2022 GMC Sierra Preview | GM's 'premium truck' is actually now premium

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The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is GM’s upmarket half-ton pickup, with a supposed emphasis placed on interior quality and materials rather than bare-bones durability. Supposedly, at least. In reality, the most recent generation hardly lived up to that promise as it showed few upgrades over its Chevy Silverado sibling, which itself possessed a ho-hum interior clearly overshadowed by Ram and Ford that at least match it in most other respects. Despite their blue-collar nameplates, both have managed to carve out significant portions of the premium pickup segment. GMC's supposedly premium entry just didn't cut it.

That seems to change for 2022. The Sierra’s latest round of updates include a complete interior redesign, including a spectacular version for the range-topping Denali Ultimate, putting GMC in the running for best-in-class as modern half-tons thunder toward six-figure MSRPs. Things aren’t quite so rosy at the affordable end of the Sierra spectrum, where the base model retains the 2021’s drab interior, but for those who plan to spend a bit more, the 2022 should be a rewarding upgrade.

Well, eventually. You see, there’s a catch. While the massively updated model shown here is officially the 2022 GMC Sierra, it won't actually be available until the spring of 2022. In the meantime, GMC is selling the "2022 Sierra Limited," which is just last year's truck with the 2022 model year stapled to it. There are many reasons for this, but suffice it to say, if you see a ’22 Sierra Denali with the ugly robot-face dashboard, you’re looking at a Limited.

Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive | Pricing & Features | Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2022?

Hot on the heels of its revamped platform mate, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, the 2022 Sierra arrives with a similar suite of upgrades, plus a few items that will remain GMC exclusives. The overhaul includes a ground-up interior redesign for all but the base model. As the above photos show, it's impossible to miss the changes (the old one is on the left just in case). Also new is enhanced Super Cruise with available automatic lane-change and trailering mode, and two new trim levels: the off-road-centric AT4X and luxurious Denali Ultimate.

The base 4.3-liter V6 is now dead; no one will miss it. The new base engine becomes the 2.7-liter four-cylinder, which gets an upgraded block and internals, and consequently produces even more torque than the 5.3-liter V8. Diesel models also enjoy some chassis upgrades that allow for the fitment of GMC's Max Tow package and get a nice boost to their tow ratings as a result.

What are the Sierra interior and technology like

Like its Silverado sibling, this generation Sierra's cabin has been its least compelling and competitive attribute, falling far behind the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 in terms of quality and design. For 2022, GMC flips the script. A completely new layout with updated materials is featured on all but the base trim level (it retains the ugly old interior design) and it's a massive improvement. Besides aesthetics, the overhaul includes a new 13.4-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch instrument display found in all trims (again, besides the "Pro") albeit with different skins and software suites to account for differing options. Besides the new, bigger screen, the infotainment system is among the first in the industry to run on the Android Automotive operating system. We have only briefly experienced this system in the GMC Hummer EV, but it's certainly promising.

The upper trim levels see the greatest interior improvement, because frankly, they needed it. For instance, instead of a bit of unconvincing wood trim slapped randomly to the side of the Denali's center console, the new version gets the real deal. The new Denali Ultimate even has topographical maps of Mount Denali embossed into it (pictured above right).

We have yet to get into the new Sierra in person, however, so there's only so much to say. Still, pictures are more than enough to tell that the overhaul is a gamechanger.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

How big is the Sierra?

The Sierra 1500 Crew Cab (above left) offers limo-like sprawl-out space in its back seat aided by a colossal rear door. As expected, the Double Cab's rear seatback is more upright and less comfortable (above right). Legroom may be class-leading, but it's still tight behind a tall driver, meaning the Double Cab's back seat is ultimately best suited for occasional use, or children. At least its front-hinged rear doors are a better setup than the F-150 Super Cab's annoying clamshells. As usual, you can get a three-person 40/20/40 split bench up front (all trims but AT4 and Denali) or bucket seats with a full center console (not available base or SLE).

What about the bed? The thinner, taller walls introduced back in 2019 have resulted in a bed that ultimately holds more than anything else in the segment. Better still, maximum payload ranges from 1,550 to 2,250 pounds, which is generally a few hundred pounds more than an F-150 or Ram 1500. Yet, there is more to consider with the Sierra's bed than just its volume and payload. For starters, it offers the MultiPro tailgate, which provides myriad configurations but chiefly provides a quick way to climb into the bed. You can even outfit it with a dedicated Kicker sound system. But wait, there's more! The Denali and AT4 trims can be equipped with the CarbonPro carbon fiber composite bed that GMC says provides added "strength, durability and scratch resistance" to go with a potential 59-pound weight reduction depending on configuration. Basically, it's a bed and liner in one.

What are the Sierra fuel economy and performance specs?

The base engine on the Pro, SLE and Elevation is a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 310 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That's a massive, 72-lb-ft upgrade over last year and considerably better than the 5.3-liter V8. It has an eight-speed automatic and gets cylinder deactivation (yes, it can run on just two cylinders). It achieves between 17 and 20 mpg combined, which is the best fuel economy of any non-diesel full-size truck.

Standard on the SLT, AT4 and Denali is a 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It's optional on SLE and Elevation. Fuel economy varies widely, however, as the engine can be paired with six-, eight- or 10-speed automatic transmissions. Unlike last year, it is only available with GM's more advanced Dynamic Fuel Management system (DFM). The result is fuel economy that ranges from 15 mpg combined for an AT4 with the six-speed automatic to 18 mpg combined with the 2WD/eight-speed combo. That's a significant spread.

Optional on the SLT, AT4 and Denali, and standard on the AT4X and Denali Ultimate, is a 6.2-liter V8 that displaces 6.2 liters and produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It only gets the 10-speed and DFM. EPA estimates range from 14 mpg combined for those with mud terrain tires to 17 mpg for a more road-going version

Optional on all but the base trim is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six that produces 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It too gets the 10-speed automatic. It returns 26 mpg combined with 2WD, and 24 with 4WD. That matches the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

What's the Sierra like to drive?

We have not yet driven the 2022 GMC Sierra, so we cannot answer this question definitively. Apart from the new AT4X, however, as well as the significant improvement in the turbo-four's torque, GM did not announce changes that should fundamentally alter the way the Silverado drives. At least in theory.

As such, here's what we've previously found with this Sierra generation. Like every American full-size truck, the Sierra and Silverado's driving experience depends greatly on the engine you choose – and as GM offers more engines than anyone else, the spread of difference is even greater. Even before the turbocharged four-cylinder was seriously upgraded for 2022, we found it to be as beefy and efficient as advertised, easily assuaging concerns that you can't put a four-cylinder in a full-size truck. Still, if you can swing the payment, the Duramax diesel engine is a better choice – its torque matches the big 6.2-liter V8, its fuel economy will be vastly superior and it's shockingly quiet.

But we're guessing most Sierra buyers will be looking at a V8. In that case, we've found that 6.2-liter is obviously stronger than the 5.3-liter truck, but you also don't strictly need it. We've towed hefty loads with both, and the 6.2-liter is more an example of overkill than necessity. The availability of the Max Tow package on the Duramax diesel model improves its max tow rating to 13,200 pounds, making it a solid alternative to the big V8.

To this point, however, everything we've written also applies to the Silverado. The Sierra's breadth of driving experiences is actually even greater due to the Denali trim's adaptive dampers that provide superior ride and body control to the standard suspension. We've noted that Silverado/Sierra trucks have a tendency when driving over imperfect pavement for either punishing harshness (big wheels) or unusually nautical bounding (small wheels). Neither occurs with the more civilized, big-wheeled Denali. If you're looking for a reason to choose Sierra over Silverado and have the money for a big-dollar truck, this is it.

As for the new AT4X, again, we'll have to wait and see. Still, its Multimatic DSSV shock that are shared with the also-new Silverado ZR2 have a reputation for being incredibly pleasant to live with, especially considering the model’s off-road pretensions. Standard equipment includes some knobby all-terrain tires and electronic locking front and rear differentials. If you plan to go off-pavement, GMC clearly now offers a better option than before.

What other GMC Sierra reviews can I read?

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 First Drive | Off-road overkill

We test the off-road-oriented Sierra AT4 when equipped with the 6.2-liter V8 and Dynamic Fuel Management.

2019 GMC Sierra Denali First Drive | The more things change ...

Our first drive of the Sierra Denali, including more in-depth information about its design and engineering.

2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Interior Driveway Test | Still lagging behind

Our detailed interior walkthrough and review of the Sierra in its off-road AT4 trim. Pretty much explains why the 2022 overhaul was needed.

Video: the MultiPro Tailgate explained

How much is the 2022 Sierra price and what features are available?

The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is available in regular cab (base trim only), the extended Double Cab and Crew Cab styles as well as three bed lengths and two front seating options that result in max seating for five or six. Available trim levels are base (or “Pro”), SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, AT4X, Denali and Denali Ultimate (Crew Cab only). It should arrive in dealers in Spring 2022.

Full pricing for the updated 2022 model has not yet been announced, but GMC has confirmed the entry points of each of the Sierra’s eight trims. The “Pro” model starts at $32,495 (including destination) but as that's for a regular-cab base model and is almost irrelevant for most truck shoppers. Really, things start off with the SLE Double Cab for $43,895.

Here’s a basic rundown of pricing by grade (with destination included):

  • Pro: $32,495

  • SLE: $43,895

  • Elevation: $45,495

  • SLT: $50,895

  • AT4: $60,995

  • Denali: $61,295

  • AT4X: $74,995

  • Denali Ultimate: $80,395

What are the Sierra safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are only available on the SLT, AT4 and Denali trim levels. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning are optional on all trim levels but Denali, where they are standard. A variety of camera systems and other technology features are also available to improve trailering, both in terms of ease of use as well as safety.

The revised '22 Sierra has not been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the 2021 Sierra 1500 Crew Cab received the highest possible rating of Good in all crash categories but the new small overlap front-passenger test where it got a Marginal (third of four) score. It also got a Poor headlight rating, but a Superior rating for its optional forward collision warning/prevention system. These scores could certainly change for 2022. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Sierra Crew Cab a four-star overall rating. Its breakdown of crash tests saw mostly four-star ratings for frontal crashes and the rollover test, it received five-star ratings for all side crash tests

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