Ask TFLtruck: Can I Take My GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Off-Road on 22s?

2016 gmc sierra denali ultimate
GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

Which truck to buy? Should it be a 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali or a 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel? This may sound like an odd choice at first, but Darin explains in the following way.

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I recently retired and needed to purchase a vehicle as for the past 20 years I’ve had a company vehicle. I was going with the 2018 Ram Rebel, but then FCA had to announce the 2019’s would be out by the end of 1st quarter this year. After watching your test of the 2019 Rebel I was hooked. I wanted one. Then they were delayed and delayed and delayed…. I needed to purchase something and was told to try out the GMC Denali. I was told once you drive the Denali nothing else matters. I took one for a test drive and was impressed. Of course, the test drive was on San Diego, Ca. streets and freeways. I love the style and upgrades made to the 2019 Rebel but FCA just took to long with no availability in sight, I had to purchase. I didn’t want to get the ’18 Rebel and then hate it when the ’19s were finally released. My dad is a retired GM design engineer and I have a very close friend that works for FCA. I have the option of discounts with both.  Since there was no info on when the 19 Rebels would be available and needing transportation I purchased a 2018 GMC 1500 Sierra Denali 4×4. One concern I had and have with the Denali is once a year I go to Bishop, CA. for a week of trout fishing. Although we don’t go serious off roading I’m worried about the 22” rims and lack of tire while going on the mountain roads, trails etc. Now this is a once a year for a week trip and I would be off roading sparingly the rest of the year if at all. I like the idea of having the ability if I need it (you never know). I’m going back and forth and really think the Denali is too luxurious for me. I clean it every morning because the chrome needs to be shiny 🙂 I have enough equity in the Denali for at least a pay off if not some extra $$. Fortunately I worked over 30 years and have a good retirement where I have some extra $ for a decent down payment on the 2019 Rebel.

My question is and I’m asking for your experience and expertise: Is the Denali more than capable of handling off-road if I need it?

Can I buy 18” rims and get some better tires or would I mess up the suspension?   (no lift kits or anything like that) most likely something like the Rebel has stock.

Yes, I know I should have looked closer at the All-Terrain GMC but I was told I couldn’t get the 6.2 motor and was told it was too late to order 2018’s as the new 19’s would be coming etc.

Thank you for the question. Yes, we have taken the Denali and other luxury truck on light off-road trails. 22-inch rims and low profile tires are not meant for off-roading. It can be done, but it’s very easy to scratch the rim or squish and rip the sidewall of the tire.  Also, there is not enough tire sidewall to cushion the ride over rough terrain. A set of 18-inch or 17-inch rims with some nice all-terrain tires would make for a softer ride on and off the pavement. There will be less of a chance to damage the rim or lose a tire.