By Mario Cywinski
By Mario Cywinski
February 20, 2019 – For years, when a standard pickup truck was sold as an off-road model, that mainly meant some cosmetic changes, rugged tires and the like. Fortunately, for those who actually need to take their work vehicles off-road, that is no longer the case. Most OEMs that produce trucks are now offering dedicated off-road models—and General Motors (GM) is no exception.
The automaker recently invited journalists to San Diego, Calif., to test out the GMC Sierra AT4. While the drive started out in front of a downtown hotel, it soon reached the desert, to help demonstrate the AT4’s off-road capabilities.
While driving up and down the side of a hill on rough terrain, we encountered border patrol officers, 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 going uphill, not down, but at the end of the day, everyone in the convoy navigated the route without any problems.
Next, 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 relatively steep rock face with uneven terrain. Again, everyone was able to navigate the challenge without any issues.
The AT4 offers a suite of standard features that are important for off-roading, including 2-in. factory-installed suspension lift, off-road-tuned Rancho monotube shock absorbers, four-wheel drive (4WD) with a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential and skid plates, hill descent control and traction select system. Further, as introduced on the Sierra 1500, it features a MultiPro tailgate with six positions and functions, which allows more flexibility when loading, unloading and accessing the box. A carbon-fibre box is also available.
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 light-duty AT4 brings off-road capability to the premium truck market,” says Mark Alger, national marketing manager for GMC Canada. “It is designed for commercial customers who don’t want to sacrifice style or a comfortable cab. They will benefit from the standard 33-in. all-terrain tires or available mud-rated tires.”
Available options include rear camera mirror, multi-coloured heads-up display, 360 camera, blind spot monitoring, front pedestrian braking and low-speed automatic forward braking.
Finally, an off-road performance package is available, including performance air intake, performance exhaust system, 18-in. machined aluminum wheels and 6.2-L V-8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Mario Cywinski is editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and a judge for the Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has more than 15 years’ of automobile industry experience.