Also, where was Quadrasteer, a feature that makes driving fullsize trucks
in urban settings so much easier? It was standard on the first Sierra
Denali, and we miss it.
Such an advanced,
high-tech pickup with all these goodies would promote GMC as an industry
innovator and undisputed truck leader. But GMC chose to play it safe,
and guess who is now coming out with a pickup that offers multi-link rear
suspension and electronic stability control? Honda.
Our test truck had a base price of just under $42,000. Only two options—XM
satellite radio and DVD rear-seat entertainment—and a $850 destination
charge brought the final MSRP up to $44,205. That’s the same range
as the Dodge Ram SRT-10. Add the specialty suspension hardware and Quadrasteer,
and the Sierra Denali price could approach $50,000. Truckmakers are probably
afraid of trying to market a half-ton pickup at that price. They even
get nervous when fully loaded, diesel-powered 1-ton trucks tread near
the mark. Remember the last time a pickup cost 50 grand? It was the Lincoln
Blackwood, and it didn’t last very long.
timid approach on the high-tech suspension, GMC has built a truly wonderful
pickup to drive on the highway. I took my test truck up the Pacific coast
for a long weekend. The standard Z71 suspension does not disappoint in
delivering a balanced ride that is very firm in the canyons and mostly
well-behaved on rough surfaces. Much of the pleasure comes from the comfy
leather seats and commanding driving position. Long treks are completed
with hardly any backache or cramped legs. The Sierra Denali comes with
power recirculating ball steering, not the rack-and-pinion setup on 2-wheel-drive
1500 models. Still, we found the steering to be responsive enough for
our relaxed cruising assignment. While other 2005 Sierra models switched
to a front disc/rear drum brake arrangement, the Sierra Denali retains
4-wheel antilock disc brakes. GMC employs Dynamic Rear Proportioning to
maintain stability under heavy braking, regardless of the cargo load in
the bed. The brake boost system was also upgraded to improve pedal feel,
a longtime complaint from GM truck owners.
What would the high-tech suspension equipment do for the Sierra Denali?
Enhance driver confidence and improve towing. StabiliTrak helps the driver
maintain control of the vehicle in sudden maneuvers, especially in low-traction
situations or during avoidance moves such as quick lane changes. StabiliTrak
can reduce engine power and automatically apply pressure at either of
the front brakes to slow the vehicle and help the driver bring the truck
back to its intended path. The Autoride system regulates shock dampening
and includes an air-assisted load-leveling system in the rear to adjust
ride height as weight is added or removed. As mentioned before, these
features are already available on the Yukon and could easily be adapted
to the pickup. It’s just a matter of judging consumer demand. There
might some engineering challenges in mating Quadrasteer to the coil suspension,
but it’s a full-featured truck worth considering.