June 20, 2024
Wheels

GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X is solid off-road pickup

Refined goals extend above sibling Silverado, but not enough

The 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X delivers everything you expect with endless variations.

The story behind the G.M. relationship between Chevrolet and GMC is best understood by looking at the Sierra and Silverado pickups. While it is not always a slam dunk given all the combinations of trim levels available, it is a paradox that GMC is more luxurious and more refined than Chevy. There are lots of GMC detractors who typically use price to site their point – but it’s a moot point.

I have driven the 2024 Chevy Silverado in several trim levels, and it is an extremely reliable pickup. Its sibling Sierra is priced higher and, with it, you are expecting to get more standard equipment and more options to make your truck stand out. The 2024 Sierra 1500 AT4X elevates the pickup’s off-road prowess, though it is nowhere near the Raptor or TRX.

The 2024 GMC Sierra has a base price of $38,345 for the Pro version. Eight trim levels reach up to the seventh AT4X off-roader ($81,195), and the eighth and top-end Denali Ultimate ($84,990). That’s a huge range in prices, but it is also a huge range in standard equipment. Like any vehicle, each jump up in trim level nets you more standard features and in the case of the AT4X you get a lot of extra performance capability.

Great looks

The Sierra 1500 AT4X is a great-looking pickup. Handsome and athletic at the same time, it looks and feels like it can go anywhere it is pointed. In the case of the AT4X, for the most part, that is very true. One thing to consider is the lack of a running board on the AT4X. It was really a disadvantage and hindered entry into my tester. I get it, if you are off-road, the last thing you need are boulders, bushes and debris getting hung up on the running board.

The enormous front grille and vertical headlights, which seem to make up the entire front end, are paired with the recessed tow hooks set low in the front bumper. My AT4X tester with AEV Edition ($6,895) options added AEV hot-stamped boron steel skid plates; front, rear differential, transfer case, and fuel tank, an AEV stamped-steel rear bumper, 12-spoke high-gloss black aluminum wheels, rocker protection, all-weather floor liners, AEV branded front head restraints and tailgate decal.

My Sierra 1500 was a Crew Cab with a short bed. The spray-in bedliner is a must for any pickup looking to add functionality and a level of decency to its bed. The lighted cargo area was a nice touch, as well as the engineering breakthrough of the multi-pro tailgate and its endless options for easy access to the bed.

Performance choices

The Sierra 1500 is available with four different powerplants, two transmission choices, and rear- or four-wheel drive. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder that generates 310 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The choices keep coming, as GMC offers two V8 options: a 355-hp 5.3-liter and a 420-hp 6.2-liter. The diesel 6-cylinder generates a torque-heavy 460 pound-feet. All three engines run through a 10-speed automatic transmission. My tester featured the 3.0-liter turbo diesel, which is rated up to 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. The half-ton Sierra pickup can tow up to 13,200 pounds and support a payload of up to 2,240 pounds.

You won’t get any arguments that the Sierra AT4X lacks the off-road prowess of the Ford F-150 Raptor or Dodge TRX, but it does offer some impressive off-road equipment. The rugged AT4 model features a 2.0-inch suspension lift while also sharing several features with the Silverado ZR2, including advanced spool-valve dampers, electronic-locking front and rear differential, extra skid plates, and giant off-road tires mounted on very cool-looking black 18-inch rims.

Cabin comfort

My Sierra tester featured a roomy cabin made larger by a huge power sunroof. Full-grain leather seats were wide and perfectly supported. The seats featured power adjustments and heated/vented perforated leather. The leather steering wheel and shifter also added a classy feel, aided by the superior soft-touch cabin materials.

I found all of the driver controls easy to reach. This is a big vehicle, and the head-up display and power-adjustable steering column were appreciated.

Sierra 1500s feature a 13.4-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. The system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as built-in Google software that allows users to access an app store, maps, and a voice assistant. The 12-speaker Bose audio system, and wireless phone charging, were two of my favorite features.

Rear passengers will enjoy a comfortable seating position with massive amounts of head and legroom. heated seats and climate controls are helpful to keep things cozy. Seats can flip up to add tons of cargo space flexibility.

Safety/Assistance

My tester featured a long list of safety features including standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking; standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist; and standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Sierra can be optioned to integrate a multicamera system which, through some tech trickery, can offer the driver a view that seemingly penetrates right through a trailer they might be towing. The Denali can be equipped with GM’s Super Cruise hands-free-driving technology, which can be used with a trailer attached.

Last thoughts

While there may be one Silverado trim level with special options that seemingly can outdo the upscale GMC sibling, it’s true you get a more refined pickup in the Sierra. With the AT4X off-road capability and AEV optional package, my tester landed at $88,585 with $1,995 destination charges. This is the standard expectation for a world-class pickup that takes you anywhere you want to go – in very luxurious surroundings.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and new vehicles.