Amongst truck fans, few models are as highly regarded as the Sierra 1500, which is the luxurious and sophisticated cousin of the Chevy Silverado. While the 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 has a lot to offer, including amazing new options for off-road design, it’s the renewed commitment to exquisite luxury that really catches my eye. As I said, GMC is already well known for its commitment to comfort and innovative technology in its vehicles, with the Denali trim serving as the ultimate expression of this. At least, that was the case until recently when GMC decided to go further, taking their vehicles to a whole new level.
Don’t get me wrong—the Denali trim is still an amazing example of luxury and impressive technology, but now things have gone further with the Denali Ultimate trim level. The Denali Ultimate essentially takes everything that’s impressive about the Denali and elevates it even further with a number of upgrades and more features. These aren’t necessarily revolutionary—and for a lot of people, the Denali will still be plenty of truck with incredible comfort—but for anyone looking to go to the next level, that’s where the Denali Ultimate steps in. You don’t have to take my word for it, of course; let’s have a look at these two trims, and you’ll see what I mean.
The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
We’re not going to bother looking at the starting options for the GMC Sierra 1500 because that’s not what I’m interested in today; today is all about luxury. And for truly generous luxury, we’re starting at the top—or at least what used to be the top—with the Sierra 1500 Denali, one of the highest trims for this truck. For starters, there are three engines available for this trim: a 355 hp 5.3L V8, a 6.2L V8 with 420 hp, and a 3.0L Duramax Turbo-Diesel that delivers 495 lb-ft of torque. All three engines are solid choices, though the 6.2L V8 is likely the most attractive. They all come with a ten-speed automatic transmission, and both two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) are available.
The Denali rides on 20-inch multi-dimensional polished aluminum wheels, wrapped in all-season tires, with a 17-inch full-size spare. You’ll find body-color front and rear bumpers on the Denali, with six-inch chrome rectangular full-length assist steps that make it easier to get in and out of the truck and to access items in the bed near the cab. There’s a signature Denali grille on this model, with chrome details, along with heated, power, driver-side auto-dimming, power-folding outside mirrors; plus, the Denali features a GMC MultiPro Tailgate with EZ Lift assist, power lock and release, and a bunch of other fancy features.
This model also comes with a Denali Premium Suspension with Adaptive Ride Control that includes selectable modes to improve one’s driving experience. The advanced suspension monitors each wheel independently and adjusts the suspension every two milliseconds to ensure a smooth ride, with Continuous Damping Control and real-time damping designed to keep things quiet and comfortable. A heavy-duty air filter, external engine oil cooler, and external auxiliary transmission oil cooler help boost performance and keep things running well even while towing a lot of weight or with a heavy load on the truck.
Inside the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, you’ll find one of the nicest, most well-appointed interiors of any truck on the market. There’s a 13.4-inch GMC Premium Infotainment system with Google built-in, a seven-speaker Bose Premium sound system with a Richbass woofer, and Forge perforated leather seating. This includes ten-way power-adjustable front seats, which are heated and ventilated, plus heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. There’s a 12.3-inch color Driver Information Center that’s customizable, a wireless charging pad, and additional functionality thanks to Keyless Open and Start with Remote Start.
The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate
All of these Denali edition features seem great—and it looks like plenty of truck to me—yet GMC is clearly unimpressed by their own work since they’ve decided to one-up themselves. The Denali Ultimate trim is only available with 4WD (we can all agree that 2WD is for chumps) and the 5.3L V8 engine isn’t available here—only the 6.2L V8 or the Turbo Diesel. That simplifies things a bit, plus the Denali Ultimate features 22-inch midnight-painted aluminum wheels with bright chrome inserts for a large, bold, and powerful overall look.
This isn’t by accident; it’s something GMC spent a lot of time working on for the Denali Ultimate, clearly, as it includes several exclusive touches and details. For example, the Signature Denali grille on this model features Vader chrome details, which you’ll also find on the front and rear GMC logos and other locations on this truck. This Vader chrome is essentially a darkened chrome that looks quite stunning and gives the Denali Ultimate a unique feel as opposed to simply adding something bright and shiny to it.
Inside the Denali Ultimate, you’ll find more that sets this model apart and helps it live up to its name in terms of luxury, sophistication, and style. For starters, there’s a 12-speaker Bose Premium Series sound system with Richbass woofer, along with a pair of 16-way power front seats that include power lumbar and a massage function to ensure folks are exceptionally comfortable. We still find heated and ventilated front seats, with heated rear seats, although the Denali Ultimate also has a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 15-inch multi-color Heads-Up Display (HUD) that projects information onto your windshield. Oh, and there’s a MultiPro Audio System that includes a weatherproof audio package for the rear tailgate, giving you a two-channel, 100-watt sound system inside the tailgate, with Bluetooth connectivity and USB and 3.5mm audio inputs.
The Denali Ultimate also includes a power sunroof, to take the driving experience even further, plus it’s available with GM’s Super Cruise technology. This is the latest in semi-autonomous driving tech that functions with hundreds of thousands of miles of roads throughout North America, delivering true hands-free driving. To be fair, this is also available for the Denali, but it’s something I just had to mention since it’s one of the most impressive pieces of semi-autonomous driving technology on the market right now.
What More Could We Want?
It’s not hard to see how the Denali Ultimate elevates everything the Denali brings to the road and goes even further. I was a bit skeptical at first when I heard about an Ultimate version of the Denali trim—my first thought was, “Why not just make the Denali better?” Part of me still asks that question, but the more I look at these two trims, the more I come to appreciate how they both offer different things for different levels of drivers and thus create a more comprehensive lineup.
Since the Sierra 1500 is the flagship for GMC’s truck selection, it makes sense they’d want to deliver pickups that offer more than any other brand. The Sierra 1500 is sitting at eight available trim levels right now, which is admittedly a bit high, but that includes two gorgeous premium options and two rugged off-road trims. This makes it easier for GMC fans to get the truck they want with exactly the right combination of features for what they need, and I can respect that. I’m hopeful that we won’t see a “Super Deluxe Denali Ultimate Plus!” trim anytime soon, and that the two we have now will be enough to get the job done. We’ll have to see what the future brings, but—for now—I think we have everything we could want from the Sierra 1500.