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Inside the Sierra Denali shares its 'low and forward' instrument panel with GMC’s full size SUVs. Bierley pointed out its upscale Denali wood grain and signature Denali leather, which is softer and more nuanced than the leather you’ll find the up-level SLT trim available on the standard Sierra. And it gets an optional heated steering wheel ($150) that warms up quickly when you press the wheel mounted controls for it – once you decipher the mysterious glyphs on the wheel’s buttons (see picture below).

As I mentioned in a first drive review of the Heavy Duty Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado, the updated interior in GM’s new pickups is first class. All the gaps are tight and the plastic and rubber materials have nice surface textures and tactile feel. Even my father-in-law, a converted import car fan after losing faith in the domestics during the 1970s and 80s, was won over by the inside of the Denali, repeatedly comparing it to Lexus in quality and fitment.

The Sierra Denali also came with an optional audio and navigation system with DVD. It’s probably the best navi I’ve used in a pickup.  The display was large and bright, and rendered maps nearly as well as what you’ll find online. Its touch screen also provided large buttons to quickly swap between geographic views and radio controls. When parked, the navigation screen also doubled as a movie screen to play DVDs. Once the truck was in motion, DVD video transferred to the rear ceiling mounted video display and rear entertainment center, so the kids could watch flicks on the go.

Word to the wise about using satellite assisted navigation, if, say, you’re ever in the situation where you were born and raised in Arizona but you’re on a trip to New Jersey where your wife grew up. You’ll hear from your spouse AND the truck’s lovely female voice about which turns you missed and the best way to get back on track. Throw in an OnStar operator for those really sticky spots and you’ll be cookin’ with gas!

So, is a truck like the Denali worth almost $50K? It depends how fat your wallet is, of course, but this is a very good value in this segment.

Relative to the recently tested 2007 Ford F-150 King Ranch, both pickups have near identical price tags and configurations. However the Sierra Denali adds all wheel drive, a six speed transmission, 100 more ponies, and better fuel economy for only $3600 more dollars. And compared to its corporate cousin, the Cadillac Escalade EXT, the Sierra Denali is also a luxury pickup but with a traditional box, higher towing capacity, and cheaper price tag. Both Sierra Denali and Escalade EXT share the same 6.2-liter V8 with identical horsepower and torque ratings.

GMC has a winner in the Sierra Denali.  It’s unique, very capable, and good looking. Expensive – yep, but this is a special edition pickup that’s meant to provide that extra reward and satisfaction to buyers willing to pay its premium. Owners are going to love driving this rig.

TEST VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS:
2007 GMC Sierra Denali

Base Price (Including Denali Decor): $41,195
Price as Tested: $48,645

Engine Type and Size: 6.2-liter Vortec V8
Horsepower (bhp): 403 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 417 @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed RWD/AWD, electronically controlled overdrive with torque converter clutch.

Suspension: Front - independent with coil-over shock and 36-mm front stabilizer bar. Rear - Two-stage multileaf semi-elliptic springs

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with ABS

Tires: P275/55R20 on 20" chrome wheels

Wheelbase: 143.5-inches
Length Overall: 229.9-inches
Width: 80.0-inches
Curb Weight: 5,383-lbs

Fuel Capacity: 26.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 13 mpg city / 19 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 - 60 mph: 6.3 seconds
1/4-mile: 14.8 seconds at 94 miles per hour

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