First Drive: 2024 GMC Sierra HD AT4X AEV

Brandan Gillogly

GMC has finally stepped out of Chevrolet’s shadow in the last few years. The General has seen fit to give Canyon and Sierra access to the best bits of off-road equipment. The mid-size Canyon, half-ton Sierra 1500, and Sierra HD pickups are all available with the formidable AT4X package. Each can also be equipped with the AEV package that makes them even more ready to tackle the trail and go way off the beaten path and, more importantly, make it home in one piece. We spent some time in this Sierra 2500 AT4X AEV to get a better feel for it on-road. We also hit some light trails to learn how the AEV package on the HD compares to its Silverado stablemate from Chevrolet.

2024 GMC 2500 AT4X AEV
Brandan Gillogly

In case you’re not familiar, the Sierra HD’s AT4X package has an increased ride height, 305/70R18 off-road tires, a selectable rear differential locker, and impressive Multimatic spool-valve dampers. If all of that does sound familiar, it’s just GMC’s version of Chevrolet’s ZR2 package. While ½-ton Sierra AT4X models now come equipped with AEV’s impressive steel bumpers for 2024, the HD AT4X models only get the extra beefy pieces as part of the $9,395 AEV package, just like its Silverado cousin. They offer cast steel tow points front and rear and look like they could shrug off dings and trail scuffs rather handily. The AEV package on the HD also includes steel skid plates that protect the steering gear, the fuel tank, and the front suspension just below that tough bumper.

Besides a $495 paint option and AEV package, the only other option box ticked on this off-road brute was for the 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel, a $9,490 choice. The Duramax is surprisingly refined for a 470-horsepower beast. Boost from the twin turbochargers quickly ramps up, even just off idle, with little throttle input. Power builds linearly, although you can chirp the tires at low speeds if you mat the throttle. It’s still a bit of a shock to see how far current ¾-ton trucks have come in the past 20 years as power and tow ratings continue to climb. It’s surprisingly easy to get used to driving such a competent hauler.


Specs: 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 AT4X AEV

  • Price: $83,695/$103,075 (2500 AT4X /as-tested AT4X AEV)
  • Powertrain: 6.6-liter, turbocharged pushrod V-8 diesel, ten-speed torque-converter automatic
  • Output: 470 hp at 2800 rpm and 975 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm
  • Layout: Four-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger full-size body-on-frame pickup truck
  • Competition: Ram Power Wagon, Ford Super Duty Tremor, Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2 Bison

Most of our test was on-road, with just a bit of off-pavement exploring. We didn’t put the AT4X’s departure angle to the test, but 35-inch tires are still a big benefit when picking a line. Knowing that there’s nearly 12 inches of ground clearance just makes things much easier. Compared to its Ram Power Wagon and Ford Super Duty Tremor competition in the heavy-duty pickup market, the AT4X’s tires are two inches taller than those on the Ram and almost an inch wider than the similarly tall 35-inch tires found on the Ford. It’s worth noting that the AT4X can be equipped with a diesel, while the Tremor can’t.

We took some meandering high desert trails at relatively low speeds. It was still enough to appreciate the Multimatic DSSV shocks and their ability to eat up any kind of jolt from small whoops and divots.

2024 GMC Sierra 2500 AT4X AEV Edition with 35-inch Goodyear Territory tires, 18-inch Salta wheels , and winch-capable AEV front bumper.GMC

Even with the DSSV dampers doing their sorcery, the last bit of ride quality comes from airing the tires down from their load-handling 55psi to something in the 30psi range. Aired up to normal pressure, road imperfections like expansion joints do make it through to the cabin. It is a ¾-ton truck after all, and its stiff springs and heavy components can’t respond as quickly as they would on a ½-ton.

On the road, the AT4X is easy to control even on tight, curvy canyons, and handles highway miles with ease. Still, you never quite forget that this is a big truck. The steering is heavier than a half-ton, and both the height and the length are apparent in city driving.

2024 GMC Sierra 2500 AT4X AEV Edition interior
Brandan Gillogly

Inside, we appreciated the wide, 13.4-inch center screen of the Sierra. It allows for customization, with the right quarter of the main screen able to show towing or media info while CarPlay takes up the remaining three quarters. If Apple CarPlay isn’t your thing, the baked-in navigation system is a great alternative. As opposed to the CarPlay, navigation can be displayed using the entire screen.

The upholstery and trim fit an upscale off-road truck. The AEV package adds embroidered headrests but is otherwise the same as any other AT4X.

We only have a few quibbles with the truck. The sizable center console still allows plenty of legroom for driver and passenger and offers up a roomy main compartment. However, the portion just forward of that cubby is split between cupholders and a shallow tray forward of the trailer brake controller. Placing the brake controller in easy, comfortable reach could be a priority for some, so we can’t fault them for that. On the other hand, how often is it needed when towing? It seems like an inefficient use of the center console space. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 places the controller just ahead of the center console. It’s still an easily reachable spot in the dash.

Our other complaint is the column shifter. It does free up space in the center console and feels appropriate in a ¾-ton truck. However, it blocks the driver’s view of the center screen, keeping the lower left corner obscured. We like the shifter, even though shifting is all electronic and has been for years. It feels sturdy and there’s muscle memory for plenty of buyers who have only ever known column shifters.

We also like the placement of the screen. Placing it higher by swapping positions with the center dash vents would probably make it harder to reach. Depending on your seating position and screen preference, this might be a non-issue.

2024 GMC Sierra 2500 AT4X AEV

Price: $83,695/$103,075 (2500 AT4X /as-tested AT4X AEV)

Highs: Great ride quality for a ¾-ton, tremendous off-road chops, diesel powertrain is an absolute juggernaut.

Lows: Still has ride quality compromises that come with an HD pickup despite the improved suspension.

Summary: The AEV package takes the already impressive AT4X off-road package to another level and makes for one of the most competent factory off-road packages available. There’s probably not another HD truck that can match it off-road that is also this comfortable.


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    Looks good but a YouTuber that runs a tow company says GM trucks are his single biggest break down category. Most people who buy have no use for something like this but to each his own

    My coworker’s not far out of warranty Tahoe started acting up, she went in for service and they said the transmission is going, and she traded it in on a newer Tahoe! I asked her why she didn’t look at a 4runner or Sequoia, she said “You know I can’t drive a Toyota…”.

    To each their own. I have a friend who has been buying Toyota SUVs/CUVS for 15 years. She thought of them as dependable (which they are) but called 2 years ago to ask my advice and I suggested she try a Tahoe. American? she asked. She went to try one and bought a Tahoe. Now 2 years later she says the Tahoe is the best vehicle she has ever owned and she wouldn’t consider a low tech Sequoia. She has had Sequoias and Highlanders, but swears the Tahoe is far better.

    It’s interesting that a lengthy article can be written about the pros of these oversized, over weight and over priced beasts and not one mention of fuel economy. Apparently, despite the obvious signs we’re messing with our planet, no one even thinks of the environmental burden of these ridiculously oversized trucks. It’s time we look at what the rest of the world is doing and start, either importing or building sensible, real world vehicles. IMHO

    I don’t personally have a use for a pickup and admittedly pickups and SUVs are not environmentally friendly, but people love them and they keep GM profitable so they can build things like Corvettes and Cadillac Blackwing sedans which I am so happy they build. I know people who build the Chevy and GMC HD pickups at Flint assembly and they are dedicated people who care about the products they build and really want to build the best. By all accounts, they do.

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