2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

We spend an extended period of time and use the mighty big truck as our daily driver

By Shahzad Sheikh

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

This is our 2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test. We already have several reviews (pre-facelift though and 5.3, not this 6.2 Denali edition) and for those click below:

2014 Sierra – launch review

2014 Sierra – roadtest

2015 Sierra – video review

Now I’ve driven and tested large vehicles, but never actually lived with one and used it as my daily driver for an extended period of time, and so as more and more buyers are moving into these lifestyle trucks, I wanted to get a feel for what it’s like.

Follow more frequent and regular updates by searching #MMELongTermer & #MMEGMCSierra on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds – with video updates on our YouTube channel. I’m also putting up even more frequent updates on my personal Snapchat account (username: shahzad_sheikh). And of course keep checking back on this page for update reports!

The vehicle is a press-fleet demo car, very well equipped, and has come to us with just over 7000km already on the clock.

2016 GMC Sierra Denali

Price: from AED195,000 ($53,090)
Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 420bhp @ 5600rpm, 460lb ft @ 4100pm
Performance: 0-100kph 5.7s (Est), top speed 180kph
Transmission: 8-speed auto, selectable four-wheel drive,
Weight: 2486kg

26 April, 2016

Two weeks – 1080km

Click below to watch my video update of my time with the car.

So far, so good – in fact I’m loving being a ‘Trucker’ possibly, and disturbingly more than expected! This thing is vast and imposing, and with that shiny and substantial new grille, this Denali has serious road presence. Nobody messes with you out on the roads of Dubai.

And boy does it have grunt – the 6.2-litre V8 delivers 420bhp and there’s 460lb ft of torque thunder through the rear wheels (with auto or manual switching to four-wheel drive) through an 8-speed auto.

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

No official performance figures but Car & Driver magazine reports 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds, which would translate to 0-100kph in about 5.7 – and it certainly feels like it could do that if you get a clean getaway. By that I mean it’s very happy to spin the rear wheels (yes even with the traction on – I haven’t tried it without yet, but I’m tempted) and is even up for a little sideways action. Fun, fun, fun!

But you do have to readjust your driving style – as this is a long vehicle at 5825mm (although that’s still 20mm shorter than a Rolls-Royce Phantom) and wide too. I’ve been wary of taking it into mall car parks and sure enough I’ve ended up kerbing (something I hate doing) the wheels on tighter corners and ramps, and sometimes whilst simply misjudging its size. Fortunately there’s only a couple of scrapes so far and the brunt of the impact is usually taken by the protruding rubber walls of the massive tyres whilst the smart-looking wheel is more inset.

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

I’ve done 1080km in its first two weeks, with two trips to Abu Dhabi (in which is proved an astonishing refined, comfortable and effortless cruiser) filling the tank twice – AED110 the first time, and AED125 the second time). The computer shows my economy as 7.4km/l which is 13.5L/100km. Recently we tested the brand new 2016 Honda Civic for a few days, and that was also doing 13.5L/100km.

Frankly that’s pretty damn extraordinary. Part of the reason for the great economy is the excellent cylinder deactivation which reduces it the engine from a V8 to a V4 – and the switch is indistinguishable.

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

Admittedly I haven’t been giving it too much right sandal as I’m paying for this fuel – which is what you would do as an owner too I suppose. Though every now and then it’s hard to resist the lure of that 460lb ft of torque and the shock of the back tyres breaking traction and roaring like a seal on heat. However the engine doesn’t quite sound as beefy as you’d expect – or rather as I’d like – but GM has a solution: you can get the dealer-approved and fitted optional Borla exhaust for better burble. I’d definitely go for that.

The family loves it too as there is just so much space inside and the comfort levels are remarkably high. They can also plug in all their devices and the seating position is good. It’s a high vehicle, so the side-step is a must. The one on our vehicle is fixed, but you can opt for an automatic retractable version.

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Long Term Test

User-friendly touches that I’ve enjoyed are the masses of space in the cabin to put stuff, the fisheye inset mirror on the driver’s side (better than any blind-spot gizmo), powerful A/C, infotainment with Apple Carplay and good sat nav. Plus the fact that you can put the window down and lean your elbow on the door – love it.

The front splitter which does help the airflow and hence fuel economy, seems very low slung and rigid, so can be damaged easily, though you can have it removed especially if you frequently off-road, particularly in the sand.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

23 May, 2016

Interim report by Imthishan Giado:

30 May, 2016

Final report

Seven weeks – 3853km

Click below to watch our video wrap-up with the long-term Sierra Denali

After nearly two months and 4000km, it’s been a real wrench to let the GMC Sierra Denali pick-up truck go back. Both Imthishan and I have really enjoyed running the truck and it’s one of those vehicles that takes on a buddy-personality. A reliable and dependable friend that’s always there to get you where you need to go, and not necessarily always on the tarmac.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

Except the malls, I thought – that was one of my initial trepidations about running this behemoth of a machine. Frankly though I’ve taken it into most malls with only a couple of tyre-touching incidents and managed to park it.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

Admittedly I did avoid Mall of the Emirates, but the ramps up the top really are very tight indeed and there’s no doubt I would have kerb the wheels. Not that that’s easy, because they big tyres on this truck bulge out enough to take most of the brunt of the impact with a kerb – although we have really high kerbs here.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

Size does play a role with this, both in giving you a bit of caution and forward-thinking about where you will take it – and how you will manoeuvre it when you get there – but also in giving you a kind of imperious confidence when out mixing with the traffic. As sad as it is to say, a lot of drivers operate on the principle of might-is-right here and when they see massive imposing GMC grille they not only do not cut you up, but usually quickly get out of your way.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

And rather obtusely that ends up in being a rather relaxing proposition for the driver. I don’t condone bullying your way through traffic one bit, but I can see the appeal of driving something monstrous like this on our roads.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

It also has astonishingly keen performance – though I would opt for the louder exhaust as the standard issue is quite subdued, particularly as the engine does that amazing cylinder-deactivation voodoo to return the economy of a medium-sized saloon.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

Even better if you driving gently, but all that torque is tempting and when you start to get used to it, you play with it. I’d like to get kick the back out just a little – even with the traction on – on the slippery surfaces around my apartment block – probably scared the heck out of bystanders, but hey-ho.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

I would also recommend opting for a tonneau cover for the pick-up bed and a divider so you can store stuff in there and lock it away with it rolling all the way forward and being unreachable. All of this is available in the GMC accessories catalogue or from aftermarket supplies, including I believe a tent structure to hoist up in the back when out camping.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

So a very versatile and handy machine with surprising economy and performance, remarkably easy to drive thanks to good all-round visibility (I really got to appreciate the fish-eye round inset mirror on the driver’s side to help with blind spots – though it would greatly benefit from a 360-degree camera system) and it feels like a tough and durable vehicle.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

Inside it’s incredibly comfortable and you could easily work in here with all the space and power supplies – and I did once. The rear compartment too is more spacious than most SUVs, though it could do with rear a/c vents.

GMC Sierra Denali long-term test

An impressive vehicle this, and one that proved much easier to live with and run than I was anticipating. It will be greatly missed in the MME office!


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