So, your buddy's got a Ram Mega Cab, your other buddy has a Ford F-350 dualie, and that other guy that freeloads and drinks all your beer at your football parties and brags about everything he has and does has a lifted H2. They all think they have the prize when it comes to bigness. But, if you're just hell-bent on being the biggest, there's an ace in the hole that'll trump all of them, soundly. Enter the GMC TopKick pickup from Monroe Truck Equipment. This bad mamma-jamma literally and figuratively trounces all of the above in the bigness department. With a stout curb weight of 11,300 pounds, it weighs roughly as much as two Suburbans, easily 3,000 pounds heftier than any of the big dualies from Ford, Dodge, or the regular Chevys or GMCs. The bed payload is 5,000 pounds, more than the towing capacity of most midsize SUVs. At 14,300 pounds, the towing capacity is capable but not earth-shattering.
We know it's a big, beefy, capable truck. But, what's it like to live with? Assuming you have the parking space and the credit line to handle its drinking habit of a single-digit average, about 8 or 9 miles per gallon-if the Duramax isn't thirsty enough for you, you can always get the 8.1L big-block gas engine for even more horrific fuel economy-it's surprisingly easy to drive. Particularly surprising was its turning ability. Not once did we have any trouble making U-turns on city streets. This thing literally turns on a dime. Taking turns that would have a longbed F-350 Crew Cab making a three-point turn, this big hoss just swung around like it was nothing. However, you do need to keep an eye out for the trailing axle. We did nip a few island curbs on the backside when we didn't swing out wide enough.
Naturally, with the commercial-grade Duramax-de-tuned for durability-hauling around more than 10,000 pounds, acceleration isn't exactly heart-stopping. But, neither is it a total embarrassment. It will scoot around town with acceptable verve and even cruise on the freeway without being a total roadblock. However, keep in mind the top speed is governed to 75 mph, presumably to preserve the heavy-duty tires. Not only that, but a few panic stops in this big boy is all that's needed to convince you that keeping the speed down is probably a prudent idea, even with the industrial-strength air brakes. It was a good thing for the high seating position and the seemingly infinite visibility it affords.
Climbing into the cab, you're seated high, with a commanding view of the road. The engine is actually very quiet, shattering any preconceptions you might have about noise, vibration, and harshness of medium-duty diesel commercial vehicles. The dashboard is a mish-mash of the fullsize pickup and van dash components. Since it's well above the weight threshold, there are no airbags, except for the ones you're riding on. In addition to the air-spring suspension, the front seats float on a pneumatic suspension. Depending on your comfort level, you can adjust it from cushy to rock-solid. On the softer setting, you will bounce around considerably, which is either entertaining or annoying, depending on your perspective. Sport Truck staffers showed various preferences, ranging from both extremes.
Our particular tester was equipped with a Pioneer AVIC N-1 Navigation/Head Unit that included an XM receiver. Like many aftermarket head units, the operation was somewhat less than intuitive, and there were numerous small and hard-to-read buttons surrounding it. However, a brief read over the owner's manual for the unit would likely clear up any confusion.
The 300-horse, 520-lb-ft Duramax V-8 provides enough power to get you where you're going,
The dash looks like it was robbed straight out of a GMC Sierra and touched up with faux ca
Our tester came with a Pioneer combo head unit/XM/nav system. While complete, it was a lit
The ample-size back seat offers plenty of space to seat three NFL linebackers, shoulder-to
The extra-long bed is independently suspended on air springs and can be lowered for easier
From The Horse's Mouth
By Galen Armenta
There were so many thoughts racing through my head, as I sat at the top of the ramp that leads down to the huge concrete pad covered by an inch and a half of water and silt. I kept thinking: Don't be stupid, Galen, you just got this job. What is the 13,000-pound truck going to do? And how ballistic would Mike be if the truck breaks? The next thing I knew I was picking up speed, as I got closer to the water, still trying to convince myself not to do it and not break the $80,000 truck. Once out on the skid pad, I found that it was easy to pitch the truck sideways. After a couple minutes of getting the feel of the truck and finishing up my phone call, it was time to start doing pirouettes across the water. I did find that the longer I stayed out there, making lap after lap and drifting the truck, it seemed to get a little harder to pitch sideways, and there was a lot more body roll. All in all, the truck is worth every bit of the price tag.
The Final Word
So, ultimately, is the TopKick pickup worth it? If making a fullsize impression and being able to tow or haul just about anything your heart desires are your top priorities, then this big hoss is worth a serious look. Economical or dainty, it ain't. But, neither is it a totally unmanageable beast. Thanks to its surprisingly easy-to-drive demeanor and relative refinement, it's just as comfortable, if not more so, as any other fullsize pickup. So, if you have the space in your garage or driveway, and a platinum fuel card, then this could be the next big thing for you.
'06 GMC TopKick Pickup
Base price/as tested:
Epa Fuel Economy:
Observed Fuel Economy:
6.6L turbodiesel V-8, 300 hp at 3,000 rpm, 520 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Allison five-speed automatic