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2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali 4WD Crew Cab CarbonPro Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, GMC, Test Drives

2021 gmc sierra 1500 denali

General Motors has always kept with the expected pace to deliver pick-up trucks that many classes of Americans wanted, from work trucks to an every-day do-it-all vehicle for the family. In the latest line of GMC trucks, there’s been a movement of subtle innovation from the Sierra’s new MultiPro tailgate that features six positions for easier access to the truck bed or a better work surface. In the latest innovation, the Sierra gets a CarbonPro bed – a carbon-fiber-reinforced cargo bed, which is featured on my recent test vehicle, a 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 4×4 Crew Cab Denali.

See Also: 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Review & Test Drive

As most know, the Denali trim of trucks and SUVs from GMC is somewhat luxurious, yet they don’t take away from their expected ruggedness and ability to get tough jobs done without issue. The new 2021 Sierra 1500 I have this week features the brand’s proven 6.2-liter V8 engine packing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine, with the latest cylinder deactivation programming, is quite the powerhouse that can also treat you well at the pump if you do things just right out on the highway to keep an even steady speed.

2021 gmc sierra 1500 denali

There’s nothing that’s changed about the GMC Sierra from its recent redesign as a 2019 and 2020 model year pick-up truck. However, in experiencing the latest of GMC’s Denali trim for the Sierra, there’s much to give praise in the scope of the Sierra’s unmistakable look with an abundance of chrome up front for the massive grill and lower bumper. My test vehicle is also adorned with black 22-inch wheels, which may take away from the ride quality a bit, but the Sierra 1500 Denali remains to be surprisingly smooth with an excellent control of its body movements over what I have experienced in other trucks, mostly thanks to its adaptive dampers – something you don’t find in many pick-up trucks. Zero to 60 mph snaps off fast for such a truck taking about 5.5 seconds.

2021 gmc sierra 1500 denali

As a GMC Sierra Denali trim pick-up truck, the interior comes off as a bit bland. There’s not much to excite anyone inside of the Sierra Denali, despite there being plenty of soft touch surfaces along with real aluminum trim. Here, GMC could have done better to play along with the expected luxury theme in a Denali vehicle. Otherwise, the cabin is spacious and inviting for being comfortable on long hauls. The subtle changes and additions of features go the distance to add to the appeal of the new Sierra Denali if the interior’s lavishness doesn’t do it. There’s an updated Apple CarPlay integration that is now wireless or can be linked through the USB port, there’s also an enhanced trailering system that has a jack-knife alert and a trick camera 360-degree camera system that can display live feeds while driving for viewing the truck bed or trailer hookup – 15 camera views in all to choose from (the system only allows a few seconds of live viewing when driving). The rear camera mirror is also a nice touch for a clear live LCD screen view of your rearview.

2021 gmc sierra 1500 denali

Other highlights of the new GMC Sierra Denali are its 15-inch multi-color heads-up display, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel, and bevy of advanced safety features, such as blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning with emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, custom trailer profiles with trick items like a trailer tire pressure monitoring system, and adaptive cruise control.


The GMC Sierra Denali with the 6.2-liter V8 engine is a robust towing machine, able to tow up to 12,200 pounds and haul a payload up to 2,240 pounds when it’s properly configured. When you’re not towing, the fuel economy comes in at 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, which aren’t stellar numbers. However, considering 420 horsepower on tap and the 4×4 all-wheel-drive system, such numbers are mostly in line with comparable competition. The CarbonPro aspect of the new Sierra Denali is fundamentally a new bed made up of a carbon fiber composite to offer best-in-class resistance for dents, scratches, and corrosion. Ultimately, in selecting the CarbonPro option yields a bed that’s touted as the toughest on the market for such a pick-up truck with reduced weight, durability, and more functionality through the MultiPro tailgate, which features an external Kicker audio system for a “tailgating” experience (pun intended). There’s never a need for a spray-in bed liner or any added “protection” for the CarbonPro bed, which is a welcomed feature for truck goers.

At the bottom line, GMC Denali trucks aren’t cheap. In fact, my test vehicle at the price of $72,360 is a lot to chew on. Some may find such a price at just the right level considering the capabilities and abundance of tech and useful equipment that you get in a comfy pick-up truck. If you far down the trim line, you can get away with a decently equipped Sierra 1500 SLT Crew Cab for about $52,000 with a few desirable goodies and the less-powerful (355 hp/385 lb-ft tq) 5.3-liter V8 engine.

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