2024 GMC Canyon AT4X and Sierra HD AT4X AEV: Solid as the Rockies

Did you catch our review of Chevrolet’s new ZR2 lineup? A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to put the latest and most rugged Colorado and Silverado models to the test in Palm Springs, California, which proved to be an enlightening experience.

Not to be outdone, GMC held a similar event in Montana around mid-October, allowing a bunch of auto journalists including yours truly to get behind the wheel of the new Canyon AT4X and AT4X AEV as well as the Sierra HD AT4X AEV

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Life at 8,000 Feet

Leaving the comfort of Montage Big Sky resort a little after dawn, we began our trip through the Rockies in a convoy of GMC Canyon pickups, reveling in the sheer beauty of the postcard-worthy landscape. The 2023 Canyon AT4X felt properly balanced on the slick ribbons of pavement, with the Canadian-made Multimatic DSSV shocks offering a good mix of control and flexibility. The all-terrain tires also didn’t overly affect handling or steering precision, which was a pleasant surprise. 

The digital instrument panel in front of the steering wheel can be configured almost any way you want, while the infotainment system on the centre display is generally user-friendly. Having to go through the screen to turn on the truck’s lights is definitely something GMC designers should fix, however. The seats proved comfortable with their numerous adjustments—they felt a bit softer than those in the Colorado ZR2.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

After a few dozen kilometres, we found our way onto some unpaved byroads with a little snow sprinkled over them. This is where we tested the available Baja mode, which adjusts the transmission and deactivates several electronic nannies including traction control. Yes, you can drift with the Canyon AT4X.

The challenge: navigating through twisty terrain including sharp corners and tight sections at speeds of 40-50 mph (64-80 km/h). Luckily for us, the rigid chassis made it all surprisingly easy. Then there’s Terrain mode, which seemingly has an answer for every mistake you can make behind the wheel, so it’s virtually impossible to lose control. We arrived at our first stop of the day: McCallister Inn.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Scaling the Rockies

Following a short but well-deserved break, we took the trucks up the mountains to assess their endurance and performance at high altitude. Right from the start, the suspension had no trouble clearing obstacles, while the turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine (310 hp, 430 lb-ft.) never appeared to get tired. The eight-speed transmission is a robust unit, but we found that shifts in manual mode could be quicker.

Once we got to 8,600 feet, the group gathered to marvel at the scenery, but the attention quickly turned to the pre-production 2024 Canyon AT4X AEV models awaiting us for the descent. These rigs stand out with 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, 12.2 inches of ground clearance, a 1.5-inch lift kit and a host of components from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV).    

Photo: Dominic Boucher

The upgrades don’t seem to make a real difference at first glance, but they do, effectively transforming the Canyon into an off-road beast. Taking on obstacles has rarely felt so effortless and safe.

When we got back onto pavement, however, the massive tires and higher centre of gravity resulted in a lot more body motions, compromising ride quality. Similar to the Canyon AT4X, the AEV’s rear axle managed to avoid unpleasant hops for the most part.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Slow and Steady

We spent about an hour for lunch and then attended a short presentation at the XOverland Ranch Clubhouse, after which we climbed into the 2024 GMC Sierra HD AT4X AEV and hit the road as a convoy.

As a heavy-duty truck, this model doesn’t have the same impressive obstacle-clearing ability as the Canyon since it must also be able to tow up to 18,400 lbs (18,500 lbs in AT4X trim). On dusty mountain trails that included a succession of slopes and tight turns, we relied on the 14 different cameras mounted all around the vehicle to progress as precisely and efficiently as possible.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

At around the halfway point, there was a fairly steep incline to test hill descent control, which can be set up using the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. The truck crawled its way down at a steady 2 mph (3 km/h) and the brakes showed no signs of fatigue.

Thanks to Multimatic DSSV shocks, the ride was smooth and comfortable at all times despite the burly Sierra’s weight. Meanwhile, the 10-speed Allison automatic transmission did an excellent job whether the transfer case was in 4HI or 4LO mode. 

Photo: Dominic Boucher

We haven’t even mentioned the 6.6-litre turbo-diesel V8, whose 975 lb-ft. of torque enable fantastic pulling power. Output is rated at 470 horsepower. If you prefer, a 6.6-litre gasoline V8 is also available.

Final Thoughts

The GMC Canyon AT4X, AT4X AEV and Sierra HD AT4X AEV are seriously capable off-roaders that somehow remain pleasant and practical day in and day out.

The first one starts at $67,829, while pricing for the AEV model will be announced closer to launch. The Sierra 1500 AT4X carries a base price of $101,963 and you can add an extra $8,995 for the AEV package. As for the Sierra HD AT4X and AT4X AEV, GMC will release pricing details at a later date.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

PreviewsGMC Sierra 1500 AT4, AT4X, AT4X AEV: What’s the Difference?
German automakers are experts at using alphanumeric monikers for their vehicles, but GMC is pretty good, too, at least when it comes to its full-size pickup and best-selling product. The Sierra 1500 is currently available in three different models aimed at off-road driving enthusiasts and customers seeking a more rugged …
News2024 GMC Sierra HD AT4X: 18,500 Pound Off-Road Towing Capacity
The Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2 was presented to the public last April. Now it's GMC's turn to unveil its off-road heavy-duty hauler, the 2024 Sierra HD AT4X. Like the Sierra 1500 AT4X and Canyon AT4X, it's full of off-road bits, and according to Duncan Aldred, global vice president of Buick …
News2024 GMC Sierra HD Gets Big Update, Two New Trims Including AT4X
Just a few days after the introduction of the refreshed and upgraded 2024 Chevrolet Silverado HD (not to mention the 2023 Ford Super Duty and Ram 2500 Rebel ), its GMC sibling is showing up with similar improvements. The 2024 Sierra HD will start to arrive in Canadian dealerships early …
SEMASky’s the Limit With SEMA-Bound AEV Sierra Grande Concept
Montana-based American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), which specializes in off-road accessories and vehicle conversions, has an awesome truck it plans to debut at the SEMA Show next week. The Sierra Grande Concept is based on a 2024 GMC Sierra HD in a regular cab, long bed configuration and aims to push …
NewsBrand New GM Full-Size Trucks Sold With Cracked Roof Panels
It’s not uncommon for new vehicles to suffer from various bugs and quality issues, but the recent case involving GM’s full-size pickups is still rather alarming. In the U.S., the automaker was forced to stop sales and recall some 3,000 units of the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra (including …
NewsGMC to Debut Refreshed 2025 Yukon, All-New Terrain Later This Year
Following the completely redesigned 2024 Acadia , all eyes will be on the GMC Yukon and Terrain for 2025. Debuts are planned for later this year, and the company has now partly revealed their revised front ends to keep us waiting and guessing. Let’s start with the full-size Yukon, which …