New GMC Sierra Denali 2500 a powerful, heavy duty pickup that’s smooth riding and versatile as well

The 2012 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 is available with a black exterior. The pickup’s torque numbers are nearly twice as high as its horsepower (Photo provided).


Special to The Post and Courier

Those of you that have read my column over the years know that I love fast motorcycles and fast cars. I am not that into trucks and especially Mommy-mobile SUVs.

Guys, don’t try to argue. SUVs are primary designed for and coveted by women.

Now back to my story. However, I loved the 2012 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 Heavy Duty. Simply put, this truck kicked a**!

When you are looking for a truck, the most important power number is not horsepower, but torque. What is torque you might ask? Torque is what gets everything in motion and moving. Horsepower is a measurement of how much power an engine generates. Torque is a measurement of how much of that power reaches the ground in the form of pulling or pushing. Alright, that is a simplistic way of explaining it, but you get the idea.

Now that you know what torque is, these power numbers will be all the more impressive. The 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 Heavy Duty is powered by a 6.6-liter turbocharged Duramax diesel producing 397 horsepower and 765 pounds feet of torque. That is as much torque as some industrial model semi-tractors!

Although the GMC Sierra 2500 Heavy Duty is a heavy beast at 7,448 pounds, with all of that torque, it launches like a muscle car. My biggest disappointment is that I did not get to truly test its capabilities. I did not have any time to set proper tests up. It would have been lovely to tow a boat, no wait, a ship or just pull a huge tree stump out of the ground.

The ride as you can imagine was pretty firm, as the suspension was unloaded, but it was not uncomfortable. Surprisingly it was not as much of a hassle parking it. Noise levels for the mighty diesel were pretty subdued until I opened the taps to pour on its mountain-like torque.

Overall it was a very civil truck, one that can be lived with as a daily workhorse. I was just as impressed with how fuel-efficient it was considering all of the factors. During my week-long test, I drove the 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 Heavy Duty very aggressively. At the end of this test, it had achieved a 16 mpg city/highway fuel economy average. On the surface that does not seem impressive. However, the 2012 GMC Sierra 2500 Heavy Duty is powered by a nearly 400 horsepower engine that has to pull around a nearly 7,500 pound body.

When you compare this average to the Chevrolet Traverse’s average mpg, its fuel economy becomes even more impressive. The Chevrolet Traverse is powered by a 3.6 liter V-6, half the capacity of the GMC. This engine produces only 288 horsepower and has to pull around a body weighting 4,658 pounds, which is 2,790 pounds less than the GMC. The Chevrolet Traverse has an average city/highway mpg of 19 mpg, which is only 3 mpg higher. Now do you see why this is so impressive?

Yes, I loved this truck! Can you tell?

Look for my review of the Chevrolet Sonic four-door hatchback next.

Larry Cornwell is an automotive journalist based in the Charlotte area.


VEHICLE TYPE: Full-size heavy duty pickup

PRICE RANGE: $50,000-$64,000

ENGINE: 6.6-liter turbocharged V-8 Duramax diesel producing 397 horsepower and 765 pounds-feet of torque.

DRIVETRAIN: 6 speed automatic

FUEL ECONOMY: N/A (Ratings are not required for most large trucks)

COMPETITOR MODELS: Dodge Ram 2500, Ford Super Duty 2500