GMC pickup trucks, particularly the Denali models, are well-loved by truck owners, but when it comes the spotlight they are often overshadowed by their Chevy stablemates. In this year’s Truck Trend Pickup Truck of the Year competition, the 2016 GMC Sierra Denali walked away with the best-of-show award.
This was only the second year for this truck-only competition from the same publishers as Motor Trend, but they claim an unusual level of transparency as to how judging is done. They also pride themselves on explaining how each competitor was rated and how the results were reached. I am at a loss to explain why there was not a Ford F-series truck included in the competition, however, since this is still the best selling vehicle in the U.S., and it won the title last year. While I wasn’t able to find out, I suspect that it was Ford’s decision to not compete this year.
In addition to the winning vehicle, his year’s trucks were the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country, the Chevy Colorado Z71 Duramax and GMC Canyon , the Ram 1500 Rebel, the Toyota Tacoma TRD off-road and the Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X. three were diesel powered. A look at this list raises questions beyond the Ford absence. This is a mishmash at best with mid-size, full-size and one almost heavy-duty competitor. It doesn’t reflect apples-to-apples comparison, but that is beside the point since the rules apparently don’t require that. That said, it also doesn’t reflect how consumers buy trucks.
2016 GMC Sierra Denali wins
When evaluating the winner, the judging panel said that some of the things that impressed them about the GMC truck were the 6.2L V8 engine, the impressive fuel economy for a full-size pickup, the upgraded exterior styling, and the ride quality. Things they didn’t like were the decreased handling when a trailer was being towed, the soft suspension which affected body roll when hauling a payload, and price, price,price. In the as-driven model priced at $60,000+, they wanted rear seat heaters and adaptive cruise control. And, a price of entry that is more than $45,000 does give it a certain snob appeal. I don’t expect that to change since the Silverado already offers a wide range of less pricey alternatives and it is only a matter of different pockets for GM.
Some worthwhile specs to note:
- The engine is rated at 420 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. It is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission
- EPA fuel economy is 15 city/21 highway and 17 combined. The as-driven numbers were 16.11 average and 19.06 at best.
- The Sierra was tested with 1,400 lbs. of payload, and 6,845 lbs. tow load in their respective tests. I suspect that some of the reason for this was they needed to have these levels so the mid-size trucks could compete head-to-head.
I like the 2016 Sierra Denali 1500. It measures up well with others in the full-size truck category and I can’t fine fault with Truck Trend’s description of a “bodybuilder in a tuxedo.