GMC has done its homework.
The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 was revealed in October last year as it once again tries to steal a piece of the Ford F-150 pie. Ahead of its reveal, GMC described the Sierra Denali Ultimate as the "most advanced and luxurious pickup in its class," a bold statement considering the many capable contenders in this segment. That group includes the all-new Toyota Tundra Capstone, an especially opulent version of the new Tundra. At this year's Chicago Auto Show, we had the chance to see the new Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate in the flesh, and it made quite an impression.
You can tell from the start that the Denali Ultimate means business. The grille is larger than before but the chrome has a darkened effect that works well. The LED daytime running lights are handsome, and the same dark effect has been applied to the enormous 22-inch wheels. The front GMC logo is in a so-called Vader chrome finish, not the usual red used on other GMC models. At the back, the six-way MultiPro tailgate is one of the truck's most useful features. But as attractive as it is on the outside, the Denali Ultimate is all about its upscale interior. Compared to the previous Denali interior, the new one is a huge step up in both design and quality.
Being the range-topper, the Denali Ultimate comes with a 15-inch multicolor head-up display, a rear camera mirror, leather upholstery with front massaging seats, wood trim, and a microsuede headliner. The sunroof isn't a panoramic one, though, and some competitors do offer this feature. We climbed aboard and found the leather and stitching to be of superb quality and more associated with what you'd find in a luxury sedan. The front and very lower section of the door panels use harder plastics, but you wouldn't need to touch these sections - everything you do come into contact with feels premium and classy.
The 13.4-inch touchscreen interface is bright, clear, and loaded with features. And, despite all the screens, there are still easy-to-use hard buttons for the ventilation system. The top of the steering wheel has a strip dedicated to the Super Cruise partially autonomous system. Get into the back - easily accessible thanks to power-deployable running boards - and the flat floor provides plenty of space. Even the rear outboard seats are heated, and passengers back here have the same attractive leather upholstery with contrast piping and stitching. Based on this first in-person experience with GMC's most luxurious truck, we'd say that the company has done a brilliant job of eliminating the criticisms we had of the previous Denali. Then again, at over $80,000 for the Denali Ultimate, we'd expect nothing less.