Since the Ford Raptor began flying off dealer lots in 2010, Ram and General Motors have responded only halfheartedly, leaving the Blue Oval’s Baja racer in a class of its own. That will still be the norm for full-size pickups after the arrival of this 2019 GMC Sierra AT4, a far less intense off-roader than the latest Raptor or the Hellcat-powered Rebel anticipated later this year.The AT4—which, a GM spokesman said, does not stand for “all terrain”—is a burlier, trail-hardened trim that will spread across the GMC lineup. It’s a relatively mild tweak of the all-new Sierra 1500 for less extreme off-road duty. Visually, it’s an SLT with a two-inch lift kit, red tow hooks, and enough darkened chrome pieces to pass for yet another “midnight” edition. Available in crew-cab trucks with the short bed, the AT4 has standard four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case (of course) and sports standard 18-inch wheels wearing mud-rated Goodyear Wranglers and suspended by Rancho monotube dampers that come from a small Michigan supplier. Optional 20-inch rims may fill in the giant air gaps in the fender wells. Embroidered headrests, darkened aluminum trim, and all-weather floor mats decorate the interior, which also features hidden storage space within the rear seatbacks and a second tray beneath the seat rests.
New to the AT4 is the Traction Select System, GMC’s take on terrain mapping, which alters throttle, transmission, and stability control settings to suit the environs. It pairs with the standard 5.3-liter V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission but also is available with the 6.2-liter V-8 or the new turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six. The latter pair come with the 10-speed automatic co-engineered with Ford. A locking rear differential, hill descent control, and four-wheel drive help claw the AT4 out of sticky situations. The bed comes standard with GMC’s multi-piece MultiPro tailgate, also on SLT and Denali trims, and optionally with carbon-fiber panels, also to be an option on Denali models. That aptly named CarbonPro bed has indents designed to snugly secure motorcycle and quad tires, plus it features extra tie-down hooks.
Otherwise, the AT4 is a pretty normal Sierra 4×4 that can be appointed with all kinds of extra safety aids and electronics like a digital rearview mirror and a multicolor head-up display including an inclinometer. We wish GMC would aim to fly higher, as Chevrolet has indicated it’s ready to do with the mid-size Colorado ZR2. In any case, look for the AT4 starting this fall.