After a full day of driving -- from early in the day until long after midnight, on two-lane country roads and highways, in rain that fell in sheets and bright sunshine -- the Sierra Denali HD impressed us. The truck is much more refined now, with a quieter cabin than ever before, and the ride is smooth and comfortable. This is a truck you could drive all day, all week, with a heavy load in back, and you'd ride in comfort, with total confidence. Oh, and the fuel economy, which we recorded as a combination of driving while towing and with the truck unloaded, was 13.6 mpg.
We are happy to say this truck isn't just good on paper; it's equally good in real life. But can it hold its own against the new King Ranch? For those who like the King Ranch's unique style, the Denali is probably a bit on the dull side. But when you compare numbers -- the Duramax's 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque compared with the recently upgraded Power Stroke's 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet -- the trucks are very close in capability.
While we've yet to receive all the pricing data, from what we can tell, the Sierra Denali 3500HD we drove would cost about $59,000 as equipped, and the equivalent King Ranch with similar equipment would cost around $58,000.
We haven't had the chance to test a one-ton F-350 King Ranch with the updated performance numbers (remember, when the Fords first went on sale, they had 390 horsepower and 735 pound-feet); that's something we will take care of in the next few months. Meanwhile, though, for the first time, Ford has to face an excellent luxury contender in this category from GM. And we're eager to see how Ford deals with it.