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  7. 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

Derek Shiekhi | Feb 18, 2021


Exterior view of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

When GMC reinvented the Sierra 1500 for the 2019 model year, it also completely overhauled its back half. It became the first truck manufacturer to offer a lightweight and durable carbon fiber composite bed in its CarbonPro Edition versions of the Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4. The available MultiPro Tailgate could be folded and flipped into six useful positions.

I recently spent a few days in a CarbonPro Edition of the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali ($71,910 as tested) and learned that there's even more to it than just what's behind its upscale cabin. The ultimate version of GMC's most lux light-duty pickup is packed with features that make it more stylish, driver-friendly and capable.


2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

It seems as if the designers behind the Sierra Denali came up with sketches of how the 2049 Sierra 1500 would look and decided to make that concept into a production vehicle. Not only does the Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition's front end have angles to its chrome grille, notched headlights and six-sided fog light surrounds that I've never seen before, but all of them are in close proximity to each other. There's no mistaking it for any other truck…and there probably won't be for the next...28 years.

My test truck's side steps might as well have been from the future, too, because I had never seen anything like them on a truck before. The "GMC MultiPro Power Steps" are included in the Denali Ultimate Package that comes as part of every Denali CarbonPro Edition. Like other power deployable running boards, they swing down to aid entry into the cab and retract once you're inside. If you press a button at the end, the running board will swing out further down the side of the vehicle to give you easier access to the side of the bed. It's a cool trick, but also a useful feature because otherwise you'd have to high-step to the top of the CarbonPro Edition's standard 22-inch wheels and 275/50R22 all-season tires.

As a car enthusiast, I thought it was cool that GMC made a truck bed out of carbon fiber for a production vehicle. It's not just about flash or bragging rights, though. According to GMC, the CarbonPro Edition's cargo box is 25 percent lighter than its steel alternative, an additional cubic foot larger in volume and naturally resistant to scratches, dents and corrosion. The ample space between the wheel wells of my press loaner's five-foot-eight-inch bed was wide enough to fit the four suitcases my fiancé and I took with us to the airport to fly from Austin to our new home in the Phoenix area.

There were two ways to get into my test truck's carbon fiber composite box from the back: the CornerStep cutouts in the bumper or the MultiPro Tailgate. Like the distinctive front end, the MultiPro Tailgate was straight out of the future, when tailgates are basically Transformers that help you with your home improvement projects. In addition to functioning like a traditional tailgate, the MultiPro can also be used as a load stop at two different heights, an easy access point to taller cargo, a more convenient way to reach the load floor, or a wide step.

It all depends on which panel you flip up or down. Since my tester was a CarbonPro edition, its tailgate had a bonus feature that I fully indulged in after I spent a morning helping a team of movers load a box truck for our out-of-state move. When I deployed the tailgate step, it revealed a Bluetooth-compatible 100-watt Kicker audio system. Once the movers hit the road, I cracked open a cold beer, hopped onto the tailgate and cranked up some music to celebrate the occasion.

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2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Interior

Interior view of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

The cabin of the CarbonPro Edition was much more understated than its angular Cayenne Red exterior. Black leather seats - heated and ventilated seats in the front, heated in the back - and dark open-pore ash wood trim were low-key luxuries.

Hard controls for basic functions, such as the two-speed transfer case, Bose audio setup and dual-zone HVAC system were within easy reach. One thing I didn't have to reach for was a USB cable because I could charge my phone and connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wirelessly. As clear as the high-definition eight-inch touchscreen was, its size seemed dated compared to the Sierra's futuristic exterior.

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2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Performance

View of the engine block of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

 

In keeping with the ultimate Sierra 1500 theme, GMC configured my media vehicle with the massive 6.2-liter V8. That generates a stout 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, which a 10-speed automatic puts to the road. According to GMC, a four-wheel-drive Sierra 1500 with the 6.2-liter V8, 3.23 gearing and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7,100 pounds is capable of hauling 1,620 pounds and towing 8,600 pounds.

By the time my fiancé and I dropped the Denali CarbonPro off at the Austin airport, I had put exactly 240 miles on it. My average fuel economy of 16.4 mpg was slightly above the 16 mpg city rating the EPA gave my test truck, but a little below its combined rating of 17 mpg.

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2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Safety

View of the safety features of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

When I learned the CarbonPro Edition comes with the Denali Ultimate Package, I expected to see a long list of luxury features on my media vehicle's window sticker. Instead, I discovered that the package primarily upgrades the Sierra 1500 Denali's driver aids and safety features. The most obvious ones are the HD Surround Vision system, which provides multiple exterior views of the truck and its surroundings, and the Rear Camera Mirror's completely unobstructed wide-angle view of what's behind the rear end. You have to get in the driver's seat and look straight ahead to spot the 15-inch Head-Up Display. The other features, which include Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Collision Alert, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning wait quietly in the background, ready to spring into action if you make a wrong move.

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2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition

In terms of its design, the 2021 Sierra 1500 Denali CarbonPro Edition seems ahead of its time. The good news is you don't need to find a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to go test drive one. You can go to an AutoNation GMC dealership today and learn more about it. Be sure to set aside a few minutes to explore its MultiPro Tailgate - and have a song you want to listen to cued up.

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2021 GMC Sierra Denali CarbonPro Edition Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, 4x4

Engine/Transmission

6.2L V8, 420 hp, 460 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic

Mileage

14/18 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★  


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.