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Among sales of the GMC Sierra Heavy-Duty pickups – you know, those hard-core down 'n dirty work trucks – a staggering 45 per cent are sold in premium leather-and-chrome-clad Denali trim.

Moreover, GMC's research shows the vast majority of those lux-trucks do get worked hard, says the brand's sales supremo, Duncan Aldred. The young, lanky Englishman doesn't seem sure himself where this trend is coming from, but "long may it continue," he says.

The Denali sub-brand has done well for GMC since it first appeared on the 1999 Yukon SUV, spreading to the Sierra pickup line in 2014. Fuelled in part by the Denali, the overall premium full-size pickup market has grown 10-fold since 2013, GMC says -- premium being defined as pickups with average transaction prices more than $55,000 … U.S.

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Full-size pickup sales in any form come frosted with a thick layer of profit, and luxury versions heap cherries on top.

Now GMC is expanding the Denali concept upwards – and sideways. Debuting at the LA Auto Show are the new 2016 Denali Ultimate version of the Sierra full-size truck, plus a new Denali grade for the new-last-year Canyon midsize truck.

In the case of the bigger truck, Ultimate means more standard features rather than more cosmetic and décor opulence. These include 22-inch wheels, standard sunroof, Lane Keep Assist, IntelliBeam automatic headlamp control, and Tri-Mode Power Steps that move rearward to serve as a step into the forward section of the cargo bed.

A 5.3L V-8 with eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, a 6.2-litre V-8 optional, with active noise cancelation. The trim grade is available only on Crew Cab 4x4s with 5.7- or 6.5-ft cargo boxes.

The Canyon Denali is about a year away as a 2017 model. With a 3.6-litre V-6 standard and a 2.8-litre diesel four optional, it will come as a crew cab, in two-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations.

Standard-issue Denali features include a unique chrome grille and bright-aluminum 20-inch wheels, chrome assist steps, and standard spray-in bed liner. A Jet Black interior features Mulan leather-appointed seats (heated-and-ventilated up front), unique console trim, plus Denali-logo sill plates and floor mats.

Standard technologies include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Heated steering wheel, IntelliLink with Navigation, an eight-inch touchscreen, phone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, and remote starter.

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The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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