Fresh off last month’s showing of the updated 2022 Chevy Silverado, GMC is also polishing up its flagship Sierra pickup with a much-anticipated mid-cycle refresh. The tech-focused update adds a myriad of new bells and whistles (hello updated interior and hands-free Super Cruise driving), an exterior facelift with tweaked headlights, and a pair of new luxury and off-road trims to sit atop GM’s pickup hierarchy. With pickups still selling like mad and the Sierra on its way to a record sales year, the update shows the company is at last giving it the kind of features expected of a true flagship half-ton truck.
And while “new trims” is typically not the most exciting phrase in the world, we have a feeling you’ll dig what’s on offer in the Sierra Denali Ultimate and the Sierra AT4X. For the former, that means standard Super Cruise, standard 6.2L V8, and standard carbon-fiber bed. Meanwhile, the AT4X is the new top off-road trim for the Sierra. Think of it as a cousin to the new Chevy Silverado ZR2: Multimatic DSSV dampers, front and rear lockers, longer-travel suspension, and yes, the same standard 6.2L V8.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about one of the most important elements for trailer-touring truck shoppers: power. That 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. An optional 277-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six diesel with an identical torque rating is available for buyers who prefer to steer clear of gas. Other trims in the lineup are available with a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, or fuel-sipping 2.7-liter turbo four-cylinder that outputs 310-horsepower. All V8 and diesel powerplants are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the smaller 2.7-liter receives an eight-speed instead.
Close the hood and you’ll find a completely reconstructed fascia. A wider grille covered in Vader Chrome and unique front fender trim help to distinguish the Denali Ultimate from other Sierra trims. The truck’s new sleek headlights and smarter styling cues help to modernize the pickup, while features such as the multi-pro tailgate and CarbonPro bed remain familiar to brand loyalists. GMC also added unique 22-inch low-gloss-black wheels to help the truck feel more premium amongst its pickup siblings.
The most dramatic changes, however, are on the inside. The Sierra’s interior has been completely redesigned for 2022; at last, gone is the aging GM rounded rectangles look that has stuck around since the late 2000s. Designers have instead moved towards a much sleeker interior with a focus on modernization, modularity, and luxury. The core technology helps GMC achieve each of those points in the Sierra are baked into screens. In fact, the automaker says that the Sierra Denali Ultimate has more than 40 inches of screen real estate for drivers to utilize. That claim counts the full-color heads-up display, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
In the center of the vehicle is a 13.4-inch infotainment screen running a spin-off of Google’s Android Automotive OS. The display offers Google’s built-in services like Maps, Assistant, and even the Play store. This means running Android-native apps like Spotify without the driver’s phone. Additionally, split-screen functionality will allow the drivers to utilize core infotainment functions in conjunction with alongside driving-centric apps like navigation.
Ahead of the driver is a second 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. This particular display can be minimalistic, showing just the basic functions of driving like the speedometer, or more meaningful information like oil temperature, tire pressure, drivetrain mode, and more. Much of that information can also be pumped onto the windshield via a 15-inch multicolor Head-Up Display.
Another key innovation rolled into the Denali Ultimate is GM’s hands-free driver assistance system, Super Cruise. We were able to demo this feature back in July and can attest to its usefulness, especially when towing—which is what we’re convinced the Sierra Denali was born to do. GM says that drivers can enable hands-free operation on over 200,000 miles of compatible roads. And when using the baked-in Google Maps app, the navigation can even suggest Super Cruise-enabled routes.
While switched on, Super Cruise can handle steering, braking, and even lane changes, so as long as drivers are keeping their eyes on the road. GM does limit Super Cruise’s ability when towing, so don’t expect the vehicle to automatically change lanes with a trailer attached. The truck also expects to have the trailer length manually input so that the system can properly calculate things like braking distance, cornering speed, and more.
Super Cruise is standard on the Denali Ultimate and optional on the regular Denali. GMC says that the feature is subscription-based, but the first three years will be included with the vehicle. The monthly cost and add-on price for the standard Denali has not yet been announced, though the Cadillac brand has previously quoted pricing of around $25 per month and $2,500 for hardware in the Cadillac Escalade.
The rest of the interior is also pretty great. Every surface is laden with premium materials, and certain luxury appointments like etched metal and laser-engraved wood help to accentuate the top-quality interior of the Denali. Even the seats have topographical maps, a staple of the GMC brand.
Now for the AT4X. This particular truck builds onto one of the most popular off-road centric trims that GMC offers, while specifically catering towards the younger, more affluent buyers who have been flocking to the GMC brand and want both capability and technology in a vehicle they intend to drive each day.
The AT4X adds electronic locking differentials at the front and rear of the truck, as well as Multimatic DSSV Spool-Valve Dampers to provide an even more enjoyable driving experience both on and off-road. Also unique to the AT4X is GMC’s one-pedal driving when off-roading. This allows the driver to operate the vehicle with just the accelerator, enabling the vehicle to accelerate, brake, and even come to a stop just by modulating the gas pedal.
GMC says that the new 2022 GMC Sierra will begin hitting dealer lots during the first quarter of 2022, however, reservations begin today. The standard Sierra is expected to start at just $32,495, the AT4X will run buyers $74,995 ($14,000 more than the standard AT4), and the Denali Ultimate at $80,392 ($19,100 more than the standard Denali). Full pricing will be made available closer to launch.
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