The crew at GMC has decided to launch yet another off-road special of its Sierra 1500 pickup truck, continuing GM’s collaboration with aftermarket outfit American Expedition Vehicles. The AT4X AEV is a hotted-up AT4X, which is itself a hotted-up AT4.
This brings up a question – is GM slicing its off-road pie into vanishingly small segments?
Consider the following. On the bowtie side of its truck showrooms, one can select from a dizzying array of dirt road trims on the Silverado: Z71, Trail Boss (in Custom or LT), ZR2, and the upcoming ZR2 Bison. Most of those are replicated on the smaller Colorado midsizer. Across the tile floor at GMC, shoppers can find the likes of X31 Off-Road, AT4, AT4X, and now AT4X AEV. Rinse and (mostly) repeat for 4×4 variants of the little Canyon.
This is not a complaint. Your author welcomes every single off-road-focused truck a manufacturer can produce, whether that’s a factory-built brawler or some sort of blank canvas with which to build a Moab monster. However, spare a thought for customers who are not as indentured to the off-road lifestyle as this writer who perpetually has dirt under his fingernails and axle grease on his Levi denim jeans. Trying to explain the difference between an AT4, AT4X, and AT4X AEV to a befuddled customer is likely to be a trial, leading to them either walking out the door in confusion or simply buying the one they think looks best. And you better believe the latter happens more often than not – leading shoppers to palm the keys of a truck in which they will never use even a percentage of its capability.
Speaking of capability, let’s land the plane and circle back to the initial reason for this post: The new GMC. Teaming up with American Expedition Vehicles, the same crew with whom GM worked to create the ZR2 Bison, has resulted in a Sierra 1500 AT4X AEV with beefy new steel components compared to a non-AEV truck. Stamped front and rear bumpers are ready to take a beating from that rock you didn’t see and your spotter missed, a quintet of hot-stamped boron steel skid plates over expensive undercarriage bits like the t-case and rear diff, plus unique wheels and 33-inch Goodyear off-road meats.
The grille and front fascia are said to have been tweaked so they can be force-fed that bumper and those tires, while the typical smattering of trim-specific branding is scattered about the exterior. There are functional improvements to measures like approach angle, which climbs by more than a quarter compared to a stock truck, increasing to 32.5 degrees. The venerable 6.2-liter V8 and its 420 horsepower remain untouched.
Look for them later in the 2023 model year, barring meltdowns in the supply chain.
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