GMC Denali takes deadly design to new heights

Treehugger has been complaining about the design of pickup trucks for years. We have noted research that shows they are “disproportionately likely to kill.” As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted, it’s mostly because of that large, flat front end display panel.

“The high risk of injury associated with LTV [Light Truck Vehicles] seems to come from their higher leading edge, which tends to cause more injuries to the middle and upper body (including chest and abdomen) than cars, which tend to cause limb injuries instead lower. ”

So when the 2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate has been announced, I had to get up and be careful – although being small, even standing, I probably can’t see over the hood. This $ 80,000 work pickup is described as “the most advanced and luxurious Denali model ever, as well as the most advanced and luxurious pickup in its class.” I was particularly pissed off by his inner distractions:


The new larger 13.4-inch diagonal color touchscreen is complemented by a new configurable 12.3-inch diagonal digital instrument panel and 15-inch diagonal multi-color head-up display, offered on AT4, AT4x, Denali and Denali Ultimate, to provide over 40-inch diagonal digital signage, the most available in its class.

Of course, I posted this on Twitter, and the response was amazing: there were more comments and retweets than I ever had, with some very interesting responses. It seems that I am not the only one who does not like and even fear these trucks.


First of all, as architecture critic Alex Bozikovic notes, some people need vans and use them for real jobs.

But others point out that the bed is too high to comfortably lift things, and the bed isn’t really that big or very useful.


GMC is careful to include a photo of a truck with stuff in it, but really, is anyone going to leave it all loose in a truck?

Many have also noted that a lockable vehicle like a Ford Transit or Sprinter van makes a lot more construction sense than a vehicle like this, but they don’t have the spectacularly tall front end.

The reason Ford Transit have a low front end is to comply with European car safety standards, which are designed so that when a person is hit they roll over the hood and there is no not enough room to fit under the bumper. This Twitter user may have a point on the usefulness of this design:

A lot of people buy these big vehicles because they believe that by being taller they can see further and they wrap themselves in more steel and are safer. It’s actually true: the death rate of people inside vehicles continually decreases as they get fat. But for everyone outside, pedestrians or cyclists or people in small cars, the reverse is true.

Another tweet highlighted the incredibly spooky video.


In fact, you see them clapping their hands as they pass a very long timber truck at high speed, is that safe? Is it real?

I’m not the only one wondering if this kind of design should be legal.

This Twitter user suggested that there is something Americans can actually do, and that is complain and get the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to do something about truck design.

Another suggested that maybe there should be a business license required, demonstrating that the driver has the skills to drive such a big and powerful vehicle.

There are people who must be able to tow 10,000 pounds in the snow capped mountains of Colorado, as I hear every time I complain about pickup trucks. But these are all over the cities now; there are three or four in my neighborhood.

And of course, we didn’t even mention the climate crisis, the 40 tons of carbon emitted during the construction of the vehicle and the fuel needed to run that giant 420 horsepower V8 engine that gets 14 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway. It is certainly time for some regulation.

This is exactly what is happening. The size of vehicles matters for all kinds of reasons: the space they take up, the speed at which they kill and maim, the carbon incorporated into their construction, none of that changes with electrification.

Giant vans are inherently dangerous in nature. They shouldn’t be on the road.

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