Refreshed GMC Sierra Pushes Luxury, Off-Road Trims

GMC will roll out early next year two all-new trims soon to be available in the ’22 Sierra: the Denali Ultimate for well-heeled luxury shoppers and the first-ever AT4X for premium off-roaders.

Tom Murphy, Managing Editor

October 21, 2021

3 Min Read
2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate
"Vader chrome" grille on '22 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate.GMC

If anyone doubts how fiercely competitive the fullsize pickup truck market is in the U.S., consider the state of the GMC Sierra.

The truck was all-new two years ago and continues selling well as the premium offering in General Motors’ truck portfolio. Through September, GMC sold nearly 200,000 Sierras, representing 9.5% growth over the same period last year, according to Wards Intelligence data.

Meanwhile, its platform mate Chevrolet Silverado’s deliveries fell 0.7% over the same period, and its crosstown rival Ford F-Series dropped 11.3%, our data shows.

So, when GMC reveals an extensive refresh to the Sierra after two pandemic-affected years, it’s not because the Sierra was missing the mark but because every brand is scrapping for every inch of market share. The competition never rests.

Tonight, during Thursday Night Football, GMC targets a key truck audience with a TV commercial featuring two all-new trims soon to be available in the ’22 Sierra: the Denali Ultimate for well-heeled luxury shoppers and the first-ever AT4X for premium off-roaders.

Already, Denali is a popular trim level atop the Sierra lineup, but now Denali Ultimate will be the flagship, with first-in-class available trailering-capable Super Cruise for semi-autonomous highway driving.

The latest version of Super Cruise will come with a three-year subscription enabling hands-free driver-assistance on compatible highways.

The front end of the Denali Ultimate looks mean, with unique exterior features such as the “Vader chrome” darkened grille.

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate seats.jpg

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate seats

Much of the Sierra’s interior has been overhauled, with a larger 13.4-in. (34-cm) color touchscreen, new 12.3-in. (31-cm) digital instrument cluster and a new electrical architecture.

Every trim level for Sierra (except Pro) will have as standard Google Built-in capability, which makes smartphone features available through the vehicle infotainment system, such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and Google Play. With Denali and AT4 trims, three years of Google Built-in service will be included.

Also inside Denali Ultimate, the Alpine Umber interior employs full-grain saddle-colored leather (pictured, above) and open-pore Paldao wood trim. A section of the instrument panel is embossed and laser-etched with topographical maps of the summit of Alaska’s Denali, the highest peak in North America (pictured, below).

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate topography.jpg

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate topography

The instrument panel and console lid also are trimmed in leather, and the headliner is made of microsuede. Also standard are a 15-in. (38-cm) multicolor head-up display and power sunroof.

Power in the Denali Ultimate comes from a 420-hp 6.2L pushrod V-8 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and standard 4-wheel drive. Available as an option is GM’s 3.0L diesel inline 6-cyl.

Also new for ’22 is the Sierra AT4X to deliver advanced off-road capability via unique springs and Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers, selectable off-road modes, front and rear e-locking differentials, specific off-road chassis and suspension calibrations and 18-in. black wheels.

The AT4X interior uses full-grain leather, much of it highlighted with white piping and red stitching.

Carrying over from the ’21 Sierra are the “professional-grade” features such as the available six-function MultiPro tailgate and CarbonPro carbon-fiber composite bed.

2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X rear exterior.jpg

2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X rear exterior

Two of Sierra’s available engines see improvements for ’22. The 2.7L turbocharged 4-cyl. gets 20% more torque (to 420 lb.-ft. [569 Nm]), and a new block casting comes with a crankshaft that is 30% stiffer, which GM says reduces noise and enables more midrange torque.

Chassis changes also allow inclusion of the max tow package, which means the 277-hp 3.0L Duramax diesel 6-cyl. will be rated to tow 13,200 lbs. (5,988 kg) – a 4,000-lb. (1,814-kg) boost over the ’21 Sierra.

The refreshed GMC Sierra arrives at dealerships in the first quarter of 2022. Pricing starts at $80,395 for Denali Ultimate trim, $74,995 for ATX4 and $32,495 for Sierra Pro trim.

Currently, about 40% of Sierra sales are either Denali or AT4. Brand managers expect the addition of Denali Ultimate and AT4X (interior pictured below) will push that total closer to 50%.

2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X seats.jpg

2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X seats_0

About the Author(s)

Tom Murphy

Managing Editor, Informa/WardsAuto

Tom Murphy test drives cars throughout the year and focuses on powertrain and interior technology. He leads selection of the Wards 10 Best Engines, Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX competitions. Tom grills year-round, never leaves home without a guitar pick and aspires to own a Jaguar E-Type someday.

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