NEBO Tested: GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Review

Parker and Tom arrive at Moose Landing.
Parker Kelley and Tom Richardson arrive for a shoot in the GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD. Photo/New England Boating

For our second season of filming New England Boating TV, we were given the use of a GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD crew cab truck to tow our Pursuit C260 center console all over the region. From June to October, the NEBO crew put 6,500 miles on the truck’s odometer, traveling to points ranging from Norwalk, Connecticut, to Sebago Lake, Maine. The Denali HD didn’t miss a beat!

With its max towing capacity of 17,400 pounds, the Denali easily pulled the 6,000-pound-plus Pursuit, and its 4-wheel-drive gave us peace of mind in wet weather and when tackling steep, slippery ramps—and we encountered plenty of those!

Over the course of the season, the crew traveled to many new and unfamiliar destinations, and Denali’s navigational system got us there without hassles.

Three standard features we really came to appreciate were Tow/Haul Mode, the Diesel Exhaust Brake and Trailer Sway Control. Tow/Haul Mode raises transmission upshift points to use more of the engine’s power for strong acceleration, and raises downshift points to help slow the truck using engine braking, thereby extending brake-pad life. The Denali’s Diesel Exhaust Brake, included with the Duramax diesel 6.6L V8 turbo package, provides greater control on grades and also reduces brake-pad wear. Trailer Sway Control proved useful in windy highway situations, and works with truck’s StabiliTrak system to minimize trailer sway by automatically applying vehicle and/or trailer brakes when sway is detected.

Interior of the Denali 2500 HD.
Interior of the Denali 2500 HD.

Our travels in Maine posed some interesting challenges, among them hilly conditions and some rather steep ramps, thanks to the area’s extreme tides. This is where the Denali’s Hill Start Assist came in handy by giving us extra time to switch from the brake to the accelerator without rolling backwards. This, combined with 4WD, made a huge difference in getting the boat in and out of some less-than-ideal ramps.

“When it came time to hitch up the trailer, which we did dozens of times during the season, the rear backup camera with directional assist and the big dashboard screen made this a one-person job,” said co-host Tom Richardson. “It really made our lives easier.”

“You can’t imagine the amount of gear and video equipment we have to haul from place to place, which makes the bed of this truck pretty important,” Richardson added. “GMC thought of this, too, which is why they equipped the Denali with under-rail box lights, moveable tie-down eyes and convenient corner-step rear bumpers. Oh, and the EZ lift and lower tailgate was a breeze to open and close, even when we had our hands full.”

Equipped with numerous USB ports and charging outlets, the cab serves as a mobile office.
Equipped with numerous USB ports and charging outlets, the cab serves as a mobile office.

While the Denali 2500 HD is a beast of a truck, it doesn’t skimp on creature comforts. “I loved being a passenger in the Denali this summer,” said co-host Parker Kelley. “What a truck! The cab became my complete mobile office while we were towing from state to state. I can’t say enough about it.

“The leather seats and interior stitching added a modern, high-style look that I really enjoyed. And GMC thought of everything, including triple door seals and shear body mounts to dampen vibration and reduce wind and engine noise. This meant that the ride was exceedingly comfortable and incredibly quiet. The quiet cab made it easy to focus on writing, researching and preparing for our destinations as we cruised the highways and back roads of New England.

Dashboard touch-command screen.
Dashboard touch-command screen.

“On hot days, I could easily keep the temperature dialed in with the dual-zone climate control. The air-conditioned seats were also a nice feature.

“In terms of technology and organization, it seemed as though the Denali was designed for my convenience. I used the large center console to hang files and utilized every port and outlet to my advantage. As we drove from point to point, we were able to keep our iPhones, laptops and various cameras charged with the 3 USB ports and the 110-volt AC power outlet. I literally had everything I needed at my fingertips, and didn’t miss a beat in my mobile office. I even kept my iced coffee handy in the cup holder beside me!

Dashboard gauge and information cluster.
Dashboard gauge and information cluster.

“When I wasn’t busy working or on the phone figuring out logistics, we cranked up the music. The Denali has a top-of-the-line Bose audio system with several speakers and a subwoofer. Not too shabby! We could tune into SiriusXM or any other station we wanted. And if that wasn’t great enough, we could also plug in our iPods and stream our own music.”

Over the course of the season, the crew traveled to many new and unfamiliar destinations, and Denali’s navigational system got us there without hassles. “We arrived on target and on time, every time, which really makes a difference when you’re traveling to a destination you’ve never been to before and have a whole day of filming ahead of you,” added Parker. “After all, a happy crew makes for a happy show!”

For more information on the GMC Sierra Denali 2500, visit your local GMC dealer or go to this website.