In early years the GMC version of the full-sized General Motors pickup truck had grown to have a reputation of being the gentleman’s pickup, when the Chevrolet version was deemed the workingman’s truck. Today that is a bit of a misnomer; no, actually today that has no basis in fact. The GMC Sierra is just a rugged, strong and capable as its sibling.
The differentiation comes in trim, packaging and equipment. The GMC Sierra might have more glitz and luxurious trim pieces. That is certainly the case with a new special edition Sierra known as the All-Terrain X Package. It wasn’t enough for GMC to remain with just the All-Terrain special edition. They had to take it one step further with the X Package.
It is easy to spot the All-Terrain X by its unique front grille design and body color trim, which includes door handles and body-side moldings. A number of trim elements are black colored which are highlights in any paint scheme other than black. So, like the case of my test truck that was decked out in Onyx black paint, the entire truck was as black as Darth Vader’s helmet and equally as intimidating. There are a few chrome highlights that give a hint of elegance and increased performance features included in the X package. The design of the high-performance LED lighting lends a certain sinister stare to the already aggressive look.
A sport bar mounted to the front of the bed not only adds a certain “let’s go run Baja” effect, it is a perfect mounting location for sheet metal panels with the Sierra name cut out to show the red background in a 3D affect. Carrying the round tube accessory look are the sport side steps, which make it just a little easier for passengers to get in or exit the truck, and they look cool too.
Performance begins at the familiar 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8. This all-aluminum engine utilizes direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, high-capacity air cleaner, and Active Fuel Management mixing give it both power and fuel economy. This technologically advanced engine offers up 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. That guttural exhaust note is courtesy of a performance exhaust system that not only helps entertain it adds ten more horsepower to the spec sheet. The exhaust note signals to all within ear-shot that this is more than a pretty grille.
This V-8 is matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission and an electronically controlled transfer case for true four-wheel drive capabilities. The driver can switch from 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive high range on the fly by simply selecting the mode. Common on nearly all 4X4s, four-wheel drive low range must be selected only when the vehicle is stopped and the shifter placed in the neutral position. For even more off road capabilities the GMC All Terrain X package is equipped with an Eaton G80 auto-locking rear differential. Auto locking is good so there is no need to remember to lock in the system. As you trek along the trail if the system detects wheel spin, as little as 100 rpm difference, it automatically locks the differential giving your GMC more traction in slippery conditions.
For more capability on and off the road the All Terrain X is equipped with the Z71 Off-Road suspension package with Rancho monotube shocks, Hill Descent Control and underbody transfer case shield. Hill descent is becoming more and more appealing as buyers see the benefit of selecting this mode and allowing the truck “walk” its way down certain dicey conditions. The big advantage here is the system can select application of individual wheel’s brake to keep the truck on the straight and narrow with only steering guidance needed from the driver. We have used this system many times and though it takes away some of the driver skills needed on the trail, at times it is a welcome advantage.
Tire technology has come a long way just as vehicle engineering. The Mud-Terrain-rated Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac MT tires are designed for off-road competence in dirt, gravel and mud. However, Goodyear engineers have given these tires an admirable on-road composure in dry, wet and wintry conditions. While slightly noisy on the highway they are not in any way obnoxious, and they are great for trekking through the slop.
While the interior would be considered quite upscale, the folks at GMC know their trucks get used for what trucks get used for and stand a high chance they will see their share of dirt and mud. Keeping that debris from getting ground into the carpet the All Terrain X comes with all weather floor liners.
Some folks may question the use of premium leather for seating surfaces, yet many hobby off-roaders prefer leather as it seems to be easier to clean and it feels much better on your backside. Case in point: We were once on an international trek through the rain forest and had what seemed like more mud on the interior than outside. Though it took many long hours of detailing we were able to get it looking brand new. This would not have been so with cloth upholstery.
GMC has also outfitted their truck with all the wiz-bang electronic features said to be the choice of buyers. GMC IntelliLink enhances connectivity and promotes safer driving. It allows smartphone users to connect with applications such as navigation, hands-free messaging and more through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Through the 8-inch display driver and passengers have access to a multitude of features.
We must admit we were a bit surprised that we immediately began missing this truck following our week of testing. We love trucks, but put ourselves in a more practical category. With that said, the GMC All Terrain X package gave us the feeling as though we had just dressed in a tuxedo to go out to roll in the mud.
That’s a pretty good feeling.
Want to see another black full-size pickup truck from General Motors? Click here.
2016 GMC Sierra All Terrain X spec sheet next page