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GMC Denali XT: Redefining a GMC Truck?

At this year’s 2008 Chicago Auto Show, GMC is showing off a dramatic new four-door pickup concept. What’s interesting about this truck is not its four doors, or even its hybrid powertrain, which is GM’s two-mode system made E85 capable for the first time and uses a new direct-injection small-block 4.9L V8. What’s interesting is that it sits on a platform related to the upcoming Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Camaro. As a design study for future GMC products, this truck is a home run.


That’s right, this is a rear-drive unitbody car platform, developed primarily by Holden in Australia (in fact Holden lead the design and construction of the Denali XT). Down Under, Holden has been selling, with terrific success, four-door Crewman and two-door Ute trucks for years. In today’s climate and increased pressure to build vehicles delivering better fuel economy, lower emissions, and power, GM is exploring unitbody trucks for the States. (Act II is expected to be a two-door Pontiac G8 ST at the 2008 New York auto show; the Pontiac may already be approved for production.)

GMC may find themselves with the right product concept at the right time here. Consumers who don’t really need the full towing and off-road capability of a traditional truck SUV are very happy with car-based versions. Despite the mixed response to the Honda Ridgeline, which is both expensive and less attractive than this Denali XT, the idea may apply to pickup trucks as well. Work-truck needs ensure unitbody pickups aren’t likely to take over the pickup market as thoroughly as they did the SUV market, but there may be room for a product such as this.

The Denali XT may feel like a new idea, but it’s been a long time coming. Like the SUV market, creating unitbody trucks can bring ride and handling closer to the car experience and less weight for reduced fuel economy. Such a product might not be strong enough for use at the ranch or the construction worksite (towing capacity of the Denali XT is only 3500 and payload 1100 pounds), but this solution could be a more efficient and comfortable alternative for personal-use trucks.


GMC presents the Denali XT also to test future brand design elements, and they are considering bringing this to the U.S. market. Pre-show photos promise a supremely strong and tough look, and though the bed is short, the Denali XT does sport a GM MidGate. This bold look hints at refinement, with its bright mesh grille and LED headlights as a design element. It looks tough, but not simply like a baby GMC Sierra. The huge wheels and tires certainly help the side view, and the front quarter panel vent hints at a powerful powertrain. The rear, which surrounds a bed that has no wheel intrusions taking up space, has design elements clearly tied to the front. The deep and tall wheel arches add to the purposeful stance from any angle.

GMC Sierra Hybrid
And lest any true truckers think GMC will abandon them, the Sierra Hybrid is being introduced next to the Denali XT. The Sierra Hybrid uses the same two-mode system as the Chevrolet Silverado and Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade hybrids introduced over the past few months.

1 Comment

  • sab maddalo| July 11, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    where can one buy one of those sweet looking trucks……come on GMC don’t tease us with vehicles like this and then put them into moth ball heaven.

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