By on January 15, 2020


When GMC brass saw the sky-high take rate for its Denali-badged models, the hunt was on for a new sub-brand to further boost sales and margins. After they finished counting their cash, that is.

Which brings us to today. AT4, a recently introduced runner-up trim that blends much of the content and coddling of a Denali with varying levels of off-road improvement, was just revealed on the Iowa-class-sized GMC Yukon and Yukon XL for 2021 — a day after unveiling the upcoming Canyon. It’s already in place on the Sierra and Sierra HD pickups (appearing for 2019), as well as the 2020 Acadia crossover.

On Wednesday, General Motors’ truck division completed the AT4 sweep.

The Terrain, sister vehicle to the Chevrolet Equinox and no longer the brick-styled thing you remember from the early days of the previous decade, gains an AT4 variant for 2021. Adjustable ride height, like that seen on the Yukon AT4, is nowhere to be found on this lesser model, and forget about the permanent 2-inch lift bestowed upon the Sierra AT4.

Depending on model, AT4’s ability to conquer, um, terrain comes down to the vehicle itself, and its prescribed mission in life. The Terrain is a compact crossover, something best suited for customers who want a higher seating position and all-wheel drive for those days where mother nature throws a tantrum. With AT4, the Terrain becomes a rival to butched-up CUVs like the Toyota RAV4 Adventure and TRD.

Just how much of a rival remains to be seen. The 2021 Terrain AT4 doesn’t arrive at dealers until this fall. Pricing and content remains a mystery, though one can expect a higher degree of interior comfort and refinement, plus a nod to off-roading.

Black chrome tinsel and a slightly rejigged face is par for the course with AT4, along with aluminum interior trim and upgrades seat colors, but that won’t get you further down the trail.

All GMC is willing to say about the Terrain AT4 is that it offers “a rugged exterior, confident capability and advanced technology.” On the Acadia AT4, the automaker added a twin-clutch AWD system, grabbier tires, and afforded drivers greater control over traction with the inclusion of an off-road mode.

Given the Terrain’s competition, one wonders if the suspension will see any changes. Toyota tossed upgraded shocks and springs at its off-roader compact CUVs, modestly bumping ground clearance up to 8.6 inches in the process. A stock Terrain’s ground clearance is 7.9 inches.

But perhaps true off-road ability isn’t much of a sales motivator in the mainstream CUV market. Actually, we know it isn’t. Appearance and comfort plays a far greater role in moving metal.

While we can’t yet show you a dazzling array of images of the Terrain AT4, it can be seen in the top photo, sandwiched between the Yukon and Acadia. For the record, this writer is of the opinion that the Yukon AT4 handily tops the Denali in looks, what with the latter model’s less-than-impressive grille:

[Images: General Motors]

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10 Comments on “Butch-premium Goes Mainstream: AT4 Filters Down to the Last Member of the GMC Family...”

  • avatar

    Call me if they ever built a Typhoon edition. Lower it, full time torque vectoring AWD, 3.0 twin turbo.

    Then you’d catch my interest.

  • avatar

    I preferred it when appearance packages actually had substance, real chrome and hood ornaments were much more exciting than faux skid plates made of cheap easily scratched plastic and pretend capability.

    A 1944 Willys certainly wouldn’t be anymore capable with 20 inch alloy black painted rims, red shocks, and an air damn that sticks down within a couple inches from the ground, yet this is the best GM has to offer consumers nearly 80 years later.

  • avatar

    Adding a 19 dollar lobster tail to the 9 oz sirloin.

  • avatar

    Paging DEADWeight.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    I really try hard not to be too down on the General. After all, I positively drank the Kool Aide in my youth, and thoroughly enjoyed the various GM products I had over the years. Some were more memorable, some less so, but what struck me recently as I turn 55 in a few days is just how long it has been since I actually found some level of “want” for a GM vehicle. I think the last model year I actually cared about was 1975, if only for the Grand Prix a good friend had. The desolation of “want” has been crushing, and I cannot see any current reason to wander onto the GM dealers lots. I did go to the GM website and as I haven’t really totally kept up, and nope! Nothing. And the current crop of GrilleZilla shown here? No.
    Ok, I am mistaken, the Trackers were great, as long as they were not the v6. Had several, and loved them, so there: some GM love. But not much.

  • avatar

    Never even knew AT4 was anything other tnan two letters and one number. Leave it to professional grade Chevrolet to make their stuff even more professional grade.

  • avatar

    Butch indeed, we are living through angry times. People love cars that are dressed like the Terminator and yet we salivate when we see someone good looking in a suit. I used to make fun of the Germans and Swiss for their nude hiking, I think I see the point – no clothes.

  • avatar

    Not to be confused with the Cadillac XT4 or ATS or will it be?

  • avatar

    I see they have forgotten to install the front bumpers before taking the picture.

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