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.
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