• Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
  • Image Credit: GMC
NEW YORK — The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 proves that GM's upmarket truck and SUV brand is getting serious about offering rough-and-tumble capability to rival the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan. Until the Sierra AT4 rolled onstage at a media event in lower Manhattan, prior to this year's New York Auto Show, the GMC brand had been more focused on luxury touches like fancy chrome wheels and posh interiors — no surprise, considering the upscale SLT and Denali trim levels account for the vast majority of GMC sales.

So now GMC wants to get muddy and adventurous? Well, yes and no. The AT4 adds hardware that'll take truck buyers off the beaten path, though this GMC isn't anywhere close to being a Spartan, no-frills work truck.

To better explain, let's look at five key features we love about the 2019 GMC Sierra AT4:

More than stickers and chrome

The Sierra AT4 isn't a cynical marketing ploy, there is some true all-terrain toughness built into this pickup truck. A factory-installed lift kit raises the AT4 by two inches, while Rancho monotube shocks, a locking rear differential, a two-speed transfer case and standard all-wheel drive prove this GMC can dare to venture off paved surfaces — though you might risk getting mud and muck on the truck's handsome 18- or 20-inch alloy wheels.

Power and economy

The Sierra AT4 comes standard with a 5.3-liter V8 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the standard Sierra 1500, this engine produces 355 horsepower. GMC didn't mention engine specs here in New York, though it's possible the AT4 might get a small power bump.

This engine should be plenty for most truck buyers, though GMC offers two tempting alternatives. These include a turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six, along with a 6.2-liter V8. Both motors are paired to stop-start fuel-saving systems, along with a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Carbon fiber cool factor

The GMC Sierra's available carbon-fiber cargo bed, called CarbonPro in GMC-speak, trims 62 pounds of weight, as compared to a traditional all-steel bed. This slick feature uses carbon composites for interior panels and, judging from GMC's videos of burly bricks and huge hammers being thrown into a CarbonPro cargo bed, it should prove more than up to the task of ... well, having someone throw bricks and hammers into the cargo area.

MultiPro tailgate treatment

If you haven't gotten the fact that we think this is an incredibly smart and functional feature, then please let's finally set the record straight. The MultiPro tailgate folds into six configurations and can help accommodate and secure extra-long cargo, serve as a handy step into the truck bed, or even partially flip down and become a work desk for laptops and blueprints (or maybe just a Big Mac with fries, we're not judging). This is a really trick feature and something we think other trucks will rush to mimic.

AT4 for all things GMC

During the introduction of the Sierra AT4, GMC officials announced that this all-terrain trim level will be offered across the entire range of GMC trucks and SUVs. The starting point is the Sierra, the brand's best-seller, which makes marketing sense. Less clear is how AT4 will translate to some of GMC's less macho machines, like the Terrain and Acadia SUVs. It remains to be seen how GMC will integrate similar off-road hardware into these "softer" SUVs.

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