The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 has a factory installed 2-inch lift, a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, and skid plates. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 has a factory installed 2-inch lift, a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, and skid plates. (Manufacturer photo)

GMC Sierra 1500 is larger, lighter and stronger and upgraded

All-new design, safety features and updated infotainment are included, plus the cool new tailgate.

Other than the carryover of two engines from its previous lineup, the GMC Sierra pickup is all new from top to bottom for 2019. It’s larger, lighter and stronger, with a barrage of additional safety features and advanced technologies.

A new version, the AT4, joins the base Sierra, SLE, Elevation, SLT and Denali trim levels, and is the model featured here.

Though four-wheel drive is available on other Sierra models, the AT4 includes equipment aimed at off-roading. Specifically, to opulent off-roading because this trim is similar to the high-end Denali in premium comfort and convenience features.

Features found on the 2019 Sierra AT4 include a 2-inch factory-installed suspension lift, standard 4WD with a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, skid plates, Rancho monotube shocks, 18-inch wheels (20-inch wheels available) with all-terrain Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, hill descent control, a traction selection system, GMC’s MultiPro tailgate, AT4-exclusive exterior and interior trim, red vertical recovery hooks, and a standard 5.3-liter V8 engine (6.2-liter V8 available).

My Sierra AT4 tester came with optional features totaling $12,150 but reduced $500 by an AT4 premium package discount. Its 6.2-liter engine, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, generates 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel economy ratings are 15 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. With its crew cab configuration and 4WD, maximum towing capacity is 12,100 pounds.

Interior upgrades to the GMC Sierra 1500 for 2019 include several new infotainment system choices. The AT4 interior is shown here. (Manufacturer photo)

Interior upgrades to the GMC Sierra 1500 for 2019 include several new infotainment system choices. The AT4 interior is shown here. (Manufacturer photo)

The truck has a high stance, especially with the 2-inch lift, and getting into it requires strategic planning. Integrated grab handles help a lot, but the side steps (running boards) are most helpful because they’re nice and wide, accommodating tall people with big feet in boots, not just smaller people with short legs. This is an important issue because many side steps are narrow, helping short people but just getting in the way for tall people.

The Sierra cabin is gigantically roomy, almost big enough for passengers to extend their arms in any direction without hitting someone or something. The center console bin is proportionally huge. I could put my fully loaded survival-sized purse into it with enough room left over for big binoculars and a couple of field guides to the birds of North America. Built-in boxes beneath the rear seats provide even more stowage space where items are also hidden from the evil eyes of prowlers.

For all its enormity and off-road paraphernalia, the 2019 Sierra AT4 handles remarkably well on Snohomish County’s renowned twisty backroads. I wasn’t able to take it off-roading during the test week but there’s a stretch of road in east county with temporary paving that is so rough, people drive in the oncoming lane to avoid it (not much traffic on this road, obviously), and I drove the truck on it at 40 mph (5 over the posted limit; I was testing it, officer). Sierra beautifully absorbed most of the bumps.

A rear camera mirror is one of the new features on the 2019 Sierra. With the flip of a switch at the bottom of the rearview mirror, it changes into a camera screen. The camera view is excellently clear and sharp, but it takes getting used to. Its advantage is to eliminate obstructions such as rear seat passengers and head restraints, and provide a wider field of view.

The 2019 GMC Sierra’s six-function MultiPro tailgate is a first for the industry. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2019 GMC Sierra’s six-function MultiPro tailgate is a first for the industry. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 got more positive comments from friends, neighbors and strangers than any pickup I can recall having driven. These people all knew about the MultiPro tailgate because they’d seen GMC’s prolific advertising. This industry-first tailgate can be configured in six different ways to make bed access easier, carry longer loads, create a standing workstation, and provide seating for tailgate parties. It’s brilliant.

2019 GMC SIERRA 4WD CREW CAB AT4

Base price, including destination charge: $54,695

Price as driven: $66,345

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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