Trucks and Texas go together like BBQ and beer. In fact, I bet there’s no one in the state who doesn’t know someone with a truck – or own one themselves. The new luxury cargo haulers have grown in popularity every year – and for many practical and thoughtful reasons.
Our latest Drive Time feature showcases the excellent 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. So much truck, amenities, cool tech and some amazing cargo options to ease loading. My truck-loving friends were immediately impressed, as was this self-professed car-lover. Thank you to Ewing GMC in Plano for the tester.
The 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is a superb truck in the GM family, and it’s easy to see why. It’s powerful, practical, full of thoughtful goodies and drives like a luxury sedan or SUV. New engine and transmission choices ramp up the allure. After a week, I can easily see why Texans indeed love their trucks.
Our Denali tester is the fifth-highest trim level (of eight) in the Sierra lineup. It’s a slight tweak from the significant 2022 redesign and looks mighty handsome in White Frost Tri-Coat paint and terrific chrome and black trim. A large bold face is nearly as formidable as a semi, but nicely fits the overall scheme.
Exceptionally bright LED headlights, C-shaped running lights and thoughtful step-up rails for easier entry, dual chrome exhaust tips and beautiful 20” chrome rims finish off the look.
Yet let’s face it; looks are nice, but trucks better deliver power and utility. The Denali offers a robust 5.3-liter EcoTech3 V8 with 355hp/383lb.ft of torque that tows up to 9,200lbs. An eight-speed transmission deftly runs through the gears, sometimes skipping a couple to maximize gas mileage – along with the unobtrusive Auto/stop. Gas mileage clocks in at 16/21 with Dynamic Fuel Management. Plus, there’s no gas cap to fiddle with. Genius!
This model is the two-wheel drive version but delivers good clearance. Braking and handling are excellent for a big rig, and the turning radius is better than expected. However, even with the helpful 360-degree camera, you are limited to generous parking spaces (forget easily navigating in parking structures, but the large sideview power mirrors do fold in), so plan accordingly.
The worthy Denali Premium Suspension with Adaptive Ride Control allows for smooth, comfy travel.
The dual cab is like the ultimate mobile man cave. I mean it’s immense without swallowing you up. The Atmosphere Brown leather looks and feels luxurious. Fit and finish are outstanding. Large comfy, supportive 10-way adjustable front seats ventilate, heat and deliver adjustable lumbar support. Tasteful contrast stitching, chrome, Vanta Ash wood accents and plush carpeting will impress anyone. Rear leg and headroom are generous, and visibility is maybe the best I’ve seen in any vehicle tested as you ride high in the saddle.
The heated leather-wrapped steering wheel (awesome in frigid weather) is responsive, light and feels just right in your mitts. Several scrollable info menus in the large LCD instrumentation dash deliver just about any piece of intel you wish. Keyless open and remote start add to the allure.
Heated rear seating with a relaxed incline level will comfortably house anyone, and the seats fold up against the cab’s back to allow additional floor storage. There’s a convenient power-sliding rear window. You’ll notice plenty of knickknack space with double glove compartments, multiple cupholders and two secret compartments housed in the back seats. I could seriously live in this mobile suite.
Of course, there’s ample cargo room even in the short box version bed adorned with the Rugged Spray-On bedliner and a 120-volt box-mounted power outlet. An optional power sunroof illuminates the front cabin ($995).
Yet the big hero is the incredible MultiPro tailgate that incorporates various hinges to assist ease of loading, prevents cargo from falling out and easy access to the bed. It can support up to 375lbs. Even the foot sills on the sides of the rear bumper and included grab bar makes perfect sense. It’s a wow moment whenever I demonstrated the capabilities.
Finally, there is the Sierra HD rear camera. It’s a second camera affixed to the back of whatever you’re towing and magically makes it disappear so you can see what’s behind the trailer. In addition, the HD camera offers up to 15 different views around the truck and in the bed (in case your dog is getting rambunctious back there).
This certainly isn’t the barebones truck of yesteryear, as there’s plenty of technology to woo you. A vivid touchscreen 13.4” GMC Premium Infotainment System’s features are abundant and top notch. The Google-based Navigation is superb. Four USB charging ports, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless phone charging pad are standard. The seven-speaker Bose Premium Sound System is powerful and clear, providing near concert-quality sound.
The optional Technology Package includes the digital rearview camera mirror, the 15-inch Head-Up Display, a bed-view camera, and adaptive cruise control ($1,840). The rearview camera provides an unobstructed clear rear view across three lanes.
In addition, there are plenty of standard safety nanny features to keep you out of harm’s way, including Forward Emergency Braking, Rear cross-traffic braking, rear pedestrian alert, trailer blind-spot monitoring, front-rear park assist, and a haptic Safety Alert driver’s seat are standard.
The 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali certainly ramps up nearly every spec to the discerning (and plentiful) buying audience. The quintessential American cargo hauler sails in some very competitive waters, while continuing to give its competition fits. My truck lovin’ friends gushed over it, as the abundant sales numbers already confirm.
Golf Bags: A truck load
Curb Appeal: Stylish, bold and incredibly practical American ride
0-60: 6.2 seconds
Gas Mileage: 16/21. Observed around 17mpg overall
Must-Haves: Technology Package
Warranty & Free Maintenance: 3yr/36.000 miles, 5Y/60K powertrain
Base Price: $65,700
Price as Tested: $69,635
Who Buys It? Anyone desiring excellent driving, towing and luxury appointments
Finish Line: An All-American package of brawn and luxury
Test-drive the 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali at Ewing GMC in Plano.