By Peter Perrotta
We live in some strange times, no doubt. Perhaps nothing stranger than what we presently consider luxury items.
In the automotive landscape, the best proof of this is in what the more well-heeled consumer is now willing to shell out for what were once considered work trucks and off-road SUV’s.
I recently road tested the 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 4WD Denali Ultimate pickup truck for one week. This monstrosity of a vehicle carries a bottom line sticker price of $94,845.
Now I ask you, if you are shelling out that kind of cabbage for this truck, are you really going to muck it up by throwing cinder blocks in the back or a load of demolished debris from a reconstruct?
Don’t think so. So what you really have here is a status symbol truck that slots into that “King of the road” category.
This week’s On The Road column takes a look at the Sierra as well as the EV 2023 Nissan Ariya.
2024 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali Ultimate
For the record, the Denali Ultimate is the very top of the line trim model for this truck. There are actually seven different trim levels for the GMC Sierra starting with the Pro model that carries a more palatable base price of $46,295.
The other trim levels include the SLE ($51,095); SLT ($62,395); AT4 ($70,995); Denali ($75,095) and the AT4X ($83,695).
The Denali Ultimate I tested carried a bottom-line sticker price of $94,835. This vehicle comes fully loaded the only added extras were $545 for a gooseneck fifth wheel package and $495 for a seven pin trailer harness.
New for 2024 on the Sierra is a revised front fascia with newly available LED head lamps and taillights.
The model I drove was powered by a huge 6.6-liter Duramax turbocharged diesel engine that puts out an impressive 470 horsepower and 975 pound feet of torque.
The increased power has also increased the towing capacity with a higher max rating of 22,500 pounds.
My overall impression of this gigantic vehicle is that it certainly represents an impressive piece of automotive technology, commanding a huge presence on the road.
It has a smooth ride – choppy over rough terrain – and handles reasonably well for its size. There is nothing nimble about this vehicle. It is more than comfortable when it comes to head, leg and shoulder room as well.
The caveat with this pickup is, it needs to be in an environment that provides it wide open spaces. This is not a vehicle you are going to be comfortable with driving into Center City Philadelphia or Manhattan.
I can’t imagine even attempting to try and parallel park a truck like this. This truck is more for the wide open spaces of Montana or Utah or one of the less populated plain states.
It would also be better served showing off its real towing talents by trailering either a sizable boat or camper.
So the bottom line is under the right conditions this is a tremendous truck and in the wrong environment it’s just a bull in a China shop.
There are no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel consumption ratings for the Sierra. However, a recent Car and Driver review claims that the 2500 Sierra turbo diesel model I drop gets an average of 17 miles per gallon (mpg).
Also, my tester had a huge 33 gallon fuel tank and it costs in excess of $130 to fill it up with diesel fuel.
There were no crash test ratings for this model as well. Overall, I would rate this truck a 6.5 for city driving and much high solid 8 for taking it out to the country.
2023 Nissan Ariya Platinum
The Nissan Ariya is a new compact SUV EV model in the Nissan lineup, joining the Leaf hatchback. It is slotted to compete with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6.
There are nine different trim levels to the Ariya, starting with the least expensive Engage ($44,525) all the way up to the model I tested, the top of the line Platinum + ($61,525).
This is an attractively sculpted compact crossover SUV that is plenty roomy. The touch controls are a bit unresponsive at times, but other than that, it’s a well-made vehicle.
At close to a 100% charge this vehicle had a driving range of about 270 miles. For the area I live in, I used the Electrify America charging stations and found that it took about 45 minutes or more to give the battery a full charge if you were starting from an almost empty point.
Overall, I like the Ariya and would give it a sold 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
My main beef with the EV vehicles at this point in the technology cycle is that the charging station availability is just too unreliable right now.
There are too many times when you get to the charging stations and they are not working or need to be rebooted.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears every other week.
On The Road is sponsored by Capital Motor Cars of Springfield N.J. the leading new car leasing agent in the tri state area.