Every so often I’m asked to explain the difference between a luxury vehicle and a luxury pickup.

For anyone over the age of 45, the idea of combining the words “pickup” and “luxury” into the same sentence just doesn’t make sense.

It wasn’t too far in our recent past when light duty pickup trucks were considered “work” vehicles. They were designed to haul and tow, and while most had a radio (and a few even featured air conditioning), amenities were pretty Spartan.

They were, after all, a “work” vehicle.

Until the late 1990s, NO ONE considered a light duty pickup truck as a statement vehicle, unless that statement included your business sign painted on the side of your pickup.

Today, it’s a different world.

Manufacturers have realized there’s gold in them thar pickup beds, and light-duty pickups are not only among the most profitable vehicles on the showroom, owning a high-end, luxury-oriented pickup truck is about the biggest statement you can make with a vehicle.

Luxury pickups aren’t just the norm, they have become aspirational vehicles.

But back to the question. The only difference is a luxury pickup will haul and tow, where most other luxury vehicles are just that — luxurious.

Which brings us to this week’s test vehicle, the 2016 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 pickup — one of the most luxurious (and powerful) light-duty pickups on the planet.

Featuring new exterior styling for the 2016 model year, the Sierra and its top trim level Sierra Denali takes its signature premium styling to an even higher level while also offering new, advanced engineering features designed to compliment its crafted interior.

Pick a luxury vehicle.

Go ahead. Name one.

Any feature and amenity you would find on that premium level luxury vehicle is available on the GMC Sierra and Sierra Denali.

Not only can you tow a small house (or haul most of its contents), but also you can do so in style and comfort while literally riding in the lap of luxury.

From high-tech electronics and connectivity to a long, long list of standard and available safety features that would even make Volvo blush, the GMC Sierra and Sierra Denali allows owners to have their cake and eat it as well.

Available in regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles (with seating for 2-6 passengers) with 8-feet; 6-feet, 6-inch; or 5-feet, 8-inch bed lengths (and in rear or four-wheel drive configurations), the 2016 Sierra and Sierra Denali are also available with a choice of three available engines — as well as six available trim levels.  

For those in the market for a luxury light-duty pickup, the GMC Sierra is a must for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts


2016 GMC Sierra and Sierra Denali

2 to 6-seat luxury light duty pickup  

Rear-, or four-wheel drive

Trim packages:

Base, Elevation, SLE, ST, All Terrain, Sierra Denali


Starting around $31,000


4.3L V6 (285 hp/305 T)

5.3L V8 (355 hp/383 T)

6.2L V8 (420 hp/460 T)


6-speed automatic

8-speed automatic

FUEL: Regular (or E85 for FlexFuel engines); premium unleaded recommended for 6.2L V8.


StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control and hill-start assist with rear-vision camera.