The GMC Yukon formula is familiar. Big and comfortable with a powerful engine getting things motivated. It’s a winning formula, too – the Yukon is quite popular, as you know.
Underneath, the formula remains the same. Stylistically, though, chances were taken. And that roll of the dice doesn’t pay off quite as well.
GMC had the sense not to mess with the powertrain, but the attempt to keep the styling current is a bit of a messy miss in this application.
GMC introduced an interesting concept at Colorado’s Overland Expo Mountain West 2021 this week and the timing couldn’t have been better. While North America has always appreciated off-road vehicles, there’s been an overnight explosion in the number of people considering 4×4 adventuring as a hobby. Troubled times have encouraged individuals to embrace the kind of cars that can tackle any terrain while doubling as a mobile campsite, and the Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Off-Road Concept certainly seems capable.
Although the hypothetical production model probably has a better chance of becoming canvases for online influences than carrying anybody through a genuine disaster. This is something GMC likewise appears hip to, as the whole point of the concept SUV is to show what can be done with the Canyon, a little creativity, and a wad of cash reserved for aftermarket accessories.
While GMC is synonymous with trucks, General Motors has also made it a pseudo-luxury brand in relation to Chevrolet. Customers who have cross-shopped the GMC’s Sierra against the Chevy Silverado already know this. Pricing differences may start off tight but the Sierra quickly runs away with things when High Country and Denali trims start coming into play. It’s a largely similar story with the two brands’ midsize Canyon and Colorado. Chevy’s entry is the more value-oriented truck and can be equipped to boast superior off-road capabilities.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 trounces the GMC Canyon AT4 when both are thrown squarely at Mother Nature. But this was by design, explaining why the latter model phased out the automaker’s “All Terrain” badging. GMC is supposed to be the brand you want to relax in and often yields slightly nicer interiors than its Chevy equivalent. Unfortunately, this has allowed pickups like the more-capable (and expensive) Colorado ZR2 Bison shame GM’s “truck brand” as delivering lesser ORVs. GMC is hoping to remedy the issue by offering the 2021 Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition — which adds some items that make it more of a contender whenever pavement is in short supply.
The upscale, off-road-minded version of the refreshed GMC Canyon can’t hold a candle to the midsize excess offered by the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, or even the ZR2 Bison variant of its Chevrolet Colorado twin, but General Motors’ truck division seems intent on giving customers a way to further boost their truck cred.
A package will reportedly offer a roster of things the stock Canyon AT4 leaves off.
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.
GMC has long made a fuss about its Denali sub-brand, which is meant to signify the most luxurious trim available for any given GMC model. GMCs, of course, are supposed to be more upscale versions of Chevrolet trucks and SUVs, even without Denali badging.
Enter a new sub-brand – AT4. First available as an off-road-oriented trim on the Sierra full-size pickup, and intended to become available on all GMC models within the next two years, AT4 is a trim that aims to emphasize off-road ability – or at least look the part.
While the Sierra’s AT4 trim offers mechanical changes that serve to improve the truck’s off-road prowess, the Acadia version is more about off-road looks, all-terrain tires and standard all-wheel drive notwithstanding. GMC knows the Acadia is a suburban shuttle, not a bad-ass off-roader, and has adjusted the AT4 treatment for this vehicle as such.
Adventurous types looking for off-road fun from their local GM dealer already have the option of choosing the brawny Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and its butchier Bison variant, which leaves GM’s truck-only GMC brand as something as a spectator. GMC hasn’t gone whole-hog into the off-road midsizer niche, though it does offer its Canyon pickup in All Terrain trim. Cutaway front fenders are most definitely not included.
The same dynamic may exist after 2020, but the All Terrain will be gone, replaced with an AT4 trim that hopefully goes the extra mile in terms of off-the-beaten-track capability.
While diesel may be deader than disco in the passenger car segment, it is rolling plenty of coal in the half-ton pickup truck class. Once the domain of heavy duty rigs, oil burners are now snaking their way under the hoods of consumer-grade trucks.
We’ve known for a spell the output of Ford’s half-ton PowerStroke, as we have with Ram’s on-again-off-again EcoDiesel. Now we learn GM’s rating and, compared to that pair of competitor mills, it can brag about being best in class.
If you need to get somewhere off the beaten path just that much more quickly than The Other Guy – or maybe you simply want to one-up your neighbor and their new Sierra AT4 – GMC has an answer for you.
Despite being only about three seconds old, The General is already throwing a new package at the 2019 Sierra. Meant to layer on top of the off-road focused AT4 trim, this new option adds even more horses to the hand-of-god 6.2-liter V8.
And, for once, buyers actually save money by selecting the option package. Speed normally costs money – but not this time.
There are several truths in this world: death, taxes, and the profitability of pickup trucks. General Motors has shown us several iterations of its 2019 half-tons since they dropped one from the sky at Texas Motor Speedway in December, despite the trucks not being scheduled to be found on dealer lots until this fall.
Now, GMC is rolling out another trim of its Sierra cash machine, the Elevation. Think of it as a color-keyed whip that can be opted with an “off-road lite” package. One thing’s for sure: fans of the brand will be spoilt for choice when the new truck appears in showrooms.
And, oh yeah, it’ll come standard with a 310 horsepower inline-four. Will truck buyers embrace a machine with half the traditional cylinder count?
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.
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