A red 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4X is shown driving off-road from a GMC Sierra 2500 HD dealer.

Are Heavy-Duty Trucks the New Face of Luxury Vehicles?

Those for the latest luxury vehicles may be surprised to see GMC make the move to trick out the Sierra 2500HD with a full Denali Ultimate trim. As the Hollies might have once sung, “He ain’t heavy-duty, he’s my super luxury truck.” Jokes aside, this is an interesting step in the evolution of top-level vehicles built to give drivers and passengers the ultimate in comfort, convenience, and technology features. Luxury models used to all be midsize and full-size sedans from some of the top brands like Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. All that changed when Cadillac introduced the Escalade, and GMC came out with the Denali trim for its lineup of SUVs like the Yukon, Acadia, and Terrain. Suddenly, those looking for the latest in bling were captivated by fully loaded SUVs. All you had to do was turn on the TV to an awards show and watch all the A-list celebrities pulling up to the red carpet in an Escalade, Hummer, or BMW X7. In 2024, will we be seeing these same celebrities go from their GMC Sierra 2500 dealer straight to the Oscars, arriving in a Denali Ultimate? Stranger things have happened.

Evolution of the Denali Ultimate

The year was 2011, and GMC decided to do something different. It took its popular Denali trim that had been featured as the top trim on its SUVs and started offering it on its trucks. This wasn’t just a marketing tool, such as when a brand starts calling its biggest size Trenta but you have no idea what that means in English. Here, GMC took the concepts and features of the Denali trim on its other vehicles and began applying them to the heavy-duty Sierra 2500HD truck. This translates into leather interiors, premium audio systems, advanced infotainment features like built-in navigation, and custom detailing inside and out. The result is a gorgeous truck that can still deliver when it comes to towing and hauling.

Some industry observers thought the folks at GMC had lost their minds. Heavy-duty trucks had been primarily used either for work or camping. These models are the ones that offer exceptional towing capability, so you pull a tractor, a boat, or a camper behind you. What do people who are building houses or going fishing need with advanced entertainment systems and perforated leather bucket seats?

GMC proved the critics wrong. Those who scoffed had to eat their words as the market responded positively to the Sierra 2500HD Denali. GMC correctly predicted the explosion in the pickup truck market as more and more family drivers and commuters wanted trucks, especially heavy-duty ones. This growth in the market drove GMC and its competitors to expand their features and offerings among the top end of their truck lineups. The result for GMC is the all-new 2024 Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate.

A white 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 is shown driving.

What Makes the Denali Ultimate Earn Its Name?

When people hear the word “ultimate,” they immediately think that nothing will be left to the imagination. These are the folks who say, “You’ve got to say yes to another excess,” that too much is not enough. This seems to be the case with the Denali Ultimate, as it surpasses even the regular Denali model when it comes to luxury.

Like the 2024 Denali, the Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate comes with a standard 4X4 drivetrain, a set of skid plates to shield the front underbody, oil pan, differential case, and transfer case, and the GMC Premium Infotainment System on a 13.4-inch diagonal touchscreen. An off-road suspension comes standard, so you can push your Denali Ultimate to the limit out on trails, just like the Denali and AT4 trims. However, the Denali Ultimate has other standard features as well.

GMC has equipped the 2024 Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate with a 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 engine paired with an Allison ten-speed automatic transmission. This engine delivers an exceptional 470 horsepower and 975 lb-ft of torque. This gives your truck the power to tow up to 22,500 pounds. In contrast, the Denali trim comes with the 6.6L V8 gas engine, with the turbo-diesel offered as an extra. It also has a set of heavy-duty dual batteries with 1460 cold-cranking amps, compared to the single heavy-duty 720 cold-cranking amps battery on other models of the GMC Sierra 2500HD.

When it comes to looks, the Denali Ultimate truly goes all out. This truck rides on a set of 20-inch Ultra Bright machined aluminum wheels with gloss black inserts. These come wrapped with all-terrain tires, so you are ready to go off-roading right off the lot. The Denali Ultimate has a class-exclusive grille finished with Vader chrome that gives it a very aggressive look. The front end features new LED projector headlights with signature animated lighting sequences. Your passengers will appreciate the power-retractable assist steps, as the Denali Ultimate has 10.28 inches of ground clearance.

GMC carries this level of detail from the exterior of the Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate to its interior. The seats feature full-grain leather, an upgrade over the forge-perforated leather seats. These come heated in the front and rear outboard. The steering wheel is heated, too, and also leather-wrapped, something that costs extra on the Denali. The front seats are also ventilated, giving you greater comfort in warm weather when you may want to open the standard power sunroof to let the outdoors inside. Drivers are sure to also appreciate the standard head-up display that projects key vehicle information onto the lower quadrant of the truck’s windshield.

Both luxury truck models have the GMC Premium Infotainment system on a 13.4-inch touchscreen, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the Denali Ultimate upgrades the Bose Premium sound system from seven to 12 speakers. This includes a Richbass woofer to capture the entire low end of your favorite music, whether you are listening to a favorite channel on SiriusXM Platinum or streaming from your phone. You can also stay charged using the USB ports strategically placed throughout the cabin of your truck or the wireless charging pad located in the front center console.

Hauling in Style

For most people, loading and unloading a truck’s payload is not something you’d associate with a glamorous lifestyle. However, the folks at GMC figured out how to make it less drudgery than usual. The Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate has the GMC MultiPro Tailgate, like many other models of this truck. This allows you to put your tailgate into one of six positions, including a step that makes getting cargo on and off your truck’s payload bed a little easier. It also comes with hitch area lighting, making it easier to hook up or detach a trailer at night.

The cargo box on the Denali Ultimate also has a MultiPro Audio System by Kicker. This allows you to whistle while you work to whatever music you enjoy. This waterproof audio system has two channels with 100 watts of amplification power. You can connect your device via Bluetooth or the USB input, allowing you to stream the music you like. What’s more, the Kicker system is fully independent of the GMC Premium Infotainment system inside the passenger cabin. This allows you to listen to different programming than your passengers seated inside your truck.

GMC has made towing more convenient on the Sierra 2500HD Denali Ultimate. The infotainment system comes with in-vehicle trailering apps, making it easier to hitch up a trailer. It also has trailer tire pressure and temperature sensors, which work independently of the ones on your GMC Sierra 2500HD truck.

A black 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 HD is shown driving off-road.

The Next Step in Luxury Is a Heavy-Duty Truck

GMC had already shown that there was a demand for advanced comfort and convenience features on its heavy-duty trucks over 10 years ago with the Denali trim of the Sierra 2500HD. Now it has gone to the next logical step, offering drivers the Denali Ultimate which gives you a level of luxury that is truly unexpected on a heavy-duty truck. While this has the super luxury details discerning drivers demand, it still retains the towing and hauling capabilities that make you want to drive a heavy-duty truck in the first place.