GMC Sierra Limited Denali — A stopgap until the 'real' 2022 arrives

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(January 23, 2022) If you don't get it right the first time, the best course of action is to step back, re-evaluate and make improvements. Then start again with a fresh set of ideas. That's what the designers and engineers at GMC did with the Sierra. The latest-generation Sierra was introduced in 2019, but customers found its design and technology fell short of the Ram pickup, and even the Ford F-150 before Ford's all-new 2021 truck arrived.


So with the 2022 model year the Sierra has been the recipient of a much-needed refreshening, and GMC might have hit a home run especially with the new and modern interior that now features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and an impressive 13.4-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen that comes standard on all but the base Pro model. The center stack includes the large infotainment screen above the air-conditioning controls and off-road toggle switches angled slightly upward. The transmission shifter has been moved from its traditional location behind the steering wheel into the center console. And the exterior has been given a makeover as well, with a more striking front-end design.

The newest version of the upscale Denali also gets GM's Super Cruise autonomous driving feature that has been used by Cadillac. It's still the best system out there for hands-free driving as we can attest from our experience in a couple of Cadillacs. Now GMC Sierra Denali drivers will be able to enjoy the system that works on hundreds of thousands of divided highways around the country.

But GMC is facing a big problem. Its new and improved truck is not yet ready for sale to the public.

Refreshed 2022 interior (top), carryover 2022 Limited interior (bottom)

If you decide to purchase a 2022 Sierra 1500 this winter you will have to settle for the Limited, which is actually a carryover 2021 model designated to kick off the 2022 model year. The refreshed 2022 makeover is lagging behind because of production issues, and it may be late spring or perhaps even early summer before the new Sierra, including the Denali Ultimate, makes an appearance in showrooms. There has been some speculation that it may be designated a 2022.5 to set it apart from the 2022 Limited 1500.

Carryover 2022 Limited grille (top); refreshed 2022 grille (bottom)

Our Denali Limited test truck did come with the 6.2-liter V-8 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that will for the first time come standard in the upcoming 2022 Denali Ultimate. It's one of the stoutest gas engines General Motors has ever produced with 420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 460 pound-feet of torque @ 4,100 rpm. The engine/transmission combo can pull an empty truck from 0-to-60 in about six seconds, which is commendable considering it's propelling a more than 5,000 pounds. It can also tow a maximum of 12,200 pounds and support a payload of 2,240 pounds.

Fuel efficiency is not part of the equation with the 6.2-liter engine EPA-rated at 14 mpg city, 19 highway and 16 combined on premium gas.

The Denali Limited crew cab has scads of rear-seat legroom, a well appointed leather interior, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, heated and cooled front seats, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bose premium audio, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 120V outlet inside and one in the cargo bed, and navigation — all as standard equipment.

Also the Limited Denali comes with a power-sliding rear window, Stabilitrak with trailer sway control and hill-start assist, Denali premium suspension with adaptive ride control, a trailering package and a trailer-brake controller.

Standard safety includes front and rear park assist, blindspot monitoring with rear traffic alert,  safety alert seat, and tire pressure monitoring.

The price without options for our 2022 Limited was $61,295. But there were options to the tune of $11,430. The three biggest items — the Denali Reserve Package ($4,910), 22-inch high-gloss black wheels ($2,995) and the 6.2-liter engine ($2,495). Items in the Reserve Package included HD surround vision with two trailer cameras, adaptive cruise control, and power sunroof. That brought the bottom line of our test vehicle to $72,725.

Our recommendation if you are thinking of purchasing the Sierra Denali or any of the other lower 1500 trims including the new AT4X off-road-ready version, is wait until the "real" 2022 Sierra arrives with its updated interior and added technology features. Unlike other years where you might expect to save thousands of dollars by opting for the Limited trim in 2021 guise, you will probably end up paying full price because of the vehicle shortages.

2022 GMC Sierra Denali Limited


Base price: $61,295; as driven, $72,725
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
Horsepower: 420 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 460 foot-pounds @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 147.7 inches
Length: 231.7 inches
Curb weight: 5,040 pounds
Turning circle: 46.3 feet
Payload capacity: 2,240 pounds
Towing capacity: 12,200 pounds
Fuel capacity: 24 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 14 city, 19 highway, 16 combined
0-60: 6 seconds (estimated)
Also consider: Chevrolet Silverado High Country, Ram 1500 Limited, Ford F-150 Limited

The Good
• Prodigious towing capability
• Loaded standard tech
• Luxurious interior

The Bad
• Non-existent gas mileage

The Ugly
• Stopgap truck until the 'real' 2022 Sierra arrives