This was arguably the most politically incorrect concept vehicle on display at this year's North American International Auto Show, held last January in snowy Detroit. Naturally, we loved it.
Why incorrect? Not because of the brand-new front suspension and race-caliber Fox shocks, and certainly not because of the 35-inch KM2 radials and 12 inches of ground clearance at the skidplates. Nope, GMC's new concept truck is only "incorrect" in 2011 because it's not a hybrid, or a plug-in, or one of the myriad all-electric mini-rigs that were the rage at NAIAS this year. To which we can only say, hallelujah.
We'd also say that the very existence of this truck is a sign of positive developments at GMC. It's hard to imagine this concept having been built a couple of years ago, with a cash-strapped parent company looking to keep costs down, and questions hanging in the air over whether the GMC division would even survive a post-bankruptcy reorganization. And considering that General Motors' overall pickup truck and SUV designs (Hummer notwithstanding) have consistently trended towards the safely streetable at the expense of trailworthiness for more than a decade now, the presence of the GMC Sierra All-Terrain would seem to represent a vote of confidence in GMC's design and product-planning departments, which in turn should bode well for future product, and for GM's renewed presence in the off-road enthusiast niche market.
Now, it's true, the General may be a bit late to the party with this factory-built trail truck compared to the competition. Chrysler led the way, after all, with the still-awesome Ram Power Wagon in 2005, and Ford followed suit two years ago with the whoops-whompin' SVT Raptor. On the other hand, the GMC Sierra has something that neither the Power Wagon nor the Raptor can boast: specifically, 765 lb-ft of torque from the mother-of-all-diesels 6.6L Duramax lurking under the hood, and for that reason alone, we feel that the General has got to build a production version of this truck. On the marketing side, it would be a nifty way of (finally) differentiating the GMC Sierra brand from, oh, say, Chevrolet, and for consumers, a truck like this would confer all kinds of bragging rights: Think of the fun you'd have using all that torque to yank your buddy's stuck Raptor out of a mud bog, or smoking a Power Wagon with its wimpy 5.7L Hemi at your local Christmas tree with your. The only thing we still want to know is: When can we testdrive one of these GMC Sierra All Terrains?