Following Chevrolet's reveal of its new 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup at the Chicago Auto Show, GMC used this week's National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show in St. Louis to roll out its variation on the Heavy Duty pickup theme. In addition to filling in some major blanks on powertrain output that will ensure General Motors of bragging rights in that particular arena, the "Professional Grade" division introduced its 2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD. This is the first time GMC will offer one of its Heavy Duty pickups in a premium Denali configuration. Like the rest of the new Sierra lineup, it's due in GMC dealers this summer.

Built exclusively on a four-wheel drive, Crew Cab, standard-bed version of the Sierra 2500 HD chassis, the 2011 Sierra Denali HD gets its own chrome-enriched trim bits as well a body-color bumpers to match its Black, Stealth Gray or White exterior. Inside, it maintains well-established Denali precedent, and boasts numerous upgrades including a Bose Surround Sound audio system, 12-way power front buckets, power-adjustable pedals and bespoke brushed-aluminum accents plus an impressive list of options.

Beyond offering a first look at the 2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD, the NTEA reveal confirmed GM's earlier boast that its Heavy Duty pickups would have segment-leading engine output. Although backed by an even-more-robust version of the Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission, the 6.0-liter Vortec V8 in the base versions of these well-mannered workhorses carries over its 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque ratings. The real underhood news is provided by the latest incarnation of GM's extensively improved Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel. Motivator favored by most Sierra and Silverado HD pickup buyers, the new Duramax 6.6 makes a class-best 397 horses -- up from 365 in 2010 -- and a pavement-churning 765 lb.-ft. of peak torque, a bump of 105 twist units over last year.

Now mated to an uprated version of the Allison 1000 six-speed autoshifter, the Duramax option gives certain Sierra/Silverado HD models the ability to haul up to a 20,000-pound fifth wheel trailer when properly equipped. And the new Duramax turbodiesel delivers up to 11-percent greater highway fuel economy, 63-percent lower NOx emissions and has both B5 and B20 biodiesel capability. The Duramax's output figures give The General's brawniest pickups a nominal advantage over the 390/735 relative stats of the new 6.2-liter Power Stroke Turbo-Diesel V8 in their perennial archrival, Ford's F-Series Super Duty. However, the Blue Oval's maximum road warrior does have its own strengths. The new Power-Stroke also is far cleaner and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor and has it has sufficient absolute muscle to let the most capable Super Duty pull up to a 21,600-pound fifth-wheel rig. All things considered, 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for anyone in the Heavy Duty pickup market.

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