Towing Like a Pro with the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
Chevrolet Forum spends a day bombing around Utah with GMC’s luxury half-ton and pair of side-by-sides.
General Motors’s pickup twins, the Sierra and Silverado, are receiving big updates for the 2019 model year. While that is most certainly important, it doesn’t mean that the current offerings from each brand aren’t worth looking at. Recently, GMC invited Chevrolet Forum to Utah to take a current-generation Sierra Denali on an epic towing adventure and off-road experience.
While the Sierra doesn’t have advanced features to help with towing, like Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, it does have the basics to make towing a pair of Polaris RAZR side-by-sides to the sand dunes incredibly easy. The backup camera is a real lifesaver here, and the one on the Sierra is high resolution and pointed properly so you can hook up to your trailer right the first time.
GMC includes a trailer brake controller on their trucks, perfectly equipped for towing. Interestingly, some of the competition still require the addition of a brake controller to the build sheet, even if they check the towing package box. It seems like a no-brainer to us, and makes towing safer when you can independently control the brakes.
The Denali and SLT trims account for 75% of GMC sales, and you still have a choice of engine on the Sierra when you move up to Denali. Most of our towing day was with the base 5.3L V8 with cylinder deactivation. We also spent some time in Zion National Park unloaded with the 6.2L V8, but obviously we’re going to love the truck powered by a Corvette V8.
The 5.3L V8 has to work harder to pull stuff, especially at such an altitude with hills, but at no point did we think we needed more power.
The trailers we towed weighed in at approximately 5,500 pounds, which is about half of the max tow of the truck. But it’s also what someone might typically tow every weekend if they have a set of toys they want to take to the sand dunes. Our trailers were quite long, since the RAZRs had to be loaded one in front of the other.
Yes, the 5.3L V8 has to work harder to pull stuff, especially at such an altitude with hills, but at no point during our time behind the wheel did we think we needed more power. Of course more power is always nice, but the 5.3L consistently seems to surprise with how capable it is. It doesn’t feel or perform like a budget-minded engine.