The 2019 GMC Sierra is all-new.
GMC’s Denali luxury trim level has become synonymous with the brand.
The off-road oriented AT4 is a new trim level for the Sierra for 2019.
The 2019 GMC Sierra is all new, and with the redesign comes the all-new off-road oriented AT4 trim level. GMC says that the AT4 is to off-road as the Denali is to luxury. Given that the AT4 is priced near the top of the Sierra lineup, buyers might be wondering how it differs from the top-dog Denali. Below we’ll compare the two Sierra trim levels to give you an idea of how they differ.
The Sierra Denali and AT4 are offered with the same engine options. Buyers can select either the mainstream 5.3-liter V8, which makes 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, or the larger and more powerful 6.2-liter V8, which puts out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. With the 5.3-liter V8, a 4-wheel-drive Sierra Denali earns 15 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in combined driving. With the 6.2-liter V8, a 4WD Sierra Denali earns 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined. With either engine, the AT4 loses one mpg on the highway, likely due to its increased ride height and more aggressive tires.
The AT4 is offered in three body configurations, while the Denali is offered in just two. AT4 buyers can opt for a double cab model with a standard bed, or a crew cab with either a standard or a short bed. The Denali is only offered as a crew cab with either a standard or short bed.
The Sierra AT4 starts at $52,294 and exceeds $72,000 in fully-loaded configuration. A 2019 Sierra Denali carries a starting price of $56,195 and when fully loaded, reaches close to $78,000.
The Sierra Denali is all about chrome. Up front, it offers a chrome bumper, chrome fog light surrounds, a chrome grille, a chrome fender applique, chrome mirror caps and chrome window trim. A variety of optional wheels are offered as well, most of which are also slathered in chrome, and in sizes up to 22 inches. The AT4 turns the Denali model on its head, offering all of the Denali’s chrome trim pieces in black, giving it a more menacing look, while adding prominent red recovery hooks to the bumper.
Inside, these two trucks are virtually identical, save for slightly different interior colors — the AT4’s black leather interior comes with brown accents — along with some unique trim pieces for the Denali that go along with its "Denali" branded steering wheel.
Suspensions & Applications
The AT4 comes with standard 4WD, while Denali buyers can opt for either 2-wheel drive or 4WD.
The AT4 offers a standard 2-in factory lift, pairing it with Rancho shock absorbers that are tailored for off-road use. Additionally, the AT4 comes with a front skid plate, while the Denali does not.
Given that the Denali is engineered for on-road prowess, it offers a suspension technology that GMC has dubbed "Active Ride Control," which offers smooth sailing over pavement and replaces the much-loved Magnetic Ride Control system offered on previous Sierra Denalis. The new ARC system consists of three main components: active dampers, body-positioning sensors and additional sensors that detect heave, body roll and pitch motions. Given GMC’s description of ARC’s functionality, it would seem that this is a less sophisticated system than Magnetic Ride Control.
Wheels and Tires
The AT4 comes standard with 18-in wheels and basic all terrain tires. Buyers can opt for heavier-duty Goodyear Duratrac Mud Terrain tires for an additional $295. These are surprisingly aggressive tires to put on a midsize truck and will offer considerable benefits off-road, but at the cost of on-road performance with regard to noise and ride quality. Buyers can also opt for 20-in wheels wrapped in basic all terrain tires as well.
As the Denali prioritizes luxury over off-road prowess, 20-in wheels are standard. These come wrapped in mild all-terrain tires, not dissimilar to what you’ll find on the AT4. Buyers can also choose from a variety of optional 22-in wheels, all of which come wrapped in all-season tires.
Both the Sierra Denali and AT4 come with GMC’s new Multi-Pro tailgate, which offers six different positions that help in a variety of applications, from acting as a step to securing loads of varying sizes. Both vehicles can also be had with a head-up display, a power rear tailgate, a Bose-branded premium audio system, surround view cameras and a rear-view mirror that doubles as a camera. Altogether, while the Denali offers more as standard, these two trucks can be spec’d with virtually all of the same features.
Altogether, the differences between these two high-end Sierra trim levels mainly come down to just that, trim. The Denali comes with a big chrome grille, large 22-in wheels and more standard features than the AT4 that help to justify its slightly higher price. The AT4 offers blacked out trim, a standard 2-inch lift and Rancho off-road shocks, all-terrain tires and red recovery hooks in the bumper. When it comes down to it, choosing between these two trucks is really a matter of personal taste, as outside of their slightly different suspension setups, there isn’t much of substance that differentiates them.