2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review: The Ultimate Executive Pickup

The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab – The ultimate executive pickup for those seeking luxury in their pickup.

Some may find the idea of a luxury, heavy-duty truck a bit peculiar—almost an anomaly. But here in truck-country Alberta, the more the merrier, where the notion of merging the opulence of the Denali brand with the work ethic of the Sierra HD only makes sense. Hence, for the first time, feast your eyes on the 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD pickup; an absolutely gorgeous looking machine with a cabin that almost rivals a luxury sedan, without compromising big balls to get the job done. Hey, heavy-duty trucks need love too.

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Granted, I’m not a ‘truck-guy.’ I don’t tow a trailer nor haul stuff like they do in the commercials. But I fall in love every time the opportunity to test a pickup presents itself, so do my friends, many of them with new one-ton trucks themselves. Particularly, when it’s as stunning as this 2011 Sierra Denali (and particularly, when it’s minus 30-degrees Celsius for a week straight). Hovering above the commoners, passing them by on the road, gives this sense of entitlement. And despite not hauling stuff, I take comfort in knowing that I can, especially in an $80,420 MSRP CAD guise. It’s all a little narcissistic and totally against my personal values, but maybe that’s the idea. Either way, it’s pimp. And it’s fun. And my truck is waaay better than your truck…for a week.

2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review

Power and Price

The 2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali Crew Cab, starts at $59,210 MSRP CAD. Again, my tester came loaded with over $20k in options, ringing in at $80,420 total, before taxes/fees. Powered by the standard 6.0L SFI V8 flex-fuel engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with OD, this loaded Denali pickup finds the $9,670 upgraded 6.6L V8 Duramax diesel powerplant with a $1445 upgraded 6-speed Allison transmission making 397-hp and a whopping 765 lb-ft of torque. Payload of up to 2631 lbs and towing capacity of up to 13,000 lbs with ball hitch.

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The 2011 GMC Sierra pickup is available in various trims with the three Denali versions at the top, available only as a crew cab 2500HD (as tested) with the 6.6-ft box, or the larger 3500HD crew cab with choice of 6.6-ft box or 8-ft box.

Exterior Styling

First glance, the 2011 GMC Sierra Denali is bold and brawny in this Onyx Black paint scheme, flashing a little posh without going too far. The huge, chrome honeycomb front grill with matching lower grill below the bumper flanked by a couple integrated fog lamps, looks both menacing and classy at the same time. 18-inch polished aluminum wheels come standard, but you’ll want to opt for the 20-inch rims, as seen here, for an extra $1015.

Few other options include a power sliding rear window ($350), power sunroof ($1325), and the high-gloss hard folding Tonneau bed cover ($985). Some notable exterior standards include the Denali-specific front chrome grills and chrome door handles; fog lamps; Solar-Ray glass all around; body-coloured bumpers and mouldings; and dual-automatic halogen composite lights including exterior lamp control with flash-to-pass feature. From the rear, this Denali version looks similar to the non-luxe Sierra with the classic Z71 logos adorned on the rear-sides; logos that add an off-road Z71 package including rear monotube shocks, off-road jounce bumpers and stabilizer bars.

2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review

Sierra Denali Interior

Nearly all the press pickups I’ve been testing from various manufacturers, come equipped with stellar interiors. Frankly, I’ve become accustomed to this and would expect nothing less in a truck. More importantly, the real customers, like my buddies, would expect nothing less. Sure, an HD pickup needs tenacity to get the job done, but unless you’re bringing those barrels of hay or bags of dirt into the cabin, there’s no reason a pickup truck be void of luxury behind the wheel. Site Supervisors, Construction Managers, or truck-wannabe’s like myself, may not actually require heavy-duty haulers for their daily treks from site-to-site (or coffee shop to post office, in my case), but they’ll certainly want a truck, certainly without any compromise. The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali is definitely for those executive blue-collar dudes.

2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review

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The list of interior standards is lengthy, including full-featured front reclining bucket seats with 10-way power adjustments with 2 memory buttons; heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood grain; power adjustable pedals; a premium instrument panel, and much more. It’s the $4760 Entertainment package that shines, adding a variety of features including XM Satellite Radio; Bluetooth system; rear DVD setup; Bose speakers with sub; 6-disc changer with USB and auxiliary input; and of course, Navigation with voice recognition. Rear view camera is an extra $565.

2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD Review


The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 4×4 Crew Cab successfully fuses the proven reliability in the Sierra with the ritz of the Denali. And while the idea of an $80k luxury truck may appear to defeat the purpose of the ‘truck,’ clearly not for the masses, this well-appointed Sierra indeed has it’s niche market, where most of the upgrades actually pertain to performance and utility (i.e. Duramax engine, tonneau cover) and less with esthetics anyway. At the end of the day, the 2011 GMC Sierra lineup, including the Denali version, is the company’s most powerful Sierra HD yet.

Learn more – GMC Sierra Denali