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2023 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate and AT4X First Drive: For Those Who Want More

2023 GMC Sierra AT4X | Photo: B.Charette
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Benoit Charette
When the AT4 isn't enough, there's… the AT4X!
2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, profile
2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, profile | Photo: B.Charette

The day's big challenge
The desert road allowed us to use different driving combinations with the locking differentials and low range. In tight spots, we had a series of cameras that helped us see the maneuvering space, which was pretty useful given that the AT4X is a big truck.

It's fair to say that this beast leveled the difficult desert roads wonderfully and even in several spots where we closed our eyes in anticipation of a bottom corner of the truck hitting a rock. But that never came. The suspension absorbed all smoothly and the truck continued on its way. It was so competent that it was one of the first times in such a situation that I had the opportunity to actually admire the grandiose panorama of the desert.

Our big challenge for the day came in the form of something called Diablo's Drop Off. It's not actually that steep, but it's a daunting obstacle nonetheless and a great place to show off the extra suspension travel and good composition of the AT4X. We especially learned that locking differentials make a great bloody difference, especially in the sand. We met a group of adventurers who had had a much harder time of it than we did, simply because they didn’t have this type of locking differential at their disposal.

We also tried out the one-pedal configuration that makes it easier to climb. In the end, if the goal of the afternoon was to show us how extremely competent this AT4X is off-road, well, it was mission accomplished.

2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, multimedia screen
2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, multimedia screen | Photo: B.Charette

Cool and luxurious
On arrival at Diablo’s Drop Off, we stepped outside of our vehicle and received an instant reminder of just what an oasis that vehicle’s interior was for us in this brutal environment. It's not every day you get to go off-roading in such a furnace of a desert whilst enjoying a cool climate and the comfort of ventilated, massaging leather seats, if you please. The generous size of the cabin was another plus.

We also had at hand a customizable 13.4-inch horizontal touchscreen and a 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster. The colours on them are vivid and usage is easy, response quick. You get Google Assistant, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly as standard, while Amazon Alexa is also available. A 15-inch colour display is also available for the touchscreen. A 12-speaker Bose Premium Series audio system with Centerpoint surround sound is standard on the AT4X.

It's true that at over $87,000, right off the bat the AT4X isn't for everyone. But, if you have a healthy budget and no tolerance for discomfort, and you have to take a logging road to get to the cabin or to your favourite hunting or fishing spot, you're definitely a customer for the Sierra AT4X. You'll get where you want to go in comfort. And know that it’s just as comfortable on paved surfaces as it is off-road.

2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, wheel
2023 GMC Sierra AT4X, wheel | Photo: B.Charette

We like

Excellent off-road capability
High level of comfort
Powerful engine

We like less

High price
High fuel consumption
Bulky format

2023 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate 2023, front
2023 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate 2023, front | Photo: B.Charette
2023 GMC Sierra Denali Utlimate and AT4X pictures
Benoit Charette
Benoit Charette
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 65 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists