General Motors and American Expedition Vehicles have been working well as a team for some time now. With the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, Silverado ZR2 Bison, GMC Canyon AT4X AEV, and GMC Sierra AT4X AEV, there has never been a more significant period in history for customers to get their hands on off-road/overland ready vehicles straight from the factory. But the collaborators don’t intend on stopping there, as GMC has revealed a new concept vehicle, and this one is bringing back the heavy-duty name of Grande, once given to a General Motors heavy-duty truck some decades ago.
GMC Sierra Grande Concept: Official Details
The Sierra Grande Concept represents AEV’s creative vision of how the company would further elevate the adventure-ready foundation of the GMC Sierra HD AT4X into a legendary overlanding rig. First thing’s first, this apocalypse-ready truck stands out from the standard Sierra HD AT4X by featuring a unique tray-bed design, which we’ll touch on the significance of that in a moment. It’s also armored up with what looks to be a suite of off-road upgrades that we could see AEV selling by sometime next year.
Featuring AEV-sourced stamped steel front bumpers from the Sierra HD AT4X AEV, the Sierra Grande Concept also features an AEV prototype brush guard for even more front-end protection. Additionally, the concept truck features 7000 series off-road lights and a GM Performance/ComeUP 12.5k winch, though it’ll likely be used more to help others out of tight spots than itself.
Why A Tray Bed Truck Design?
What makes a tray bed design a desirable cargo solution are a few reasons. Primarily, tray bed trucks feature a completely flat load floor, meaning the bed doesn’t have wheel arches that we see with traditional truck beds. Thus, smaller cargo, such as crates or boxes, are easily and efficiently packed together, or stacked up, while bulkier items have more clearance. Tray beds can be made of aluminum, which saves weight, as is the case with the GMC Sierra Grande Concept. Tray bed trucks also feature drop-down cargo walls from the sides of the truck, allowing for easier access of cargo, or for that cargo to expand beyond the loading floor if need be.
If there are downsides to a tray bed truck, it’s the following. First, to clear the wheels, the bed is raised above where a traditional truck bed would normally sit. This in effect can raise the truck’s center of gravity, which could compromise vehicle dynamics under a heavy payload. Second is that not everybody is a fan of the design, as tray bed trucks tend to expose a lot of the hidden components that otherwise are out-of-sight. However, others gravitate towards the tactical and tough looks.
Ensuring that the 6.6L Duramax diesel engine constantly has access to clean air, AEV has added a snorkel to the truck, which is always a tremendous aesthetic choice as much as it is practical. Underbody protection is as expected with a stamped steel front skid plate, IFS skid plate, and transfer case skid plate. But the truck becomes even more interesting when we get to the suspension, as AEV worked directly with the GMC engineering team to incorporate a variety of Sierra HD AT4X components, such as control arms, steering knuckles, rear suspension, and Multimatic DSSV dampers. This factory-tuned combination provides a 1.5-inch lift over standard HD models and delivers improved off-road performance and versatility without sacrificing comfort or durability. The modifications also allowed for larger tires, which helps give the truck an even more aggressive stance no matter where it is.
AEV added a pair of AEV HighMark fenders flares to the truck along with massive 40″ tires mounted on a set of AEV Salta XD wheels. Finally, the build has an 8-foot aluminum tray bed, an AEV vertical tire mount, and a custom AEV rear bumper. Oh, and a ComeUp 9.5k winch (available today as a GMC accessory) at the back. There is also an on-board air system for airing the tires back up to road-worthy levels once you’re done exploring the wilderness in epic truck style.
Will They Build The GMC Sierra Grande?
For now the Sierra Grande remains a concept, and if you’re headed to the 2023 SEMA Show, this epic truck will be parked at the American Expedition Vehicles booth #58151. That being said, everything on this truck appears production-intent, and AEV has formed a good habit of teasing upcoming hardware on various concepts before announcing availability of new parts and upgrades. This is particularly true for the GM vehicles, which we can see all the way back with the last-generation Chevrolet Colorado AEV Concept that debuted at the 2017 SEMA Show. The following year, the first-ever Colorado ZR2 Bison went on sale, followed by even more extreme upgrades from AEV exclusively.
In short, while the Sierra Grande Concept is just a show truck, you can expect to see its AEV upgrades, such as the 40-inch tires, brush guard, and snorkel, available from the Michigan-based upfitter for both the GMC Sierra HD AT4X and the Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2 sometime in 2024. These upgrades are practically identical to what AEV currently offers with another big truck: the Ram HD-based Prospector XL. Of which, AEV also offered a very short and very limited run of the Prospector XL Tray Bed truck, featuring the same pickup bed style we see on the Sierra Grande Concept. So, not only will you likely be able to upgrade your Sierra HD AT4X and Silverado HD ZR2 with a suite of AEV parts, but you may also soon have a chance of acquiring a tray bed version of these awesome trucks yourself.