2022 UPDATE: Caraganza First Drive Review 2021: GMC Sierra 1500 Denali


I hate crossovers; and small SUVs, in fact unless it has a “Porsche” badge on it somewhere I’m not a fan of small cars.

If I ever get an SUV, and no I don’t own one now, I’ll get the biggest one a I can. As in takes up the whole lane you can lose small children in it, sort of big.

I feel the same way about pickup trucks. I want to have a pickup truck that’s so big you could tow your house behind it. Like if there were some sort of zombie apocalypse and the camera pans to a shot of a long line of refugees, I’ll be the one pulling a ranch style house behind a truck.

A truck sort of like the 2021 Sierra 1500 GMC sent me for a recent week. The Sierra is big, huge, almost ostentatious, but in a good way. It’s also luxurious. It the GMC lineup, it’s the big brother wearing a tuxedo.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 has six trim levels: base, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4 and Denali; it is also available in three cab configurations: regular cab, double cab (it’s a crew cab, but with less rear seat space) and crew cab. Not all trims are available in all configurations. There are also three bed lengths available depending on the cab configuration.


There are five different engines, three different transmissions, and rear- or all-wheel drive. The base is a 285-hp V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic. You can option in a 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 pairs with a six- or eight-speed automatic. The 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 and torque-rich diesel six-cylinder (making 460 lb-ft) solely operate through a 10-speed automatic. You can also get adaptive dampers and other things that separate this truck from the GMC and Chevy lineup. There is a dedicated off-road variant the AT4 model, which has a 2.0-inch suspension lift and other off-road enhancements.

I had the top-of-the-line Denali for my week (crew cab 4WD and 62. Liter V8), which gave me such nice things as a two-speed transfer case, Bose audio system, 20-inch wheels, side steps, a digital instrument cluster a power-sliding rear window, heated and ventilated front seats, a HUD, wireless charging, and the Technology package with a rear camera mirror, bed-view camera and a surround-view camera (gives you a top-down view of the Sierra and its surroundings for tight parking situations). There was also a very nice carbon-fiber cargo bed and a multi-function tailgate that can take just about anything you can throw at it I suspect.

I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best-looking vehicles I have had in quite some time; inside and out. On the road you won’t be doing any sort of high-performance speed runs, but the power is more that what’s needed to get the job done.

What I like about the Sierra’s interior is the class. Sure, this is a pickup truck, but inside it doesn’t really look like one. Instead, it’s upscale and a very nice place to be.

There will be a refresh for the 2022 models, which is good for the 2021. That means you can get a great deal on a 2021 and if you are in the market for a full-size truck you need to jump in the Sierra and take a spin. And should you need to escape the zombie apocalypse you’ll be able to just hook the house up and go.


Well, that didn’t take long. GMC sent me the refreshed 2022 just over two months after I had the week with the 2021. While GMC characterized the makeover as “substantial” I couldn’t tell all that much of a difference. Of course, that could be in large part due to me being old and sometimes forgetting things like why they hell I walked into the kitchen, but still.

For 2022 they added Denali Ultimate and AT4X trims, dropped the V6, added torque to the 4-cylinder, and increased the towing capacity by 4000 pounds and tuned the transmission to make it more responsive. The Unlimited adds more luxury stuff like a fully leather trimmed instrument panel, and more leather all around the cabin. The Unlimited also comes standard with Super Cruise GMs hands-free driver assistance package (it’s optional on the other Denali). The AT4X meanwhile adds more off-road capabilities like multimatic DSSV dampers, front and rear e-lockers and Terrain Mode with one-pedal crawling.

All the models get some enhanced safety features like Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert with enhancements to the Adaptive Cruise Control. GMC Pro Safety is now standard and includes Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indicator and IntelliBeam automatic high beams.

While the outside didn’t look all that different to me, the inside really does. Except for the entry-level Pro model, every Sierra has a new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. There are also other interior enhancements, that make the cabin even nicer than before. I didn’t realize that the Sierra interior needed an update, but I’m glad it got one.

Perhaps the nicest thing is the price. The 2022 Denali I had for the week had an MSRP of $72,725, less than the 2021 while the fuel mileage was just about the same: 14 city, 19 highway, and 16 combined.

Now if I could just remember what I needed from the kitchen.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD Crew Cab
MSRP: $59,100
MSRP (as tested): $72,860
Engine: 6.2-liter V8, 420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm, 460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 16 city, 20 highway, 17 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions) 18 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 4720 pounds
Max Towing Capacity:11,000 lbs.
Max Payload Capacity    2,040 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Overall Length: 231.7 inches
Wheelbase: 147.4 inches
Width 81.2 inches
Height: 75.5 inches
Minimum Ground Clearance: 7.9 inches

Interior Dimensions
Front head room: 43.0 in.
Front hip room: 61.2 in.
Front leg room: 44.5 in.
Front shoulder room: 66.0 in.
Rear head room: 40.1 in.
Rear hip Room: 60.2 in.
Rear leg room: 43.4 in.
Rear shoulder room: 65.2 in.

Basic: 3 years / 36000 miles
Powertrain: 5 years / 60000 miles
Corrosion: 3 years / 36000 miles

Greg Engle