2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

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Just a few weeks ago, we had a 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. The all-black truck had a striking image, a powerful 6.2L V8 engine, 8-speed transmission and had enough posh leather to rival a Burberry store in NYC. While this truck sure looks great, how does it compare to the 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum? It all comes down to preferences.

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

Chrome, chrome and more chrome define the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali’s exterior. We are big fans of the head lights.

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

Take your pick of which exterior you like.

On Paper Comparison

Before we delve too deep, here is a by-the-numbers comparison. We also included the stock 5.3L V8 from GMC.

 2015 GMC Sierra Denali - TEST MODEL2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum2015 GMC Sierra Denali
Engine 6.2L Ecotec 3 V8 5.7L V85.3L V8
Horsepower420 @ 5600381 @ 5600355 @ 5600
Torque460 @ 4100401 @ 3600383 @ 4100
Rear Axle3.42 with Max Trailering Package4.103.42
Towing11,700 lbs9800 lbs9100 lbs
Payload1970 lbs1525 lbs1710 lbs
Fuel Economy15/21/1713/17/1516/22/19

These Trucks Are Nearly The Same

A few days into driving the 2015 GMC Sierra Denali, it occurred to us these trucks are pretty similar. Sure, to the ardent truck fan, there are distinct differences, but hear us out for a minute. We liken these trucks to each other since they both have broad, strong front-ends, unbelievably powerful engines (this isn’t a 1990s full-size truck) and have leather-clad interiors rivaling Mercedes-Benz vehicles. They are both easy to drive, have lower enter/exit points and plenty of cargo room for most everyone.

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

Both trucks features leather-clad interiors full of luxury finishes.

There is also something really similar about both of these trucks which doesn’t seem obvious to the naked eye. What is it? They both make you fear getting them scratched, muddy or damaged – see: truck, not using it. As bizarre as this may seem, these trucks are not really, well, what you might consider a truck. Driving around in the Sierra 1500 Denali, I was more cautious than I normally am. I also made sure I took my photos the day they brought the truck instead of waiting – for fear of it being dirty. Also, I had big qualms about loading anything into the bed even though it a sprayed-in bedliner. There is a lot of truth to the idea these types of trucks aren’t “work” trucks, they are really more of an “evening out” truck.

Lastly, they each had price points which were unheard of just a decade ago. Consider this; a 60-month loan on a $50,000 truck with nothing down is pushing $1k a month depending on taxes and interest rates. Throw in the insurance costs and gas, you end up with nearly $1,500 of your monthly budget tied up in one vehicle. With that said, if you live in your truck and it is your pride and joy, it is hard to argue against owning one of these luxury trucks.

These Trucks Are NOT The Same

While there are similarities, there are really just a few striking differences for us between the models. Sure, the physical appearance is different, but let’s talk about four key items: driver visibility, towing, bed access and ride comfort.

Driver Visibility – we hop into and out of trucks all the time at various auto shows and events, yet it never really dawned on us how much different the GMC (probably Chevy too) trucks are for driver visibility than other models. What are we talking about? The windshield seems shorter. This is likely not the case and it has more to do with the rake (angle) of the windshield and the size of the dash.

This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, yet it is definitely something to be aware of. For us, driving the truck felt more like piloting a tank than a truck. It just gives that sense of looking through a box. While the Tundra has a much larger feeling windshield, again likely due to the rake, it simply feels more wide open and larger. Sure, the extra inch or two of windshield amounted to only extra visibility of the sky, yet it helped make us feel for comfortable in the Tundra than the Sierra. In this day and age of increased visibility and extra driver awareness tools (360-degree cameras, back-up cameras, etc…), the lack of driver visibility was pretty surprising.

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

This picture somewhat shows the slightly shorter visibility through the windshield.

Towing – the end all be all of ardent truck fans is the maximum towing capacity of a truck. For these fans, the towing number denotes many things like how strong/dependable a truck is, how powerful it is and how much they can brag about it to their friends. The reality for most truck owners is they rarely, if ever hit the maximum towing capacity of a full-size truck. In fact, we’ve seen stories suggesting the average full-size truck owner tows 5,000 lbs on average. This is about the towing capacity of a mid-size truck. Yet, here we have a 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 ready to tow more than 11,000 lbs which is slightly more than the Tundra. Is the few hundred pounds the striking difference for towing? Nope.

What are getting to then? The other, arguably more important, towing items. For starters, we hooked up a 3,000 lb camper to the Sierra 1500 and the back-end dropped. Not significantly, but enough to make us notice. We have towed the same trailer in a Tundra. The Tundra didn’t sag at all.

Our Sierra test model had the integrated trailer brake controller. This was a pretty handy feature and one Tundra fans have been clamoring for a while. Was it all that? Nope. For starters, it was integrated into the dash and made us wonder what would happen if it stopped working. There is a significant amount of the dash to remove to get to it. Second, it was tied into a screen on the dash. When towing, we had to adjust the trailer brake controller, then scroll through the other screens for other items like the digital speedometer, tire pressure and temperatures. Sure, we had the dials, but we prefer the digital speedometer and scrolling is a pain. With a separate trailer brake, we can glance over and check out our setting. Lastly, the controller isn’t a standard feature. It is a $230 option. Tundra owners can mount their own trailer brake controller of their choosing for less money and if you sell the truck, you can take it with you.

One last note, you may have noticed on the chart, the 6.2L comes standard with the 3.42 rear axle and not the larger 3.73. We asked GMC and they said, when they added the 8-speed transmission, they didn’t need the 3.73 rear axle to get the same level of overall gear reduction.

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. 2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum

The 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali wraps up pretty well in the rear. Also, the bumper step is a big winner in our book.

Bed Access – Next time you have a free Saturday or day to yourself, do us a favor and visit all the local truck lots. As you stand by each of the truck beds, imagine putting something in and/or pulling something out of the bed. We try them all since, well, Tim is just a hair over 5′ 7″, and he has challenges with certain truck beds. After our unofficial and completely unscientific analysis, we have found the bed access to be the best in the 2015 GMC Sierra. Why does this matter? It used to be bed access was a big feature of trucks, yet it seems trucks have not only grown larger their beds have gotten taller. This makes it extremely hard and pretty frustrating for those who work with a truck to access items. We hope more truck makers pay attention to this and reverse the trend. We want the large bed, but we also want to be able to use it without having to climb on a tire or onto the bumper all the time!

Ride Comfort – one of our biggest surprises was the ride comfort of the GMC Sierra Denali. We knew it was pretty good, but we were pretty shocked at just how good it is. Sorry, Tundra fans, but hands down the Sierra bests the Tundra in every way on this. From the eerily quiet cabin, thanks to the triple-sealed doors, to the “class-leading” (yeah, we said it!) smoothness of the 8-speed transmission, sorry Ram fans this is smoother, the Sierra rode more like a Cadillac than a truck. It almost eliminated all road noise, vibrations and smoothed out pot holes. Also, the powertrain was well-balanced to give you power when you stood on the gas and smooth takeoff when you wanted it. Simply put, we felt we were riding in a sedan.

As for the other items: the storage was about the same, fuel economy was better in the Sierra and the Tundra was cheaper. We consider all of these to be a wash.

Which truck would we buy? The Tundra with the greater visibility, yet we give kuddos to the 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 1500. It is superior to the Tundra in ride comfort and fuel economy.

What do you think? What has been your experiences when comparing these trucks?

Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons


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  1. Randy says:

    I do not like the following on the Denali:

    Cramped and claustrophobic old 1990’s style interior cabin. Over 20 years now with the same cabin, it is very dated.

    The misaligned driver’s seat, steering wheel, and pedals are very uncomfortable on longer trips. It has been that way since the early 90’s.

    Typical low quality service from GM dealers and typical failure to honor warranties.

    The current AFM system has been problematic for many.

    Overall QDR is significantly less than Tundra.

    Plus Items:

    I do like the quiet cabin.

    QDR is significantly better than Ford.

    QDR is slightly better than Ram; it was not that way just 2-4 years ago when Ram was better.

    • MARSOC says:

      I have the Sierra Denali. I love everything about it and get unbeatable, world class, service from Sewell GMC in Dallas, TX. This is my second one and I’ve had no issues with either. Visibility issues? Where? 1990’s cabin design? Where do you buy your crack?

      All I know is when I pull up next to a Tundra, my Denali will out look, out run, out pull, uot ride and get better gas mileage to boot. I guess not everyone can afford the GMC. If you want a cheaper truck, go for the Toyota. Just don’t be jelly when youre sitting next to me at a red light. And remember, if I wanted your Toyota, I could’ve had it, but chose a bad ass truck instead. Toyota can’t compete with Ford and GM anymore. Go back to Japan!

  2. Hemi lol says:

    Although I may be the anomaly I actually tow with my rig………. ALOT and with ALOT of weight. much more even than the Sierra’s ratings and I must say I would rather tow these weights with my Tundra than my 02 Duramax ext. cab long bed. the tundra pulls as hard with WAY BETTER brakes than the duramax. This is not to compare it to an LML duramax as that is something completely different.

    So when you make the comment about the rear sag based on a little tiny 3000lb trailer that pretty much sums it up why the ride quality is better. It just goes to show although the GMC may be rated higher it just isn’t gonna be up to the same towing tasks that a Tundra can handle. they have stepped up their game on the GMC and I REALLY hope the tundra comes with an 8 speed soon im sure the next time they up the tundra it’ll be much more quite than the current gen.

  3. Rick says:


    I forgot how bad the GM dealer service was. I had to fight them to fix certain things and was always on the phone with GM to back up my warranty. After an O/C, I have a habit of checking my oil level and making sure the filter is changed. Caught them once not changing the filter ( I marked it ).

    The GM steering column shifter is yesterday’s design. I love my Tundra’s shifter on the console. Backing up is a cinch through the huge window that fully retracts. I like to lean on my big console with my hand on my TRD shifter – comfortable spot. I shift my truck manually too and hold out gears. That’s a great feature.

    Chevy did have that weird driving position – forgot about that too. The new trucks are much better though but it took them years to get there. When the Tundra gets an 8spd, they can essentially keep the 5.7 as it is and pick up some free performance.

    Hemi lol, I tow easily with my Auburn posi and 4.88 gear. Similar to my ’02 Duramax, I don’t feel the trailer back there using the hitch equalizer setup (highly recommended). I haven’t used a brake controller yet, don’t seem to need it.

    I go through one QT of oil between changes (@5k miles). My girlfriend’s 4cyl Acura does too. My Chevy Trailbalzer SS (6.0L) went through 2.5 -3 QTs in 5k, was told it’s normal. My Tundra has a blower and steep gears, yet it doesn’t drink oil. Great truck!

    • Hemi lol says:

      Wow I guess with a blower and 4.88’s im sure you do tow easily LMAO….. I would NEVER try what I’m doin without trailer brakes though. I’m pulling my 14ft. PJ Dump with 6.5 TONS of gravel in it. so total trailer weight in excess of 17,300lbs! I do have airbags but loaded correctly its not really necessary. my last load ticket was 23,700lbs total weight. this obviously isn’t something I would do daily but 4 trips back to back the truck doesn’t mind it one bit. try that with another half ton and i’ll bet about anything it would break something.

      If no good powertrain news comes up in the next year I’m gonna go with a 16 with the blower as well…… still holdin out hope for the oil burner.

  4. Rick says:

    Hemi lol,

    Man, 23k total weight is impressive! No 1/2 ton will do that and our 14″ brakes handle the load easily. I was going to get airbags but decided i’m not going near 6 tons weight daily, but they do level out the truck nicely when you need it.

    I’m not waiting for the diesel anymore. We had a discussion here on the new Titan that’s going to fill that niche IMO. I got the blower and gears that gets me close to diesel power, not as low in RPM. It likes it just past 3000 rpm but I hit that quickly with the help of the 4.88’s. With the stock tire diameter (no 4wd – not lifted), the gear is definitely felt. It launches immediately like a diesel, snaps the head back & spills the coffee 🙂

    Go get the ’16 and save up for the blower! (I’m addicted to HP) There are so many websites with owners like me who went through the trouble of setting up their Tundra’s with a SC and many guys helped me along. Glad I did it.

    • HEMI LOL says:

      Im VERY seriously considering doing that….. wont do a gear and probably up the tire to a 33 like I have now. heres to hopin for the bigger tank and ITBC would be a nice touch for the 16 model. I’m addicted to HP too I just figure if I need that rush I have an 86 Grand National with 23lbs of boost to do that LMAO. I would rather have the diesel though so we’ll see…….

  5. ricqik says:

    Why would 23k be a problem? The tundra towed the space shuttle 😉

    • HEMI LOL says:

      True lol lol…… but it was in low range lol. were talking 55mph zone here lmao. it amazed me the stability of it while doing it. I handled it 5 times as well as my old 87 K5 blazer handled a car on a trailer! pretty impressive to say the least.

  6. mk says:

    you forgot to mention how much lower to the ground entry/exit the GMC is vs. the tundra and the seats in the GMC are lower and feel like sitting down low inside the GMC vs. the tundra where you get higher visibility which might also lead you to the better visibility in tundra vs. GMC/Chevy trucks.

    Yes, you are correct, the 1/2 ton GMC/Chevy squat down in their suspension much more so than the tundra, thus the better ride quality. The quietness of GMC/Chevy is eery as well go ride a GMC/Chevy and then a tundra. BIG difference in noise overall. I don’t mind the toughness sound of the roar of the tundra, but the GMC/Chevy is more cadillac style for sure.

    Yes, brakes are by far superior in tundra over GM products for sure. Engine braking is better in tundra as well for sure.

    Question: does the 6.2L really get BETTER mpg on the hwy. over the 5.7L tundra??? It claims it does, but not so sure in real world driving.

    gotta admit, the 6.2L GM engine is no slouch and if they made it in more of a base GMC/Chevy truck without having to get top of the line packages, I’d be more inclined to buy it.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      You are correct that the entry/exit is different in the GMC vs. the Tundra. The seats didn’t really bug me, but they could play a role in my dislike for the driver visibility.

      I didn’t have a large sample for fuel economy tracking – 300 miles or so. I can tell you by the trip computer, I was getting better mileage than the Tundra. Understandably, that doesn’t mean much with the small sample and people’s criticisms of trip computers. However, I don’t tend to argue with it. It really is the only thing I can go off of.


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