2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD

Starting MSRP: $32,846

2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Review

The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali is a full-size, top-of-the-range pickup truck. It is a crew cab model, offering four full-size doors and generous room for five adults. The Denali name signifies the apex of luxury intersecting with excellent payload and trailering capabilities.

By Matt Keegan
Last Updated 05/03/2016

A handful of pickup trucks combine high end luxury with robust trailering capabilities. The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali is one of those models. Sold in standard 4x2 and available 4x4 configurations, customers can choose a beefy V8 gasoline engine or a powerful turbodiesel V8 engine.

Exterior

Exterior
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Take a standard full-size pickup truck and embellish it with chrome, upgrade the wheels and tires, and include an assortment of the usual extra cost add-ons, and you just may have the makings of a luxury truck. That’s precisely what you get with the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali, a crew cab pickup truck that wears a tuxedo suit.

That tuxedo doesn’t mean this truck cannot get down and dirty. Indeed, it has all the features of other pickup trucks with available four-wheel drive, chrome-sided running boards, a spray-on liner, projector headlamps and distinct LED front lighting.

All GMC pickup trucks are composed of high-strength steels pulled over its cabin and along the frame rails. Its rear bumper features a pair of carved out steps, a feature unique to the industry and designed to make it easier to access the truck’s bed. All models come with a standard 6-foot-6-inch bed with the spray-on lining.

Interior

Interior
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Large sedan-like interior room is common to crew cab models. What isn’t common is thick carpeting, leather-covered seats, ambient lighting and a host of creature comforts typically reserved for cars like Cadillac, Lexus and BMW.

The GMC Sierra Denali offers no compromise room for five adults. Up front, two bucket seats are plush and supportive; to the rear is a 60/40 split fold up bench seat offering excellent hip, thigh and back support.

The instrument panel features a pair of analog displays flanking a digital driver’s information center.

At the top of the panel are four more analog displays for oil pressure, coolant, battery life and a gas gauge. The leather-stitched steering wheel itself tilts and telescopes and features cruise and secondary audio controls.

On the left side of the dashboard are controls for the brake controller and a drive control dial for 2WD, 4WD and 4WD-low. With a ball joint installed, this truck can pull up to 13,000 pounds or up to 17,500 pounds with gooseneck or fifth-wheel towing.

The center stack is neatly laid out with a colorful infotainment screen at the top and audio switches and knobs underneath. Beneath that are switches and controls for climate control flanked by switches for front seat heating and cooling.

The compartment separating the front seats offers generous amounts of storage including a covered hanging file section. You will also find open storage, 12-volt, 110-volt, auxiliary input device and USB port connectivity. Additional storage includes a dual glove box, in-door storage compartments with bottle holders and overhead storage. Fold up the rear seats and you gain additional in-cabin storage space.

Performance

Performance
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You get two engine choices with the GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali. Both are big V8s, and the standard engine is a 6.0-liter gasoline motor. A turbodiesel 6.6-liter engine is also available. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

As tested, the turbodiesel was rated at 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque. Step on the accelerator and the truck initially plods along, but quickly gains momentum thanks to its low 1,600 rpm torque curve. Full power is realized and maintained at most speeds — the diesel continually delivers copious amounts of energy as it moves this 3.5 ton plus vehicle with ease.

Handling is surprisingly easy with electronic steering at the ready. This truck offers an available automatic locking rear differential to improve traction when the wheels slip. Heavy duty brakes, an independent front suspension and a multistage rear leaf spring suspension combine for improved braking and ride.

The standard gasoline engine is rated at 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. This engine makes use of variable valve timing and active fuel management, the latter engineered to shut down half the cylinders depending on your power and performance needs.

Technology

Technology
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The chief technological attribute of the GMC Sierra is its IntelliLink infotainment system. It is one of the better systems out there with a colorful display marked by app-like touch-screen buttons. Related switches and buttons underneath also control the display.

My smartphone synced with GMC IntelliLink and accessed my personal playlist without drama. The touch-screen navigation commands worked as expected, however voice-instructed navigation commands were not always understood. On two occasions IntelliLink cut me off and hung up.

All GMC models also come with OnStar, which brings in vehicle diagnostics, emergency services and operator-assisted navigation. OnStar’s services are available by monthly subscription.

Safety

Safety
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Heavy duty pickup trucks fall outside of the crash testing criteria conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does test these vehicles.

On a five-star scale, the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD received an overall three-star rating for this model. However, trucks equipped with a collision control system received a four-star rating. In frontal crash tests the Denali received two stars, but three stars with frontal collision warning installed. In side crashes all models received a five-star rating. For rollover protection, NHTSA assigned the Denali a three-star rating.

The sheer size of the Sierra Denali affords an extra measure of protection for occupants not found in small vehicles. That said, this model comes with a rearview camera, stability control, rollover protection and traction control. It also comes with front, front side and side curtain airbags. Its OnStar system provides after the crash assistance by automatically calling 9-1-1 to send help to your location.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali retails from $51,925. That price includes the standard 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine and two-wheel drive. Many customers choose to upgrade to four-wheel drive and opt for the diesel engine. The four-wheel drive edition is priced from $55,125.

Adding the diesel engine raises the price by $7,195. Choose the $8,845 Duramax-Plus package and you receive the diesel engine, a durable six-speed Allison automatic transmission, a 3.73 rear axle ratio, an engine heater and a driver alert package. 

Additional upgrades can include a power sunroof ($995), chrome round assist steps ($685), power heated side trailering mirrors ($230) and a rear-seat entertainment package ($1,495). Fully equipped models run upwards of $70,000.

Overall

Overall
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GMC’s Sierra 2500 Denali HD is highly suitable for contractors and for families who love the outdoors. The gasoline engine is fit for many purposes, but it is the turbo diesel engine that reveals this truck’s full strength. Shoppers should be aware that fully loaded trucks typically offer steep discounts.