If you’ve read up on the 2019 GMC Sierra, you know it’s bringing several innovations to market as an all-new premium pickup. You’ll see the changes in the tailgate, the carbon-fiber box, and new infotainment system (among other things). All told, GMC never spent so much on a vehicle launch.
For this redesign, GMC was determined to set this truck apart from the new Chevrolet Silverado. Besides adding on more upscale touches to make that happen, the Sierra will also be available in two new special editions: Elevation and AT4.
In the case of AT4, added off-road capabilities and distinctive styling are highlights of the package. Here’s everything you need to know about the Sierra AT4, including impressions from a first drive in August.
1. Standard 2″ lift, AWD
You’ll notice a big difference in Sierra AT4 the first time you hop into the driver’ seat. It comes standard with 2-inch factory lift on top of 18-inch wheels. If you test-drive the 2019 Denali with running boards deploying automatically at your feet, there will be quite a difference climbing aboard this model.
Four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer for rough conditions and all-terrain tires come standard in the AT4. Other equipment designed for off-road conditions include monotube Rancho shocks, locking rear differential, Hill Descent Control, and skid plates.
2. AT4 exterior design
Many of the changes you’ll find in AT4 come in the truck’s styling, especially on the exterior. Special badging, dark-tinted wheels, a black chrome finish on LED fog lights, and red recovery hooks stand out at a glance.
Meanwhile, the body color of your choice will be on the front and rear bumpers, grille surround, and door handles. A polished dual exhaust is another styling cue unique to this model.
3. Engine choices
As in the Denali, Sierra AT4 models come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. That powerplant delivers 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
Early buyers can also opt for a 6.2-liter V8 with 10-speed automatic. This drivetrain produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. All AT4 models come with dynamic fuel management, which adjusts cylinder activation for better fuel economy. Start/stop technology is also part of the package.
In early 2019, GM will debut a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine for its truck line, and AT4 will get it as an option as well.
4. MultiPro Tailgate
The biggest innovation in the 2019 Sierra is the MultiPro Tailgate. It folds into six different positions, allowing owners to use is as a step, a work surface, a seat, or as a way to extend the length of the bed and secure cargo. (If you look closely on the pictured model above, you’ll even see a stereo buyers can add to the gate.)
This comes standard on every AT4 and Denali. GMC reps said they don’t see it going on the Silverado anytime soon, so it’s a surefire way for the brand to differentiate itself from Chevy. Sierra’s competitors don’t have anything like it, either.
5. Interior design
Dark leather seats with contrast stitching add some comfort as you bounce around in the AT4, and badging on the headrests make the interior unique in the Sierra line. All-weather floor liners and aluminum finishes around the driver’s seat add to the premium feel.
Every Sierra gets GM’s premium infotainment system that’s already launched in models like GMC Terrain. It has an 8-inch diagonal touch screen that’s actually easy to use.
6. Other options
After the first wave of trucks make it to buyers, GMC will debut the CarbonPro box in the Denali and AT4 sometime in 2019. Designers say this carbon-fiber box is the most durable and dent-resistant one they’ve ever produced, and it’s a first for the industry.
Meanwhile, the segment’s first multi-color head-up display (HUD) and rear-camera mirror also comes as options. Advanced safety tech is also available for trips around town and other non-trail activities.
7. Feel behind the wheel
We took a quick drive in an AT4 with the 6.2-liter V8 model with automatic transmission in the last weeks on August. On the paved road to the off-road portion of the drive, the AT4 felt exactly like its smooth-riding sibling, the new Denali. Without question, GM nailed this powertrain.
As for the ruggedness of the AT4, we can’t fully vouch for it. Our brief time behind the wheel involved little of the way of challenges, though we did manage to bang up the driver-side wheel well after sinking into some soft ground and ramming a tree root.
The premium finish and styling are a big part of the appeal of this model, so we’d suggest sticking to the most trail-tested vehicles out there if punishing thrills are on your agenda. Otherwise, AT4 looks great and rides about as high as a badass truck should.
8. Release date, pricing, fuel economy estimates
2019 Sierra Denali Crew Cab models ($56,195) began arriving in dealerships August 22, and GMC says the AT4 will be available beginning in the fall. Full pricing will arrive closer to the release date, but we know the AT4 starts at $54,695.
Fuel economy estimates have already been released by the EPA. Both debut AT4 models (i.e., the 5.3 and 6.2) received ratings of 17 mpg combined. The 5.3-liter model did manage to get slightly better economy on the highway (20 mpg) than the 6.2-liter V8 (19 mpg).
Disclaimer: The Cheat Sheet reporter had round-trip airfare, accommodations, and meals covered by GMC over a 48-hour period in order to bring this first-person report to readers.