A pickup truck isn’t just
a pickup truck anymore. They’ve evolved to do everything any other vehicle can do. And that’s why you don’t just find them at job sites but also filling up the parking lot at your local Costco.
Pickups are a far cry from the utilitarian beasts of yore they once were and can be outfitted with luxuries unheard of in the “good ol’ days”. In fact, if your truck doesn’t have an interior or tech that makes a Range Rover blush, it’s not good enough, anymore.
When GMC redesigned the Sierra, their first go at an interior wasn’t as well received as the one Ram had just installed in their own truck and so they were forced to go back to the drawing board. What they came up with was basically a brand new interior, that’s so different, it’s like it skipped an entire generation. Climbing in, it’s hard not to be impressed. The sheer square footage inside one of these behemoths makes it feel like you’ve just entered a cathedral.
All new Sierras get the new interior in varying levels of optional extras but the Sierra I was driving—the off-road-ready AT4X—had nearly all the goodies checked off.
And that’s another trend that’s rapidly growing. Off-roading. Nearly everyone is offering off-road packages that outfit regular crossovers and pickups with long travel suspensions and chunky tires. AT4 represents GMC's off-road branding and adding an X to it takes everything a step further.
The biggest and most noticeable change is the Multimatic DSSV dampers paired with longer travel springs. The Multimatic dampers use spool valve technology and were originally developed for racing but they’ve been designed here to work on a pickup. On the highway, you get a comfortable and stable ride as the dampers smooth out even the biggest impacts but they work just as well and smoothly off-road allowing lots of wheel travel. The AT4X gets a 2-speed transfer case, 18-inch wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Dura Trac Mud tires, and front and rear e-locking differentials for those technical off-road sections, which no one else in the class offers.
The Multimatic dampers can be felt working right away. I covered nearly 2000 km in a couple of days and I had to remind myself I was in a big body-on-frame truck. Most body-on-frame pickups shimmy when driving over uneven surfaces or railroad tracks and generally don’t ride very well on rough broken roads, but the AT4X was composed at all times. There was no excessive bobbing or bucking and even in the corners, body roll was impeccably controlled for a big rig like this.
The 6.2-L V8 makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 10-speed automatic. It's the only choice here but it's a good one. It’s not a Raptor or Ram TRX in terms of brute force but the big 6.2 is torquey and sonorous and it still offers more than enough power when needed. Towing is rated at a respectable 5488 kg (12,099 lbs).
On the open highway, the Sierra AT4X was smooth, civilized, and stable but was just as confidence-inspiring on the snow-covered trails found throughout Northern Ontario.
Off-road and Terrain modes make it easy to configure the AT4X for duty when the paved roads end. There’s even a 1-pedal mode that allows you to crawl over the really technical sections on an off-road course.
From the driver’s seat, the AT4X feels just as capable as the mega off-roaders like the Ram TRX
but is more approachable and practical than either of those. With mostly highway driving during my time with the AT4X, I scored just under 14L/100km, a good figure considering its chunky mud tires and how this truck is set up.
The eminently useful Mutlipro tailgate is standard here too but so is almost everything else. The new dashboard with its large colourful centre screen and array of buttons angled towards the driver is ergonomic, well laid out, and feels richer than it should in a pickup but now also makes much more sense when associated with its six-figure price tag. It’s also cavernous inside with storage spaces and cubbies to stash anything you bring along.
All this tech doesn’t come cheap but the AT4X feels just as capable as a Raptor but undercuts it in price. It’s not as powerful but the 6.2L V8 sounds better and has more character than Ford’s turbocharged V6.
The GMC Sierra AT4X is an impressive bit of kit, inside and out. The Multimatic dampers are near magic in their ability to balance on-road comfort and handling, with off-road capability. It truly is a truck that does it all.
2023 GMC Sierra AT4X
4-door, 5 passenger full-size pickup
-Front-engine, four-wheel drive
6.2-L V8; Power: 420 hp @ 5600 rpm; Torque: 460 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
: 10-speed automatic
TOWING CAPACITY: 5488 kg; Payload: 880 kg
FUEL ECONOMY : (Regular-grade Gasoline in L/100 km): 16.7 city; 14.0 highway
PRICE: $ 98,703 (base MSRP not inclusive of fees, freight and taxes)
: GMC Canada