We compare GMC’s new truck to the most hardcore hauler out there

GMC just launched a new-generation GMC Sierra that redefines the luxury pickup truck segment through its imposing looks, premium interior, and segment-first carbon-fiber bed. But General Motors also used the new Sierra to introduce a new model line for GMC vehicles. It’s called the AT4 and adds extra features inside and out and a lift kit. With the Sierra more capable in off-road terrain in this setup, truck enthusiasts can’t help but wonder whether the AT4 is a good proposition for the mighty Ford F-150 Raptor. To answer this question, I’m going to have a closer look at both trucks in the comparison below.

The Looks

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The trouble with competing against the Raptor is that you need rugged, aggressive looks

The trouble with competing against the Raptor is that you need rugged, aggressive looks. The heavily modified Ford is the truck to beat in this niche, as FoMoCo managed to turn an already massive looking vehicle into a menacing desert runner with a bed. The no-nonsense front bumper, the black grille with big "Ford" lettering, and the muscular hood set the Raptor apart from every other truck out there. Then there’s the beefed-up wheel arches and the big wheels further add to its appeal.

The Sierra AT4, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. Although it sports an imposing look and the AT4 package replaces all chrome with black trim for a sportier look, the Sierra is by no means as aggressive as the Raptor. The wheels are also significantly smaller, while the grille projects elegance rather than sportiness.

Needless to say, the F-150 Raptor wins in the looks department.

The Interior

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Interior
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The F-150's interior is just right for a pickup truck

The F-150’s interior is just right for a pickup truck. The dashboard is chunky and boxy, the center console is tall and wide, while the center stack is packed with a big infotainment screen and a wide array of buttons and knobs below. The seats are comfortable, but offer proper lateral support too, just in case you need to take the unbeaten path to haul your stuff. The Raptor package adds a few goodies, starting with leather with suede inserts for the seats, an upgraded overhead console, paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, and carbon-fiber accents.

The GMC Sierra AT4 is Here to Put the Hurt on the Ford F-150 Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Interior
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The Sierra benefits from a bit more equipment and from the brand-new, more modern design

Moving over to the Sierra, we can find a similarly boxy dashboard with a massive center stack with numerous buttons and a touchscreen flanked by vertically oriented A/C vents. While the Denali trim is the absolute superlative when it comes to premium features, the standard Sierra model is nothing to sneeze at. Based on the SLT model, the Sierra AT4 comes with soft-touch surfaces all over the place, leather seats, and a hefty amount of aluminum inserts. The dark trim and the Jet Black/Kalahari accents on the seats give the truck a unique look. Leather seats are standard on the model, as are the all-weather floor mats. The package also comes with Hill Descent Control and Traction Select System, which allows the driver to choose from preset drive modes that have been tailored for different terrain or weather conditions.

To be honest, the two interior aren’t all that different. Both have similar degrees of ruggedness, as well as plenty of premium features. However, the Sierra benefits from a bit more equipment and from the brand-new, more modern design. I’d say that the GMC wins, but this department isn’t very relevant when it comes to extreme off-roading.

The Running Gear

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor High Resolution Exterior
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The F-150 Raptor has everything it needs to run across the desert at high speed

The F-150 Raptor has everything it needs to run across the desert at high speed, despite the fact that Ford discontinued the old 6.2-liter V-8 engine. Rated at a solid 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet, the V-8 was replaced by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Despite being smaller, the V-6 is significantly more powerful, generating 450 horses and 510 pound-feet of twist. The transmission, a 10-speed automatic, is also new.

But power isn’t the key feature here. While a stout engine is necessary, a truck like the Raptor needs the proper running gear to easily conquer sand dunes and rock terrain. The Torque-On-Demand unit kicks in to provide the perfect power distribution between the front and rear axles, while the Terrain Management System gives the driver access to six modes: Normal, Street, Weather, Mud and Sand, Rock, and Baja. The optional Torsen front differential offers better grip for the front tires distributes torque side to side while traversing slippery terrain.

The GMC Sierra AT4 is Here to Put the Hurt on the Ford F-150 Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Exterior
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While output is not an issue, the Sierra AT4 isn't as off-road capable as the Raptor

Unlike the Raptor, the Sierra AT4 is available with one of three engines. That’s because the AT4 is not a performance-oriented model. Choices include a new 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel and updated versions of the familiar 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V-8s. Output figures aren’t yet available, but the 6.2-liter is the most powerful option, as it’s expected to generate at least 420 horsepower. The Sierra also gained a 10-speed automatic gearbox with the redesign.

While output is not an issue, the Sierra AT4 isn’t as off-road capable as the Raptor. The two-inch lift kit and the four-wheel-drive system with the two-speed transfer case do make it better than the standard Sierra in the wild, but with no option for larger wheels and off-road tires, the GMC will lose a desert race against the Raptor. It does have a locking rear differential and off-road-tuned, Rancho monotube shocks absorbers, so it’s more than just a street-friendly truck.

Needless to say, the F-150 Raptor is the big winner here. To get a similar configuration for the GMC Sierra, you simply have to look at tuning shops and aftermarket off-road parts for a conversion.

Conclusion

The GMC Sierra AT4 is Here to Put the Hurt on the Ford F-150 Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Exterior
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With all the facts compared side to side, one would have to be delusional to claim that the Sierra AT4 could win this battle

With all the facts compared side to side, one would have to be delusional to claim that the Sierra AT4 could win this battle. The F-150 Raptor continues to reign supreme, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon. At least not at the GMC factory. But this is the thing. While Ford covers all markets with the F-150, from the Baja-ready F-150 to the luxury-oriented King Ranch, GMC only handles the premium side of GM trucks. So why the comparison you ask? Well, while the Sierra AT4 is no match for the Raptor, it’s a truck that deserves a bit of attention for being the most off-road capable vehicle from GMC. You won’t be able to race it at Dakar, but you can tackle the great outdoors if you avoid the really extreme paths. More importantly, you can do that in style, with all the premium features and state-of-the-art technology you can get in a truck right now. Bottom line, the Sierra AT4 is not a solid alternative to the F-150 Raptor, but it’s a truck you need to consider if you want the best of both worlds.

References

The GMC Sierra AT4 is Here to Put the Hurt on the Ford F-150 Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 GMC Sierra AT4.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ford F-150.

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