The musings, adventures and reflections of a born again gearhead in the auto mecca of Palm Springs, CA
Friday, October 15, 2010
2011 GMC Denali HD Duramax: Prada Workboots and Chanel Coveralls
I guess I've pretty much grown up with GM trucks. My dad brought home the first Chevy, a blue Camper Special with a 283 and a four speed, back in the 60's. I spent summers at my Grandfather's farm riding the lane in my uncle's 67 GMC pickup- the one he made a stake bed for and then dropped the Corvette engine into to make sure it had enough "pull". And speaking of pull, my own Silverado HD2500 Duramax has been the best hauler I've ever had. That truck has been as handy as my right arm, and it fits me like a favorite pair of boots.
So it didn't take me long to answer when the nice folks at GM asked if I'd like to try the new Duramax HD, to see how things have changed from my old truck. Ah, the things I do for my readers. It took a whole couple of seconds to get me to agree. As luck would have it, the Silverado I was scheduled was double booked, so they called to ask if I would like the Denali 2500HD instead.
I was honestly a bit dismissive at first. I used to hang out at the Roundup in Dallas back in the eighties, where guys would come in with their starched cowboy shirts and $600 python boots which had NEVER been near a ranch, and a 560SL waiting in the parking lot. A poser, I surmised. I was picturing the Roundup in my mind.
And I was dead wrong, as mistaken as a Red State Senator who thinks he can hide a sex scandal. The Denali HD 2500 is a real truck, all 6,562 pounds of it, and is capable of everything an HD2500 can do, including towing up to 15,600 pounds. It's just been shopping in nicer stores.
And a lot of shopping indeed. There's a whole outlet mall packed in there- a laundry list of luxury features, as one would expect on a truck with a $45,865.00 base price- inside there are 12 way power heated leather bucket seats with lumbar, dual zone automatic a/c, BOSE stereo, full instrumentation, power adjustable pedals, On Star, XM and a boatload more. Outside the Denali HD has its own unique chrome grille, 18" polished wheels, fog lamps, and a whole lot of chrome.
In addition, the test vehicle was equipped with the 397 HP 6.6 litre Turbo Diesel engine, Allison 6 Speed Automatic, Navigation, Moonroof, chrome side steps (a must!) heated and cooled seats, rear vision camera and upgraded 20" polished aluminum wheels. Throw in a destination charge and I'm rolling in a $61,189.00 pickup. Sixty-one grand. For a pickup. But it's a really NICE pickup. Really, really nice.
First thing I noticed is that the Turbo Diesel engine has REMOTE START. On a diesel. Glow plugs no more, "Wait to Start" light be damned, push a button 50 feet away and it chugs to life and idles as smooth as silk. No diesel chuggle on this monster, and only the slightest burble in the exhaust to give it away.
I pop open the door and climb up into the black leather cabin. Everything is contemporary, tasteful and tailored, and smells like a good leather bar. It's basically an Escalade interior, and there's nothing to complain about there. I pop it into reverse and the backup camera comes on- love this, especially when backing up to a trailer. The Driver's Information Center casually advises me that the front tires are at 60psi, the rears at 75. Yes, this beast is still a heavy honking truck underneath all the bling.
Out on the highway, the Denali HD rides like a stretch limo. There is no substitute for wheelbase. I watch the fuel economy on the trip out to the desert- 19.9 MPG when I pull into Palm Springs- in a 6.500 pound behemoth, and without a bed cover (which will add 1-2 mpg by improving airflow). ladies and gentlemen, I am impressed.
I spent a week crushing the Earth with the Denali HD. Mostly, I'm impressed with how something so large can be so well mannered. Yes, the front suspension gets a bit choppy on undulating road surfaces, but keep in mind this baby is bouncing 20" truck tires at 60 psi. The turbo diesel is a wonder- smooth throughout the range, very powerful, torque for days and unobtrusive to the point of being almost imperceptible. Throw in the remote start (so much fun I filmed it) and this powertrain is an out and out winner, which pretty much sums up my experience of the whole Denali HD. And while I probably wouldn't spring for the whole sixty-one grand worth of truck, there are an awful lot of eighty-three thousand dollar Range Rovers in Beverly Hills that can't begin to do what the Denali HD can. Yes, this baby has workboots. Prada workboots, that is.