2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X

PHOENIX — Notwithstanding the price of gasoline averaging nearly five dollars a gallon for premium and an avalanche of media hype, manufacturer TV advertisement for electric vehicles and the seemingly unquenchable thirst for SUVs from the car buying public, full-sized pickup trucks sales in the U.S. continue to reign supreme in sales numbers. 

Ford F-150 continues to dominate the sales numbers as the number one vehicle sold with over 650,000 for 2022.  But one of the biggest movers has been the GMC brand with sales reaching nearly 250,000 for the year. We’ve been driving and testing a significant number of off-road-oriented trucks during the past year and one of the most impressive has been the new 2023 GMC Sierra AT4X 4WD first introduced for 2022 and tested here. But it comes with an eye-popping price starting at over $77,000. That’s known as “tall cotton” where I come from.

While beauty can always be subjective, the AT4X is one of the best-looking trucks on the road turning heads every place we drove it. It’s available in a choice of eight exterior colors all costing hundreds of dollars extra except for white. The AT4X is offered in a single crew cab body with a short bed and standard 4WD configuration. A 6.2-liter 420 horsepower V8 with 460 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo diesel engine is available at $1,450 less than the V8 engine.

The AT4X comes equipped with a 2-inch lift giving it 11.2-inches of ground clearance and MultiMatic DSSV dampers for longer suspension travel, off-road suspension, skid plates, hill descent control, and a 2-speed automatic transfer case. There’s also front and rear e-locking  differentials and Off-Road and Terrain drive modes that can enact a one-pedal rock crawling system with automatic braking. it easily competes with the off-roading truck leaders in this segment by delivering superb capability and competence.

The AT4X is surprisingly easy to navigate off-roading yet has an extremely comfortable and near-luxury ride experience on paved surfaces. Of course, with 420 horsepower and muscular torque in addition, acceleration comes on instantly and predictably reaching 60 mph from a standstill in about 6 seconds. But gas mileage is painful, and all that power and bulk returned a combined city-highway and off-road of just 14.8 mpg on premium gasoline.

Outside, the AT4X is large and aggressive looking with its massive black grille, black wheels and accent trim pieces, red tow hooks and black fender liners. It’s a large truck with a high step-in and riding on 18-inch aluminum wheels, knobby all-terrain tires with an overall distinctive “take-on all comers” look.

Inside the AT4X rewards owners with the combination of having a living room sized four-door truck interior with impressive off-roading chops and the near swank of a rustically refined “Dutton Yellowstone Ranch Cabin” feel with definite Denali DNA bloodlines. Our AT4X was trimmed in an all-black full-grain leather interior with contrasting stitching and a black microsuede headliner. Black ash wood trim and chrome accents added to the truck’s refined sense along with several bold “AT4X” emblems about the cabin.

A 12-speaker Bose Premium Series audio system with GMC premium infotainment system and Google built-in compatibility, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphones, SiriusXM radio capability and wireless charging round out the infotainment. All nice touches especially for tech savvy junkies.

Yet, with all that goodness the AT4X did fall short in a few areas namely its disappointingly low payload rating of 1,420 pounds. Not surprising since it is a true off-road truck and lacks a bit in the towing area capacity with 8,900 pounds. It will handle a small camper, ATV trailer, small boat trailers but isn’t designed for heavy-duty towing. Further, while the ride is impressive, excessive wind noise in the cabin was definitely pronounced and there are some rearward visibility challenges.

We also mentioned that all colors other than white were extra cost, $495 to be exact except for Volcanic Red Tintcoat at $645. The single most commented on and dislike mention we received during our week of testing was the Desert Sand Metallic exterior color that didn’t get a single “I like it” comment. Finally, with options, our AT4X with an MSRP of $80,935 with options is a big ticket considering the price of a new Ford F-150 Raptor has a starting price of $76,775, has more horsepower and significantly more off-road capability.

Overall, the Sierra AT4X was an excellent balance of off-road duties in terms of performance with Denali-like luxury. We definitely prefer the AT4X to the Ford Tremor, Toyota TRD Pro or Nissan Titan and trucks like the Ford Raptor and Ram TRX are purpose-built Baja Desert race machines.  And while the ZR2 Chevrolet Silverado is the mechanical clone to the AT4X, we preferred the look of the Sierra.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $77,500
Price as Tested: $80,935
Engine/Transmission: 6.2-liter, 420-hp V8 with 460 lb. Ft torque, a 10-speed automatic transmission and 4WD.
EPA Fuel Economy: 14/17/15 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Overall highest possible five-star from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and “Good” overall small overlap front: driver-side rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Where Built: Silao, GJ, Mexico

Competes With:
Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
Ford Raptor
Ford Tremor
Ram Rebel
Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Unique on-road, off-road satisfaction
Classy “Ranch-like” interior
Powerful engine

All colors except white cost extra
Noisy cabin
Costs more than a Ford F-150 Raptor
Dismal gas mileage