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Lifted 2017 GMC Denali 2500 HD Review – 7 inch Cognito lift kit with 35’s on 22×12’s

Lift, Wheels, Tires And Why I Chose Them:

So I’ll just keep this short and sweet as the video says it all really. I decided on a 7-9 inch Cognito lift with it set at 6 1/2 – 7 inches so the a arms are parallel for the best ride quality. For rims and tires I went with Nitto trail grapplers 325/50/22’s on American Force Rebel SS 8’s that are 22×12 with a -44 offset. The Cognito lift kit set at it’s lowest setting does make the front tires stick out further than other lifts. If you were to crank this up to 9″ it would pull them back in but then your ride quality would suffer. I personally like them sticking out a little.

Ride Quality: My Cognito Lift Kit Review…

As for the ride quality, I will add another video here as well that will go over that in more detail, but I would say that it is better than stock. You might ask, “how is that possible?”. Well, first off, the stock tires are run at a very high air pressure and designed for heavy loads. These tires have more surface area and create a little more of a pillow effect. Other than that, the only other difference is the shocks. These Fox 2.0’s are amazing. The truck came stock with some sort of Rancho shocks (I am not a fan), so these were an upgrade as well. Outside of that, the suspension is basically the same, just taller. I did not add bigger springs in the back as I didn’t want it to be any stiffer and the front is basically the same. Because I used blocks in the back I felt it necessary to do traction bars which really keep everything together nicely.

I drove this to Seattle and was very pleased with how well it rode and drove. The tires track just a touch more than stock as they are wider, but still easy to control. The ride really made me smile as it was comfortable and that was my biggest concern with lifting the truck to begin with. I have had many lifted trucks in the past and they tend to ride like a tank when you lift them. Not this one! I couldn’t be happier, seriously.


Your truck will get dirty with this setup. I drove through a brief rain and the tires were like sprinklers all down the side of the truck. If you are scared of scratches and getting your truck dirty, I wouldn’t go 12 wides.

Other downside is that I wanted to also do AMP research steps but could not as they don’t have them that fit properly on the 2017 Denali 2500 yet. That stupid ass DEF tank is in the way and you would seriously have to cut the steps and tank to make them fit (I have seen it done and it is ugly!) So I am stuck with stock steps until I do an exhaust delete or AMP comes out with a fix.

Continued Upgrades:

After driving on the lift for 25,000 miles the steering started to get a little loose. This is what happens with lifted trucks, it’s just part of the deal. At first I felt a vibration in the front right and I thought it was a tire balance issue. As many times as I balanced the tire, or even rotated tires, the vibration was still there. Now I have been a mechanic in years past, but I have never gotten a vibration like this one from steering components but I knew they were all a little loose, so I went ahead and upgraded the entire steering system with all Kryptonite parts.

A list of the parts I upgraded include:

Now I also had Pure Addiction Diesel install these as well.

After I had the new steering parts installed, I drove like a dream again and the vibration was gone.

Final Thoughts:

I couldn’t be happier, not much else to say. The look is exactly what I was after. It’s not too tall but still has a great look that is usable on a daily basis for a daily driver. This truck gets a LOT of looks, just saying. Because I only went slightly up in tire size, there was no need to re-gear the truck which saves a lot of money. I do have mud flaps on order so I don’t get harassed.