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There was a time, not that long ago, when pickup trucks were designed as work horses,  the tools we needed to get the job done. Those demands were for a tough, capable machine.  A machine with few frills but one that could withstand the rigors of a construction site, an oil field, or moving your buddy in a couple of loads, etc.  That all changed sometime in the late 1990s/early 2000s when American car buyers, with no professional reason to own a truck, discovered and then fell madly in love with trucks.  The love affair with the pickup truck had begun, along with the “he only hauls air in that one.”

Once truck manufacturers realized there was a market for buyers who only hauled air, the race was one to reel them in.  Ford soon introduced their King Ranch edition, arguably the first luxury truck.  It was a hit (and highly profitable to boot – pun intended), so it was only natural for all the other truck manufacturers to see the light and introduce their own big-ticket pickups.  In recent years, the luxury truck trend has extended to the heavy-duty segment, once relegated only to folks who worked the oil fields of Texas or who towed large trailers on a regular basis.  It’s just one of those luxury heavy-duty pickups that I recently had the privilege to test drive for a week.  

The truck I drove was a Volcanic Red 2024 GMC Sierra 2500 4WD Crew Cab AT4X that carried an eye-popping price tag of $103,225.00.  The powertrain under the hood was a 470 hp, 6.6 liter Duramax turbo-diesel mated to an Allison ten-speed automatic transmission.  The AT4X enhancements give this truck the ability to endure serious off-road adventures that most pickups might not survive.  It sits up way high due to a factory-installed 1.5-inch (38mm) suspension lift kit and 35-inch Goodyear Territory tires.  I’m a tall guy and I had to pull myself up into the cab. 

This was also the AEV Edition, an option that added on an extra $9,395 to the sticker price. According to GMC, “the available AT4X AEV Edition adds robust stamped steel bumpers with integrated recovery points and front winch capability which provide additional driver confidence and protection. It also features heavy duty steel skid plates that help keep vital components such as the steering gear and transfer case protected on the trail. Additional features include unique 18-inch Salta wheels and unique exterior badging and interior cues.”  The AEV addition gives this truck an added bit of flair to make your neighbors extra jealous. (And your banker extra happy…)

What I learned from the limited amount of towing that I’ve done is that new trucks offer features for towing that make for a far safer trip.  The 2024 Sierra AT4X features a group of trailering assistance technologies that make it far easier to hitch up and trailer and tow.  The AT4X included GMC’s available ProGrade Trailering System, a suite of available intelligent assistance technologies designed to help streamline the hitching and towing process.  These integrated tools that can help include available enhanced, industry-first Transparent Trailer View  for gooseneck and 5th-wheel trailering, available Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert and new, available Adaptive Cruise Control with Trailering.  Additionally, there are up to 14 available camera views including Hitch View, Bed View with Zoom and Bed Hitch Guidance, and Rear Side View with Trailer Length Indicator.  Anyone who might be new to towing will find these features indispensable.  

And if spending over a hundred grand on a truck, it better have a luxurious interior – and  the AT4X doesn’t disappoint.   This GMC featured an exclusive Obsidian Rush interior, along with power massaging front seats and full-grain leather-wrapped seats and authentic Vanta Ash(!) wood décor.  And to make sure that everyone knows you shelled out for the top truck, the AEV Edition also showcases the AEV logo on the front-seat head restraints and AEV-branded floor liners.

The centerpiece of the interior is a tablet-style 13.4-inch-diagonal infotainment touchscreen. The instrument panel is now referred to as the driver information center and it can be configured to your needs, whether you’re driving on a highway, towing or venturing off-road.  There’s even a 15-inch-diagonal head-up display, something that I’m a sucker for.  The sound system was a 12-speaker Bose Premium Series audio system with Centerpoint surround technology. 

The 2024 GMC Sierra AT4X is a truck for the very few with the means to afford it. Luckily, I got to drive this sweet ride while the Houston Livestock and Rodeo was happening. So while being a stand out in any crowd, this truck was surrounded with all sorts of out of town trucks. Many of those drivers were giving this truck long – and longing – gazes. And probably thinking “hell, I’d like to haul air with that!”

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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