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Video | The 2019 GMC Sierra Denali is a $70,000 Ultra-Luxury Truck

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2018

I recently had the chance to drive a 2019 GMC Sierra Denali, which is a full-size pickup truck that costs up to $70,000 when fully equipped. Yes, that's right: You can now get a full-size, light-duty truck for seventy grand. And not just any truck, but the Denali -- the king of the luxury truck segment.

A little history to back up that claim: Back in the 1990s, when pickup trucks were still just heavy-duty haulers, GMC came out with a luxury truck it called the "Sierra C3." The following year, they switched to Denali, and a brand was born -- and now "Denali" is probably just as well-known as GMC itself.

This latest Sierra Denali has been fully redesigned, and the update couldn't come at a better time, as the pickup is now taking on brand-new rivals like the new Ram 1500 and the Nissan Titan, along with sister brand Chevrolet's new Silverado. The Denali has several new features, and it uses a muscular 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque that provides it with strong, brawny power -- both for passing and for towing or hauling.

So what's it like? On the road, it's like a nice luxury truck, with soft leather upholstery and an excellent ride. Steering is vague, but that's sort of the point of a truck like this; light steering actually contributes to an overall atmosphere of relaxed luxury. And so does the rest of the pickup, with features everywhere and a big V8 ready to move the truck quickly at your command -- or, alternatively, ready to cruise along in utter relaxation at highway speeds.

With that said, I do find the Sierra Denali's interior to have a few drawbacks -- most notably in terms of quality. This truck has every last feature I could ever want, but the interior in the new 2019 Ram Limited simply look nicer, with better stitching and leather and detail work -- along with a massively larger screen. The Sierra Denali has a little more plastic than I would expect on the inside, and not quite enough leather and high-end trimmings.

Then again, this is the reigning king -- and people will surely flock to it for the name alone. And it's not just the name: The Sierra Denali also has amazing equipment levels, including ventilated seats, a big sunroof and just about every single modern piece of safety equipment you could ask for. There's also a huge head-up display, a multi-color screen in the gauge cluster and more.

And then there's the tailgate. The tailgate has been a big selling point for the new Sierra, largely because it's sort of a Swiss Army Knife of tailgates, giving you the ability to use it as a step ladder, load in bulky cargo that wouldn't fit in the bed otherwise and more. Ford invented the configurable tailgate with the latest F-150, but General Motors has taken it much further with the new Sierra Denali -- and perfected it. For people who actually use their trucks for a lot of hauling in the bed, the tailgate will be a life saver.

As for the styling, I happen to think the new Sierra is handsome, with gorgeous lines. While its styling may seem a bit old-fashioned, it takes fewer risks than its Chevy Silverado rival, and I think shoppers will generally appreciate that. The Denali looks especially nice, with chrome trim all over the exterior and large chrome wheels -- though I wouldn't want to be hit by its massive front end, with a near-90-degree grille and hood design, as a pedestrian. Needless to say, I suspect this truck wouldn't pass European "pedestrian safety" regulations.

Overall, the Sierra Denali is everything it's always been -- a handsome, well-equipped truck with lots of features and lots of power. It's a continuation of the luxury truck that we've all come to know, and it does its job as it always has. The problem is that the luxury truck world is getting a bit more crowded, and the Sierra Denali doesn't quite stand out like it once did -- and I'd love to see a slightly nicer interior to adequately go toe-to-toe with rivals. Still, this is a great truck, and it easily deserves a place on your luxury pickup shopping list.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Video | The 2019 GMC Sierra Denali is a $70,000 Ultra-Luxury Truck - Autotrader