GMC Aims for a Raptor-slayer with its AT4
Despite those tiny wheels, this is no April Fools joke. The AT4 package is designed to turn GMC trucks into capable 4×4 off-roaders.
New York Auto show is the launching pad GMC has chosen to reveal the 2019 Sierra. Along with their new truck, we saw the debut of the AT4 package. AT4 may sound like a type of transmission, a transmission oil or an entry-level Cadillac saloon car, but it’s actually GMC’s new sub-brand for people that want to take their premium-ish GMC trucks off-road. According to Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC, the AT4 badge will appear on every vehicle in GMC’s lineup over the next two years.
At first glance, we wondered if this would be a competitor to the Ford Raptor. However, it’s nowhere near as compelling. Where SVT modified the F-150 into a high-velocity and bomb-proof F-150, the AT4 Sierra is aiming to be more sedate and luxurious. GMC’s director of exterior design says about the AT4 Sierra: “From every angle, it conveys GMC’s premium yet functional design language.” We’re not so sure about that though, particularly their idea of functional design. For a start, the front bumper looks too low for any realistic approach angle on something calling itself an off-roader. Having the front bumper sitting below the axle’s centerline like that is just begging to have it ripped of on its first journey into the genuine rough stuff.
For those times when the AT4 Sierra is combatting terrain tougher than driveway slopes and mall car parks, it gets a two-inch lift on off-road Rancho shock absorbers, four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, Hill Descent Control, locking rear differential, and a traction selection system for different road surfaces. GMC is also offering a “bespoke” 18-inch or 20-inch wheel. Either might work better with a full-size off-road tire, but the truck’s design and proportions are so off-key that it looks like you could confuse the wheels with the small change in your pocket.
Overall, the first AT4 vehicle from GMC looks like a swing and a miss for people that want or need genuine off-road ability from a truck. We may be beating on it, but we’re interested because good competition helps drive Ford to build us better trucks. However, GMC is going to have to raise their game dramatically to get anywhere near competitive.