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2015 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax diesel 4WD Denali says and does it all

Sierra 2500HD Denali 4WD has foglamps, recovery hooks and 20-inch wheels
Sierra 2500HD Denali 4WD has foglamps, recovery hooks and 20-inch wheels
austinautoboomer by permission

The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab 4x4, as a Denali, says it all and then - powered by the 6.6L Duramax V8 Turbo Diesel with its Allison 6-speed Automatic Transmission - does it all.

Coming at you there is no doubt it is a GMC HD
austinautoboomer by permission

The Sierra 2500HD Denali starts with all of the tough and reliable capability that GMC brings to the heavy duty segment and then adds the premium features and luxury design elements of Denali to make it one of the most desirable premium HD trucks in the market today.

GMC sent us a brand new 2015 Sierra Denali 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab with the top performing 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine mated to the durable Allison 1,000 six-speed automatic transmission for us to drive test for a week just this last month. We had a Sierra 2500HD 2WD for test drive earlier this year, but it was not the Denali.

Now you usually think of a Sierra 2500HD Denali coming in some premium looking rich color like Sonoma Red Metallic, Cobalt Blue Metallic or maybe Onyx Black – making a statement with the bold rich color and finishing it off with the Denali badges to let you know it not only looks good, but works and plays equally well too.

We were frankly surprised to have it arrive in Summit White. Now it did have the bold Denali badges plus it was riding tall on distinctive 20-inch Forged Polished Aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires and it clearly was a Duramax Turbo Diesel as identified by both the chrome Duramax badges on each side of the raised hood and the subtle rumble of the 397 horsepower diesel engine.

But Summit White?

Climbing in for the first time - using the smart looking 6-inch Chrome Tubular Side Assist Step - we recognized it was clearly a Denali beginning with the premium grade interior materials that surrounded us starting with the Cocoa/Dune Perforated Leather Bucket seating and similar palette cabin surfaces accented by very rich Curly Wood Tone trims. Driver and passenger seating was all-power and both were heated and cooled. Other comfort features included a full additional 2-inches of room in the rear due to the crew cab door design changes, plenty of storage, dual zone automatic climate control, power adjustable pedals, leather wrapped heated steering wheel, 110-volt power outlet and soft touch instrument panel with accent stitching.

The Sierra 2500HD Denali 4WD comes standard with a long list of both functional and convenience features plus all the technology needed for work and play starting with what just may be the quietest cabin in the segment. Yes, you can hear the rumble of the Duramax diesel when you put pedal to the metal, but the noise is not distracting. Frankly, it is reassuringly reminding you that there is plenty of power under the hood if you need it.

Inside, the redesigned instrument panel and center stack put all of the feature and function controls easily in reach with what we consider intuitively appropriate placement. The instrument cluster has a new and easy to use 8-inch driver configurable display that displays key information right in front for non-distracted viewing.

The Denali also has the 8-inch Diagonal Color Touch Radio with Intellilink and Navigation mounted in the redesigned center stack. The Bose Audio System features SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Hands-Free and Voice-Activated Bluetooth for phone, multiple USB ports plus Pandora streaming internet radio and MP3 capability. Later this year, the OnStar will offer its 4G LTE service with Wi-fi hotspot for additional connectivity convenience when working or playing.

The base MSRP for our Sierra Denali 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab 4WD was $53,740 which assumes it is equipped with the Vortec 6.0L V8 gas engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Note that the 2WD is priced $3,200 less but, if you are a true Sierra loyalist you want the 4WD.

And, if you are selecting a 2500HD in 4WD, you need to go with the Duramax Diesel (397 horsepower and 765 lb.-ft. of torque) mated to the Allison transmission as they are the heart and soul of the tow/haul performance capability of the Sierra 2500HD.

Since we mentioned that, our test Sierra Denali had 2,793 pounds of haul with up to 13,000 pounds (ball hitch) and 17,100 pounds (Fifth-Wheel) of tow capacity.

As a serious tow/haul HD pickup for work or play, this Sierra came equipped standard with a 3.73-ratio Rear Axle, Electronic Transfer Case, Auto Locking Differential, Underbody Shields, Trailer Brake Controller, Integrated Cruise Control, Autograde Braking and Diesel Exhaust Brake, Stabilitrak-Stability Control with Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist. Also included were the Spray-in Bedliner, Front and Rear Park Assist, Rear Vision Camera, Front Recovery Hooks, Front Fog Lamps, CornerStep Bumper, LED Cargo Bed Lighting, Bed Tie Downs and the EZ Lift and Lower Tailgate.

The Denali with Duramax does cost a bit more - right at $8,845 for the diesel power train package that also includes the GMC Driver Alert Package with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert and (our favorite – the butt rattler) Safety Alert Seat. The 20-inch chrome wheels and all-terrain tires added another $1,050 and Power Heated Outside Camper Mirrors with Turn Signals plus Dual 150 Amp Alternators added another $350. Our truck was a 4WD so the Off-Road Suspension package including Hill Descent Control and Twin Tube Rancho Shocks for $255 completed the truck.

Delivered, our 2015 Sierra Denali 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab 4WD (in Summit White) with the Duramax Turbo Diesel power train priced out at $63,835.

We were already well familiar with both members of the GM family of HD trucks having had a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ 4WD Crew Cab in Victory Red (also with the Duramax diesel power train) to test drive a couple of months back. The LTZ is the top-of-the-line in the Chevy 2500HD line – but not at the premium level of a GMC Denali. Our story “2015 Silverado HD: Stylish and tough in the same package” relates our drive impressions of the Silverado 2500HD.

Then, over Memorial Day weekend, GMC loaned us a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Double Cab SLT 2WD in Sonoma Red Metallic (again with the Duramax diesel power train) to use on a 750 mile road trip to an outdoor writers conference in South Texas. Our story “Is the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 better than the Silverado 2500”, speaks to our impressions of this truck on that trip.

In the end, the mechanical attributes, capability and technologies are, for the most part, similar in the Silverado LTZ 2500HD 4WD and in the Sierra 2500HD Double Cab 2WD, but stepping up to a GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab at the Denali trim-level gives you just that bit of extra that makes it special – particularly if you are a GMC person.

And, by the way, if you choose the Summit White it will grow on you – as it did on us.

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