Monday, February 11, 2019

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First Drive: 2019 GMC Sierra Denali 1500

by M. Satterfield 

There are just times that you need a truck, with our new studio and offices we are building in Texas we have been on the hunt for some great furniture and accessories that will work with our over 100-year-old building, but furniture doesn't really fit well in my small two-door coupe. So when I had the chance to do a 1,500-mile test drive of the new 2019 GMC Sierra Denali 1500, I figured I would take advantage of having a truck bed and go hunt up some antiques and fixtures for our new space, you know stuff you do when you have a truck.


The first thing that you notice when sliding behind the wheel of the Denali is the impeccable attention to detail that GMC has put into this truck. Growing up on a small ranch, trucks were always utilitarian, almost always manual, and generally, you were lucky if grandpa had optioned it with a radio. Trucks were for work and the Sedan DeVille was for Church, but this truck this was a far cry from the old blue 1500 we had on the ranch back in my high school days. 

With an MSRP of $67,735, this truck came loaded up with heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, great infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, power running boards, and all the bells & whistles you would expect in a premium luxury vehicle. With my route taking me from Groesbeck, Texas to Denver Colorado and back again, I was going to get a good idea of what living with the Denali would be like.   


If you have never been hunting vintage furniture or decor items for a project you always find the coolest stuff in small-town antique and consignment shops, so my route was going to take me through the towns that the interstate bypassed. After exploring a few towns in the Texas Panhandle and avoiding the draw of attempting to eat a 72oz steak in Amarillo I made my way into New Mexico and turned north towards Denver. This stretch of road is best done at night, as there is little to miss, but thankfully the truck had excellent headlamps and as it got a little colder the heated seats made this long stint much more comfortable.


Arriving in Denver early the next morning, I would have the chance to see how a truck of this size would handle downtown. My hotel, the Magnolia, was in the heart of the city and only had a small parking garage entrance that at times looked like it might have been a problem for the large truck. But with the camera system and obstacle detection sensors, the truck was manageable by myself and the valet at the hotel, even in some very tight parking situations.

Just be warned that GMC has a seat vibration warning that will scare the crap out of you the first time it goes off. As you back up and get near in object the seat will vibrate to correspond to the side of the vehicle that the object is close to, it's not new for GMC, but it is a bit of a shock when you aren't expecting it. Also, the power folding mirrors came in handy more than once.

I was in Denver for a few days, as I had been invited to speak at the Western Summit that weekend. While driving around the city I was surprised by how many people paid me compliments about the truck, at gas stations, in restaurant parking lots, even the valet was impressed with it. I had never had this kind of attention in a truck before, as someone who drives a lot of unique and rare vehicles for a living, the draw of the Denali was a bit of a surprise. My girlfriend also noticed how many people complimented the truck and let me know that as a new Texan I should get a truck and if I do, the bar has been set pretty high by the Sierra Denali.


The weekend was over, I loaded the spoils of my trip in the truck, a few rustic shelving units, an ottoman, several loose accessories and even a cool vintage Gulf Oil oilcan, and after a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some tubs for the small stuff, it was time to make tracks back towards Texas. Loading the Denali is easy with the aid of the tailgate step and the plentiful tie down locations located in the bed. Once everything was in place the truck drove as if there wasn't even anything in the bed.

Back on the highway, the 17.7 mpg that I was averaging was impressive, most of that is due to the 10-speed automatic transmission that is smooth and doesn't spend a lot of time hunting for gears. The overall luxury and performance of the Denali really do make it an interesting proposition for a truck buyer who wants something that is capable, rugged, and does everything a truck should do, but without sacrificing luxury, style, or performance. The Denali fits the bill. After 1,500 miles of driving across four states, in the mountains, in the city, and for long stretches of highway, I can't find a reason why I wouldn't buy a Denali.

For more info on the Denali visit GMC.com.




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