A black 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 is shown from the front at an angle.

What to Look For When Lifting Your GMC Truck

Are you looking to elevate your GMC truck to the next level? Not to be so literal, but elevating your pickup is easier than ever with today’s lift kits. Lifting your GMC Canyon or Sierra means adding height, a beefier aesthetic, and room for larger wheels. There are many reasons to consider lifting your GMC pickup, but there are a few things to consider.

Maybe you’re still shopping for your GMC Sierra or Canyon, and your goal is to buy one that already comes lifted. You probably already have an idea of what lifted GMC trucks look like, and you’re running with the idea full speed ahead. After all, lifted trucks have a way of turning heads and conquering the road in ways that “regular” trucks just don’t.

Pros and Cons of Lift Kits for Your GMC

There are a number of reasons why you may want to invest in a truck with a lift kit. One of the first benefits is sitting higher and enjoying a better vantage point. A higher truck stance also protects your valued truck from dings and scratches, and the suspension prevents you and your passengers from a bumpy ride. Some states have legal limits on how tall your truck can be, so be sure to stay within those guidelines to avoid being ticketed.

A lifted truck is the best companion for an adventurous lifestyle that includes off-roading. Taller ground clearance and better shocks and springs enable your truck to handle the toughest terrain. A taller ride height also allows you to use larger tires, which roll over uneven terrain much more easily than the factory-size tires.

You should consider a few potential negative consequences, as well. A larger truck with bigger tires will reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy. The additional height will also raise your truck’s center of gravity, reducing its handling capabilities and possibly making it feel tippy in the corners. In time you’ll adjust to the feel of your lifted truck, but it’s worth noting that the height difference will impact your ability to make sharp turns and feel stability.

Finally, adding a lift kit of any kind will cost more money. Factory additions and aftermarket kits are both likely to add a hefty price jump. While in some cases this will increase the resale value of your truck, it will still cost a lot up front.

A red 2023 GMC Canyon AT4x is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a lifted GMC truck dealer.

What Are My Options?

Some of the draw to lifted trucks is the ability to personalize your vehicle. For example, if you plan to take your Sierra or Canyon off-road, a lifted truck would be beneficial. Pickup trucks serve many functions in the lives of their owners, from a daytime work truck to a family vehicle. That means drivers need a truck that can be versatile and perform well in city and country conditions alike. These vehicles need to be capable of handling off-road excursions, busy downtown streets, difficult job sites, or simply running errands.

To be clear, when you hear the term “lifted truck,” it refers to a special lift kit installation on a pickup truck that allows for the addition of larger tires and better suspension. In today’s automotive landscape, we see three types of lift kits. The type of lift kit you’ll want depends on the type of truck, the desired tire size, your goals in lifting the truck, and your budget. As a rule of thumb, the taller the kit, the more it will cost. The following three aftermarket kits are the most commonly found:

  • Leveling Kit: This kit does as the name suggests, leveling out the stance of your truck’s front to the stock height of the rear. When unloaded, the back of the truck tends to ride higher than the front, allowing it to absorb the weight when you load it down. If you rarely or never carry heavy loads, it’s easy to simply raise the front an inch or two to match the stock rear height. These kits are the simplest to install, since they normally only go on the front, and typically the least expensive.
  • Body Lift Kit: A body lift kit raises the body of your truck higher using a set of spacers between the frame and the body. The frame and suspension stay at the same height as stock, but the body sits higher, giving the truck that lifted look. This isn’t the option for off-roading purposes, but a body lift kit adds height without affecting your truck’s handling or comfort. Plus, you may stil be able to install slightly larger tires.
  • Suspension Lift Kit: A suspension lift kit replaces some of your truck’s suspension components with parts that add height and increase your ground clearance. These often include leaf spring shackles, coil-spring bushings, and full suspension kits. It’s the most customizable and, therefore, the most expensive. Adding a suspension lift kit gives you the opportunity to install much larger tires and replace your suspension components with parts more suitable for off-roading. This suspension lift kit is best for off-roading, providing maximum flexibility for ground clearance and larger tires.

What Does GMC Offer?

GMC offers two off-road packages on both the Sierra and Canyon, called the AT4 and AT4X. On the Sierra, both packages provide a two-inch lift, but the AT4X adds Multimatic DSSV shocks that automatically adjust to whatever conditions you’re driving over, as well as special springs to go with them. The AT4X also adds a front locking differential to the rear one included with the AT4. Neither of these would be included in any aftermarket lift kit.

The smaller Canyon also offers a choice between the AT4 and more aggressive (and expensive) AT4X packages. On the Canyon, the AT4 package gives a two-inch lift, while the AT4X gives you three inches. Like the Sierra, the AT4X also includes Multimatic DSSV shocks and standard front and rear electronic locking differentials.

These factory lift kits from GMC are fairly subtle, so if you’re on the hunt for an extreme lift, you’ll have to go aftermarket. However, the locking differentials and other factory upgrades may be worth sticking with GMC’s offerings.

A white 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 is shown from the front while off-road.Ask Your GMC Dealer

Whether you’re buying a used truck with an existing lift kit or adding an aftermarket kit yourself, it’s a good idea to consult the experts. Shop around to see if a GMC truck with a factory kit meets your needs. It will save you the hassle of doing an aftermarket installation, and include features like locking differentials. Lift kits do add capabilities to your truck, so it may be worth your time and money. If you haven’t thought about owning a lifted truck before, now might be a great time to consider it.