Review: 2013 GMC Sierra Denali

First Drive: 2013 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 AWD


GMC’s answer for the well-to-do pickup guy who has Cadillac taste 

by Bruce W. Smith

Not all of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouth.

In fact, it’d be safe to say those in the construction and contracting business who have worked their way into a position of being able to enjoy the finer things in life probably put in a lot of sweat equity and long hours to get where they are financially.

My dad used to say I had “Cadillac taste and a Chevy income.” True.

But when I slide behind the wheel of a 2013 all-wheel-drive GMC Sierra Denali Crew Cab,  my taste for richness is satisfied even if for a short while.

It’s just the type of truck a business owner who enjoys balancing the finer things in life with a need (passion?) for pickups would be driving.

The interior looks and feels rich; the beige leather and nice contrast to the faux wood trim on the doors, dash and leather-wrapped wheel, the power sunroof  bathing the cabin with bright airiness.

Every creature comfort feature is at one’s finger tips from the high-end Bose sound system to the heated and air-conditioned front seats.

The exterior oozes richness as much as the exhaust resonates with power. The Denali 1500 literally sparkles.

Denali interior is the top-of-the-line offering in the GM pickup line.

It’s designed to coddle the owner and occupants with comfort and to catch the attention of onlookers. It’s not over-the-top, but rather practical with a rich taste.

As it should for a half-ton that retails for just a shade more than $53,000 setup like the one I tested for a week on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

But there’s more to the GMC Denaili than looks and comfort. It’s also a good performer.

Denali interior is the top-of-the-line offering in the GM pickup line. Under the hood lies GM’s venerable 6.2L V-8 pumping out 403hp and more than enough torque to pull p to 9,400-pound trailers with ease. It’s the best pickup gas V-8 GM has ever built.

 This would be the ideal tow vehicle for the weekend toys, be they PWCs, travel trailer, slide-in camper, horse hauler or boat. The truck is both stable and strong.

 The all-wheel-drive system, six-speed automatic and locking rear diff ensure that power gets to the ground, too.

 Tip-in-throttle response is a bit quick and jerky, much like a thoroughbred race horse that is itching to step it out.

 And when you do let the horses out to play, this GMC sets you back in the seat with a deep-throated Corvette-like exhaust note. It’s wonderful.

Fuel economy, well, for a powerful engine it’s impressive. I saw mid-14s around town and mid-17 running Mississippi’s Interstate 10 with the cruise control set at 70mph. Those are better numbers than my 2011 GMC Sierra Crew Cab 4×4 with the 5.3L.

All in all, if I were a GM man who enjoyed the finer things a luxury car offered, but couldn’t do without having a pickup bed and trailer-towing ability, the Denali 1500 Crew Cab would be a fine choice. – Bruce W. Smith



Model:           2013 GMC Sierra Denali Crew Cab AWD

Base MSRP: $48,635

Price as tested: $53,694

Engine: 6.2L V-8; 403hp/417 lb.-ft

Transmission: 6spd auto

Axle ratio: 3.42:1 w/ locking diff

Towing capacity: 9,200 lbs. w/ weight-distributing hitch

Fuel capacity: 31 gals.

Fuel economy city.hwy:

  • EPA 12/18
  • Observed: 14.6/17.5