As automakers have pared down corporate structure in recent years due to market demands, economy and even government oversight, consumers have had to say goodbye to nameplates and models they’d become loyal fans and admirers of.
So how does a division like GMC survive when brands like Plymouth, Pontiac and Mercury are kicked to the curb? All GMC makes is trucks or SUVs and each of those is on a shared platform with a Chevy counterpart.
GMC has been making trucks since 1901 when it was first established at the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company and was responsible for developing the earliest commercial trucks ever designed. RMVC was purchased by GM in 1909 to form the basis of the General Motors Truck Company. The first time GMC Truck was used publicly was at the New York International Auto Show in 1912 and GMC produced some 372 trucks that year.
The Suburban was the first SUV built by GMC in 1939 (which in recent years has been changed to Yukon). During WWII, GMC produced 600,000 trucks for use by the U.S. military.
In 1960 GMC introduced Sierra as the transition from commercial to personal use trucks began. During the 1980s GMC was the No. 3 truck maker in America and in 1996 GM dropped the word “truck” from the GMC nameplate to reflect the division’s broader offering of vehicles that included vans and SUVS in addition to pickups and the “Professional Grade” tagline made its appearance in 1998.
GMC survived closure during bankruptcy because it is profitable. Trucks are the most profitable segment for automakers and truck divisions are serving their masters well.
We recently spent time in the 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 HD rolling in high fashion Denali trim. The basic truck is very similar to its Chevrolet Silverado counterpart and both utilize same architecture, powertrain, technology and safety equipment but Denali takes GM(C) pickups to a higher level, both aesthetically and economically.
Most, OK all, pickup guys (and gals) I know choked a bit when I recited the MSRP for this truck in Denali form.
To be fair, this truck is a beast – a long, tall, powerful, dressed-to-the-nines beast.
Sixty-two thousand and change buys you one of the most capable trucks on the road that will allow you to put in your 40-plus during the week and roll up to the red carpet at the Cattle Baron’s Ball Saturday night. This is “denim and diamonds” and “leather and lace” all wrapped up in one big package.
Our tester came with the newest Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine mated to a heavy-duty Allison six-speed automatic gearbox and we enjoyed GMC’s electronic shift 4×4 running gear along with locking rear differential, 20-inch polished wheels, skid plate package, tubular chrome side steps and heavy duty trailering package.
GMC offers the latest safety and infotainment technology on its vehicles and the Sierra 2500 HD Denali is certainly no exception. If I were forced to list one thing as my favorite feature in the truck I think it would be the heated steering wheel on those cold mornings I couldn’t find my gloves.
Sierra is a capable truck and GMC lives by its Professional Grade mantra on a daily basis and Denali, as the name implies, takes this vehicle to lofty heights.