Class: Large Pickup Truck
Miles driven: 347
Fuel used: 19.8 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||A|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||435-hp 6.2L|
|Drive Wheels||4-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 17.6 mpg
Driving mix: 25% city, 75% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 15/19/17 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas recommended
Base price: $53,200 (not including $1495 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Off-Road Performance Package ($4940), AT4 Premium Package ($3100), Technology Package ($1875), power sunroof ($995), Driver Alert Package II ($745), premium paint ($595), AT4 Premium Package discount (-$500)
Price as tested: $66,445
The great: Acceleration; spacious interior
The good: Cabin-storage space
The not so good: Maneuverability in tight spaces; interior ambiance isn’t quite up to the standards of comparable class rivals
While the GMC Sierra is much like its Chevrolet Silverado sibling, this Sierra AT4 differed from the equally “off-roady” Silverado LT Trail Boss we previously tested in one big way … well, actually .9 big ways.
Under the hood of our AT4 test vehicle was a 6.2-liter V8 in place of the 5.3-liter V8 that comes standard in both the Trail Boss and AT4. That .9-liter difference may not sound like much, but while the 355-horsepower 5.3 was simply “more than adequate,” the AT4’s optional 6.2-liter — which is included in the Off-Road Performance Package — brings 435 horsepower (thanks to the included performance air intake and cat-back performance exhaust system, which provide a 15-hp bump over the “regular” 6.2’s 420-hp rating). The result is downright brutish power, so much that the rear wheels couldn’t contain the “excitement.”
This was discovered — and verified — during our 0-60 tests. Traction control will kick in to limit power if wheelspin is detected, and in rear-wheel drive, wheelspin was indeed “detected” via a chirp that was quickly squelched. Even then, our AT4 averaged 6.15 seconds to 60 — a commendable performance. But switching to Auto 4WD with the simple twist of a dashboard knob dropped the average to just 5.7 seconds. That’s haulin’. Furthermore, the “Auto” part means the 4WD system can be left engaged on dry pavement, so you could leave it there all the time if you really wanted. Helping in terms of power underway was that the transmission kicked down very quickly when the throttle was stabbed at speed, with any “stab” prompting a pronounced and very satisfying growl from the big V8.
We’ve covered the specifics of the AT4 in our First Spin report, but that was largely based on off-road drives. Here we’ll look more closely at the AT4’s on-road behavior and some of its more notable features.
Ride was a mixed bag. The off-road-oriented suspension and tires combined for a ride that was never harsh, but the AT4 reacted to larger bumps with a lot of body motion. Some of our testers found the tires noisy, but I didn’t notice that as much as I did their tenuous grip on wet pavement, something that really made me appreciate the full-time 4WD, which — unlike the part-time system most big pickups have — can be left engaged even on dry pavement.
Like any full-size pickup, passenger space is huge. But getting to it is even more of a challenge on the AT4, which rides a couple inches higher than its brethren. Running boards generally help in this regard, but some taller folks may actually find them a hindrance.
Also like any full-size pickup, interior storage space is vast, highlighted in this case by upper and lower gloveboxes and bins atop the dash and to the sides of the console. There’s also a “hidden” bin in the rear seat back, a novel touch.
The control layout is a plus, and not just for the infotainment and climate systems. Infotainment controls are easy to use and reach except for the distant tuning knob, as are the climate controls. But what stands out here are the redundant volume and tuning flippers on the back of the steering wheel, and the neat row of buttons beneath the climate controls for such things as deactivating the engine stop/start system and lane-departure warning, along with dropping the power tailgate. And below those are handy USB/USB-C and 12-volt/120-volt AC outlets, all but the 120-volt being duplicated in the console box. But especially appreciated were the buttons left of the steering wheel to adjust height, brightness, and info projected in the large head-up display; oftentimes, making these adjustments requires diving several layers into the touchscreen, a real pain.
The only real downside here is visibility. Thick roof pillars block a lot, especially to the sides, but the $1875 Technology Package includes a 360-degree camera that helps in tight parking spaces and when backing, along with the ability to display the rear camera view in the rearview mirror – very helpful if tall passengers or cargo block your view back.
The pickup bed hosts another 120-volt outlet (great for charging cordless tools, though not supplying enough power to run plug-in ones), and our tester had GMC’s Multi-Pro six-position tailgate and a pop-out assist handle along with steps built into the corners of the rear bumper. And all that helps when trying to get stuff out of the bed, as the tall side walls – raised higher by the 2-inch suspension lift – made it impossible for me to reach over the walls to the floor of the bed.
There’s a lot of competition among large pickups, particularly the “Big Four”: Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram. While GMC is by far the smallest of those in terms of sales volume, it offers some interesting features — such as the Multi-Pro tailgate and tough CarbonPro box — that set it apart from the crowd.
2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4