Better a million miles

We were right. So were the customers. Basically anyone who took a look at the interior of the current GMC Sierra / Chevrolet Silverado generation and immediately went “not good enough.” Possibly followed by “not even close” and / or laughter. The Silverado cabin was particularly cool in the state-of-the-art Sierra Denali, which struck some symbolic pieces of “wood” on the doors and sides of the center console and called it a day. It did not even get Silverado High Country’s bronze-colored trim around the touch screen. Absolutely nothing if it said, “I’m competitive with almost any Ram 1500 or, to a lesser extent, a Ford F-150 King Ranch or Platinum.”

That changes with the 2022 GMC Sierra.

Do I really need to explain why “After” (top) is so much better than “Before” (above)? I do not. The better question is: is it better or at least as good as the Ram and F-150 now? yes!

And! GMC actually raised the game further for 2022 by adding a level beyond Denali: Denali Ultimate. Although both Denalis share a common design with each other and the new Sierra AT4X, that design is different from what you find in other Sierras and each redesigned Silverado. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time Silverado and Sierra have had such significantly different interiors. It is true that they are still very similar, but with GMC / Chevy standards it can just as easily be night and day.

You can see the difference below: Denali Ultimate left, Silverado High Country right.

Is one design better than another? I do not think so, but they are really different, which is good.

BUT! Remember, this is the new Denali Final we’re talking about here. This means that it goes beyond the usual Denali.

First of all, this “Alpine Umber” color with “Forge perforated leather chairs” is only available on Denali Ultimate and the only color available for Denali Ultimate. It has a bit of a King Ranchy / Long Horny feel without going that far into cowboyland. I like it. The regular Denali offers Jet Black or “Atmosphere / Brownstone” (brown shades).

This leather then has white edges and super cool baseball-like contrast stitching. I would like to repeat at this point that Sierra Denali’s previous idea for a luxurious aesthetic upgrade was strips of wood-like plastic. What are the words I am looking for? Yes exactly. “Effort.”

But wait, there’s more!

Wherever you look, Denali Ultimate has this topographic pattern embossed in leather or, always so cool, engraved in real wood. It is united by the coordinates of Mount Denali.

It can be seen in the door trim, the map pockets, all the outer seat backs and the small rubber washer in the middle of the center console’s armrests that GM really seems to love. While this can be considered going overboard, it is actually quite subtle, especially when you consider how extensive the interior is. Also how borderline tacky some of those cowboy-like competitor interiors can be.

I like it.

There are also some awesome looking Bose speaker grilles in metal.

There has been a serious improvement of the meter. Above left is the current generation Sierra Denali as it originally looked. It had that big color screen in the middle sandwiched between some terribly simple gauges. The new instrument panel is completely digital. Not only does it look better, but it also means that the Sierra can be further visually different from the Silverado (instead of the original Sierra’s octagonal surroundings, the Silverados were round).

Sierra Denali Ultimate IP is above left, Silverado High Country is above right.

Please note, however, that this is only one of Sierra’s available designs.

The photo side by side with Silverado would be the “classic” view. You can then see the subtle variations for each layout: Classic, Progressive, Digital and Clean. “Layout” would be the functional word because the overall look and design are consistent.

Move to other screens. Everyone except the Sierra base gets this 13.4-inch width-oriented touch screen that runs from Android Automotive OS. The Sierra base gets last year’s completely acceptable 8-inch touch screen with GM’s completely acceptable Olympics, but will also be wrapped in last year’s not entirely acceptable instrument panel design.

I’m not sure Android Automotive is better than any other infotainment system, but it’s easy enough to find, looks good, and is definitely competitive with Ram and Ford’s major interfaces. It should also be said that all three trucks run with different jumbo screen layouts: GM is widescreen, Ram is portrait and Ford is big-old box. I do not see how the latter is superior, but there are arguments to be made for both widescreen and portrait.

I would also like to note that the radio interface is completely normal and easy to use, unlike some other modern technical interfaces (BMW and VW).

Here is Sierra’s navigation system. Yep, that’s Google Maps. This means that it is smarter than the typical navigation system and comes with a voice-activated search function that is miles better than the standard built-in navigation. The problem is when you do not have cell data available, which is a completely normal phenomenon here in the Pacific Northwest – especially in the places where people drive trucks. To be able to enter an address without cell data, you must have the foresight to load map data in advance. It may not be a big deal, but it’s not something you need to do with a typical built-in navigation system.

There is also a head-up display. It is big and nice. This is one of the layouts. Move on.

Look mom! No column changer! That’s right, Sierra and Silverado get this monostable shift design for 2022. Press the button on the side and push forward for backward, pull back for driving. Press the upper Park button. This type of shift design has been around in various vehicles for more than a decade now, but will be completely foreign to an older GM truck buyer.

The new shift control deprives some storage, but the old console was not directly smartly organized (especially compared to the Ram and F-150). The new front container is good for storing anything, I thought the middle one was perfect for sunglasses, and I’m a big fan of GM’s sloping wireless chargers that use the space so much better than a flat pad. Note that Silverado’s track brake control is on the dashboard (roughly where the Sierra Denali start / stop button is) and therefore gets an extra superficial container of dubious use. Do not think you would miss it.

The dashboard may no longer be dull, blobby and generally ugly, but it is still just as functional with these dual glove compartments. Stylish and sensible! Who would have thought that was possible?!?

Sierra still has these hidden rear seat containers. If there are any existing GM truck owners with these, please let me know if you have ever used them. And, more importantly, if they are actually useful.

We go to bed. No, the bed. I will have a separate post that goes into GM’s MultiPro tailgate further, but for now I think it’s an exceptional feature. Better than Ford’s “man step” and Ram’s weird multifunction split tailgate (which I think I’ve only seen once in the wild). It makes a big difference when you push things down in bed or pull them out, or when you need to climb up and down in bed.

This Sierra Denali Ultimate also had the available Kicker sound system embedded in the step. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to try it.

And finally, here’s another special feature of the Denali: the Carbon Pro composite bed. It looks like the line on a BMW i3 and it is definitely different from the usual selection of Rhino lining, plastic or bar-ass metal. I did not test its durability beyond placing 18 bags of compost inside.

And once again for GMC to be thoroughly applauded for not only coming up with a quick fix for their wildly overwhelming truck interior, but also making it such an excellent fix.

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