Coulter Motor Company

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Road Test Review: 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 3500 HD

2011 GMC Sierra HD - a force to be reckoned with

It’s not that we don’t trust the big-truck manufacturers when they set up towing exercises during their new-vehicle introductions — we just know we’re likely to learn a bit more about a given hauler when we take it on the road. That’s just what we did when GM tossed us the keys to its newest top-level one-ton hauler, the 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 3500 HD dually.

Naturally, we wanted to give the revitalized Duramax — which makes 397 horsepower and 765 pounds-feet of torque — a decent challenge for this exercise, so we searched for the right environment with plenty of tough hill climbs. The more we thought about it, the more obvious the answer became.

Of course, that meant a nice, long road trip through Colorado, weaving up and over the Rocky Mountains as many times as possible. In no time at all, our route would hit six different mountain passes getting close to or climbing above 11,000 feet in elevation, including the highest paved road in the U.S.

To make the trip interesting and to isolate the Duramax’s strengths and weaknesses, we needed a fair amount of weight behind us. We found that in a Colorado travel trailer loaned to us from K&C RV in Longmont, Colo.

For those astute readers who may recognize this GMC Denali HD from our 2010 HD Pickup Truck Shootout, you’ll notice our trailer is somewhat different from the engineering trailers we used for that Shootout.

Our Dutchmen Colorado 32RL fifth-wheel trailer was close in weight to the trailers our one-ton diesels pulled up the 7 percent and 16 percent grades during the Shootout, but our fifth-wheel trailer gave us a more real-world feel with its 12-foot-tall profile standing high in the wind and a realistic center of gravity.

With the tanks filled and our gear stowed, our trailer tipped the scales just over 11,500 pounds with a price just over $45,000, bringing the total of truck and trailer just a tick under $110,000. We knew the total weight of our Colorado was far below the 3500 Denali’s maximum rating of 21,000 pounds, but it would still allow us to get some good feedback.  Read More


October 26, 2010 - Posted by | GMC Trucks | , , , , ,


  1. What about fuel consumption?

    Comment by Gazeta | December 31, 2010 | Reply

    • The 2011 Sierra 3500HD Crew Cab 2WD is a 4-door, up to 6-passenger full size pickup, available in 9 trims,… read more ranging from the Work Truck Standard Box SRW to the SLT Long Box DRW.

      Upon introduction, both trims are equipped with a standard 6.0-liter, V8, 322-horsepower engine. A 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is standard.
      The fuel tank capacity on the long box is 36 gallons and is available in a V8 and also a Turbo V8 Diesel. Plus right now, this model is available with 0% interest and no payments until spring. Great for hauling, great for space, great for cargo and great for appeal!

      Comment by cmctempe | January 2, 2011 | Reply

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