In the world of trucks, there’s quite a battle in the area of rugged pickups that attempt to balance a delicate act of offering luxurious interior appointments and off-road capabilities. In such a delicate act, automakers have gone the extra distance to pay special attention to unique trim levels within their lineup to give consumers what they want, and now it seems they can have it in trucks like the new GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X.
The GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X is a new trim that was introduced for the 2022 model year, which now gets the availability of an AT4X AEV Edition (American Expedition Vehicles) that further enhances the off-roading capabilities of such a truck with specialized equipment. Having the 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X this week, while it doesn’t have the AEV Edition equipment, is a welcoming experience in witnessing what GM has to offer for their off-roading 4×4 truck that has the proper luxury-themed interior appointments.
There was once a time when you had to choose either luxury in a GMC truck by way of the Denali trims or left with a somewhat basic cabin in the Sierra equipped with off-roading options. Now, with a line of AT4 trims, the GMC Sierra AT4X can be like having your cake and eating it, too.
Powered by the brand’s proven 6.2-liter V8 engine touting 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X has a level of performance that comes as no surprise, which is often a good thing even if it falls a bit short of vehicles like the base Ford F-150 Raptor. Having a 10-speed automatic transmission that’s tuned well to extract all that the 6.2-liter V8 has to give keeps the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X competitive in a conservative way, all with the ability of enabling a 4WD auto mode (2WD high or 4WD low). However, having the availability of the AT4X AEV Edition adding specialized equipment like a reworked front bumper to allow a more aggressive approach angle brings the AT4X up to par with the rugged Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 but with the added luxury on the inside, which better competes with the off-roading truck power-kings in this segment. Other notable AEV Edition equipment includes larger (wider) 33″ Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT Tires and boron steel front skid plates.
Out on the road, the Sierra 1500 AT4X without AEV Edition equipment rides excellent with a nice balance of roadgoing competency and adaptability to off-roading trails. While I was only able to take the GMC Sierra AT4X on a couple of park trails, its off-roading prowess appears to be substantial and versatile. Adding to its off-roading capability are thanks to front and rear e-locking differentials, MultiMatic DSSV shocks with 3 separate spool valves for extra damping control and suspension travel, and a Terrain drive mode that can enact a one-pedal rock crawling system. The power is always predictable from the V8 engine getting up to 60 mph from a standstill in about 6.4 seconds. Braking feel isn’t always assured as there is a bit of numbness that sometimes requires you to add extra pressure when you first think it is not necessary.
There’s a surprisingly easy feel about navigating the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X despite it having the 33-inch (32.6-inch) off-roading tires wrapping the 18-inch wheels and 2-inch lifted suspension with the forgiving Multimatic DSSV shocks. Moreover, the narrower track of the Sierra 1500 AT4X over something like the Ford Raptor or even the RAM TRX benefits the Sierra in its ability to navigate certain terrain. The only disappointment remains with my GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X truck not having side steps but instead being equipped with dealer-installed rocker protection panel guards, which come in handy for those serious off-roading events to prevent body damage from larger rocks or obstacles. In my opinion, opting for the rocker guards would be for those who rarely transport family and find themselves hitting the off-roading trails more than most. Jumping into the Sierra AT4X is a challenge for some without sidesteps considering the 2-inch lift that seems a bit higher than indicated.
Towing for the Sierra 1500 AT4X maxes out at 8,700 pounds, and max payload is 1,290 pounds.
Fuel consumption isn’t impressive as the Sierra 1500 AT4X has to contend with its higher stature from the suspension lift and those knobby off-roading tires. With that, you’ll expect to average about 15 mpg with mixed highway and city driving, as I did during my week-long experience. EPA estimates are 14 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined.
Having the AT4 and AT4X trims opens up the interior to get a premium and near-luxury theme that’s on the level of the Denali trim. Inside of the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X are many welcomed amenities that elevate the comforts of a full-size truck, such as having front heated and ventilated seats with a massaging function (back area only), heated rear outboard seats, a microsuede headliner, accent stitching and seat piping, several soft touch surfaces, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and the welcomed 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The arrangement of features offers buyers of the AT4X the versatility of having a full-size truck with off-roading chops and the plushness of a somewhat luxurious cabin. While there’s plentiful space on the seating arrangements of the interior, the GMC Sierra AT4X should, once again, have side steps in place of the rocker guards for easier entry and exit, considering how inviting the interior is.
The creative and convenient MultiPro tailgate offers up a variety of opening tricks in addition to having built-in Kicker audio controls and speakers for “tailgating” adventures.
There’s a bevy of active safety features blanketing the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X that all come as standard equipment, including blind spot monitors, forward collision warning/emergency braking, lane departure warning/mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert/emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. The one issue I find in the GMC Sierra AT4X in the area of safety is the diminished visibility out the front over the hood. The hood area is higher than other full-size trucks and often forces you to pull up the convenient 360-degree camera system with a bed view that can be activated at any time to view out front, which also aids when going over difficult-to-navigate terrain. The virtual rearview mirror is also a nice touch for a live high-definition digital camera-feed view out back displayed in the rearview mirror.
Where things tend to become a bit of a head-scratcher is in the area of pricing, where the top trims of the GMC Sierra 1500 climb high pretty fast in my view with just a few options. Having the as-tested price of my Sierra 1500 AT4X at $80,935 is a bit of a hard pill to swallow, considering the price of the new Ford F-150 Raptor starting at $77,000, and that truck has a bit more power and is quite competitive for its off-roading abilities. Either way, GMC has done well to offset a new balance in off-roading prowess and near-luxury in the AT4X trim, in addition to giving buyers the ability to add on additional hard-core off-roading items by way of the AEV Edition equipment.