The road ahead is dirt with a rut here and a rock there. Brush keeps a respectable distance on the right side, the edge on the left gradually falls away into the valley below. The grade is nothing your treadmill couldn't duplicate and traction is pretty good. Honestly, a couple in their Subaru Crosstrek could pop up here for a picnic. The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 we're driving is therefore complete overkill. But at least it looks the part as it trudges up this uncharacteristically verdant mountain with San Diego in the distance to the north and Mexico to the south. Its special, dechromed AT4 grille has a purposeful appearance, but tastefully lacks the show-off machismo of Ford and Ram's off-roading models. The red tow hooks are a nice touch and the dark-accented 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain rubber are just the right size beneath a suspension that is raised an extra 2 inches from every other Sierra. That would be one of the key elements that differentiates the AT4 as the Sierra's off-roading model – GMC's answer to the Chevy Silverado's Trail Boss trims. In fact, their mechanical enhancements are identical. Besides the 2-inch lift, the suspension features off-road-tuned Rancho monotube shocks. There's also a locking rear differential, a two-speed transfer case, skid plates and those tow hooks. The 5.3-liter V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management is similarly standard, but unlike the Silverado Trail Boss, the Sierra AT4 offers the 6.2-liter V8 good for 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque as a roughly $2,500 option. That's the engine we have and it delivers the expected punch, complete with a satisfyingly snarling exhaust note. However, as observed in back-to-back drives with these two available engines during the Silverado launch, the 6.2 certainly isn't necessary. The 5.3-liter is seriously capable and the bigger engine is largely for those who want to have the biggest number possible emblazoned on the fender. It's overkill, which in this particular environment, is fitting. Besides the available engine upgrade, the AT4 also goes beyond its Trail Boss counterpart by dipping into the Sierra Denali's tool box. Its MultiPro tailgate is standard equipment, allowing for six different configurations, the most notable of which include a means of more easily reaching into the bed and a drop-down step that eases entry into the bed. GMC's considerable touting of that last element is rife with hypocrisy given GM advertisements that mocked Ford's similar feature. MultiPro admittedly has greater functionality, including a further upgrade that embeds within it a pair of speakers, rudimentary audio controls, and USB and aux inputs. It's sourced from marine applications and looks like it. Sound quality is acceptable, if a bit tinny, but for tailgating purposes, it would be a nice addition. Especially since the bed's standard 120V power outlet and that aux jack would let you plug in a TV back there, while GMC's standard 4G LTE WiFi makes it possible to stream live TV through something like YouTubeTV. Your tailgate party could now …
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|MPG||15 City / 20 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||355 @ 5600 rpm|
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