The 2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate is GMC’s most luxurious entry into their lineup ever. Complete with GM’s Super Cruise, GMC has brought its A-game to the luxury truck segment. It’s comfortable, powerful, a nice daily driver and packed with luxurious tech and comfort features. But is it good enough to win over luxury truck buyers from the competition? We spent a week with one to find out.
Price and Value
Luxury, comfort and power don’t come cheap, but in the case of the Denali Ultimate, it might be worth it. The MSRP range for the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is $46,195-$83,695. It is available in eight trim levels, with a suite of standard features that include LED headlights, a roll-formed high-strength steel bed, LED and GMC’s Pro Safety package. Some of the major differences in trim levels are noted below. Prices reflect four-wheel drive models. Most trims are available with three engine choices, a 5.3-liter V8, a 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel or a 6.2-liter V8. Our tester was fitted with the 6.2-liter V8.
- Pro: $46,195
GMC Pro Safety package
Three transfer case modes
7-inch color touchscreen
- SLE: $54,155
13.4-inch center touchscreen and 12.3-inch driver information center
SLE Convenience package
- Elevation: $55,995
Monochromatic exterior with gloss black grille and unique 20-inch wheels
Available Elevation Premium package with heated front leather seats
- SLT: $57,095
Available 10-way power adjustable front bucket seats with heating and ventilation
Available 20-inch polished aluminum wheels
- AT4: $64,295
2-inch factory lift
Off-road suspension with Rancho monotube shocks
2-speed AutoTrac transfer case with auto locking rear differential and underbody skid plate
- Denali: $67,895
Continuous damping adaptive ride control
Available 15-inch head-up display
Forge perforated leather seating surfaces
- AT4X: $78,295
Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers
Front and rear e-locking differentials
Heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats with massage
- Denali Ultimate: $83,695
Denali Vader chrome grille
22-inch low-gloss black aluminum wheels
Ultimate Alpine Umber interior with full-grain leather seats and Paldao wood
The Sierra is one of the most expensive trucks in the segment, but you do get a lot for your money in most trims. GMC offers a robust selection of engines across its truck lineup, including a 6-cylinder diesel producing 460 pound-feet of torque. The Denali Ultimate is certainly luxurious, but some might find the price tag hard to justify.
GMC’s warranty is on par with the industry average, with a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. GMC also offers complimentary maintenance on the first visit.
The GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate is an impressive luxury truck, capable of comfortably doing most things you throw at it. It’s composed, responsive and easy to drive. Its tech is modern, and the ride is mostly comfortable. It may not exude the levels of refinement that some of the competition does, but if you’re a GM fan you’re going to love what they’ve done with the Sierra Denali Ultimate.
We love a good ol’ V8, and the 6.2-liter motor in our tester was wonderful to spend time with. Producing 420 horsepower and a robust 460-pound feet of torque, you’ll have plenty of power to haul just about anything you want as you ride in luxury. It’s smooth in its power delivery and yet not quite as responsive as you would expect it to be.
For a full-size pickup with a V8, the Denali Ultimate achieved better than expected fuel economy. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Denali Ultimate as 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. We achieved better in our daily driving, hitting 19 mpg on longer commutes.
There’s a lot to like about the Denali Ultimate’s drivetrain. The 10-speed automatic transmission is tuned for smooth shifts and isn’t overly excited in its gear hunting. The magnetic dampers do a great job at providing a smooth and composed ride. After having them, we can’t imagine going without — even if the large, 22-inch wheels try their best to disrupt the Denali’s otherwise composed ride.
Acceleration and Handling
The Denali Ultimate with its 6.2-liter V8 is no slouch in its hustling. Car and Driver clocked just 5.7 seconds in its 0-60 mph run. It also handles surprisingly well. We drove this truck everywhere we could, including many grocery store parking lots and soda drive-thrus, and it never felt unwieldy.
The Denali Ultimate’s brakes inspire confidence, which we're grateful for given the size of this truck. The Denali Ultimate is also equipped with automated emergency braking.
Interior Comfort and Convenience
The new Sierra interiors are a huge upgrade over the previous iteration, and it looks especially luxurious in the Denali Ultimate trim our tester had. With luxurious materials and features, a sharp infotainment screen and ample storage, you’ll be cruising in comfort in GMC’s most prestigious trim.
The full-grain leather front seats can be adjusted 16 ways, and also have massage, heating and cooling options. They were comfortable but too narrow, short and firm to be true luxury loungers. The bottom cushion may feel shallow to taller passengers. While the seat heating function worked well, the ventilation struggled to keep our backs dry on hot days. Nevertheless, the thick, high-quality leather felt rich and was nice to sit on.
As with other Sierras, we were a tad disappointed at the leg and shoulder room in both the front and rear. It was much tighter than expected given how large the cabin is.
GMC’s done a nice update to the climate controls in their most recent redesign. There are physical buttons and dials for just about everything, which are intuitive and easy to use. Our Denali Ultimate had dual-zone automatic climate control that cooled the cabin quickly with its big air vents. Our kids appreciated the heated rear outboard seats to keep them warm on chilly days.
Cargo Space and Cabin Storage
If you’re one to haul gear and other knickknacks, the Denali Ultimate has all the storage you need. There are lots of cubbies and cupholders, as well as a large center console and second glove box for holding small items.
Folding up the rear seats provides plenty of cargo space for even the largest grocery runs. There is a slight bump in the rear floor, but it shouldn’t impede your cargo too much. Hidden storage cubbies in the back cushions of the rear seat are perfect for stowing all the treats you don’t want your kids to know about.
The 13.4-inch widescreen infotainment display looks sharp and features simple connectivity. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The Google interface was easy enough to use. The 12-speaker Bose Premium Series stereo had good bass and clear treble notes.
The Denali Ultimate is also equipped with an enormous, 15-inch head-up display and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The head-up display is one of the best we’ve used and shows lots of helpful information. The digital display cluster also looks great and is customizable.
Exterior Appearance and Functionality
The exterior has been dressed up appropriately here, complete with black and gray badges and accents to fit the Denali Ultimate ethos. The 2022 facelift is nice on all the Sierra models, especially the Denali Ultimate’s Vader black grille. The color scheme looks dialed in with its Titanium Rush Metallic paint. The Denali Ultimate is also available in other luxurious, gray-hued colors like Onyx Black, Quicksilver Metallic, Pacific Blue Metallic and White Frost Tricoat.
Our tester’s 5-foot 8-inch carbon-fiber-reinforced bed was as practical as you’d expect and had three tie-downs in each corner — definitely a helpful feature for keeping loads secure. The bed comes standard with several helpful and cool features such as the LED cargo area lighting, a spray-on bed liner and a tailgate with a fold-down step.
Towing Capacity and Payload
The Sierra 1500's towing capacity tops out at an impressive 13,000 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8 engine, as ours had. Payload is also impressive, as it can carry up to 5,420 pounds in its bed.
The 22-inch low-gloss black aluminum wheels with machined accents look perfect for this luxurious rig. However, some might wish for a thicker sidewall to help cushion the ride a bit more. The Bridgestone Alenza A/S 275/50 R22 tires were quiet on city roads and on the freeway, and they provided good traction on slightly wet roads.
Lights and Turn Signals
GMC has done a nice job with the Sierra lighting and headlights, especially with the Denali Ultimate trim. The automatic LED high beams were plenty bright, as were the LED daytime running lamps and fog lamps.
Cameras and Side Mirrors
The high-resolution cameras offer clear views of the entire truck, which is helpful in everyday driving and parking. They’re some of the best we’ve seen. The Denali Ultimate also includes heated, power-folding mirrors with blind-spot monitoring and LED turn signal indicators.
Front and Rear Windshield
Overall visibility, as it is with most full-size trucks, was excellent. We had to raise our seats a little to get a clear view over the high dash, but once we did we could see fine. We didn’t get a chance to test defrost features, but we’re sure they work great.
The new Sierra comes loaded with a host of safety and driver-assistance technology. It’s what you’d expect, given the price and available options.
GMC’s excellent Pro Safety system is full of modern features, including:
- Intellibeam-auto high beam
- Forward collision alert
- Front pedestrian braking
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane keep assist with lane departure warning
- Following distance indicator
Our tester was also equipped with GM’s much vaunted Super Cruise feature, which worked well in our testing.
Awards and Ratings
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Sierra a four-star overall crash test rating, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded Good ratings in five of six crashworthiness segments.
The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is a solid effort by GMC to revitalize its entry into the premier luxury space. It checks just about every box and has all the capability and luxury you could want in a truck. We wish the seats were a bit larger and softer, and the interior a bit more special feeling, but it’s a nice place to spend time regardless. The 6.2-liter V8 is powerful and more efficient than expected. Overall, GMC has crafted a truck that, if you’re willing to pay for it, can be whatever kind of truck you want it to be, be it a daily driver, road trip cruiser or load hauler.
The Denali Ultimate commands a premium of nearly $10,000 more than the base Denali Sierra. Whether it’s worth it or not will depend on how much you value the extra tech and luxury the Ultimate designation brings. For most buyers looking for a luxury truck, we think the jump to the Ultimate probably makes sense, even just for the Super Cruise functionality.
Interested in a GMC Sierra Denali? Find one on KSL Cars.
Is the Sierra Denali Ultimate luxurious?
Absolutely. But, it does lack some of the ultra premium feel present in other luxury offerings under the General Motors umbrella. The Sierra does everything pretty well and offers a myriad of engine choices, bed lengths and more to fit your needs. The refreshed Sierra is a solid choice among the options available in this segment.
Is the Sierra a good daily driver?
Definitely — as long as you don’t mind driving a full-size pickup truck with slightly small captain’s chairs that gets just under 20 mpg. If you’re OK with those things, you’ll really enjoy driving the Denali Ultimate around town and on the freeway.
KSL Cars does not endorse any vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.