Our GMC’s flagship truck came in exquisite Onyx Black paint, which contrasted nicely with the dark walnut and dark ash grey interior of the cabin. Coming off a refresh last year, the 2021 Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab is astounding with its monstrous stature. It’s beastly in no uncertain terms and even a tad intimidating. After all, this truck’s specs are impressive: 22 feet long and up to 4 tons in curb weight, depending on trim and configuration.
The Denali trim pours even more sauce — of chrome, that is — into this workhorse. The sprawling grille is menacing and accented with a bulging hood scoop that absorbs air into the engine. The LED headlights fit it neatly on the sides and further project power, while the lower front bumper is also chromed out and situated on top of color-customizable tow hooks.
The Sierra’s sides are simple and the lower sides are folded. There’s a multi-functional tailgate on the back side, a standard feature found in most pickups (that can be quite complicated).
The GMC Sierra’s interior doesn’t quite live up to the exterior’s opulence, and ceded some ground here to the rival Chevrolet Silverado HD. The dashboard is well-designed and anchored by a 8-inch touchscreen. But, located smack dab in the middle, the screen gets lost amid vents and flimsy plastic. The cabin is not as posh here as in the rival pickups.
The crew cab is a popular variant in pickups because it can comfortably accommodate up to five adults. GMC features short- and long-bed setups and the bed is deep and wide enough to rest a weary blue-collar workaholic.
Our Sierra 2500 tester featured the optional Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel engine, a $9,750 upgrade, matched to a crafty 10-speed automatic transmission. This workhorse produces 445 hp and torque pegs at 910 lb.-ft. It’s able to haul a fifth-wheel trailer up to 35,000 pounds or up to 20,000 pounds if attached to a conventional hitch.
Big pickups are built to tow large trailers or loads, and the GMC Sierra is quite hefty to push around the city. It’s larger proportions stifle its maneuverability, even with assistance from variable-ratio steering.
The quality of the ride isn’t too shabby, even if the steering is less than dynamic at highway speeds. The Sierra moves about with more agility than its heavy-duty pickup rivals, and this is in part because of its independent front suspension designed to bolster ride comfort.
The Sierra 2500 Denali model has a base price of $64,900, but with the engine upgrade such as in our tester, plus Denali Ultimate Package ($2,270), the price climbs to $78,755.
The 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab is neck-to-neck with sibling Chevrolet Silverado HD, with key differences being a higher premium on luxury and comfort details in the Sierra versus a more simpler approach in the Silverado. The added level of poshness is especially evident in the GMC Denali trim.
Fellow Detroit-made heavy-duty pickups from Ford and Ram have many of the same specs, but manage to slice in even more glamorous touches inside the cabin.
The foreign entrants in the segment — the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan XD — are also packed with sleek looks and features, including four doors. They also have an open bed and are offered at affordable price points that make them attractive as family haulers.
Photo Credit: GMC