GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV — Anywhere, anytime

By Jim Meachen

(August 13, 2023) The off-road craze is heating up with a growing supply of go-anywhere vehicles including several full-sized pickup trucks. A prime example is the vehicle we have been driving — the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV. Other competing off-road pickups include he Ford F-150 Raptor, Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 and the Ram TRX. While the AT4X does not get the horsepower of the over-the-top TRX or the Raptor, it has an excellent balance of off-road bits and pieces and horsepower and torque ratings.

The AT4X shares exclusive features with the Silverado ZR2, including advanced spool-valve dampers, electronic-locking front and rear diffs, extra skid plates, and rugged off-road tires mounted on black 18-inch wheels. An AEV package,  new for 2023 and with an added cost of $6,895, adds even more serious off-road accessories.

The AEV Edition comes with robust stamped steel bumpers with integrated recovery points and front winch capability which provide additional driver confidence and protection. It also features heavy duty steel skid plates that help keep vital components such as the steering gear and transfer case protected on the trail. The hot-stamped boron steel plates are said to be 3.5 times stronger than similar cold-stamped steel plates. Additional features include unique 18-inch Salta wheels and unique exterior badging and interior cues.

As with the regular AT4X, the 2023 AEV Edition only comes with the 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8, 10-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Of course, with 420 horsepower and muscular torque, acceleration comes on instantly and predictably reaching 60 mph from a standstill in under 6 seconds. But gas mileage is painful — all that power and bulk returned us a combined city-highway and off-road of just 15.1 mpg on premium gasoline.

While all our driving came on hard surfaces, we can attest from reports of other automotive journalists who have ventured into the rocks and ruts, that the AT4X AEV is as competent in the outback as virtually any of its competition.

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 (this old guy will vouch for that) and riding on 18-inch aluminum wheels, and 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 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” and "AEV" emblems around the cabin.

Front headroom, shoulder room and legroom are plentiful. The back seat in the crew-cab is massive, too. Three full-size adults can easily fit shoulder to shoulder back there. seat and the steering wheel have a wide range of adjustments, and dialing in a pleasing driving position wasn't an issue for us of rather short stature.

We like the Sierra's latest interior control layout. Knobs, buttons and switches are easy to find and satisfying to press, click or turn. The 13.4-inch touchscreen boots up quickly and is responsive to commands. The touchscreen offers a wide range of capabilities without unnecessarily confusing the user. Ad the high-resolution screen responded quickly. Standard across the lineup are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration with wireless connectivity.

One downside — Visibility can be a challenge in full-size trucks, and the Sierra's styling does it no favors.

The 2023 Sierra includes other models with smaller gas engines, which is the vast majority of the new trucks sold. The 1500 trim levels include Pro, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, AT4X, and AT4X AEV (the subject of this review), Denali, and Denali Ultimate with prices in the crew cab Denali Ultimate at $83,995. Our AT4X test truck crew cab came with the base price of $83,595 and an as-tested price of $90,935 including a $1,895 destination charge.

Available engines in addition to the 6.2-liter V-8 are a turbocharged 2.7-liter four cylinder making 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque, a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel making 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and 5.3-liter V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.

Th new Sierra has great styling inside and out and a wide array of configurations befitting the trucks upscale image. For those who desire luxury the all-new Denali Ultimate should fit the bill, and for very serious off-roaders the AT4X AEV is hard to beat.

A Level 2 garage charger is not required.

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV


Base price: $83,595; as driven, $90,935
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
Horsepower: 420 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 460 pound-feet @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel
Wheelbase: 147.5 inches
Length: 232.9 inches
Curb weight: 5,530 pounds
Turning circle: 47.3 feet
Towing capacity: 8,900 pounds
Maximum payload: 1,440 pounds
Fuel capacity: 24 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 14 city, 17 highway, 15 combined
0-60 seconds: 5.4 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, Ram TRX, Ford F-150 Raptor

The Good
• Excellent performance from big V-8
• Outstanding off-road credentials
• Large interior space
• Touchscreen display easy to use

The Bad
• Long climb to get into cab

The Ugly
• Anemic gas mileage on premium gas