GMC's midside pickup was completely redesigned for 2023, retaining its crew-cab/short-bed bodystyle. Sharing similar underpinnings with the Chevrolet Colorado, Canyon gets a more off-road capable package called Canyon AT4X AEV for '24. It adds skid plates, rock sliders, Multimatic DSSV dampers and more robust steel bumpers. Competitors include the Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.
Trim levels include Elevation, AT4, Denali and AT4X. All are powered by a turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 310 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. Sole transmission is an 8-speed automatic. Rear- and 4-wheel drive versions are offered. The maximum towing capacity is 7,700 pounds.
Elevation starts at $38,095 with the ATX4 topping out at $45,996. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. The Safety Package adds rear parking sensors, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot intervention. Other standard features include off-road tuned suspension, LED headlights, remote locking tailgate, keyless entry with push-button start and 11.3-inch infotainment screen with wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. ATX and ATX4 add exclusive off-road equipment while Denali trim adds chrome trim, 20-inch wheels and an upgraded interior.
While some competitors offer V6 engines, Canyon's turbocharged four isn't afraid of a fight. In fact, it offers more torque than V6s found in the Ridgeline, Gladiator and Frontier. In fact, the only engine that can match Canyon's turbo is the new Max engine in the redesigned Tacoma. Given its plentiful torque output, the 2.7 is clearly a "truck" engine on paper. In practice it has the refinement of smaller turbo fours found in premium cars. The engine doesn't boom or thrash at high RPM and simply delivers oodles of power at any speed. Mash the gas and the engine will propel the Canyon from 0 to 60 MPH in about 6 seconds. Adding to the refinement party is the slick and smooth shifting 8-speed automatic.
Like most offerings in the class, Canyon offers a true 4-wheel-drive system with a low range for off-road slogging. Even base models come equipped with an off-road suspension and the ATX4 is as capable off-road as any truck in the class.
Fuel economy isn't a strong point as the Canyon only rates 18 MPG city, 22 MPG highway and 19 MPG overall in EPA testing. Those numbers are at the bottom of the class, but only by an MPG or 2. Regular-grade fuel is fine and the 21-gallon fuel tank gives Canyon a highway range of about 400 miles. In routine suburban commuting don't expect to average much better than 20 MPG overall. Throw in some gentle highway cruising and that number goes up to about 22 MPG.
The previous-generation Canyon was likely the best riding compact pickup on the market and the new model improves on that substantially. Not only does the Canyon ride with smoothness and comfort, but it's more comfortable in the twisties. The steering is nicely weighted and a firm brake pedal that matches the characteristics of its solid-feeling chassis. Of course, there's more rebound than a typical sedan, but the suspension does an excellent job of smothering road imperfections without inducing a queasy feeling.
Off road, Canyon can be equipped from the factory with all of the trail-ready goodies you'd expect and proves extremely capable. While some other pickups focus on rock crawling, the Canyon looks to provide a balanced off-road ride that's not overly bouncy, but also compliant enough to handle the rough stuff without undue damage.
Living up to its tagline of professional grade, Canyon is likely the quietest of the compact pickups - especially on the highway where there's little wind or tire noise.
Though Canyon may look similar to its predecessor on the outside the interior is vastly improved. Not only has GMC brought some much-needed technology to the table, but it has improved the material and design game considerably. A crisp digital gauge cluster replaced analog dials and there's a polish to the operation of the switchgear that didn't exist previously. GMC even added an optional head-up display and thumping Bose audio system.
The front seats are both supportive and comfortable. Head and leg room are quite good as well. In back, the rear bench is flat and the backrest is upright. Though it isn't a penalty box, there a huge difference in space between the back seat of a Canyon and full-size Sierra. Outward visibility is excellent to all directions and the step up, while not insignificant, is reasonable considering the Canyon's off-road credibility.
On the tech front, it's disappointing that there are only a few standard safety features, but the others come along in a reasonably priced option package and aren't bundled with non-safety features. The new infotainment system is excellent, striking a great balance between usability and feature offerings. Wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play is a nice bonus as is the available head-up display. Another plus is GM's Hitch View and Hitch Guidance. It makes finding a trailer tongue much easier and is standard on even the lowly Elevation trim level.
Canyon is only offered with a 5'2" bed. That's class appropriate, but a long-bed version would certainly be welcomed by contractors. Payload capacity ranges from 1,000-1,600 pounds depending on trim. GMC offers a unique tailgate storage system called MultiStow. It is standard on AT4 level and up and adds a 45-inch-wide lidded storage compartment with drainage hole to the inside of the tailgate. Canyon also offers a 120V bed-mounted power outlet is also standard on all trims above Elevation. Inside, storage space is good, with a lidded center-console storage compartment, a glovebox, a dedicated spot to put your phone, front and rear door pockets, and two front cupholders. The rear seat can split and fold to increase in-cabin cargo space.
Bottom Line - Though it doesn't look all that different, GMC's new Canyon vaults to the top of the compact truck class, despite new offerings from Nissan and Toyota. It's blend of comfort, utility, performance and affordability is hard to fault. Yes, most of the features can be had on the similar Chevrolet Colorado for a few dollars less, but Canyon offers a refinement that isn't found on the Chevy.