The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Brings the Fight to Ford, Ram

The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Brings the Fight to Ford, Ram

  • Newly available Super Cruise semi-automated driving system
  • New AT4X trim level combines greater off-road performance with upgraded interior
  • New Denali Ultimate trim level is the pinnacle of the Sierra 1500 lineup
  • Part of the fourth Sierra 1500 generation introduced for 2019

What is the Sierra 1500?

When the newest GMC Sierra 1500 launched in 2019, it already felt a little behind the times. The redesigned Ram 1500 — which also bowed that year — set a new standard for the class, and the Sierra didn't even feel as refined as the aging Ford F-150. A new F-150 in 2021 further cemented the Sierra's also-ran status among full-size pickups. Not content with a distant third place, the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 will debut with a number of upgrades to separate it from the heavy hitters in the class. The biggest addition is GM's Super Cruise, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel in certain circumstances.

What's under the Sierra 1500's hood?

The 4.3-liter V6 that used to be the Sierra 1500's standard powertrain has been axed for 2022. In its place is an uprated version of the turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four that was optional for the 2018-2021 Sierra. Output remains at 310 horsepower, but torque increases from 348 lb-ft to an even 420 lb-ft. All other engine choices carry over, including the 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft) and 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft). The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six diesel (277 hp, 460 lb-ft) also returns, with a 13,200-pound maximum tow rating that eclipses last year's max of 11,800 pounds. The four-cylinder drives the wheels via an eight-speed automatic, while all other engines utilize a 10-speed auto.

What are the AT4X and Denali Ultimate trims?

While the 6.2-liter engine was available on a range of models, it didn't come standard on any, even the range-topping Denali. That changes with the advent of two new trim levels for 2022: the AT4X and Denali Ultimate.

The AT4X is even more focused on off-road performance than the trail-tackling AT4. On top of the AT4's upgrades — which include four-wheel drive with low range, hill descent control and skid plates — the AT4X comes with specialized shock absorbers, electronically locking front and rear differentials, and Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac Mud-Terrain tires. This is very similar to hardware that the new off-road-oriented 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 receives and should make the AT4X pretty capable over rocky terrain, even if its capabilities aren't up to the levels of the outlandish Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX.

Inside the AT4X's cabin you get a suede headliner, upgraded leather, a 15-inch head-up display and massaging front seats, among other additions. You'll also get these features and more on the new Denali Ultimate level, which is the pinnacle of the Sierra 1500 lineup. It doesn't have the AT4X's off-road hardware, but it does carry forward many of that truck's interior appointments. It also has unique extras such as laser-etched open-pore wood and extended use of upgraded leather throughout the cabin. It should make a strong luxury statement with its 22-inch wheels, a black chrome grille, carbon-composite bed, adaptive suspension dampers and power-retractable side steps.

How's the Sierra 1500's interior?

One of the reasons this Sierra generation felt so old upon release was the underwhelming interior design. The dashboard's focal point was a relatively small touchscreen surrounded by a sea of buttons on the center console. That changes for 2022 with a new 13.4-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen that comes standard on all but the base Pro model. The center stack then cascades, with the panel underneath the air-conditioning controls and off-road toggle switches angled slightly upward. Between the stack and center console is a new, car-like shift lever that replaces the column-mounted stalk on previous Sierras. The overall result is a cabin that seems more impressive than its predecessor.

How's the Sierra 1500's tech?

The most significant addition to the 2022 Sierra 1500 is the adoption of GM's Super Cruise — a seriously impressive suite of driving aids that allows for hands-off driving in certain circumstances. This newest version also includes an automated lane-change system that activates when it senses a slowing vehicle ahead of you and executes a pass when it's safe. Note that automatic lane changes are not available while towing, but other Super Cruise functions are. When using navigation, Super Cruise-enabled routes will be highlighted on the map, so you'll know exactly where the system can be engaged.

Unfortunately, Super Cruise will cost more than what you'll pay for its package price. Standard on the Denali Ultimate and optional on the Denali, Super Cruise requires a subscription fee. Three years is included to get you started, but after that, you'll have to pay to continue using the service. GMC has not yet announced pricing for Super Cruise once the trial period ends.

We were given the opportunity to test the Sierra 1500's Super Cruise system both with a trailer and without, and can report that the truck accelerates and brakes completely naturally with the system engaged. However, the limited traffic on our drive route meant that we couldn't test how the automatic lane change function works in real-life driving scenarios. For instance, what happens if the person ahead of you is chugging along under your desired speed, but there's stopped traffic up ahead in the next lane over? Will the system attempt to overtake the car in front by moving into the lane with slowing traffic, or can the system see that far ahead and prevent such a risky maneuver? We'll have to thoroughly test a Sierra 1500 with Super Cruise to find out.

Edmunds says

Changes to the 2022 Sierra 1500 are so significant, we almost can't believe this is the same truck as the one currently on sale. With the addition of Super Cruise and an all-new range-topping trim level, the Sierra 1500 is now poised to take the fight to Ram and Ford in earnest.

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