Khodrocar - Despite the blue-color connotations of its "Professional Grade” tagline, GMC has really offered slightly more sophisticated versions of General Motors pickups and SUVs for years. Certainly GMC’s Denali sub-brand/trim level has taken vehicles into the upscale reaches of its market segments. But, until now, GMC has ceded another niche to Chevy, that being the off-roading arena. Just ahead of this week’s New York Auto Show, all of that is set to change.
Tonight GMC invited us to New York a bit early, to witness the debut of its 2019 Sierra AT4, an off-road read version of the popular pickup truck. And with the Sierra comes the news that "AT4” will be affixed to every vehicle in the GMC portfolio within two years. Before you begin conjuring images of hardcore off-road GMC crossovers like the Acadia, know that the AT4 line – while possessing some all-terrain chops – will be aimed at the capable off-road space as opposed to machines seeking Baja stardom.
At face value the Sierra AT4 does seem to have some rough-road credibility. The buffed truck gets a two-inch lift kit with Rancho monotube shocks, riding on either 18- or 20-inch wheels (mud-ready Goodyear Wrangler Duratec rubber is available on the smaller rolling stock). Four-wheel drive is standard with a two-speed transfer case and a locking rear differential. Skid plates are also standard equipment.
The AT4 will also make use of a multi-mode Traction Select System, which can alter transmission and throttle mapping along with stability control, as benefits for different surfaces and road conditions. And not only will this Sierra get a multi-color heads-up display that GMC calls a segment first, but that five-by-seven-inch screen can be used to show vehicle tilt angles front and rear, and side-to-side. There’s also a hill descent system; and while we still have a hard time grasping the real-world practicality of those, the tech always serves as a neat party trick.
Later in the 2019 model year, the Sierra AT4 will also play host to the GMC CarbonPro carbon-fiber pickup bed box. This advanced truck box replaces the standard steel inner panels and floor with lightweight, scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant carbon fiber composite. What’s more, the box has recreational vehicles like quad bikes and motorcycles in mind from the get-go; there are three indents in the front panel, meant to make locating and securing a front tire easy and secure. With all the hubbub made from Ford using aluminum in the F-150, we’re anxious to see how customers respond to a carbon-fiber truck bed that GMC is calling, "…the most durable pickup box in the segment.”
Further adding flexibility to the load space is the multi-position "MultiPro” tailgate, which is designed to make loading, unloading, and working with the truck bed all that much easier.
In terms of powertrain, the Sierra AT4 will offer massaged versions of three engines that we already know from the rest of the GM truck family, and the brand new turbodiesel we’re looking forward to. The 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines will be available, along with the diesel 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder. Specific horsepower and torque outputs for AT4 haven’t been specified, but they’re likely to be close or identical to existing versions; 355 hp and 383 lb-ft (265 kW and 519 Nm) for the 5.3L; 420 hp and 460 lb-ft (313 kW and 624 Nm) for the 6.2L. Both the 6.2L V8 and that diesel will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission; both gas-burning V8s will have cylinder deactivation tech, and engine stop/start.
We expect the first 2019 Sierra AT4s to go on sale this fall, though pricing has yet to be divulged. And, naturally, you should expect to see a First Drive review of the new truck, just as soon as we can get our jeans in the seat and hands on the wheel.