First Look: GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept

First Look: GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept

Could GMC add a halo off-road truck to its full-size pickup lineup? The diesel-powered GMC Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty Concept — which will debut next month at the 2011 Detroit auto show — points to how the “professional grade” brand thinks it might deliver a credible competitor to the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon in the current or next-generation Sierra HD.

The light-duty Raptor and heavy-duty Power Wagon are two of the most capable off-road pickup trucks ever to jump or climb off the showroom floor. We love both because these purpose-built rigs can go places and do things off pavement that would kill lesser trucks within yards of the trailhead. The Raptor flies across the desert at high speed, like a Baja trophy truck, while the Power Wagon can rock crawl over the toughest terrain you’ll find in Moab.

But these traits make an apples-to-apples comparison of the trucks difficult because their off-road strengths lie at opposite ends of the wheeling spectrum. This is where GMC smells opportunity.

The short-box crew-cab Sierra All Terrain HD threads the needle between the half-ton Raptor and three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 Power Wagon by carving a new niche that blends the off-road prowess and features of the Ford and Ram trucks with a few new innovations.

Suspension

As with all off-road pickups, the heart of the All Terrain HD is its suspension. The concept’s running gear makes good use of the Sierra’s overhauled boxed ladder frame, shocks, springs and axles that were introduced for the 2011 model year.

“The capability-enhancing attributes of the Sierra All Terrain HD build on the already outstanding capabilities offered in the all-new production Sierra HD trucks,” said Lisa Hutchinson, GMC product marketing director. “Although it’s strictly a concept, it’s a pretty realistic one.”

Sierra-at-1-560

But some heavy-duty off-road users have criticized GM’s HD pickups for their torsion bar independent front suspension instead of a coil spring solid front axle, like Ford’s and Ram’s heavy-duty pickups use. An independent front suspension generally provides better ride comfort on- and off-road, which the light-duty Raptor uses for high-speed desert running. A solid front axle allows higher ground clearance and superior articulation — for low-speed rock crawling — which the Power Wagon excels at.

The All Terrain uses independent front suspension to its advantage. For improved off-road stability, the standard A-arms have been replaced with custom double-wishbones and offset wheels that give the Sierra a 73-inch track up front — 4.2 inches wider than the current Sierra HD and nearly identical to the Raptor’s 73.6-inch track.

The All Terrain’s rear track is also 73 inches from a stock rear axle and offset wheels. Ram Power wagon's track is 68.3 inches in front and 68.2 inches in back.

An independent front suspension isn’t the only thing the Raptor and All Terrain HD have in common. They also share Fox Racing internal bypass shocks, though instead of piggyback reservoirs in back, the Sierra has remote reservoirs (for improved capacity and cooling) integrated into the truck’s wheel wells at all four corners.

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If GMC wanted to get Ford’s attention, this should do it. Fox’s shocks are the key components that give the Raptor such awesome wheel travel at high speeds off-road.

Fox Racing’s internal bypass technology is slick and maintenance-free. Instead of placing the oil routers outside the shocks, Fox sealed them inside the main tube so that they can’t be adjusted. The valves have been replaced with very small gates, precisely placed for optimal damping in all conditions. Hardcore off-roaders might not like this setup, but it solves several potential issues both for GMC and for less-obsessive desert-running enthusiasts. There are no external bypass tubes to be damaged by offroad debris striking them; there are no worries about check-valve durability; and the shocks can be tuned specifically to the Sierra All Terrain’s off-road character.

In the Sierra, Fox’s long-travel dampers add 2 inches more travel up front (11 inches total) and 3 inches in the rear (11.75 inches total) over the Sierra’s stock monotube shocks.

While Ram doesn’t offer Fox shocks for the Power Wagon, Chrysler Mopar performance parts division will also feature Fox Shocks as part of its aggressive Ram Runner dealer-installed off-road package for the light-duty Ram 1500.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this latest Fox development effort causes a major rift with Ford, which brought prominence and high-volume production expertise to Fox in OEM off-road applications.

The All Terrain HD also borrows a cool trick for its front suspension from the straight axle Power Wagon. The Ram features a front sway bar disconnect system that increases wheel travel and articulation to climb over tall obstacles. The Sierra All Terrain also has an electronic front stabilizer bar disconnect.

Comparison560

A slick new piece of suspension kit introduced on the Sierra All Terrain HD that neither the Raptor nor Power Wagon offer are front and rear jounce shocks. Jounce shocks, in contrast to common urethane jounce bumpers that pickup trucks use to cushion overload situations, work by providing secondary compression and rebound support over tough terrain to prevent the truck from bottoming out. Instead of oil, they use nitrogen gas and lack internal valves for simplicity and smooth damping operation.

The Sierra All Terrain’s jounce shocks were co-developed with Light Racing. The All Terrain HD has electronic locking differentials in the front (like Power Wagon) and rear (like Power Wagon and Raptor) axles for maximum traction in slippery spots. Even if the All Terrain HD Concept never makes it to production, we expect we’ll see a similar front e-locker option available in future GM full-size pickups based on lessons learned from the discontinued Hummer brand and the extra capability the feature brings to a truck.

For improved ground clearance, the Sierra All Terrain’s ride height has been raised by about 3 inches over the stock Sierra’s ride height. It’s 21.1 inches at the rocker panels and 11.8 inches at the skid plates.

Contributing to the lift are aggressive 20-by-9.5-inch six-spoke custom 8-lug wheels with 35-inch-tall BFGoodrich 325/60R20 tires.

Design

Form follows function when it comes to the GMC Sierra All Terrain’s exterior design.

Carl Zipfel, the lead designer for the Sierra All Terrain, has designed trucks at GM for more than a decade, including some of the coolest concepts and production rigs such as the GMC Terradyne, Terra4 and Hummer H2 and H3 trucks.

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“The design of the All Terrain HD is an expression of its capabilities — strong, functional and absolutely professional grade,” Zipfel said. “We’re excited about the design elements and exploring how the could apply to future GMCs.”

Though the Sierra All Terrain is based on the current GMC Sierra HD, we believe it hints at styling elements that will be found in the next-generation Sierra pickups expected around 2013.

The prominent front end features an in-your-face three-bar grille and chrome surround that reminds us a bit around the top of the first-generation GMC Yukon Denali.

The lower portion of the grille blends smoothly into the front bumper and integrated skid plate. The hood cleanly drops the center louver found in today’s Sierra HD and replaces that plastic island with two integrated functional cold air intake ports. Instead of a Coke-bottle shape like the Raptor has to cover its wide stance, the Sierra All Terrain uses massive flares over the wheel housings. The side doors are cribbed from the current Cadillac Escalade, and auto-folding side steps extend and retract to help with ingress and egress and improve ground clearance.

The Sierra’s extra-short 5-feet-8-inch cargo box draws inspiration from the light-duty Ram 1500’s optional RamBox side-saddle storage, with its own built-in compartments that don’t eat into valuable open bed space.

When it comes to off-roading, it’s all about keeping the shiny side up, but to protect the bottom of the truck from brutal terrain, the All Terrain has a composite underbody shield that covers the powertrain, fuel tank, exhaust and diffs. The rear bumper has an integrated skid plate that aids the truck’s departure angle while blending together.

Interior

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One of the areas most in need of improvement in the current GMC Sierra HD is the cabin space. It looks dated compared with the Ford and Ram interiors.

The Sierra All Terrain HD sticks with the current interior instead of previewing the next-gen Sierra but it addresses some of our cockpit gripes by using new premium materials, such as stainless steel mesh and satin chrome. Two-tone leather seats feature slick carbon fiber patterns embossed in the skin and red stitching around the seams. The instrument panel is also wrapped in leather.

A new navigation radio previews the same head unit that will be offered in future GM vehicles, so expect to see this in the next-gen Sierra and Chevy HD pickups. It uses an 80-gigabyte hard drive to store map data and has a DVR-style “time-lapse playback” that allows up to 20 minutes of content recording and replay from terrestrial and satellite radio stations.

Powertrain

If there’s one thing that heavy-duty off-road enthusiasts have wished for in powertrains, it’s a diesel engine for awesome low-end torque while rock crawling.

In 2008, Mopar debuted the Dodge Ram Diesel Power Wagon at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, but that concept has remained just that because the Power Wagon’s integrated Warn winch blocks airflow to the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six-cylinder’s turbo intercooler. The production Ram Power Wagon has a strong 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Setting the Sierra All Terrain apart from both Power Wagon and the Raptor is its 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel and six-speed Allison automatic transmission. The powertrain is virtually identical to the 397-horsepower, 765 pounds-feet of torque DMAX diesel offered in today’s GM HD pickups.

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Towing and Payload

When the Duramax diesel is combined with the extra-strength off-road suspension, GMC says the Sierra All Terrain hangs onto its current towing ratings instead of sacrificing them for extra off-road capability. It’s estimated to be able to tow up to 13,000 pounds conventionally — about 3,000 pounds more than the gasoline-powered Raptor and Power Wagon pickups — and up to 15,600 pounds with a fifth wheel hitch.

Payload capacity is estimated at 2,959 pounds.

Summary

There’s little doubt that General Motors has missed an opportunity in off-road. While GM was trying to figure out what to do with the radioactive Hummer brand, Ford’s gamble on the go-fast F-150 SVT Raptor has paid huge dividends for enthusiasts and the company’s image. At the same time, a handsome styling update last year for the Ram 2500 Power Wagon brought new interest and popularity to Chrysler’s tough ground pounder.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain HD could be an excellent chance at redemption, but we wonder if there’s a market for a diesel-powered HD off-road halo truck that could probably cost more than $65,000.

At the 2009 SEMA expo in Las Vegas, Chevy showed a concept light-duty gas-powered supercharged Silverado ZR2 that also featured superior off-road capability over current production GM trucks, but nothing has been heard about that concept since. The GMC Sierra is GM’s second signal that it wants a piece of the off-road market. We’ve heard rumors of a revised V-8 gas engine for GM’s HD pickups possibly arriving before new sheet metal and interior. Putting a stronger, lighter (than a diesel) gas engine in the Sierra AT HD would reduce its price point to probably around the low $50,000s. At that point, it becomes a viable sales competitor to the Raptor and Power Wagon.

According to Mike Tulemello, vehicle line director for GM fullsize trucks, a pickup like the All Terrain could be produced quickly by working with a second-stage manufacturer after rolling off the production line.

We hope GM takes a risk and enters unfamiliar terrain by producing a new heavy-duty model similar to the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept. It’s already identified a new niche on the off-road map.

Comments

I like it, but I don't know if the extra 3000 lbs towing capacity is worth the extra $25k (that is if I can get a Raptor for $42k). Sweet looking truck though.

To bad GM does not have the chones to actually make that .

wow this is a nice truck,,,please gm build this truck to replace the old gm.the front grill wow,and the back wow..

Sounds nice. But that front clip is hideous!!!

looks cool

Bet you GM is going to stop chevy truck production and just have GMC as their truck division !!!

Since dealers now sell GMC and Chevy trucks..I think Chevy trucsa re gone..And GMC will be the truck division !! Makes sense to me !

I love the idea of it, but please do some more work on the styling before releasing it. It's not there yet! Don't screw up GM!

I'm not sure if I like the grill.
The grill bezel snout reminds me of the Ford SuperDuty.
I do like the overall lines of the truck. The Sierra is a good looking truck to begin with.
Retractible running boards - not sure if that is a good idea.
I've seen many 4x4's with wrecked running boards. I've seen a few Ford work trucks with the retactible steps torn off.
Rock rails would give it more offroad credibility.
I like GM's version of the "Ram box". It is not so big that it kills box space.
This should be an option package with gassers or diesels, and make it available in work truck trim right up to Denali.

It does sound like it will be a high end package.
Too bad.

IFS will never be as good offroad as SFA.

@ Bob
- I like this truck!
Really, I do.
Serious;)

looks good makes me proud of my super duty. Glad the GM copyed the look of it and not the dodge

I wonder how much the next generation HD's will look like this concept. Seems quite different than a current 900 series. Windshield does not appear to be as steeply raked, door proportions look different. Better looking that the current HD's, looks tougher.

@quarter master. ahhhh yes, thats deff why my big bore atv uses a SFA, makes sense now, and thats also why the raptors selling so poorly, get real and stop following the crowd of old geezers who tell you it sucks. its a proven design, sfa is only good for rocks, (articulation) it sucks in mud, the front diff is usually lower than the rear, IFS, better for pretty much everything than rock climbing. i could show a lot of videos of super duties stuck in the mud, right along a silverado. and what idiot would take such an expensive vehicle that theyd have to use as a daily driver off roading. buy a quad. power line companys who buy fleet usually buy ford, but because theyre cheap, not for capability, 95 percent of them here have a winch up front, and the rollers are rusty, they deff get used.

They'll need to get those shocks on the outside of the frame. Looks like a great truck, like a Ford Superduty. I'm wondering what it'll cost. A Hummer H1 Alpha was $135k.

I like it!
This GMC looks vay better than Chevy!
GM you need just one truck to produce - GMC!

cost to much. the f-150 is better bang for your buck 42,000$

I like it. They should bring this out along with that Suburban HD concept from a few years back.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the 20" wheels. 17" or 18" wheels would probably be more appropriate for something meant to do off-road duty.

Im a ford guy but that truck is way bad. Looks nice. Got some decent suspension too. If I could afford a ridiculous price I would like to see it in my drive way

@Mike Levine

Is this rumoured V8 the 7.0?

Say Mike, is this the Sierra HD concept that you reported would be at the Detroit Auto Show? Will there be another?

Just goes to show that GM can't think for themselves. Fords doing it, Dodge is doing it. Maybe a step up from the Power Wagon but this would not touch the Raptor, not even the 2010 5.4L

Nice! but only in my dreams will I ever afford to own that money pit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ironhide-movievehicle.jpg looks better

dodge will be furious is they take the ram box idea

If it wasn't for Ford and Dodge, GM would never be innovative enough to think of something like this for themselves. GM, always a follower, never a leader.

you know what the people from the 40s say a leader is a smart feller and a follower is a fart smeller. and isnt that the hood on the ram runner concept. a message for gm come up with your own ideas.

OH! let the copy catting begin! lol. Looks like GM is copying both the raptor and the power wagon, what a rip but it looks decent.

I would like to see Ford do a HD version of the Raptor, with the PowerStroke diesel.

3rd brake light integrated into the back window looks good. RamBox copy in the bed rails, and integrated dual exhaust from the ram as well (different design, same thing)

Kind of looks like the first generation Yukon Denali in the front. Which is not a bad thing. It looks good.

git rid of the Dmax, throw in the LS7, drop the price and up the horses!!!

That character line below the door handles really reminds me of the '73-'87 GM trucks.

@Big Bob: Yes, this is the concept our sources said was coming a few weeks ago. I didn't have details other than it was a HD with aggressive styling.

The GSAT HD's greenhouse and cabin interior is the current truck's.

I Love it! GM Build it please!
Good thing that it doesn't look like ford... This has always been GMC design. Also GM is not copying anyone, since it's more capable then the raptor and powerwagon. In another words this is one truck that does 2 tucks jobs. Great Job GM and Again please build it.

What a joke. How much do they pay their designers to rip off ideas from other trucks. My taxpayer money probably paid for this too. J-O-K-E

If GM quits making the bowtie truck a pile of us will quit buying GM.

GM, what is with the blocky fenders? There's something amiss with the front, I just can't pinpoint it. Well, it would be the first off-road specialty diesel by any of the big three. The rear looks pretty good (GM got rid of that awful looking tailgate found on current GM trucks). Being a GM owner (08 Acadia) GM needs to step up their interiors, plastic is way too cheap! C'mon GM. Please, as other have said, come up with something original!!!

Well I'm a GM guy at heart, being 18 I've had an 88 Chev Silverado C1500 and now I drive a 98 Chev Silverado LS K1500 Z71. I can honestly say offroading for that price does not appeal to me, and I HATE the integrated skid plates they look terrible. I do believe in the past that GM has had a ton of great innovative ideas, and coming from a mechanical background for the most part they are super easy and cheap to work on. I have also been super happy with the longevity having all of our Chev trucks growing up having well over 400 000km. I like some of the styling, but this is definitely a copycat of both ford and dodge ideas which doesn't make it very appealing. I like new and exciting ideas. GM needs to wow the people with something no one has ever seen before, the only real difference here is the powertrain and the name.

nice truck for sure but please mess with the front a bit, it looks to close to a ford truck! and throw a steal front bumper on that thing!

I think this truck looks great. The grill could be said to be reminiscent of the denali or modeled after the super duty - but it looks better than either. I want a truck for pulling horses, hunting and a daily driver. This gives the best balance of those and I think that is what they are going for: an exciting off road capable pickup that doesn't compromise on all the reasons we want a pickup in the first place. That's a win in my book.

Although I am not a Chevrolet/G.M.C. (General Motors) fan...I think that this truck is pretty cool.

It would be nice to see the Sierra All Terrain HD join the Power Wagon and Raptor where lesser trucks can not go.

I will keep my solid-front axle Power Wagon. The Raptor might be able to blast through the desert better than a Power Wagon, and the Sierra All Terrain HD might be able to out-tow/haul than a Power Wagon, but neither of these trucks are able to out-off road a Power Wagon in the slow & go rock crawling and deep rut crossing situations.

Power Wagon= electronically lockable SOLID front and rear axles, 4.56 gears, electronically disconnecting front anti-sway bar, extra skid plating, 2" higher stance than a standard Ram Heavy Duty 4X4, AND a factory installed Warn 12,000 winch mounted stealthily behind the front bumper.

Justin- I guess I am an "idiot" because I DO take my expensive vehicles (Power Wagon), and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon & Jeep Grand Cherokee (before I.F.S.), off-road. It sure is nice to be encapsulated inside a closed off-road vehicle, out in the dirt, with the air conditioner on in the summer heat and with the heater on in the winter chill. I get to stay clean, comfortable, AND not have to inhale dust and dirt.

So did they keep the torsion bars?

I am very impressed with this car and I hope that my car

How many years away is this thing?

The new GM's are coming around 2013. That's 2-3 years away, guys.

If this gets built by then the next gen F150, next gen Raptor, and next gen Super Duty will be right around the corner (2013-2014.) So just as this thing is coming out Ford will be coming out with their new rides to eclipse it.

I love the bed with the built in tool boxes. This is the most innovative bed yet. The only part I would make a change to is the bumper. There is not enough of one. If the driver hits something the grill will be gone. I think having an optional bumper with a WARN Power Plant winch built in would be awesome with an on board air compressor heavy duty enough to run an impact wrench. and some heavy duty Step bars.

I love the look of this thing. It has the tough, rugged look that Ford was trying for with the new Super Dutys, but achieves it without looking gaudy. Those fender flares make the square wheel-wells look appropriate in my eyes too, and that's been my biggest complaint with GMC/Chevy trucks from this generation. I'm impressed as hell, and if this look translates to the production trucks, coupled with their home-run drivetrains, then GM has officially won me over from Ford.

My only minor complaints, like someone else mentioned, the interior and lack of a bumper. Since the interior is gonna change anyway, that just leaves the bumper, which is a pretty small complaint when the rest of the truck is so awesome. GM execs, if you're reading this, PLEASE BUILD THIS TRUCK.

i like it diesel power good lookin out tow and go any where now do a bowtie version with a soild front axle you have a rock crawler and a sand racer

That is a realy mean and cool looking beast! Nice to see all big three work hard to produce serious off road trucks- just what all wheelers want! I just want Ford to release a new Super Duty with a new sheetmetal and a fully boxed frame of their own (they already got awsome new engines!!!) and one of the models will be that Big Hoss (Can't remember the exact name, sorry) F250 they showed a year ago - it was realy cool.
I remember about until five years ago the best off roader truck from factory was Nissan Titan because of its locking rear diff. And the Tacoma.... also with locking rear diff. If you wanted Made In USA off roader truck it was only the Ford Ranger FX4 level II - also, with torsen rear locking diff.
Now, things had changed. I read articles where testers note that they become "believers again" - that is realy good.

So they stuck an SD grille on the front of a Sierra and fitted it with the Raptor's shocks. Imitation if the most sincere form of flattery.

I also really think GM is going to ditch Chevy trucks !

GMC sounds better than Chevy and GMC always was more upscale and this proves it...bye,bye Chevy trucks !

Remember, Obama got rid of Hummer,Saab,Pontiac GMC,Chevy Super Hd trucks (Kodiak)tons of dealers,they want more small cars,this will appease the government by getting rid of Chey trucks ands having GMC trucks.

GMC sounds more manly than Chevrolet ! Remember pronounce Chevrolet the correct way,its a French name !!

They can just focus on small fuel efficient cars for the chevrolet brand and Big,powerful trucks with the GMC brand,why they have overlapping Chevy and GMC is beyond me !!!



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