THE TWO-FER: GMC SIERRAS IN OUR MIDST
GMC SIERRAS IN OUR MIDST
The GMC brand holds a special place in my heart. It’s all due to the ruggedness of a plucky GMC Canyon AT4 pickup that allowed me to safely deliver, through the 2021 North Texas snowstorm, emergency supplies of food and water (and chocolate) to my family in Houston. It doesn’t snow heavily very often in the Dallas area, which means that I rarely have the opportunity to drive in the snow; it can be daunting, especially in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. That GMC mid-size pickup, in four-high drive configuration, drove through six-inches of snow as if the roads were completely dry. Even driving in the dark on highways that were slick with black ice was no issue, although my nerves were frayed.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test drive a couple of vehicles that are the GMC Canyon’s big brothers, a luxury GMC Sierra Limited Denali and an offroad-oriented AT4X. Both are based on the GMC Sierra pickup which shares a platform with the Chevrolet Silverado, but these high-end variations target different buyers that will probably use their trucks in very different manners.
A base 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab will run you $42,895.00, which is about $7,500 over a base single cab Sierra 1500. The two trucks I drove had price tags way above those plain-vanilla versions.
The Titanium Rush Metallic 2022 GMC Sierra Limited Denali showed up with a $76,320 sticker. The Denali used to be the highest and most posh trim in the GMC showroom, but this model year the Denali Ultimate trim has made its debut, which starts at $10,000 more than the Denali. I expect the Denali Ultimate to become a favorite with GMC loyalists who expect only the best from their luxury pickup truck.
Both the Denali and the AT4X came equipped with the same powertrain, a massive, gas-guzzling 420 hp, 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission controlled with GM’s Electronic Precision shift. With gas prices ridiculously high right now, the EPA estimated fuel economy numbers for this engine are just painful, with the 6.2 liter getting only 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. No amount of hyper-miling on my part could distract from the fact that the huge V8 is not for gas misers like myself. The engine sounds great, drives great, no doubt can tow a large trailer without breaking a sweat, but it’s thirsty as all get out.
The Denali trim is beautiful with Premium Forge perforated leather seating surfaces and authentic open-pore real ash wood trim. This model year the touchscreen has grown to 13.4 inches, while there’s a new 12.3-diagonal configurable digital instrument cluster in place of simple gauges. There’s even a 15-inch-diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display to allow you to keep your eyes on the road more of the time. No need to look down to see how fast you’re speeding along.
The Denali trim level, whether it’s the standard or the Ultimate version, are for buyers that value both the prestige of the name and the amenities inside the vehicle. Although the 2022 Sierra is one tough customer, most Denali owners don’t relish taking their truck into a difficult off-road adventure where the vehicle might encounter terrain that is dangerous to cross. That’s where the GMC Sierra AT4X likes to reside, because this is a truck engineered from the ground up to defeat the off-road.
The Quicksilver Metallic 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X I test drove came along with a $80,590 price tag. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a decked-out off-road truck, but it was a nice truck both inside and out. It’s powered by that gigantic 420 hp, 6.2 liter V8 which no doubt comes in handy if you’re ever trying to man-handle a steep rocky ridge.
Some of the features that the AT4X has are unique springs that, with the truck’s multimatic dampers, increase maximum front and rear suspension travel over the suspension in the less-expensive AT4. There’s a two-speed transfer case, with selectable modes for different off-road conditions. These include Terrain Mode, which allows one-pedal rock crawling. Of course, there are front and rear e-locking differentials and specific off-road chassis and suspension calibrations. The tires are the impressive 18-inch LT265/70R18 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac Mud-Terrain.
The cabin is awash with premium leather, including full-grain leather-wrapped and technical grain leather accents, all of which is highlighted with white piping and red stitching with hard-to-miss AT4X badging. The front seats even have a massaging option, which makes long drives more comfortable.
Both GMC pickups are near the top of the line as far as price, power, luxury amenities, and capability. If a buyer (and his or her bank!) can afford either truck, neither will disappoint.