2019 GMC Sierra AT4 gives Raptor and Ram a new off-road rival

New AT4 configuration will be soon offered on all GMC trucks and SUVs

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The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 blends off-road hardware into a modern, thoroughly updated pickup truck that doesn't skimp on power, luxury, or safety equipment. From its higher suspension setup to its available carbon-fiber cargo bed and the new MultiPro tailgate, the 2019 Sierra AT4 is a direct shot across the bow — or cargo beds, if you prefer — of staunch rivals like the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra.

Revealed tonight in New York City, ahead of this week's New York International Auto Show, the truck may seem to be in a strange setting. Then again, with the amount of tire-swallowing potholes currently scattered around the Big Apple, a rugged truck like the Sierra AT4 could be the perfect vehicle for either off-road excursions or an especially bumpy commute.

Riding two inches higher than the standard 2019 Sierra, the AT4 comes with standard features like all-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, Rancho monotube shock absorbers designed specifically for off-roading, along with skid plates and 18- or 20-inch alloy wheels fitted with all-terrain tires or optional, mud-loving Goodyear Wrangler Duratecs.

Hill descent control and GMC's Traction Select system are also standard. The latter of these two lets the driver choose between preset drive modes, suitable for various types of terrain and weather conditions. The system then adjusts throttle response, shift points, and the electronic stability control according to each mode.

Related: 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 buying guide

"The 2019 Sierra AT4 is designed for the customer who wants an elevated presence on the road and the capability to venture off life's beaten path," said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC. "It's also the beginning for the AT4 brand, which will be seen on every vehicle in our lineup in the next two years."

Based on the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra (including the AT4 model) looks to stand out from its corporate cousin in terms luxury touches, along with some subtle exterior details. For the AT4, these visible differences include a body color grill surround and bumpers. Meanwhile, the inner grille, front fog-lights and faux fender vents feature a black-chrome finish. It's not flashy, which is probably exactly what GMC wanted for its upscale truck.

The standard engine is a 5.3-liter V8, though buyers can choose an optional 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six or 6.2-liter V8. These two engines both come fitted to a 10-speed automatic gearbox, while the 5.3-liter is paired to an eight-speed.

There are plenty of options to choose from, including safety-conscious choices like a surround-view camera, blind spot alerts, automatic low-speed emergency braking, and lane change alerts. Convenience features include a head-up display, as well as a lightweight cargo bed constructed partly out of carbon-fiber.

This cargo bed, called the CarbonPro, uses carbon-fiber composite in the floor and inner panels, to help trim approximately 60 lbs. of weight compared to a traditional, all-steel bed construction. GMC has even molded in three wheel indents into the forward section of the bed, for those truck owners who routinely haul motorcycles and quads.

Another intriguing item that comes standard on the GMC Sierra AT4 is the new MultiPro tailgate. This handy feature flips and folds itself into six different configurations, making life much simpler when it comes to loading up the cargo bed, or working from the road. Combined with the CarbonPro cargo bed, GMC is making a good case for itself as being a leader when it comes to taking the stress out of heavy-hauling in a pickup.

The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 goes on sale this fall. Exact pricing will be announced closer to the truck's on-sale date.

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