VUE Test Drives the Luxury Denali Lineup with GMC
Photos by Talisman Brolin
From exotic cars to modern homes, there are so many ways to communicate luxury. When it comes to branding, marketing campaigns play a huge role in how we perceive certain vehicles. We may not consider Smart cars luxury, yet Mercedes-Benz USA—a known luxury brand—over took its distribution and marketing back in 2011. But when it comes down to it, the average person cannot be tricked into driving a car based on the latest Super Bowl commercial alone. One needs to get inside, drive and feel the full experience to truly know. A vehicle, after all, is an extremely personal decision—one that you shouldn’t take lightly.
For all its prestige and rich history, many buyers may not think of GMC as a luxury auto brand, this is due in large part to its reputation for having GM’s best-built trucks. But when it comes to the luxury Denali line, and getting inside one of these vehicles, there’s so much more to it than just practicality. There’s a reason every other athlete and recording artist often keeps a luxury Denali in their vast automobile repertoire.
Recently, VUE had the chance to see what that experience was like and if the luxury Denali lineup is as stately as GMC claims. As procurers of luxury, automobiles in particular, we felt an obligation to learn if there was in fact more behind this brand than common marketing would lead one to believe. For this, we trekked up to Stowe, VT to experience the luxury Denali in everything from standard road conditions to off-road snow plowing—as part of GMC Denali’s Winter Drive Program.
VUE made the drive up to Stowe in what seemed like seven hours of pouring rain. But to our surprise, our 2018 Sierra 1500 Pickup Denali made the waterlogged roads feel like a quiet stroll through a dry country road. This is due to its active noise cancellation, which is an upgraded trim, which also keeps out the sound while towing. For such a large truck, it still had that luxe feel inside and that immersive driving experience we were looking for, even for the lengthy ride to Stowe Mountain Lodge (a great destination for snowboarding and skiing). As with all of the vehicles in the luxury Denali lineup, the driver and passengers experience that quality one can only get inside a luxury vehicle. But the difference with the luxury Denali is that the driver is not sacrificing utility for comfort—the perfect balance between real machinery and a luxury cabin.
The Sierra in particular, is all parts sport, tough and yet, incredibly refined. Whether you’re blasting through the snow on your way up to a Vermont ski trip, or hauling your Waverunners to the New Jersey Shore for the weekend, the Denali bridges the gap between class and functionality. The 2018 Sierra 1500 Luxury Denali reimagines the way we perceive trucks. The interior features high-end real aluminum trim and French-stitched leather while its exterior touts its unique chrome accents and LED lighting. Best of all, the 6.2L V8 luxury Denali Sierra 1500 has the most horsepower (up to 420) in its class and begins at just $52,900 MSRP.
For a truck that looks and feels luxurious from the moment you step inside, you get a sense for just how powerful it is the first time you plow fresh snow. For one, the Sierra 1500 can handle commercial-size straight and V-type plows. Knowing this, it was no surprise to us when our luxury Denali cut through the Vermont powder like butter (its towing capacity is also up around a whomping 9,300lbs).
The Sierra 1500 Denali also gets the driver GMC’s best tech, most notably with an 8-inch touchscreen and GPS (and, our favorite, Apple CarPlay capability). The truck comes standard with 4G LTE capability (the customer can add an unlimited data plan for $20/month). Wireless charging and the power outlets are also standard on both the Sierra 1500 Denali (and 2500HD Denali).
The luxury Denali line itself is quite extensive: Sierra 1500, Sierra HD, Canyon, Terrain, Acadia and Yukon. Overall, we were quite impressed with what the luxury Denali lineup has to offer. In part, we also learned a valuable lesson about luxury—it comes in many shapes and brands. It’s easy to be duped by high price tags, but when it comes to luxury, it’s more about the driver’s experience, even if it doesn’t come with a six-figure MSRP. If you live in the suburbs especially—and have an extensive garage—owning a vehicle with utility isn’t just recommended, it’s a must. Especially when those winter storms we know all too well come knocking.