Why should Ford's F-150 Raptor be the only truck designed for off-road fun? That seems to be the question General Motors has asked its truck gurus at GMC. The results seem to get them excited enough that the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD concept broke cover almost a month before its first public viewing at the Detroit Auto Show.
The folks at GMC started with a standard 2011 GMC Sierra HD 4WD, and they went to work creating a special off-road suspension. This included raising it an extra three inches to make this truck sit almost a foot off the ground. They then attached a short box bed and streamlined the front end to improve the approach and departure angles. The revised front also has a grille designed to maximize airflow to the engine.
Possibly the largest stand out piece up front is the skid plate that takes up the bottom quarter of the All Terrain HD's bulldog-like face. As with any purpose-built off-roader, this skid plate runs under the entire truck protecting vital areas like the transmission, drivetrain, fuel tank, exhaust system and axle differentials from being jabbed by uneven terrain.
Since GMC would like customers to view the Sierra All Terrain HD as a truck to take on the paths less traveled, it is making sure to light the way. The truck has high-intensity LED headlamps, tail lamps, turn signals, and fog lamps. The really cool piece is the front clearance lamps that have now been integrated behind the top edge of the windshield for a smoother appearance, and the rear ones are integrated into the glass.
A less notable feature are the lockable cargo boxes that run down the sides of the truck bed. This integrated storage may be handy, but it is hardily revolutionary. Dodge has offered this feature as a "RamBox" since 2009.
The whole outside is wrapped in a color GMC calls Iridium Metallic. This charcoal grey paint will reveal a reddish hue when viewed at certain angles. For those who like the color in the pictures, don't rush down to the GMC dealer just yet. The high price for this kind of multi-layered paint job will likely ensure this will not make it onto any production vehicles.
Most off-road enthusiasts will inevitably compared the All Terrain HD to the Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew (we've even already mentioned it here once.) On paper, these two measure up very close to each other in many ways. The GMC has a 148.6-inch wheelbase, and the Ford has 145.2 inches. The All Terrain HD's 73-inch wheel track is slightly smaller than the Raptor's 73.6 inches. Both trucks utilize shocks from the off-road kings at Fox. They both use 35-inch BF Goodrich tires, but the GMC rubber is listed as "Mud Terrain" mounted on 20-inch wheels, while the Ford is an "All Terrain" tire (slight difference, less expensive) on 17-inch wheels.
The powerplant is the major place that will set the All Terrain HD apart from the Raptor. This off-road truck is being used to showcase GM's new 6.6-liter turbo diesel V-8. Although its 397 hp is 14 less than the Ford's 6.2-liter gas unit, the GMC's 765 lb.-ft. of torque trumps the blue oval by 331 lb.-ft. The diesel's torque happy nature means this GMC can haul 13,000 lbs, which is why GMC get to call itself "Professional Grade".
Pictures of the interior have not yet been revealed, but GMC says it follows the tone set by the exterior. Inside is a lot of cowhide including a leather-bound carbon fiber pattern for the seating area. Satin chrome accents are used to break up the leatherfest.
GMC makes special mention of the navigation radio in the Sierra All Terrain HD concept. It has an integrated 80-gig hard drive that contains map data for the navigation system. It also features 20 minutes of instant playback similar to a home television's DVR system and what Buick has been offering in its sedans. This radio is worth mentioning only because GMC has confirmed this is a preview of what will soon be available at GMC dealers.
Concept vehicles are about gauging the public's reaction to possible upcoming products. Sometimes they are thinly veiled versions of cars and trucks that can hit the market quickly if enough people react positively. The F-150 Raptor happened that way, and GMC seems to be indicating this All Terrain HD would not be tough to produce. "Although it is strictly a concept, it is a pretty realistic one," says product marketing director Lisa Hutchinson.
With that kind of production potential, the Sierra All Terrain HD is one truck we will definitely be keeping an eye out for at the North American International Auto Show next month in Detroit.