eight-inch IntelliLink infotainment system and OnStar with a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot and a Bose audio system. With perforated leather seats, heated and cooled front seats and a heated leather steering wheel, this truck is ready to roll in style, and to show just how loaded up the Denali trim comes, the only interior option this truck had was the $995 power sunroof.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Powertrain:

Upping the ante in the heavy-duty truck segment, the entire Sierra HD lineup (including this 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD) received a new 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel V-8 engine setting the bar with 910 lb-ft of torque and a class-leading 445 horsepower, which is up considerably from the 2016 engine’s rating of 397 hp and 765 lb-ft. Just to put these new power figures into perspective, a common Volvo semi truck has horsepower between 325 and 425 and torque starting at 1,250! This engine is backed by the bulletproof six-speed Allison automatic transmission. It’s no surprise that GMC says 90 percent of all Sierra HD models are equipped with the optional ($9,550 in the case of this tester) diesel engine rather than the standard 6.0-liter gas V-8.

My week with this 2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali proved to be perfect timing as I had to haul a Jeep Cherokee halfway across Georgia, and the Jeep and U-Haul trailer came nowhere close to hitting this truck’s 13,000 towing capacity (short bed, 4WD Crew Cab). I honestly can’t say how much I was actually towing, but the Sierra Denali HD didn’t even break a sweat. Acceleration and braking weren’t fazed at all with what I assume is a typical load for a non-commercial heavy-duty truck these days. One of my favorite parts about hauling with the Sierra HD is that in tow mode, the turn signals automatically blink five times instead of three giving more time for lane changes. During my week with the big Denali (including the towing and some minor off-roading), I saw an average of 13.3 mpg, and GMC also says that the new engine also reduces exhaust emissions by 35 percent.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Safety:

Although the half-ton Sierra received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most of the heavy-duty models – including this 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD – have not been tested yet. The Sierra Denali comes standard with six airbags, backup camera, StabiliTrak stability control, trailer sway control and hill start assist. The Denali also includes the Driver Alert Package further increasing safety with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Seat and Front and Rear Park Assist.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD Overall:

Trucks have definitely gotten fancier and more advanced over the years, and the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD is just the latest example of this. Whether you’re looking for a truck to roll in style to the job site or haul a camper cross country, the Sierra Denali 2500HD is ready for any job. The 2017 Sierra 2500HD starts at $34,190, but stepping up to a Sierra Denali 2500HD increases the price to $55,595. Packed full of options and the stump-pulling diesel engine, this truck came with an as-tested price of $70,485.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation GMC dealership and test drive the 2017 GMC Sierra lineup today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

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