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 especially cool in the top-of-the-line Sierra Denali, which slapped a few token pieces of “wood” on the doors and center console sides and called it a day. It didn’t even get the Silverado High Country’s bronze trim around the touchscreen. Absolutely nothing if it said, “I’m competitive with just about 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 even further for 2022 by adding a level beyond the Denali: the Denali Ultimate. While both Denalis share a common design with each other and the all-new Sierra AT4X, that design is different from what you’ll find in other Sierras and every redesigned Silverado. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time the Silverado and Sierra have had such significantly different interiors. True, they are still very similar, but by GMC/Chevy standards, it might as well be night and day.
You can see the difference below: Denali Ultimate left, Silverado High Country right.
Is one design better than another? I don’t think so, but they really are different, which is good.
BUT! Remember, this is the new Denali Final we’re talking about here. That means it goes above and beyond the regular Denali.
First, this “Alpine Umber” color with “Forge Perforated Leather Seats” is only available on the Denali Ultimate and the only color available for Denali Ultimate. It has a bit of a King Ranchy/Long Horny feel to it without going too far into cowboy country. I like it. The standard Denali offers Jet Black or “Atmosphere/Brownstone” (shades of brown).
This leather then features white edging and super cool baseball-like contrast stitching. I’d like to reiterate at this point that the Sierra Denali’s previous idea of a luxury aesthetic upgrade was strips of wood-like plastic. What words am I looking for? Yes exactly. “Effort.”
But wait, there’s more!
Everywhere you look, the Denali Ultimate has this topographic pattern embossed into the leather or, ever so cool, engraved into the real wood trim. It is joined by the coordinates of Mount Denali.
It shows in the door trim, the map pockets, all the outer seatbacks and the little rubber washer in the center of the center console armrest that GM sure seems to love. While this might be considered going overboard, it’s actually quite subtle, especially when you consider how extensive the interior is. Also how borderline tacky some of those cowboyish competitor interiors can be.
I like it.
There are also some really nice metal Bose speaker grilles.
There has been a serious improvement to the meter. Above left is the current generation Sierra Denali as it originally appeared. It had the big color screen in the middle sandwiched between some terribly simple, parts-bitten gauges. The new instrument panel is completely digital. Not only does it look better, but it also means the Sierra can further distinguish itself visually from the Silverado (instead of the original Sierra’s octagonal surrounds, the Silverado’s were round).
Sierra Denali Ultimate IP is above left, Silverado High Country is above right.
Note, however, that it’s only one of Sierra’s available designs.
The side by side photo with the 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 operative word as the general look and design is consistent.
Move to other screens. All but the base Sierra get this 13.4-inch width-oriented touchscreen running Android Automotive OS. The base Sierra gets last year’s perfectly acceptable 8-inch touchscreen with GM’s perfectly acceptable OS, but also comes wrapped in last year’s not-quite-acceptable dash design.
I’m not sure Android Automotive is better than any number of other infotainment systems out there, but it’s easy enough to figure out, looks good, and is definitely competitive with Ram and Ford’s big 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 can’t 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 newfangled technical interfaces (BMW and VW).
Here is Sierra’s navigation system. Yep, it’s Google Maps. That means it’s smarter than the standard navigation system and comes with a voice-activated search function that’s miles better than the standard built-in navigation. The problem is when you don’t have cellular data available, which is a completely normal occurrence here in the Pacific Northwest – especially in the places where people drive trucks. In order to enter an address without cell data, you must have the foresight to load the map data in advance. It might 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 shifter! That’s right, the Sierra and Silverado get this monostable shifter design for 2022. Push the button on the side and push forward for reverse, pull back for drive. Press the top button for Park. This type of shifter design has been around in various vehicles for more than a decade now, but will be completely foreign stuff to an older GM truck buyer.
The new shifter robs some storage, but the old console wasn’t exactly smartly organized (especially compared to the Ram and F-150). The new front bin is great for storing anything, I found the middle one perfect for sunglasses, and I’m a big fan of GM’s tilting wireless charger which utilizes the space so much better than a flat pad. Note that the Silverado’s track brake control is on the dash (about where the Sierra Denali’s start/stop button is) and thus gets an extra shallow container of questionable use. Don’t think you’d miss it.
The dashboard may no longer be drab, blobby and generally ugly, but it’s still just as functional with those twin glove boxes. Nice and sensible! Who would have thought that was possible?!?
The Sierra still has those hidden rear seat pans. 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. Well, the bed. I’ll 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 multi-function split tailgate (which I think I’ve only seen once in the wild). It makes a huge difference when pushing things into the bed or pulling them out, or when you need to climb up and down the bed.
This Sierra Denali Ultimate also had the available Kicker sound system embedded in the step. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to test it.
And finally, here’s another Denali special feature: the Carbon Pro composite bed. It looks like the dash of a BMW i3 and it’s definitely different from the usual choice of Rhino liner, plastic or bare-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 underwhelming truck interior, but making it such an excellent fix.
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