“Tonka Truck Fun”
Do you remember playing with a line of toys made by Tonka. Tough as nails, built with metal, heavy duty vehicles and trucks that you felt you could do anything with. They weren’t rinky-dinky plastic, or tiny like Hot wheels, but big and tough that you had to use two hands to play with, could sit on them and act out your dreams of driving the full size equivalents. There is something innate about that feeling that never dies as you grow up. I think more so for car, truck or motor vehicle enthusiasts.
When that enthusiasm can be captured in real life, full size you’re instantly drawn back to those bygone days. In simple terms, the GMC Sierra AT4 does exactly that. At first glance the AT4 looks like your Tonka Pickup; big knobby tires, an aggressive imposing grill and red accent accessories to let you know that this thing is meant to play. Step into the ATR’s 2” raised cabin and you feel like you command the road with just under 11 inches of ground clearance you know the AT4 is designed to go off road backed by Rancho Suspension on all 4 corners. True joy comes from pushing the chrome bezel starter button and the 3.0L inline six Carbonpro Duramax Turbo Diesel comes to life and all those dreams of driving the big rig materialize before you. The Duramax Turbo Diesel is all new for 2021 mated to a 10 speed automatic transmission. It produces 277 horsepower and cranks out 460 lb-ft of torque from a mere 1,250 rpm. When compared to the likes of Ford or Ram, the GMC Duramax delivers that torque in an aggressive manner that puts the other two to shame. With all that diesel grunt comes an 8,800 lbs towing capacity and up to 2,040 lbs payload.
The go anywhere fun factor is further increased with the class first six function MultiPro Tailgate. By far the coolest of these six functions is the built-in Kicker sound system to allow you to carry on your party outside the truck. The true science of the AT4 Carbonpro is in what the tailgate is attached to. The AT4 Carbonpro uses an industry first Carbon-Fiber Composite bed material. It provides a 25% weight reduction over a steal bed. The material is highly dent, scratch and corrosion resistant and allows for a 1 cu. ft cargo increase. In addition to these benefits is the ability to have no less than 14 molded tie-downs to carry your toys with ease and safety to your off road destination. However, be prepared to dish out nearly $5,000.00 for this advanced material and bragging right.
The interior is a functional comfortable place. It provides wide supporting seating and convenient storage options (cubby holes inside the rear seat backs). Information and audio come courtesy of an 8 inch infotainment screen and class leading 15 inch heads up display capable of displaying navigation, phone and media information along with vehicle diagnostics. Unlike the other two Detroit competitors, who have opted for center console shift levers or electronic rotary dials for transmission control, GMC sticks with an old school steering stock. It feels nostalgic and provides for a cool place to rest your hand while cruising.
The half-ton truck market is by far the most ruthless and cutthroat segment in the auto industry. Each of the big three vies for one-upmanship over the other be it torque or horsepower numbers or towing capacities, I think the utilitarian nature of what the venerable pick-up truck is being lost. Let’s not forget that this vehicle was the tool that built America. The GMC Sierra and specifically the AT4 best captures this DNA. When you drive it, you know you’re driving a truck, a tool, albeit, a well-appointed, mother of all Swiss army knives, tool. I also feel the AT4 and specifically the Carbonpro package addresses what the pickup is meant to do. A vehicle that lets you work and play, carry your materials and tools during the week and toys on the weekend and gives you the ability to configure the bed in multiple ways to meet your needs. This is further bolstered by the reliability from a solid diesel power plant that is not rot or plagued by issues, cough cough “Dodge Ram” – not sure if you should be dissing another car manufacturer as you also drive Dodge’s and write for them. Maybe remain unbiased.