Exclusive :: GMC Canyon AT4 OvrlandX

Photography by Sinuhe Xavier

We have come into a golden age of vehicle options for overland travel, with more capability and choice than ever before. A decade ago, there were just a few mid-size truck offerings, and now there are models available from all of the major manufacturers. Companies are also paying attention to the needs of overlanders, providing optional drivetrains, locking differentials, factory lift kits, and even factory heavy-duty front and rear bumpers. The Chevrolet Bison has been a wild success, quite literally ticking all the boxes and even winning our Overland Mid-Sized Truck of the Year award. Not to be outdone, GMC has followed suit and created the Canyon AT4 package, and now the OvrlandX concept vehicle. At Expedition Portal and Overland Journal, we were given exclusive access to this new concept and were able to travel with it in the backcountry of Northern Arizona.

The name says everything, GMC deciding to call it the OvrlandX, making their intentions clear to develop a highly capable mid-sized truck ready to drive around the globe. The concept starts with the Canyon AT4 package, which can be specified with a 308 horsepower V6 gasoline engine or the (our favorite) 2.8 liter Duramax diesel. From this foundation, the GMC design team started the process of building their interpretation of the ultimate Canyon AT4 Overland vehicle.

One of the key attributes of an overland vehicle is capability, which gives the driver the confidence to explore remote tracks, bad weather, and the great unknown. For that, we need more than just a 4WD; we expect additional ground clearance, appropriate tires, locking differentials, and more. The GM design and engineering team took all that into consideration and provided a notable suite of off-road components, including a high-clearance internally developed bumper with AEV winch mount, a Warn winch, and integrated LED lighting. The bumper maximizes the approach angle at 27.7 degrees and integrates gross vehicle weight rating recovery points. The rear bumper is an AEV Bison unit with a GMC-developed swing-out tire carrier that can take the full weight of a 33-inch tire on a bead lock wheel. Even as a prototype, there were no rattles from the swing-out.

Just past the front bumper is an upgraded front differential with a factory driver-selectable locker. The CV axles are strengthened, and the lower control arms are heavy-duty cast units to endure trail use. The suspension was also upgraded with 1-inch taller springs and the excellent Multimatic DSSV spool valve shocks. This resulted in a comfortable ride on the Sedona trails and the ability to manage larger suspension events at speed. The rear suspension also received a 1-inch lift over the stock AT4 and Multimatic shocks as well.

Further back on the chassis, off-highway protection was supported by three steel skid plates and a secondary aluminum skid plate that extends from the front bumper to the lower control arms. Protecting the rocker panels is a set of factory GM accessory steel rock sliders, and the rear quarter panels are armored by the AEV bumper. In addition to the hard parts, the GMC team also installed a full complement of trail lights, which help to reduce unexpected bumps and bruises. Of particular note are the corner lights installed at the top of each prototype fender flare. These LEDs cast a soft glow out from the vehicle and will work equally well on the trail and in camp.

In addition to the front and rear driver-selectable locking differentials, traction is aided by the BFGoodrich KM3 285/70 R17 tires on AEV beadlock Crestone wheels. AEV makes one of the few DOT-approved beadlocks, so their wheels are encouraging to see on a concept like this. The additional lift and larger tires result in over 10 inches of ground clearance, a breakover angle of 27 degrees, and a departure angle of 25.2 degrees. All of these features and components make the OverlandX one of the most capable mid-size truck offerings we have seen revealed to the North American consumer.

The off-road modifications allow for serious backcountry capability, but it is the overlanding systems that improve remote travel and camping. The first item we noticed was the limb risers (guy lines) that mount to custom machined and anodized brackets on the front fenders and roof. They are fully functional and easily removed when not needed. The risers also protect the prototype snorkel, which is also functional and has a clever design touch of matching the engine grill to the snorkel intake. The snorkel is primarily intended for dusty environments, but it complements the 32.1-inch-rated water fording depth.

The remainder of the overland accessories is concentrated to the bed of the truck, using an RSI modular truck cap as the foundation. The RSI SmartCap Evo is made from stainless steel and powder coated to a high-quality finish. These caps are designed and manufactured in South Africa to endure the abusive road conditions on that continent. On both sides of the cap are integrated storage modules with top opening hatches. To the passenger side was fitted a complete trail kitchen, including a stovetop and a full complement of cups, glasses, plates, pots, and pans. On the driver’s side is another storage locker that holds propane, water, and spare fuel.

The reinforced top can handle static loads of over 700 pounds, ideal for using a roof tent. To the roof of the RSI, there is a custom-made low-profile rack that GMC installed an Alu-Cab 270-degree awning and Autohome Columbus hard shell roof tent. Inside the cap is even more overland goodness, with a full-length Decked drawer system, Dometic CFX 70 liter fridge, and Dometic lithium-ion battery box.

GMC trucks have always been known for their quality and refinement, but not necessarily for their backcountry capabilities. With the introduction of the AT4 packages, their trucks and SUVs have all benefited from off-highway improvements. This is even more evident with the OverlandX, a package built on top of the already capable Canyon AT4. If the OverlandX is any indication of what might come from GMC in the future, these are exciting times indeed. gmc.com

Editor’s Note: This is not sponsored content.

Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona IG: @scott.a.brady Twitter: @scott_brady