With 2022 Sierra 1500 Denali UltimateGMC is finally bringing a luxury truck to compete with the Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn. Ram has been the top dog for interior luxury for nearly a decade, so how does the Denali Ultimate perform?
On the outside, the Denali Ultimate comes packed with advanced features. From the front, there is a massive dark chrome grill with a chrome highlighted GMC badge. Chrome tow hooks sit at the bottom of the bumper with an additional chrome frame. Fog lights are pushed out to the edges and as low down in the bumper as is reasonable. On top of the grill is a hood scoop-like feature that is actually between the hood and the grill.
Moving down the side, we see the LED headlights wrap around the front fenders with amber marker lights on the top and bottom. The 22-inch black and machined wheels make a bold statement, especially with the ground clearly visible through them and past the 13-inch rotors. Right in front of the mirror, the single Ultimate badge indicates what the truck really is. This mark also marks the engine in the truck, in our case it says 6.2L. Accenting the Titanium Rush Metallic color are some chrome bits here and there. Especially on the mirrors, door handles, power side step and around the glass, but not on the B-pillar.
At the back is another GMC badge in chrome on the upper port of the Multi-Pro setup. On the main gate is a centered DENALI badge in chrome. At the bottom right of the door is a chrome badge from Sierra. The final piece of chrome on the truck is the HDMI shaped bezels for the exhaust outlets. The rear bumper includes the very useful corner bumper steps.
Although this is a dedicated luxury vehicle, it is still a very capable work car. Functional exterior features include a host of cameras and sensors, plenty of attachment points in the Carbon Pro bed, a standard receiver connector with 7-pin wiring, and the powered side steps that can be swiveled far back to ease the bed. access.
Alpine Umber is what GMC calls the blend of dark brown and black leather that adorns the interior of our Denali Ultimate tester. The hickory brown leather has topographic maps of Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley, formerly Mt. Denali, you never know what it will be). The same map is also on the wooden panel in the upper glove box.
Other brands use as much piano black plastic as they can. GMC has wisely stuck with matte black plastic in most places. The mat doesn’t scratch as easily, doesn’t show as much dirt and debris, and most importantly doesn’t reflect sunlight into the driver’s eyes, causing distraction and discomfort.
Of course, all other functions are there. Heated, ventilated and massaging front seats, steering wheel controls and a HUD. There are also paddle shifters for the 10-speed auto and a standard trailer brake control behind the gear column.
Drive the 2022 Denali Ultimate
On the way
Two main features set the GMC Denali Ultimate apart from other Sierra 1500 models we’ve tested. First, the magnetic ride control strikes. We’ve experienced these shocks in a variety of other GM products, providing an excellent ride over a variety of terrain. They perform surprisingly well when used within their limits. Except for long trips off the pavement, they are extremely efficient.
The other feature is Super Cruise. We’ve had hit and miss experiences with other driver assistance packages, but Super Cruise is on another level. Being hands-free is a much more relaxing experience in many ways. Instead of having a hand or two on the wheel all the time, Super Cruise frees up your hands to be in a more relaxed position. But like all computer-aided systems, we felt we needed to pay more attention to what the truck was doing. You never know when it will find a crack in the road and mistake it for a lane marking. For us it worked fine except for a section of freeway where the Super Cruise was not mapping between a freeway exit and the following freeway exit. In that episode, it would be completely disabled without much warning.
Off the sidewalk
Equipped with the same equipment as other Sierra 1500s, the Denali has decent dirt road capability. A low-range transmission and auto-locking rear differential (G80) give the Denali Ultimate all the goods to provide good grip. Taking away from the capability are very large wheels and small sidewall tires, low front air dam and low side steps. Magnetic ride control really smooths out the smaller bumps. But over bigger bumps, they run out of trips.
The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate has a base price of $78,700. Our Monroney showed just two items. Premium Titanium Rush Metallic paint for $495 was the first. The second was a $50 credit for the lack of front and rear parking aids (retrofit included). Adding the $1,695 destination charge brings the total to $80,840. This may sound like a large number, but the Ram 1500 Limited and Ford F-150 Limited can both easily reach into the $80,000 price range.
In the world of luxury trucks, every brand seems to have its niche. Ford’s F-150 Limited have technology, Rams 1500 Laramie Longhorns has cowboy luxury, and now GM has a player that falls somewhere between the two with the Denali Ultimate. Each excels in some aspects, but falls behind the competition in others. The 2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate is luxury and capability tied into one package.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while pulling trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for Automotive News in the evenings. When he is not working, he can spend time outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoning and backpacking. Whenever possible, he spends time riding in or on whatever motor vehicle he can find, claiming that he can drive anything with an engine, which is probably not true.
Matt lives in the mountains of Utah and often posts cool off-road videos on his Instagram and YouTube channel.