GMC beefs up 2022 Sierra with luxe Denali Ultimate and ZR2-like AT4X


As the pickup wars rage on, GMC is marching even further up the ritziness ladder with its two best-selling trims of the Sierra full-size pickup for 2022. The Sierra Denali Ultimate now marks the pinnacle of the light-duty Sierra’s luxury offerings, while the new AT4X takes the off-road focused brand and kicks things up another dirt-covered gear. The two high-end models, which account for nearly 40 percent of all Sierra sales, will spearhead a host of updates for the 2022 Sierra model lineup.

The Denali Ultimate will sit above the standard Denali on the trim walk, and it’s meant to be even more of a one-stop shop for Sierra buyers who want everything and then some. All of the Sierra’s nicest features come standard, including high-tech options like GM’s SuperCruise hands-free driving technology, now with the ability to handle hands-free highway jaunts with a trailer in tow. Onlookers will know you sprung for the big-money option thanks to the Denali Ultimate’s dark chrome treatment (GMC calls it Vader chrome) on the Denali front grille and badging. Should they miss the grille—we’re not sure it’s possible—they’ll catch a glimpse of your 22-inch wheels and reach the same conclusion.

Inside, a lavish cabin features fancy open-pore Paldao wood trim with the topographical map of Mount Denali—the tallest peak in North America—laser etched into it, and delicious full-grain Alpine Umber leather seats with massaging functionality. There’s 40.7 inches of screen, broken up into a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 13.4-inch central infotainment screen with Google app compatibility and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto functionality, and a 15-inch multicolor heads-up display for the driver. To bump your tunes, you’ll get a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system that can reduce outside noise to make the cabin even more peaceful.

The Denali Ultimate comes standard with GM’s 6.2-liter V-8, which is good for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a stnadard four-wheel-drive system that offers an electronically-controlled two-speed transfer case. If compression ignition is more your thing, you can option the Denali Ultimate with GM’s 277-horse, 470 lb-ft 3-liter Duramax straight-six diesel instead, also paired with the 10-speed and aforementioned 4×4 system.

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate front three quarter

If your Sierra dreams include repeated excursions off the beaten path, the new AT4X trim takes an already-capable AT4 and slaps a few more mechanical upgrades on it for even more fun where the blacktop ends. Like the Denali Ultimate, it comes standard with the six-two and a 10-speed automatic; no diesel option is offered on the AT4X. The AT4X gets front and rear electronic locking differentials to help when the going gets slippery. It can still tow and haul, too; payload on the AT4X rings in at 1420 pounds, and max trailering is a respectable 8900 pounds.

2022 GMC Sierra AT4X front three quarter

The real news is in the suspension department, where the AT4X will now offer Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers, similar to those found on the Silverado ZR2 that was introduced last month. Along with the dampers, there are unique springs front and rear that help bolster travel nearly two inches in front and almost an inch in the rear over the travel on the standard AT4 setup. The two-speed transfer case features selectable modes for various off-road conditions, and a nifty Terrain Mode allows for one-pedal rock crawling. When a driver lifts off the throttle pedal, Terrain Mode automatically begins slowing down the vehicle, even bringing it to a complete stop if necessary. There’s a larger steel underbody shield over the transfer case, optional rock rails for added rocker protection, and 18-inch wheels with Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac mud-terrain tires for clawing through less-than-ideal terrain.

Inside, the AT4X gets a full-grain black leather interior with unique white and red contrast stitching to break up the sea of dark materials. Like the Denali Ultimate, the AT4X gets 16-way adjustable massaging front seats (two-tracking with that sort of comfort sounds like a downright excellent idea), and the same 40.7 inches of screens broken up into the same three modules.

Among the more everyman Sierras in the lineup, there’s a host of exterior updates as well, including a revised front end design, new LED headlamps, new wheel designs for the SLT and regular Denali trims, and three new paint colors: Titanium Rush Metallic, Dynamic Blue Metallic, and Desert Sand Metallic. Inside, every trim level but the base Sierra will get the 13.4-inch center screen as standard, ditto the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

GMC says that the refreshed 2022 Sierra will arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of next year, but customers can place reservations for their slots beginning today. While specifics were not given, a GMC spokesperson did say that the Sierra AT4X will begin in the $70,000 range, and the Denali Ultimate will begin in the $80,00 range. These updates bring an already solid truck more up to par with its particularly swanky high-end competition from the likes of Ford with the King Ranch and Platinum F-150s, and Ram, with the luxurious 1500 Limited.

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