The verdict: GMC fixed the one major area where the previous Sierra 1500 fell short (the interior), making the new 2022 model an unapologetic, fully competitive high-end full-size pickup with some expensive upscale touches.
Against the competition: The new Sierra 1500 is more luxurious than its Chevrolet siblings and rivals the Ford F-150, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra, but the Ram 1500 still gives it a run for its money.
When GM redesigned its full-size pickups for the 2019 model year, we were big fans of most of the changes it made: Styling was wild, capability was improved, and powertrains and chassis dynamics were top-notch. However, the interior was no better than the plastic fantastic cabins they replaced. GM spent its money on everything but the interior and got a leg up on Ram and Ford on cabin quality and refinement.
Related: 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate, AT4X: Close
Now, with the 2022 versions of GM’s big trucks, the problem has been solved for good. All-new interiors have arrived for the Chevy Silverado 1500 (see our review) and the truck under discussion here, the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500. Along with the Sierra’s new digs comes some new tech, some new trim, and some decidedly hit and miss. After spending time behind the wheel of a new ’22 Sierra, we came away mostly impressed, but also a little apprehensive.
Keeping family ties
The one area that GMC really didn’t need to touch (but did anyway) was the Sierra’s exterior styling, but we’re not mad about it. After its last major redesign, the Sierra emerged as a more formal, more traditional model next to the Silverado’s wilder looks. Both have their appeal. For 2022, the Sierra gets some mild updates to the front and rear, with new grilles, new headlights, new LED daytime running lights and new bumpers. The distance between the ends remains the same, but there are some new wheel designs depending on the trim level.
The model I tested was a new-for-2022 AT4X, which is a more luxurious upgrade to the still-available off-road variant AT4. GMC bills the AT4X as a balanced approach to a premium off-road pickup truck, delivering advanced off-road technology and capability without sacrificing on-road performance, towing capacity, payload or interior luxury.
From the outside, the AT4X doesn’t look much different from the regular AT4, though it does get new 18-inch black wheels with Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac mud tires. It also sits higher thanks to its off-road suspension and has various blacked-out trim pieces, including the grille and mirrors. It also has some odd choices for an off-road pickup, like low-mounted LED fog lights and outboards in the bumper – where they’re likely to get damaged on a trail. It makes you wonder how serious an off-road pickup this is given this style choice. The Chevrolet equivalent, the new Silverado 1500 ZR2, also has LED fog lights in its bumper, but the bumper itself is taller, has cutouts for the front wheels, and places its lights more inboard and away from the corners. The difference suggests that the extremely expensive Sierra AT4X is about more watching off-road capable than actually being in such surroundings.
Still, it has off-road equipment
The AT4X is equipped with all the goodies you need to go off-road quite successfully, starting with the suspension. It uses a split version of Multimatic Dynamic Suspension’s Spool Valve dampers and off-road springs that debuted on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which has since spread to the larger trucks in the lineup. This increases suspension travel compared to the standard AT4’s suspension by 50 millimeters at the front and 25 millimeters at the rear. Unfortunately, my time with the truck didn’t include serious off-roading, but I did manage to find some empty fields and gnarly country dirt two-tracks, and I can confirm that the AT4X’s suspension is pretty good out in the rough. Large washboard surfaces are barely noticeable at speed, and the truck had no problem crawling over mounds and hills. On the street, it provided a compliant, well-damped ride that swallowed Southeast Michigan’s cratered, potholed potholes with ease. (Roads like these may actually be more of a reason to buy an off-road capable truck than a desire to actually go off-road.)
The AT4X drivetrain is also solid. The trim level’s only engine choice is the standard 6.2-liter V-8 paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It makes a very robust 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque—enough to get the big truck moving smartly with just a light jab of the drive pedal. It’s all accompanied by a loud roar that no electric car pickup can match with artificial noise. It pounds around town, can tow a decent trailer (up to 8,900 pounds), and feels very much like a traditional big pickup in terms of capability and positioning.
Further qualifying the powertrain for off-road duties are front and rear electronic limited-slip differentials—a class-exclusive feature, excluding the Silverado 1500 ZR2. The big and most notable difference between the AT4X and other pickups is its tires: Its 18-inch all-terrain tires are knobby and definitely bring more noise into the cabin thanks to their thick tread pattern. They’re also a little dirtier on dry pavement, especially at freeway speeds, but that’s the price you pay for off-road capability you won’t use very often. The new AT4X could easily get into the dirt and do well in such environments, but given the truck’s staggering price tag, one has to wonder how eager its owners will be to lug around their luxury rigs in such places. The AT4X seems built more for captains in very specific industries (such as construction company owners) – drivers more likely to use their abilities on rough terrain, construction sites, logging roads and the like.
Star interior with buggy electronics
Another reason you might not want to take an AT4X off-road is the risk of ruining its truly stunning, luxurious and well-equipped interior. Who wants to get all that leather and wood actually muddy?