GMC Unveils 2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD, New Duramax Specs
Last month, General Motors unveiled the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD at the Chicago Auto Show, but it kept the performance specs for the new Duramax diesel engine as well as the Silverado's sister truck, the GMC Sierra, under wraps. As it turns out, GM was just playing a chess match with Ford Motor Company by unveiling the updated 2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD today in addition to announcing the torque and horsepower numbers for the updated engine at the 2010 NTEA Work Truck Show in St. Louis, Mo. Although the new, luxurious GMC Sierra Denali HD was introduced today, all of the heavy-duty GM trucks will be available with the 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 that produces up to 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque.
With this latest power upgrade, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and 2011 GMC Sierra HD now boast best-in-class horsepower and torque. In comparison, the 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty produces 390 horsepower and 735 lb-ft of torque from the Power Stroke V-8, while the 2010 Dodge Ram HD puts out 350 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque from its Cummins inline-6. The new Duramax V-8 improves its power output by 32 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque, but the updated engine apparently does all this without negatively affecting the environment. While specific fuel economy figures haven't been released, GMC did say that the new truck could travel up to 680 miles on a single tank of diesel fuel.
'Segment-leading power is great, but it's not the only thing that makes the new Duramax a winner,' said Gary Arvan, Duramax chief engineer. 'We designed the engine to make that power with less fuel and fewer emissions, while also increasing its durability.'
A detuned version of the new Duramax will be offered on the chassis cab models to meet federal certification standards for incomplete vehicles. The reduction down to 335 horsepower and 685 lb-ft of torque is due mostly to a different exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, but it is an interesting note that this is still more torque than the 2010 Dodge Ram HD pickups. Coming standard in the Sierra HD, the gasoline Vortec V-8 retains the same power output of 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque on models under a 10,000-pounds GVWR and 322 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque on models over the 10,000-pounds GVWR threshold. Both engines come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with the Duramax diesel getting the more rugged Allison 1000 gearbox.
The more powerful engine is nothing without a stronger frame, and the new GMC Sierra HD received numerous structural upgrades. Replacing the C-channel frame of the previous Sierra HD, the 2011 model gets a fully boxed frame as well as upgraded front and rear suspension setups. Up front, all models continue to use an independent suspension setup, but the four-wheel drive models have a stronger front suspension that now has front axle rating of up to 6,000 pounds. In the rear, the 2500HD will have two-stage leaf springs and the 3500HD will have three-stage leaf springs which are 20 percent larger than the 2010 HD models. As for towing abilities, the 2011 GMC Sierra HD will have a maximum payload capacity of 6,335 pounds, a conventional trailer towing capacity of 16,000 pounds and a maximum fifth-wheel towing capacity of 20,000 pounds. These numbers are lower than the Ford F-Series Super Duty numbers, but GM does not offer a pickup truck competitor to the Ford F-450 Super Duty.
As for the truck itself, the styling appears to remain the same unlike the new Silverado HD, but the addition of the Sierra Denali HD model should give the F-Series Super Duty King Ranch some stiff competition. Like other GMC Denali models, the 2011 Sierra Denali HD features signature exterior looks and a luxurious cabin, but it is only available on the Sierra 2500HD models equipped with four-wheel drive, crew cab and standard-sized cargo box. The Sierra Denali HD is distinguishable by its unique front grille, body-color front and rear bumpers, chrome exterior accents and chrome 18- and 20-inch wheel options. Like the 2011 GMC Acadia Denali, it doesn't appear that the Sierra Denali HD will feature an eight-spoke wheel design like the GMC Yukon Denali and the GMC Sierra Denali.