Off the Beaten Path: 2019 GMC Sierra AT4

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
off the beaten path 2019 gmc sierra at4

GMC has determined there’s gold in them thar trails, witnessing Ram hoovering up dollars from off-roaders and wannabe off-roaders with the Rebel variation of its 1500 pickup.

The tri-lettered half of The General’s truck duo latched onto the off-road life in the previous Sierra with a trim called All Terrain. It’s back and beefed up on the revamped 2019 model but, taking a page from the Cadillac Book of Alphanumerics, it is now called the AT4.

This new version of the Sierra is bestowed with various visual addenda such as black chrome finishes and the scattered bit of red trim. What sets it apart from other Sierras, GMC says, is its two-inch suspension lift and Rancho shock absorbers. Standard equipment on the AT4 includes the brand’s familiar 5.3-liter V8 engine. A choice of tires include 18-inch Goodyear Duratracs or 20-inch rubber, although (somehow) the tires on the model shown here look like casters from a piano. Surely they will look more substantial in person. The “squircle” wheel arches continue.

Interestingly, it will also be available with the macho 6.2-liter V8 or the Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel. These engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. A system called Traction Select allows the driver to choose from preset drive modes that have been tailored for different terrain or weather conditions, not unlike what’s found on some burly SUVs. GMC says selecting one of these modes adjusts Sierra’s transmission shift points, throttle mapping, and StabiliTrak to optimize performance for whatever terrain the driver is trying to traverse.

GMC’s interesting MultiPro tailgate makes an appearance and the AT4 cribs the CarbonPro from its Denali brother. This latter detail speaks to two thoughts. First, GMC must have invested heavily in the development of a carbon fiber box and some pencil-necked accountant within the company is screaming that the costs be recouped. Second, the company seems determined not to repeat the Pro-Tec debacle of 15 years ago by more aggressively marketing the CarbonPro box and offering it on multiple trims.

“The 2019 Sierra AT4 is designed for the customer who wants an elevated presence on the road and the capability to venture off life’s beaten path,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC. “It’s also the beginning for the AT4 brand, which will be seen on every vehicle in our lineup in the next two years.”

Reading into this, that means there will be an AT4 version of the Canyon, which would make for an interesting welterweight foil to Chevy’s own Colorado ZR2. Nothing in the release says that future AT4 models won’t receive additional equipment, so it is indeed plausible that the Canyon could earn the trick suspension from its ZR2 cousin. The Sierra AT4 shown here does not possess such off-road goodies.

Taking Mr. Aldred’s point to the next level, we should also expect an AT4 trim GMC’s various cadre of SUVs and crossovers including, not to put too fine a point on it, the Yukon and Yukon XL. An off-road(ish) version of these two brutes would please this author to no end. The other half of GM showroom offers a supremely cool (if eye-wateringly expensive) Tahoe RST which is not trail-focused at all but certainly makes the point that GM is not afraid to throw a few high dollar pieces at its largest SUV platform.

I would not call this Sierra AT4 a competitor to the Raptor, even with the fabulous 6.2-liter under the hood, as the GMC is not equipped with the same level of off-road kit that accepts repeated beatings on the Ford. It is, however, in this author’s truck-focused mind, an alternative to the Ram Rebel.

The AT4 is expected to appear on dealer lots this Fall.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.