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First Drive: 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab

2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD

As an automotive journalist, we’re inclined to review all walks of vehicle types. We’re obligated to set foot into a vehicle with an open mind, put ourselves into the minds of a prospective buyer – so when we we’re asked if we’d like the new 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD, we hesitantly said “suuurrrreee”. We honestly haven’t got the slightest clue what to do with a truck that looks and weights as much as the moon. Needless to say, we’ll give it a go…

Usually, when a buyer is in the market for a pick-up truck, something like the Toyota Tundra or Chevrolet Silverado, they’re not necessarily looking at payload or towing capacities (based off previous encounters). The most these trucks will be used for is the occasional couch tossing at the local city dump or towing a boat from the rental shop for a Labor Day Weekend getaway. However, if you’re someone who’s looking into the Heavy Duties, now that’s something entirely different.

After the release of the redesigned 1500 series in 2014, it was just a matter of time before GMC launched the 2500HD. Like the Sierra 1500, you can expect the 2500HD to have the same broad shoulder front end, classy LED daytime running lamps and the in your face decked out chrome grille. Our sampled Sierra arrived as the top of the line Denali edition, which adds 20” chrome wheels and body colored front and rear bumpers. If you want to spring for some bling options, you can opt for the Chrome Trailering Mirrors ($230), and the LED Roof Marker Lamps ($55). Finished off in our sampled Onyx Black, this 2500HD Denali is about as pretty as they come.

In some cases the 6.0L V8 in the 2500HD could be a good engine – but when you’re talking about some serious heavy lifting, you need the big guns – you need the Duramax Plus Package ($8,845). Now, this isn’t just any old package where you get some heated seats (okay, you do…) what you get is the 6.6-liter Duramax V8 Turbo Diesel. Now, 397 horsepower doesn’t sound like a whole lot in something that weighs nearly 4 tons, but then, when you pin it up against its 765lb-ft of torque and matte it to an Allison six-speed automatic transmission, then it becomes a different story.

Being a diesel, the Sierra isn’t technically designed for performance; it will get from zero to 60 mph in about 7 and half seconds – which is fairly impressive. But don’t expect the same results when trying to make a stop – weighing 8,000lbs puts a lot of pressure on the brakes and takes over 220 feet to stop from 70 mph – and during our test we experienced quite a bit of noticeable brake fade. Most likely though, someone buying a truck of this caliber is most likely not interested in speed or stopping, but more so, hauling. With our featured 6.6L Diesel V8, the Sierra 2500HD is capable of towing 13,000lbs from the hitch, or 17,100lbs with a 5th wheel. Of course designed for towing, the 2500HD features some towing assistance to help make life easier such as the trailer electric braking switch and the exhaust braking for when you need to slow down on a steep decline.

So then what is it like to drive? There is a sense of occasion when it comes to driving something as big as your house. The steering is ultra-light and vague at high speeds, but becomes very heavy at low end speeds which makes it hard to maneuver. There is quite a lot of bounce from the suspension and that could play part to our Off-Road Suspension Package ($255) – which also observes a decent amount of body roll at higher speeds. So it drives like a truck, and with our fuel efficiency rating at 13 mpg combined, it is certainly thirsty like a truck – thankfully, the diesel allows for 550 miles of range so you can go a day or two between fill-ups.

Much like the 1500 series, the cabin is fairly similar exuberating soft touch materials all along the dash, doors, and center console. The GMC Intellalink interface has been tweaked slightly which is now easier and smoother to use. Unlike the 1500 series, the 2500HD features a large digital TFT screen in the cluster which can display just about everything this trucks has to offer: oil pressure, exhaust fluid, battery level, so on and so forth.

Being that our tester arrived as the Denali edition, it was loaded with your business-like premium interior. Black leather filled the spacious cabin with wood and silver accent trims. The multi-way power adjustable heated and cooled driver and passenger seats meant you’ll always be in comfort for the long journeys ahead. Surprisingly though, this 2500HD also featured some, car like qualities… The cabin is quiet, even at speeds over 75 mph as well as the diesel engine – at idle, you wouldn’t even know it was running. It also has advance safety features like lane departure warning and front collision alert – which come in handy to get this big rig under control.

With any large vehicle of this magnitude, there are always going to problems – for us, who drive into the city every day, parking was that challenge – just trying to maneuver around a parking lot was a challenge. We also found that while the optional Trailering Mirrors were an excellent feature, the blind spot mirror still required manual adjusting and the indicator is blinding at night. However, put the 2500HD where it belongs, in the field, and it fits right at home – the 2500HD will do all the dirty work and heavy lifting you need. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Price (As Tested):
2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 4WD Crew Cab: $54,890
Destination: $1,095
Featured Options:
Camper/5th Wheel Trailer Wiring: $35
Roof Marker Lamps: $55
Chrome Trailering Mirrors: $230
Off-Road Suspension Package: $255
Power Sunroof: $995
Duramax Plus Package: $8,845
Grand Total: $66,400


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