Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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January 2, 2013 • Autos

GMC Sierra Denali 1500 AWD and Auld Lang Syne

Images courtesy GMC

2013 GMC Sierra Denali/Images courtesy GMC

“Out with the old, in with the new…” How many times have we heard that saying this week?

In the test garage it is no different, as we say goodbye to the outgoing 2013 GMC Sierra Denali pickup on the heels of the automaker announcing the next-generation coming this year.

Overall, GM light-duty (half-ton) pickups have changed little in recent years and continue to sell well, very well in fact as they are at the top of sales charts for respective divisions.

One thing that eludes the General though is segment leadership as Ford continually outsells the Silverado and Sierra models, even when combining the nearly identical cousins.

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It has been no secret a new pickup would be coming from GM and recently they took the wraps off the 2014 models said to arrive later this year.

“Our engineers and designers left nothing on the table when developing this latest Sierra pickup,” said Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC Marketing. “These trucks have all the power and capability that’s expected in today’s market, excellent fuel efficiency, plus a lot of unexpected, purposeful features developed with truck owners in mind.”

Overall we see mild restyling, new interiors, and some powertrain upgrades with most emphasis at the low-end (V-6s). No final specs for power and fuel economy have been released as of yet but rest assured they should come in meeting or beating the competition who, for now, is Ram leading that race with its newest Pentastar engine.

Truck buyers will still be able to get larger V-8 engines but the entire Sierra family moves to EcoTec3 engines with the all-new 4.3-liter V-6 entering the picture. Our recent tester featured the beefy 403hp 6.2-liter generating 417 lb. ft. of torque with fuel economy rolling in at a mere 12 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.

The new array of engines will feature second-generation active fuel management (cylinder deactivation) and six-speed automatic gearboxes all around, with a “cruise grade braking” feature that down-shifts the transmission on downgrades.

Also new for the 2014s is electric power steering, a feature finding its way into most vehicle lines around the globe thanks to its ability to reduce engine drag and thereby increase fuel economy while offering great maneuverability at low speeds.

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In the body configuration department, the big news for Sierra is the change in extended cab models. No longer will the rear doors open backward – all rear doors will now hinge at the front so that the front doors may remain closed now when accessed is needed in the rear seat area. Crew cab customers will now have a choice of bed lengths that includes the current five-foot, eight-inch box and a new six-foot, six-inch box and all beds will see new corner steps for easier access to the beds.

The 2014 Sierra will benefit from a forward-facing camera system that delivers forward collision alert along with lane departure warning and the warnings are transmitted to the driver thanks to driver seat alert that generates vibrating pulse patterns in the lower seat cushion bolster alerting the driver to potential hazard or lane drift.

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2013 GMC Sierra Denali

2013 GMC Sierra Denali

2013 GMC Sierra Denali
The current Sierra we tested is the Crew Cab Denali edition with all-wheel drive, a feature we got to test as Mother Nature blessed us with a white Christmas this year.

Another feature I have really been enjoying is the heated steering wheel, an experience I relate to slipping your hands into your favorite Isotoner gloves on a chilly morning (or my feet into those USB heated slippers USBFever.com sent me a few holidays back).

Our tester came with the big engine so most of our driving was done with the fuel gauge moving from right to left but that is a “cost-of-ownership” issue most consumers have learned to live with as pickup sales remain strong.

The Denali package added chrome enhancements to the truck including the 20-inch wheels and signature front grille.

This current model is still very attractive for buyers, and the vehicle arrives fully loaded with just about every amenity one could ask for in a pickup including Satellite radio and touch-screen navigation. And while we did not use this feature, the front seats are ventilated as well as heated. We did use the remote start to de-ice the windows and heat the interior on those coldest mornings, though.

The truck is very stable and very comfortable on a variety of road surfaces, as it should be. This is GMC’s top model and needs to deliver accordingly, and the Sierra Denali does just that.

Pricing for the 2013 model Sierra Denali 1500 Crew Cab begins at $48,635 with our tester arriving with a final sticker of $53,694.

GMC has been making trucks for 110 years, and our recent tester proved they are as good as ever, for Auld Lang Syne’s sake.

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