2011 GMC Sierra HD Denali: Has Ford’s Super Duty Met Its Match?

2011 GMC Sierra HD Denali

It was not quite a month ago that Ford released the specs for its all-new 2011 Super Duty, a machine most reasonable people would think should be capable of handling any project living on Earth might require.

Well, the engineers at GMC must not be reasonable people, because they have gone and outdone the spankin’ new Super Duty with their new Sierra HD Denali. Well, they’ve partly outdone it anyway.

The Super Duty still shines in some areas, while the Sierra kicks its tailpipe in others.

Let’s compare some specs, shall we?

2011 Ford Super DutyFord’s all-new 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 produces 390 horsepower and 735 lb-ft of twist at 1,600 rpm. The F350, which is the closest competitor to the GMC equivalent, brings 21,600 pounds of towing capacity and 6,520 pounds of payload to the party.

GMC’s 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel has 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm, beating Ford in both crucial numbers and laying claim to the power king title. But power doesn’t always equate to capability, as the Sierra HD Denali’s towing capacity comes in at 20,000 pounds and its payload limit is 6,335, both lower than the Super Duty’s.

Neither truck lists official fuel economy numbers, but GMC brags that the Sierra HD Denali can squeeze out 680 miles on the highway. A little simple math based on the truck’s 36-gallon fuel tank reveals cruising economy of nearly 19 mpg. Of course, that’s only if the 10-ton trailer stays home. Ford claims its fuel efficiency is class-leading, so we can only assume it’s somewhere close.

What the Sierra HD Denali does have over the Super Duty is that classically elegant, drilled-out four-bar chrome grille. It also features heated and cooled leather seats and a matching wood-trimmed heated steering wheel.

While the Super Duty brings a more in-your-face look of power, the Sierra HD Denali is more subdued and classy. I like it, and think GM did a fine job giving Ford a worthy opponent.

Would Ford’s slight advantage in towing and payload make a difference to you in deciding which truck to buy?


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  1. Heres my opinion. I had a LD denali. I got to see a 2011 demo truck at a local lot that they called people in see if they liked to order one. I didnt like it at all. Its basicly just a jacked up denali with a diesel. NOTHING is diffrent from the LD.

    I now have a 2011 f250 kingranch. The 11’s also have the heated and cooled seats. There isnt a option on the denali hd you cannot get in a superduty now. The superduty tho does offer the KR seats which are IMO 10x better than the GMC ones, even the lariat ultimate f250.

  2. i love the new denali! i like that the fender flares are more tapered than the earlier models. and with more power and torque it makes them ever better than ford now! lots of people say that fords hold up better to abuse.. i beg to differ. the company i used to work for used all chevys and never had trouble! now in a denali style.. nice work!

  3. Oddly perhaps, I think that drilled-out grille makes the Denali look like a pimp truck. The trend towards semi-tractor front ends was cute way back when Chrysler first put them on Ram pickups, but the pickup truck manufacturers all seem to be in a race to see who can put a grille the size of a billboard on a truck. I can’t say that does much for the aerodynamics. Only a tiny percentage of truck buyers need these monsters with their horrible handling and ride, and I’m not sure if the minor difference in specs accounts for any real difference in highway performance. As I drove home today, I noticed the gas prices hitting $2.80 (which will jump in April when they switch to oxygenated fuel) and the diesel was over $3. That can’t help stimulate sales either, especially for those people who don’t really need such a large truck. Guess I’m getting old, though– I remember when buying a pickup truck involved deciding if you wanted to order an optional heater.

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