GMC Sierra Denali: Comfortable and capable

CHATHAM, Mass. – The first pull of the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Limited Denali’s door handle results in the running board – or GMC MultiPro Power Steps as the company calls it – popping out, allowing for smooth and easy entry into the extremely well-appointed interior.

We’re welcomed back into the world of today’s full-size pickup trucks, one that competes at every level with the best cars and sport utility vehicles in terms of fit and finish, comfort, convenience, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and technology, not to mention passenger comfort, both while driving and just sitting in the supportive, 10-way electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats (driver has memory for seat and exterior mirror settings).

The Limited Denali model designation means this truck sits near the top of the Sierra lineup, and thanks to a long list of both standard and optional features, it proves quite competitive with others in this market segment.

Solid quarter tone foundation

The Sierra and its sibling the Chevrolet Silverado (combined) were the best-selling vehicles in the United States in 2021 with a total of 768,698 trucks sold (of which 248,924 were Sierra versions), a sales position they often hold.

The design follows the basic pickup formula – body on frame, independent front suspension, solid rear axle with leaf-sprung rear suspension – but thanks to years of refinement and engineering, it now produces a quiet, comfortable ride.

The Denali features adaptive suspension control of the independent coil-over shock with twin-tube shock setup in the front and the solid axle with semi-elliptic, two-stage multi-leaf springs, staggered twin-tube shocks in the rear.

Last year’s extensive trailer traction control components carry over to the 2022, easing the often jaw-dropping process of maneuvering a trailer hitched to the rear.

Braking system components include four-wheel discs with electro-hydraulic servo assist, anti-lock (ABS) and vented rotors at all four corners (13×1.118 inches front, 13.6×0.79 rear).

The Sierra we tested had unique 22-inch, high-gloss black wheels (a $2,995 option) shod with P275/50R22 all-season tires.

2020 GMC Sierra Denali

Surprising economy from the big V8

Providing propulsion—and the ability to tow up to a 13,000-pound trailer—is the (optional) 6.2-liter, dual-overhead-cam, aluminum V8 that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

This power goes through a 10-speed automatic transmission and AutoTrac automatic transmission with four-wheel drive (4WD).

This powertrain produced power when asked for and responded instantly to my right foot. It also delivered surprising fuel economy results — 18.4 miles per gallon over hundreds of miles of mixed driving — above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s overall rating of 16 mpg (14 city, 19 highway).

Denali adds driver assistance systems

All Sierra Limited models come with a comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): front and rear park assist; lane change warning with side blind spot warning; rear cross-traffic alert and seat safety alert that add a haptic vibration to audible and visual alerts should either of these systems be activated.

The list of ADAS grows significantly with the addition of (included in our tester) the Denali Reserve Package. These additional features are Forward Collision Warning; lane keeping assist with lane departure warning; automatic emergency braking (AEB); braking for pedestrians; Intellibeam — auto high beams; adaptive cruise control and following distance monitor.

All of these ADAS systems make piloting the full-size Sierra a much more relaxing, natural activity for those (like me) who don’t regularly drive such trucks, as well as those who have for years. And GMC has done a great job of integrating them into the truck’s DNA.

Technology and optional packages enhance the Sierra’s liveliness

The Denali Reserve Package provides more than ADAS enhancements. The aforementioned power steps – running boards – are part of the package as is the power moonroof; HD Surround Vision with two trailer cameras and a superb multi-colour head up display (which works perfectly even when the driver is wearing sunglasses – not a common feature of HUDs!).

I’ve already discussed some of the basic interior features that provide a comfortable environment for trips of any length. In addition, an automatic climate control system with two zones; eight-inch touchscreen-centric color infotainment system with wireless (!) Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and SiriusXM satellite radio and Bose Premium Sound System; WiFi hotspot; multiple USB and 110-volt outlets; remote start; keyless door unlocking and vehicle start, and – for the driver – heated leather-wrapped steering wheel all make living with and in the Sierra a very pleasant experience.

Using the (optional) Denali Carbon Pro Edition carbon composite pickup bed with built-in 110V outlet and MultiPro Audio System from Kicker (Tailgate-mounted Bluetooth amplification/speaker system) is made easier thanks to GMC’s six-function MultiPro tailgate (which made it easy to access a staircase to the short bed of the test vehicle).

2022 GMC Sierra AT4X

Fixed full-size pickup value

The 2022 GMC Sierra lineup offers a comprehensive selection of full-size pickup trucks for the more discerning buyer, the buyer who might want a little more than a simple truck. The regular-cab two-door rear-wheel-drive configuration starts at $34,995, and the top-of-the-line crew cab standard box starts at $44,295.

I use the term “starter” when describing the Sierra model’s pricing because, as is true for most full-size pickups, the ability to modify configurations with different powertrains, bed sizes; cab sizes and two- or four-wheel drive make it difficult to choose price ranges. Suffice it to say, the buyer can build whatever truck they want from whatever brand they like.

In the case of the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Limited Denali I drove, the base price was $59,600. There were significant options (like the Denali Reserve Package, 6.2L engine, wheels, and Carbon Pro Edition) that pushed the price to $71,530. Add the $1,695 destination charge and the MSRP came to $72,725.

This isn’t an insignificant figure, but one right in the ballpark of the other full-size pickups equipped like the Sierra, meaning it offers solid value for a solid full-size pickup.

Next week TBR drives the Ford Bronco.

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