When I climbed into the '07 GMC Sierra Denali, I'll admit, I had one thing on my mind-the 6.2L V-8 and the 400 hp that came with it. Okay, so it has 403 hp, but it crossed the 400hp threshold, and that's what I was looking forward to. After a week behind the wheel, and after getting back into our long-term '07 Silverado LTZ loaner, the 6.2L and six-speed 6L80E transmission were what I missed most. Yes, the Silverado's 315hp 5.3L does a good job of moving a Crew Cab truck around-when coupled with the four-speed 4L60E transmission-but the added power and gears from the Sierra made driving the GMC much more enjoyable. The highway-friendly 3.43 rearend was countered by the 6L80E's low 4.02 First gear, to get the Denali up to speed in a hurry, and the close-shifting from Second through Sixth, which ensured the engine would stay at a happy rpm without lugging down between shifts.

The 6.2L Denali consumes considerably more fuel. Our Denali showed less than 400 miles on the odometer when we began driving it, and the combination of its fresh-off-the-lot engine and my eager right foot wreaked havoc on the fuel economy. According to the truck's electronic display, our overall average was less than 15 mpg. This stood below the combined average of the city and highway EPA estimates of 13 and 19 mpg.

Inside of the Denali is a more luxurious version of what you'd find inside of a Silverado LTZ, however, with the same navigation and rear-seat entertainment. As we've come to expect from the GMT900 interiors, everything was well put together. Our only complaint being the rear-seat window switches were not quite flush with the armrests. The switches fitted as they were designed, but rear-seat passengers would often startle themselves by inadvertently opening windows when they bumped the switches. Besides that, the interior was quiet during cruising speeds and acceleration; which was almost disappointing considering how nice the 6.2L V-8 sounded. I expected the ride from the optional 20-inch wheels to be a bit harsh, but it managed to be a great compromise between firm and compliant.

Obviously, the two interpretations of the '07 GMT-900 truck platform have distinguished themselves on the outside more than previous generations have, with the Silverado and Sierra getting different beds and taillights, in addition to the unique front sheetmetal and grilles. The Denali takes the look a bit further, with chrome 20-inch wheels and a bold grille that's perforated with circular holes. The appearance upgrades take the Sierra up market without too much flash, but its subtle differences are enough to garnish extra attention from truck enthusiasts.

Price (as tested)
$47,595 without destination ($41,195 base, $6,400 options)

Engine
6.2L Vortec V-8

Horsepower
403 at 5,700 rpm SAE

Torque (lb-ft)
417 at 4,300 rpm SAE

Transmission
Six-speed automatic

Drivetrain
AWD

Final Drive Ratio
3.42

Suspension
Independent coilover shocks, monotube shock absorbers (front), solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs; splayed shock absorbers, and monotube shocks (rear)

Brakes
13-inch rotors (front), 13.5-inch rotors (rear), 4-wheel ABS, and traction/stability control

Wheelbase
143.5 in

Turning (Curb-to-Curb)
47.2 ft

Curb Weight
5,281 lbs

GVWR
7,000 lbs

Max Trailer Weight
8,500 lbs

Payload
1,719 lbs

Cargo Bed
(length x width between wheelwells)
69.29 in x 50.6 in

Seating
2/3

MPG
13/19 EPA
14.76 as tested

Options:
Audio System with Nav/DVD/CD/MP3 ($2,250)
20-inch chrome aluminum wheels ($1,995)
Rear-Seat Entertainment ($1,295)
Power Sunroof ($685)
Cargo Management System ($175)

Second Look
We asked Brian Stupski, who is reachable at www.problemchildkustoms.com, or (480) 353-1795, to bring out the "Denaliness" of the redesigned GMC pickup in an aftermarket concept that you may want to consider for your own project. Taking the Denali look to the extreme could leave you with a luxury-touring truck that resembles this rendering. By blending the larger Sierra grille opening into the bumper cover and mixing in some Maybach styling cues, Brian upped the ante with his Denali M. Unlike most of our featured renderings, which would require an expert metal craftsman and a don't-look-back attitude, it wouldn't take a chopped top and all-new sheetmetal to build the Denali M. Still, it will take a talented team to turn out a show-stopper like this, but we'd love to see one in the flesh. We dare anyone to try!

We all have heard the saying "bigger is better." Well, let me tell you the '07 Ford Expedition EL (Extended Length), is all about that. The wheelbase has been extended 12 inches, from 119 to 131 inches, increasing the overall length by 14.8 inches. The internal volume was also increased another 24 cubic feet, allowing the occupant population to grow to eight adults.

After having spent almost 4,000 miles driving the Expedition, you might say I became pretty attached to it. I was very impressed with the chiseled styling of the exterior, the V-8 performance, and the SUV's drivability and comfort. I did drive the Expedition on both country and mountain roads, while on a ski/snowboard weekend, and covered thousands of commuter miles. The Expedition was also put through some challenging off-road terrain while attending a desert off-road race outside of Barstow, California. After lowering the tire pressures, the Expedition floated over the sand. It had no problems with the terrain-off-camber, deep crevasses, woops, or even soft sand. The whole Expedition driving experience was a pleasure.

2007 Ford Expedition EL
The 5.4L Triton V-8, with its 300 hp and 365 lb ft of torque, flattened out any mountain road. The Expedition transforms into a serious tug with its trailer-tow class III rating of 9,200 lbs towing capacity, which allows it to tow a trailer full of fun weekend toys. A stout six-speed automatic/manual shift transmission possesses smooth shifting points. Also, a larger 33.5-gallon fuel tank ensures extended miles between stops at the pump. The newly designed independent rear suspension improved both the handling performance and the overall ride quality. A set of 20-inch chrome aluminum six-spoke wheels are wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion P275/55R20 all-weather rubber. The on-the-fly four-wheel drive was a simple transition with just the flip of a switch from 2Wheel to 4Low, 4High, or AdvanceTrac. A four-wheel disc brake ABS system delivers instant balanced stopping. The Expedition is able to climb effortlessly over a variety of rough terrain. The longer wheelbase and factory ground clearance of 8.7-inches limits some of the very difficult terrain, not wanting to get high centered. When backing up, you are warned by a reverse sensor system of close objects.

Loading awkward, heavy items was made much easier by just the push of the button on the key fob remote, which activates the power lift gate. The 60/40 split back-row power folding seats lay flat with just the push of a button, adding more cargo-carrying volume, while the second row of 40/20/40 split seats must be manually maneuvered to lie flat. A complete entertainment center includes a 6.5-inch DVD head unit with color touch screen, voice activation GPS system, available in three languages. There is a powerful 340-watt AM/FM audio system with an MP3 capable in-dash six-disc changer to drown out the kids background harmony. The crystal clear tunes explode from the premium speakers and 10-inch subwoofer. The system is pre-wired with iPod and Sirius radio capabilities. Also, the rear passengers have the pleasure of a DVD entertainment system with an 8-inch monitor, two wireless headphones. All in all, the Expedition EL exceeded my expectations.

This is the third installment of our long-term coverage of the '07 Expedition EL. Total miles driven during this period were 3,734. The overall MPG for this period was 16.

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