GMC Sierra 1500 All Terrain X

The GMC Sierra 1500 All-Terrain X is GM's Coolest Modern Truck

I recently spent a week driving the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 All Terrain X and in addition to having a list of functional features which make this Sierra among the most capable off-road trucks in the half ton market – the exterior features of the All-Terrain X package makes this the coolest half ton truck GM has offered in the modern era.

Before getting into my review of the GMC Sierra All Terrain X, I should clarify that this is not GM’s answer to the Ford F150 Raptor. The Raptor is a high performance pickup built from the ground up – unique in almost every way from the next nearest model. The Sierra All Terrain X is a premium off-road package applied to the Sierra SLT, so it is not as elaborate of a package as the Raptor, but it is also far less expensive.

In short, it isn’t fair to compare the GMC Sierra All Terrain X to the Ford F150 Raptor as they are two different types of trucks in two different price classes, but in terms of off-road packages from General Motors – the All-Terrain X makes the Sierra one of their most capable trucks and their best looking modern half ton pickup. From front to back, the All-Terrain X transforms the GMC Sierra into one great looking sport truck designed to succeed off-road and on the roughest unpaved roads possible.

Building the Sierra All-Terrain X
The GMC Sierra All Terrain X is actually a Sierra SLT 4WD Crew Cab with the optional All Terrain and All Terrain X packages.

The All-Terrain package adds the majority of the functional bits, including the Z71 Off-Road Suspension Package with Rancho monotube shocks, an underbody shield, a high capacity air cleaner, unique 18 inch wheels and an Eaton automatic locking rear differential. The All-Terrain package also adds body colored front and rear bumpers, body colored door handles and body moldings, black exterior mirrors, a package specific grille with body color trim, a spray on bedliner and All Terrain badges on the outside along with power, heated black leather seats with red accents, a Bose premium sound system and bright door sill plates.

16 sierra atx rear

The All-Terrain X package adds a performance exhaust system which lifts the output of the 5.3L EcoTec V8 to 365 horsepower, package-specific 18 inch black painted wheels wrapped in Goodyear DuraTrac off-road tires, high performance LED headlights, a black step bar, gloss black mirror caps, black beltline moldings and the All-Terrain X bed mounted “sport bar”.

When you take the base price of my GMC Sierra SLT base price of $47,270 and add in the All-Terrain package ($2,105), the All-Terrain X package ($4,315) and the destination charge of $1,195, you get an MSRP of $54,885.

Major Cool Factor
I opened this review by proclaiming that the GMC Sierra All-Terrain X is the coolest looking modern GM truck, and with the combination of the rugged off-road tires on package-specific black wheels, the heavily blacked-out exterior and the red-trimmed sport bar in the bed – which gives this Sierra a hardcore off-roading look – there is no question that this is the most dramatic exterior package from GM on one of their half ton trucks.

16 sierra atx fr

Really, this is just a Sierra 1500 with pretty much everything on the outside painted black, shy of the front skid plate where it wraps up around to the front bumper, the badges and the lights, but the sport bar reaching up out of the bed with the Sierra logo in bright red and accessory fog lights mounted over the cab gives this package a major “aftermarket” look.(More on the next page)

Aside from the blacked-out exterior trim, the outside of the Sierra All-Terrain X benefits from the same premium look as the rest of the upper-level Sierra trimlines, with projection headlights trimmed with LED signature lighting and chrome-trimmed LED taillights, so while this is GMC’s most substantial off-roading package – it still has the expected element of GMC luxury.

Finally, the integrated steps in the corner of the rear bumper make accessing the bed of the Sierra All-Terrain X easier and with the factory spray-in bedliner, you can toss things in the bed without worrying about leaving any scratches or scuffs.

16 sierra atx side

I won’t mince words – the GMC Sierra All-Terrain X is, in my humble opinion, the best looking half ton truck General Motors has sold in the modern era of trucks. While the aesthetic portion of this package is relatively simple, the combination of the black trim with the sport bar and the wheel/tire combo make this the most aggressive factory-built GMC truck in terms of styling and it is that rugged look which has led me to fall in love with how this truck looks from every angle.

The Interior
The GMC Sierra All-Terrain X is all business on the outside, but on the inside, it is a well-appointed luxury truck with dual-zone heater leather seats, leather wrapped bits on the dash and door panels, a heated and leather wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped center armrest cover. All of the leather in the All-Terrain X is black, with a unique carbon fiber-look leather on the seat bolsters and red stitching on the dash, doors and seats.

16 sierra atx fr seats

Thanks to the Sierra All-Terrain X coming in the Crew Cab configuration, there is plenty of room in the front and rear seats for taller adults, and if you don’t mind squeezing three adults into the rear bench seat – there is ample leg room for three people. However, shoulder space is a little tight in the back for three adults, so I wouldn’t make a long drive with five people, but for something like a daily drive to work – the Sierra All-Terrain X will accommodate 5 adults (or 4 comfortably). Also, in the event that you need more cargo space and less passenger space, the back seat folds up against the back of the cabin, creating a large, open area with a relatively flat floor for easy loading.(More on the next page)

16 sierra atx rear seats

Finally, in addition to the plush, leather seats and the spacious cabin, the Sierra 1500 All-Terrain X has a nice spread of high tech gadgets, centered around the 8 inch infotainment screen mounted high on the dash. This infotainment system is touch-screen heavy, with access to the radio, the hands-free phone system, the navigation software and the vehicle settings all accessible through the big, bright screen, but there is also a small panel of buttons and knobs just below the touch screen along with a spread of buttons on the steering wheel.

16 sierra dash

If you don’t love touch screen controls, the Sierra’s infotainment system will allow you to perform most functions with a button or knob on the steering wheel or dash – although navigation control will require drivers to work with the touch screen or with the voice control system. Also, every aspect of the dual zone climate control system can be adjusted from the small panel below the touchscreen, so turning on the heat or air conditioning won’t force you to sort through the infotainment touch screen (which is nice for those folks who don’t love having to deal with a single screen for all of their interior controls).

The GMC Sierra 1500 All-Terrain X interior packs all of the modern technologies that you would expect from a new truck with a $50k price tag, with heated leather seats, a premium sound system and a state of the art infotainment system – along with enough seating space for 5 adults or a mix of passenger space and interior cargo thanks to the folding rear seats.

The Drive
Oddly, the GMC Sierra All-Terrain X is only available with the 5.3L V8, so you cannot get this rugged off-road package with the more-powerful 6.2L V8. However, with the additional 10 horsepower that you get with the air intake and catback exhaust, the 365 available horsepower and 383lb-ft of torque provide plenty of power for all of your basic on- and off-road needs. Really, if you feel that you need the added power of the 6.2L V8 in your new Sierra, you will need to piece together a blacked-out package of your own, but for those who can get by with “only” 365 horsepower – the Sierra All-Terrain X is a great truck.

The 5.3L V8 provides plenty of low-end grunt when accelerating away from a stop or when spinning the wheels to dig through the mud, along offering more than enough power to allow you to keep up with fast-moving highway traffic. It might not be the most powerful engine in the Sierra lineup – but the 5.3L V8 doesn’t leave the All-Terrain X feeling underpowered by any stretch.(More on the next page)

16 sierra atx dirty fr

The key functional features of the GMC Sierra All-Terrain X are the Z71 Off-Road Suspension Package with Rancho monotube shocks and the 18 inch wheels fitted with Goodyear off-road tires. This suspension setup includes monotube Rancho shocks that give the Sierra more ground clearance, but more importantly, these off-road ready dampers provide a stiffer ride for better performance on rough surfaces. I took the Sierra All-Terrain X down some of my roughest local roads and after logging plenty of miles on all of my test trucks, I believe that this GMC handles the rust and grooves better than any GM truck I have driven in the past. Where some trucks have shocks that are far too soft, allowing the wheels to bounce and reduce control on rough roads, the All-Terrain X dampers allow this Sierra to glide across rough roads.

When I came to one area where the road had been partially washed away from hard rains, I was able to test the mudding ability of the Sierra All-Terrain X without leaving public roads. With the help of the Goodyear DuraTrac tires, I was easily able to pull out of the deep, watery mud without much effort. Even when I just plain hammered the throttle on the flooded dirt road, the All-Terrain X performed beautifully in the worst road conditions I could find in my area.

16 sierra atx dirty rear

While off-roading capabilities are key with a vehicle like the GMC Sierra All-Terrain X, there is a good chance that owners will spend more time on road than off, so daily drivability is just as important as the ability to handle rough roads and deep mud. In many cases, a stiff off-road suspension setup can lead to an unpleasantly rough ride on paved roads, and while the All-Terrain X is not as smooth as other newer GM trucks I have tested – this Sierra does a nice job of balancing ride quality with capability.

The Final Word
If you are a lover of General Motors trucks and you have been waiting for a great factory-built off-road truck, your wait is over. The Sierra All-Terrain X is not the most extreme off-road truck on the market, but with a loaded price in the mid-$50k range and superior capabilities to any other half ton GM truck – this is a great truck for someone who wants a great daily driven truck that can make short work of unpaved surfaces.

16 siera atx rear side

The Sierra All-Terrain X looks great from every angle inside and out, it has a loaded interior with all of the gadgets that you would expect from a truck in this price class and it has simple-yet-poignant functional modifications that make it a great truck off-road without compromising ride quality on paved roads.

The bottom line is that if you are looking for a truck that will handle itself nicely in off-roading situations while also serving as a great daily driver with all of the modern luxury features – all while keeping the purchase price well below $60k – the GMC Sierra 1500 All-Terrain X is the best option I have tested from General Motors.

Share this content.


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.