What Is It?
Pickup trucks offer a level of utility that other types of vehicles simply can’t match, especially when it comes to hauling or towing. For about the first 50 years of their existence, pickups functioned as work vehicles so utility was all a truck was expected to offer. But in the latter years of the pickup, the market has changed with more consumers using pickups as their daily vehicles. This means higher demand for comfort and convenience items, as well as luxury features for some, and General Motors Company has met that demand with the ultra-luxurious 2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate.
General Motors provided us with a 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate painted in Titanium Rush Metallic. As the top trim level of the Sierra 1500 lineup, this Denali Ultimate has — as the name implies — just about every possible feature as standard equipment. (An interesting aside: This particular pickup arrived with a note explaining that due to the chip shortage the truck has a credit for the missing front and rear park assist, which are to be retrofitted when available.) Total MSRP for this 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate was $80,840. Competitors to the Sierra Denali Ultimate include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country, Ford F-150 Limited, Ram 1500 Limited, Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve and Toyota Tundra Capstone.
GMC engineers and designers made sure the Denali Ultimate would be clearly differentiated from the standard-fare GMC pickup. Up front, this special Sierra 1500 gets a unique grille trimmed in Vader chrome with a large GMC logo in the center — also in Vader chrome (welcome to the dark side). LED headlights, fog lights and running lights are standard. A Denali Ultimate badge on each front fender and massive 22-inch wheels in low gloss black complete the look.
It may be full pickup truck on the outside, but inside the Denali Ultimate feels like a luxury car more than pickup. Seats get trimmed in Alpine Umber full-grain leather with contrasting stitching and piping as well as “Ultimate” badging, and they can be heated, cooled and offer massage. The same leather covers the door panels and center console lid.
Open-pore Paldao wood trim adorns the dashboard, decorated with a topographical map of Mt. Denali laser etched into the wood. The microsuede-trimmed headliner and A-pillars add to the luxurious feeling of the cabin.
The 202 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate comes with GMC’s new 13.4-inch horizontal touchscreen display as well as a 12.3-inch configurable digital driver display — both standard equipment. The updated infotainment system now features Google, which uses popular Google Maps as well as Google Assistant and Google Play. Drivers can log in with their Google account to access map and other favorites. Don’t worry, the system is still compatible with Apple CarPlay — both CarPlay and Android Auto can be connected wirelessly. The truck also has a new 12-speaker Bose Premium series sound system.
The luxurious leather trim continues into the rear seat, where occupants will discover copious legroom and headroom — no penalty being relegated to the rear seat. The rear seats are also heated, and the seating area contains dual USB ports for added convenience.
Seat bottoms can be folded up to provide additional storage space.
There are hidden storage compartments in the outboard rear seatbacks.
Under the Hood
Powering the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine producing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. This big V8 gets teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. When equipped with the maximum tow package, this truck can tow up to 13,000 pounds. Denali Premium Suspension with adaptive ride control also contributes to the truck’s premium experience.
GMC introduced the MultiPro Tailgate a few years back, and of course this innovative addition is a standard feature on the Denali Ultimate. The MultiPro functions as a typical tailgate, although it also has a number of other duties and configurations. To keep longer items from sliding out with the tailgate open, a section can be raised to keep items in the bed. Lowering this section allows for easier reach into to the bed, and then a step can be lowered for access into the bed without getting dirty.
The tester Sierra Denali Ultimate also arrived ready to amp up the fun at a traditional tailgate party. In addition to the flexibility of the MultiPro Tailgate, a MultiPro Audio System by Kicker is integrated with the inner gate panel and features a 100-watt exterior audio system that is completely weatherproof and has full Bluetooth streaming capability. We were a bit surprised to discover that this exterior sound system is not integrated with the vehicle’s audio system — it requires alternative input.
On the Road
Even though the interior of the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate feels like a luxury car, this stunning vehicle remains — at its core — a big, commanding truck. Climbing in is easy thanks to retracting running boards, and a high seating position provides excellent visibility.
An empty pickup truck often results in a jouncy, rough ride; however the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate remains smooth and stable over most road surfaces, thanks in a large part to its premium suspension with adaptive ride control. The big V8 engine provides plenty of power, with strong acceleration accompanied by a satisfyingly throaty exhaust note. We didn’t have the opportunity to haul any heavy cargo or do any towing, but the specs say this is an extremely capable pickup truck despite its deceivingly luxurious appearance and interior.
Truck popularity continues unchallenged in America — the three best-selling models for the last several years have been pickup trucks — and truck buyers continue to demand more: more power, more tech, more features. For the truck buyer who needs the utility and capability of a powerful Sierra 1500 but doesn’t want to rough it, the Denali Ultimate could be the ideal solution. Giving up nothing in terms of functionality and brute strength, the Denali Ultimate carries its passengers in luxurious surroundings with the latest advances in high-tech comfort and convenience features. For those who seek the best of both worlds — and are willing to pay for it — there is the Sierra Denali Ultimate.