GMC Sierra Denali: Comfortable and Capable

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CHATHAM, Mass. – The first pull on 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 – to pop out, enabling a smooth, easy entry into the extremely well-appointed interior.

We are again welcomed into the world of today’s full-size pickup trucks, one which competes on all levels with the best cars and sport utilities in terms of fit and finish, amenities, conveniences, advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and technology, not to mention passenger comfort, both during driving and simply sitting in the supportive, 10-way electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats (the driver’s having memory for the seat and outside-rearview mirror settings).

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

Solid quarter-ton foundation

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

Design follows the basic pickup-truck formula — body-on-frame, independent front suspension, solid rear axle with leaf-sprung rear suspension – but thanks to years of refinement and engineering, now produces a quiet, comfortably riding vehicle.

The Denali has adaptive suspension control of the independent coil-over-shock with twin-tube shock-absorber setup in the front and the solid axle with semi-eliptic variable-rate, two-stage multi-leaf springs, splayed twin-tube shocks in the rear.

Last year’s comprehensive trailer-towing-control components are carried over in 2022, thus easing the often jaw-clenching process of maneuvering with a trailer hooked to the rear.

The braking system’s components feature four-wheel discs with electro-hydraulic power assist, anti-lock (ABS) and vented rotors on all four corners (13×1.118 inches in the front, 13.6×0.79 in the rear).

The Sierra we sampled 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 motive power – and the ability to pull up to a 13,000-pound trailer – is the (optional) 6.2-liter, double overhead-cam, aluminum V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque.

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

This drivetrain produced power whenever it was requested, answering my right foot immediately. It also produced surprising fuel-economy results – 18.4 miles per gallon during hundreds of miles of mixed driving — above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 16 mpg overall rating (14 city, 19 highway).

Denali adds driver assistance systems

All Sierra Limited models come with a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS): front and rear park assist; lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert; rear cross-traffic alert, and safety-alert seat which adds a haptic vibration to audible and visual alerts should any of these systems activate.

The list of ADAS grows substantially with the addition of the (included on our tester) Denali Reserve Package. These additional features are forward collision alert; lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning; automatic-emergency braking (AEB); front-pedestrian braking; Intellibeam — auto high beams; adaptive cruise control, and following-distance monitor.

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

Technology and option packages enhance Sierra’s livability

The Denali Reserve Package brings 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-camera provisions, and a superb multicolor head up display (which works perfectly even when the driver is wearing sunglasses – not a common trait of HUDs!).

I have already discussed some of the basic interior features which produce a comfortable environment for trips of any length. Additionally, an automatic dual-zone climate-control system; eight-inch color touch-screen centered infotainment system with wireless (!) Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and SiriusXM satellite radio and Bose Premium Sound System; WiFi hot spot; multiple USB and 110-Volt outlets; remote start; keyless door unlocking and vehicle starting, 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 by Kicker (Bluetooth amplification/speaker system mounted in the tailgate) is made easier thanks to the GMC six-function MultiPro tailgate (which allowed easy, staircase access to the short-bed of the test vehicle).

2022 GMC Sierra AT4X

Solid full-size pickup value

The 2022 GMC Sierra range offers a comprehensive range of full-size pickups for the more discriminating buyer, the buyer who might want a bit more than a basic truck. The two-door, regular-cab rear-wheel drive configuration begins at $34,995 and the range-topping crew-cab, standard box starts at $44,295.

I use the term “starts” when describing Sierra-model pricing because, as is true of most full-size pickups, the ability to modify configurations with different powertrains, bed sizes; cab sizes and two- or four-wheel drive makes picking pricing ranges difficult. Suffice to say, the buyer can build the truck they want from the 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) which pushed the price to $71,530. Add in the $1,695 destination charge and the MSRP totaled $72,725.

This is not an insignificant figure, but one right in the ballpark of the other full-size pickups equipped like the Sierra which means it offers solid value for a solid full-size pickup truck.

Next week TBR Drives the Ford Bronco.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.