Have you ever wondered what would happen if you went through and just checked all the boxes? Well, when it comes to GMC’s 2022 Sierra 1500 pickup, this is it. The new Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is the best of the best. With a starting price of $ 82,795, this truck has only two major factory options to choose from: engine – either 6.2-liter V-8 or 3.0-liter Duramax I-6 diesel – and color. That’s all. Everything else is standard.
Unique exterior design elements
When you approach the truck, the most immediate way to know that you are dealing with a 2022 Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is the unique grille clad in dark Vader-chrome accents. While most of the 2022 Sierra range will benefit from an updated grille and fascia, these dark chrome details will only be found on the Denali Ultimate. The truck’s side mark will also bear the name Denali Ultimate, and has a topographic map element over Mt. Denali. These trucks will have unique 22-inch low-gloss black aluminum rims with machined accents.
Standard on the Denali Ultimate is GMC’s CarbonPro carbon fiber composite bed and the Kicker sound system embedded in the MultiPro tailgate. Overall, we are quite impressed with the exterior styling of the Denali Ultimate, and love how all the parts work well and complement each other. We especially love the combination when paired with GMC’s Onyx Black or Titanium Rush paints, although we are not usually fans of dark trucks.
The ultimate Denali interior
This is the interior that GMC would have had, ever since the new Sierra body style was introduced for 2019. The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate has a single interior style. The Alpine Umber interior has full-grain leather seating areas with 16-way adjustment and massaging front seats. Authentic Paldao wood details with open pores and leather accents are found throughout the new interior, along with topographic map patterns and the GPS coordinates of Mt. Denali. The truck has more than 40 inches of combined digital displays, which include a 15-inch head-up display, 12.3-inch driver’s instrument and 13.4-inch infotainment screen. Denali Ultimate is also equipped with a Bose Premium Series sound system with 12 speakers with Centerpoint surround sound, among other things.
Although our time in Denali Ultimate was short, we were thoroughly impressed. The truck is as quiet as it is comfortable, with the new massage chairs that really steal the show. Although we have not usually been overwhelmed by Bose’s sound system before, the new Premium Series system with 12 speakers in Denali Ultimate sounded fantastic at all volume levels and really impressed us. We also appreciated the new console-mounted transmission and, above all, the placement of the cordless phone’s charging pad.
We really only have two relatively small quarrels when it comes to the interior, both of which depend on personal preferences. The first is about the number of interior colors. GM in general has had an ability to combine many different color tones in its interiors. This Alpine Umber interior matches brown leather with dark brown wood, piano black, stainless steel and two different contrasting colors. Although it’s a bit much to our eyes, it really is not as bad as previous generations. Our second question is about the use of Google maps and the company’s operating system for infotainment. Because we are so deep in Apple’s ecosystem, the transition to Google is not something that can happen easily in a couple of hours. Usually we can ignore this. But trying to use Apple CarPlay proved to be challenging, as Google’s operating system did not seem to play well. Again, these are minor and personal complaints – your mileage may vary.
Super cruise coming to the Sierra
While we’re still getting used to the idea of the Super Cruise, we can really appreciate that it’s standard on the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate. Super Cruise is available on the 2022 Sierra 1500 Denali, but it’s lumped in with the $ 6,500 Denali Reserve Super Cruise Package; then you might as well choose Denali Ultimate.
Driving with Super Cruise is an easy task. Once you are on one of the Super-Cruise-enabled roads (there are currently 200,000 miles of them, and more are coming) and see the steering wheel icon displayed on the Driver Information Screen, a quick press of the steering wheel-mounted button activates the system. When the LED lights on the steering wheel turn green, you are free to take your hands off the steering wheel and let the truck drive. Of course, as with any level 3 autonomous drive system, you still need to be mindful of the road and be ready to take over at any time. The system uses a steering wheel-mounted camera to track eye and head movements to ensure that the driver is alert.
Although we have been able to try the latest generation of GM’s Super Cruise on a closed track, it was the first time we used it on the open road. Since we have been fans of the previous generation of Super Cruise for a while, it did not take long to win. Once we got into the traffic flow on California’s bustling I-5, we activated Super Cruise and let Sierra take over. This new generation of Super Cruise has the ability for the vehicle to not only change lanes on demand, but also do so automatically to overtake slower traffic. We are pleased to report that the system worked as intended. As we sat in the driver’s seat, with our hands in our laps, the truck made it easy to maintain our desired speed, passing slower traffic before returning to our chosen lane, sometimes even completing two lane changes to complete the task.
If you are not used to this type of hands-free driving, it will take some time to get used to using Super Cruise. But once you do, there is no going back. We just wish there were more ways available to use the feature.
Towing With Super Cruise
Another new feature of the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate and its new version of the Super Cruise is the ability to tow while driving hands-free. This one will take us a little more time to adjust to. We tow thousands of miles every year and can fully see the benefit of Super Cruise on straight, empty roads in the middle of nowhere. Towing in heavy traffic is, however, a completely different beast. GMC provided us with a new Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate coupled to a large trailer and said we would have fun on the same narrow I-5 highway we had just driven unloaded. Once on the highway and getting into traffic, we activated the Super Cruise. In its defense, the system worked as advertised. But what the system does not take into account are semi-trucks and trailers that like to hug the line or even crawl over. We found that Super Cruise did an OK job of staying centered in a lane (if not a touch to the left lane line). However, it does not adapt to vehicles that crawl a little too close for comfort. Although we were never in any particular danger, the distance between trailers often made for a more nerve-wracking experience than if we had had control of the steering.
Aside from our discomfort with how close other vehicles would get to the trailer, we found that the Super Cruise did a good job of leaving enough space to properly stop the truck and trailer when traffic slowed down, even suddenly, and it would accelerate with the right speed when the traffic started moving again as well. With a trailer on a trailer, the system can no longer make lane changes on its own due to the rear sensors being blocked. To change lanes, the driver can take control of the steering wheel (indicator lights change from green to blue) and complete the operation as needed. When ready, the driver can release the steering wheel again when the indicator lights return to green. There is no need to deactivate the system to change file even though it cannot do so for you.
We still have a hard time believing that car manufacturers have not yet found the roof on the market for light pickups, but if that means we get trucks like the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate, we’re OK with that. Denali Ultimate is stylish on the outside, stylish on the inside, offers lots of power and drives fantastically. This truck is truly the ultimate Sierra.
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