Rugged and Refined: GMC Sierra 1500 AT4

The GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 balances on-road refinement, interior luxury, and off-road muscle.

The Sierra AT4 has Great Road Manners, a Luxurious Interior, and Off-Road Chops

  — by Jeffrey N. Ross
 
So, can the all-new GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 live up to the off-road chops of the Ford Raptor? The answer may surprise you.
 
OK, spoiler alert. The answer is no. Whereas the Ford Raptor is a purpose-built off-road performance truck mildly disguised as an everyday Ford F-150, the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 was developed to be more of a rugged everyday truck. Bottom line, the Raptor is a blunt-force object in the off-roading world, while the Sierra AT4 is a Swiss Army knife. When it was introduced, GMC promised a truck with refinement and off-road muscle, which tend to go together about as well as oil and water.
 
So with that in mind, I spent a week in the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 trying to see where this truck excels the most.
 

The Sierra AT4 has is off-road capable enough to stand its ground as a proven factory off-roader.

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Exterior

First and foremost, just walking up to the redesigned 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 you can instantly tell that GMC's design team is doing a great job at distinguishing the Sierra from the Silverado.
 
While the current Silverado has a polarizing design, the new Sierra has a really cool look to it, and one that's probably good enough to give the new Ram 1500 a run for its styling money. As good as the Sierra's new styling is, the AT4 trim level adds a more rugged appearance starting with a two-inch factory lift, trim-exclusive 18-inch wheels with a dark finish and red tow hooks, in the front bumper. Side steps are almost a necessity on this lifted Sierra, and the AT4 Premium Package adds six-inch rectangular assist steps.
 
The overall design is given a bolder style with a monochromatic paint job – the $595 Red Quartz Tintcoat option in this case – complemented by black chrome accent trim. The AT4 trim level is available on both Double Cab and Crew Cab configurations (this truck was the Crew Cab/short bed model), and its price includes just about all of the truck's available features, including full LED exterior lighting and GMC's innovative MultiPro Tailgate.
 
The tailgate is really helpful, as it allows easier access to the cargo bed, but it's also a little counter-intuitive as you aren't able to use the step if a trailer hitch is connected. All Sierras are fitted with GM's CornerStep built into the rear bumper.
 
The exterior of the Sierra AT4 might be rugged outside, but the inside is all about luxury.

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Interior

While the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 puts its most rugged foot forward when it comes to the exterior design, the inside is all about luxury. After all, the only trim level higher than Sierra AT4 is the loaded Sierra Denali. Inside, you'll find dark leather throughout the cabin, with saddle colored accents and contrasting stitching. Similar to the Denali, the AT4 features accent trim with a satin metal finish, and the stylish interior is finished with the AT4 logo found on the front door sill plates and embroidered into the front headrests. Front passengers get heated and cooled bucket seats, while the rear outboard occupants get heated seats.
 
While the exterior design of the 2019 GMC Sierra is totally different from the Silverado, these two trucks have identical interiors. Being the Crew Cab model, the Sierra AT4 has a cavernous interior designed to maximize passenger and cargo space. Three adults fit comfortably in the rear seat, but this space easily converts to allow plenty of cargo, thanks to the flat load floor. There's also a massive center console, dual glove boxes, and small storage compartments built into the rear seat backs.
 
My test truck was equipped with the $2,600 AT4 Premium Package (power-sliding rear window, eight-inch infotainment system with navigation, Bose audio system and wireless smartphone charging) and the $1,875 Technology Package (which requires the $745 Driver Alert II package, and includes an HD Surround Vision, a rear camera mirror, a 15-inch head-up display, and an eight-inch Digital Driver Information Center in the gauge cluster).
 
This Sierra AT4 was equipped with the optional 6.2-liter V8 good for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Powertrain

While the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 lineup offers four different engine options, AT4 buyers currently only have a pair of direct-injected V8s to choose from: the base 5.3-liter V8 and the bigger 6.2-liter V8 (the 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six will eventually be offered, too). Because more power is always better when it comes to off-roading, this tester was equipped with optional engine putting out 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, which is a healthy increase of 65 hp and 77 lb-ft over the AT4's base V8.
 
If you're looking for more power, both engines can also be equipped with the optional Off-Road Performance Package (a $4,940 upgrade on the 6.2L) that adds a performance air intake and cat-back performance exhaust upping the engine's output another 15 hp and nine more lb-ft for a grand total of 435 horsepower and 469 lb-ft.
 
Now, the Sierra AT4 might not be as modified as a Raptor or Toyota TRD Pro. But it's hard to find terrain this truck can't conquer, thanks to its two-inch lift, Rancho suspension, skid plates and a standard locking rear differential. During some intense off-roading, the AT4's setup is ready for anything, from crawling over jagged rocks to plowing through thick, goopy mud. With almost 11 inches of ground clearance, the AT4 has about three more inches of clearance than the standard Sierra 4WD, and it's enough to traverse any terrain without getting high centered. For a high-tech off-roading experience, the AT4 offers optional technologies such as a 360-degree camera that can display various views for enhanced off-road driving, along with a heads-up display unit that shows information like steering wheel angle and a vehicle inclinometer.
 
The biggest advantage of the AT4 is that unlike dedicated off-road trucks like the Raptor and Tundra TRD Pro, it isn't brutal to operate during on-road driving. While the Goodyear Mud Terrain tires do exhibit a bit of roar at highway speeds, the ride is impressively smooth considering the Rancho shocks are tuned for off-roading. Official EPA-rated fuel economy estimates for this 6.2-liter Sierra AT4 are 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway*, which represents a 1 mpg drop in highway mileage compared to the 5.3-liter, but the most efficient engine does require premium fuel.
 
Three adults will fit comfortably in the rear seats of the Sierra AT4, and this space easily converts to allow plenty of cargo.

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Safety

The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 has a Four-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including a Five-Star side impact rating. This full-size truck offers all of the latest in safety technologies including the no-charge driver alert package that brings lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist and the trailer tire pressure monitor system.
 
On top of this, the $745 Driver Alert II adds low speed forward automatic braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert and IntelliBeam headlamps.
 
GMC's innovative MultiPro Tailgate, allows easy access to the cargo bed. But you aren't able to use the step if a trailer hitch is connected.

2019 GMC Sierra AT4 Overall

After a week behind the wheel of the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4, it's clear that this isn't an apples-to-apples rival with blunt-force off-roaders like the Ford Raptor or Ram Power Wagon.
 
Instead, the AT4 delivers the luxury and tech of a Denali with enough added attitude and off-road capability to stand its ground as a proven factory off-roader. Bottom line, the Sierra AT4 is more usable on a daily basis than the Raptor, and it's also a better off-road truck than the Tundra TRD Pro.
 
Like its rivals, though, the AT4 is a pricey truck. In base form (single cab, long box, V-6, 2WD), the 2019 Sierra has a starting MSRP of $31,995**, but stepping up to the more rugged AT4 increases the price $54,795**. Loaded up with options, the Sierra AT4 used for this review had an as-tested price of $65,455**.
 
Drop by your local AutoNation GMC dealer today to check one out!
 
*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
 
** MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
Categories: Test Drive Review
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