2014 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab Update 5
Towing, Comparing, and Curbing the Wheels (With Impunity!)
I promised we'd put Big Jim to work towing, and for this update we have. MT's Detroit office recently acquired a sweet tailgate trailer, outfitted with TVs, keg taps, and the works, festooned in matching gloss black with corporate TEN logos. When hooking the trailer up, the rear camera certainly helps, but its low-ish resolution, its lack of a line indicating the path of the trailer hitch ball, and the fact that it plunks a parking-sensor warning icon right where the ball goes mean I still need to hop in and out a few times when connecting the trailer by myself. Ford's rear camera setup is superior.
The trailer weighs about 3,400 pounds -- well under our truck's 9,500-pound towing limit -- but towing it blunts the 5.3-liter's acceleration noticeably, suggesting that anyone frequently towing anything bigger might want to consider the 6.2-liter. You'd better be towing or hauling gigantic stuff frequently if you're considering a Sierra Denali HD, however. I just spent some time in one with a Duramax, and it sure does ride rough with no load in it. Clicking the tow/haul-mode button on the end of the gearshift in any GM pickup alters the transmission and throttle programming, and increases the flash-to-pass count from three to six.
After spending nearly a year with Jim, my pickup-truck receptors are fully sensitized, so I was somewhat surprised that Toyota's nearest Denali competitor, a Tundra Platinum, didn't compare too favorably inside. There's way too much hard plastic surrounding that diamond-stitched upholstery. The quad-cam 5.7 is a smooth operator, but my most ardent soft-pedaling resulted in a 14.5-mpg average. It wants to rev, delaying upshifts well past the point where Big Jim would be onto the next gear. (Is that where the fuel economy goes?) Ride quality also seemed a bit flintier, despite the taller sidewalls on its 275/55R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/Ls. (Jim wears the same brand in a 285/45R22.)
Finally, these Dueler 22-inch tires have earned big props on their own. Because of the length of this rig, I was forced to rub a curb coming out of a serpentine underground parking garage or risk rubbing the nose on the concrete wall. I cringed as I felt the rear wheel and tire rub against this curb, shoving the rear axle to the right. I was certain my pricy dub-deuce chromie would be toast. Imagine my delight when I discovered not even so much as a scuff! The tire sidewalls stand a good half inch proud of the wheels for protection. Why aren't all tires designed like this?
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