2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

Despite the fact its light duty pickups all received overhauls just a couple of years ago, General Motors has given the GMC Sierra 1500 line a short-cycle refresh just as it did with the Chevy Silverado we recently reviewed. What a difference a couple of years makes with the new 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500!

GearDiary 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500/Images courtesy GMC

We last tested a Sierra Denali 1500 a couple of years ago and liked all the improvements GMC made to its half-ton pickup. For 2016 designers and engineers got together to give Sierra a minor makeover that includes new front end styling, upgraded technology packages, wireless phone charging, remote locking tailgate, and those power articulating assist steps we enjoyed in the Silverado High Country. But along with the new eight-speed automatic transmission that rolled out into all models over the past two years is Denali’s Magnaride: magnetic ride control.

GearDiary 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

Magnetic ride control is nothing new to GM as they have been using it in Cadillac and Corvette models for several years. But in a pickup truck? And we thought Ram was crazy when they went to a coil spring rear suspension in its pickups, but here goes GMC really pushing the edge of the envelope. The verdict? The new Sierra Denali 1500 is the best riding pickup on the road today. The real-time damping achieved by this system allows Sierra Denali to read road conditions and react to them faster than a jackrabbit on the West Texas prairie. The shock absorbers are filled with magneto-rheological fluid that contains tiny iron particles under a magnetic charge. Changes in the magnetic charge as it reacts to road conditions alters the damping rate of the shocks.

GearDiary 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

Aside from its unique styling, nearly every aspect of the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is identical to the Silverado High Country we recently tested. The Denali is powered by the beefy 420hp 6.2-liter Ecotec3 gas V-8 backed by the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. Our tester arrived in four-wheel drive running gear and features auto locking rear differential, two-speed automatic transfer case, and trailering equipment package that includes factory trailer brake controller.GearDiary 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

The GMC also included the latest enhanced driver alert package with safety alert seat and active safety lane keep assist that will actually steer the truck itself to stay between the lines on the road. Technology included inside the Sierra Denali consists of 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot along with 8-inch color touchscreen monitor that is at the heart and soul of the infotainment center. There is also a customizable 8-inch driver display.

Pricing for the 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab begins at $53,565 with our loaded test model arriving with a final sticker of $60,765. Fuel economy for this powertrain is rated at 15 mpg city and 21mpg highway.

GearDiary 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 is the Cadillac of Pickups

This is absolutely the best Sierra Denali pickup on the road yet and it is certainly the smoothest riding and most technologically advanced to date. At first blush the 60 grand price tag does create some sticker shock but broken down it is easy to see what your dollars are buying. If you want the “Cadillac” of pickup trucks, look no further than the 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500.


About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.