GMC takes its Sierra off-road

Mario Cywinski
February 19, 2019
By Mario Cywinski
The word off-roading usually brings a smile to most peoples faces, even if they aren’t the ones doing the driving. The connotation is usually a positive one, and most people associate it with having some fun in their vehicle. Now, if you own a sedan like I do, off-roading is not the best idea. However, for many who own an SUV or pick-up truck, they have at the very least driven on a dirt road with some potholes.

For years when a standard vehicle was sold as an off-road model that meant some cosmetic changes, rugged tires, and the like. Fortunately for those who actually want to take their vehicles off-road, that is no longer the case. Most OEMs who produce trucks are now offering dedicated off-road models based on their standard 1500 series trucks, and General Motors is no exception.

GM recently invited journalists to San Diego, Calif. to test out the GMC Sierra AT4 (GM speak for its off-road model). The drive started out downtown with the street by the hotel being blocked off to display the trucks. Soon after, the drive to the desert helped to demonstrate the AT4’s capabilities.

While driving up and down the side of a hill on the rather rough terrain, we encountered Border Patrol, other motorists, and of course the ever-present cliff on one side of the road. GM did warn those who have any issue with heights to take the part of the drive that goes uphill and not down. At the end of the day, everyone in the convoy of AT4’s navigated the drive without any problems. Apart from the odd GoPro being lost somewhere along the way, but that seems to be par for the course on these drives.

At the lunch spot, a short but more extreme off-road course was set up to really show off the vehicle’s capabilities. Participants took the AT4 up and down the side of a rock face, which was relatively steep with uneven terrain. Again everyone was able to navigate the challenge without any issues. The drive demonstrated what the AT4 could do but what does it have that allows it to do it. Well, the AT4 model offers a suite of standard features that are important off-road equipment.

They include: two-inch factory-installed suspension lift, off-road-tuned Rancho monotube shock absorbers, 4WD with a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential and skid plates, hill decent control, and traction select system. Stylistically the AT4 has black chrome finish on fog lamp bezels, fender surround and grille insert, body-colour grille surround, door handles and bumper, and red vertical recovery hooks. The interior is also updated from the standard Sierra model.

“The all new Sierra light duty AT4 brings off road capability to the premium truck market. The AT4 is designed for customers who are looking for off road capability but don’t want to sacrifice style or a comfortable cab,” said Mark Alger, national marketing manager, GMC Canada. “Customers in the resource sector and other off roaders will benefit from the 2” factory lift kit, standard four wheel drive, skid plates, Rancho shock absorbers, locking rear differential and standard 33” all terrain tires or available mud rated tires.”

Introduced on the GMC Sierra 1500, and standard on the AT4 is the MultiPro tailgate, which offers six positions and functions, which allow for more flexibility when loading, unloading, as well allowing for easier access to the box. Also available is a pickup box that is made of carbon fibre.

Two segment first options available are the rear camera mirror, which allows the rear-view camera to be displayed in the rear-view mirror (the rear-view mirror can also be used traditionally), and a multi-coloured heads-up display.

As with many pick-up trucks these days, a full line of safety features are available, and the GMC Sierra AT4 is no exception. It comes available with 360 camera, blind spot monitoring, front pedestrian braking, and low speed automatic forward braking.

“The AT4 features a signature body colour and black chrome exterior, red vertical tow hooks and an exclusive Jet black/Kalahari leather interior with dark aluminum accents,” said Alger. “Commercial customers looking for functional features without sacrificing premium design and comfort need to check out the all new AT4.”

An off-road performance package is also available on the Sierra AT4. It offers performance air intake, performance exhaust system, 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, and a 6.2L V-8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Mario Cywinski is the editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of AJAC and a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has more than 15 years’ of automobile industry experience.

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