• GMC touts AT4 off-road trim as new sub-brand
  • Standard 4-wheel drive
  • Locking differentials, off-road shocks
  • Priced from $50,800

 

Say you savor impressive off-road capability in an upscale truck with virtually all available technologies. And you want bold, muscular looks to reflect that capability. Yet you also want a quiet, comfortable, civilized ride on your commutes and cross-country trips.

Then GMC’s new AT4 (All-Terrain 4WD) sub-brand may be your answer.

GMC has done extremely well with its top-grade luxury Denali brand, which has spread to every model it makes in recent years. Now AT4, which debuts on the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra pickup, takes the division’s sub-branding strategy in a different direction. And GMC global vice president Duncan Aldred says it “will be seen on every vehicle in our lineup in the next two years.”

No Raptor rival

But don’t compare this new GMC Sierra AT4 to Ford’s F-150 Raptor, which is essentially a street-suitable desert racing truck. The AT4’s standard powertrain is a 355-hp 5.3-liter V8 driving through an 8-speed automatic transmission, and its optional choices are a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a soon to come 3.0-liter turbodiesel six, both coupled to 10-speed automatics. Both V8s boast GM’s new fuel-saving Dynamic Fuel Management and automatic engine stop/start systems, and as we learned in off-road testing at supplier Eaton Corp.’s Michigan Proving Grounds its performance with either one is more than adequate, but hardly racy.

Riding two inches higher for added ground clearance, the Sierra AT4 boasts standard 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case and an Eaton G80 MLocker differential, off-road-tuned Rancho monotube shocks, Hill Descent Control, Traction Select, skid plates, red vertical recovery hooks and GMC’s exclusive, incredibly versatile MultiPro tailgate. It also gets a body color grille surround, door handles and bumpers, black chrome grille and trim, special dark interior accents and leather-appointed seats with embroidered AT4 badging on the headrests.

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It rides on specific machine-faced, dark-tinted 18-inch wheels wearing all-terrain or available mud terrain-rated Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, or on optional 20-inchers. Among the many other available options are a multi-color head-up display, a rear camera mirror, a full suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance features including Surround Vision, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking and Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking. GMC’s exclusive carbon fiber cargo box is also available for the Sierra AT4.

Off-road prowess

We tested a fully equipped Sierra AT4 on a challenging off-road course through deep sand, melon-sized rocks, multiple mudholes, a giant twist ditch and a 30-percent grade hill, all at Eaton’s proving grounds. The Sierra handled it all with ease. We appreciated its customizable head-up display’s comprehensive inclinometer (thankfully visible through polarized sunglasses) and its Surround Vision cameras’ on-demand, multi-configurable views of everything ahead, beside and behind us, which is especially useful in tight off-road (or parking) situations.

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The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 is on sale now and starts at $50,800, plus $1,495 for delivery. Add a few packages and options and expect prices to be more in the high $50,000 to low $60,000 range.

We believe that GMC has another winner with this new AT4 sub-brand. It won’t displace Denali (which currently accounts for about a third of GMC sales) in high-end appeal but will add another dimension of upscale off-road capability for customers so inclined.

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