The GMC Canyon is mechanically identical to the Chevy Colorado and has had trouble to build its own identity in its class. For 2021, GMC is aiming to change that and its top trim Denali now comes with finer cabin materials and a new grille resembling the one on the full-size Sierra 1500 pickup.
It also comes with a new AT4 trim model. It’s mainly just a replacement of the previous All Terrain trim model, but it still has a special suspension and is equipped with all-terrain tires to improve the truck’s off-road capability. Here’s a more detailed break down of the newest GMC Canyon:
The 2021 Canyon has three engine options:
- 200-hp four-cylinder base engine
- 308-hp V6 engine
- 181-hp four-cylinder turbo diesel engine
The V6 engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the four-cylinder engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. While the base four-cylinder engine does a decent job, it is not as impressive as other engine options. The diesel feels fine-tuned and unlocks the Canyon’s highest towing capacity. Models equipped with diesel engines also are also the most fuel efficient.
But the best option among the three engines is V6. It is able to provide the same towing capabilities as the diesel and at the same time offer better acceleration and more impressive power than other engines.
The Canyon’s mpg ratings are similar to its class rivals, with its base four-cylinder engine earning 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The V6 mpg ratings are nearly identical which earns 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. For the best gas mileage, go for the diesel powertrain, earning 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Ride and Handling
The Canyon is comfortable and collected on the road. This pickup offers secure handling and precise steering, making you feel you’re driving an SUV instead of a traditional truck. The ride stays smooth even on rough surfaces, but like most trucks, it feels more cushioned when the bed is not empty.
This GMC does a good job off road. Four-wheel drive is available in all trims which makes the Canyon reasonably capable of driving over muddy terrain. The new AT4 model particularly adds plenty of off-road features like the skid plates and a more rugged suspension, making it the best off-roader in the lineup.
Still, it cannot keep up with the monstrous trucks in the class like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, and the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison.
Once the Canyon is properly equipped, it can tow up to 7,700 pounds, which is certainly one of the highest capacities in the class. The truck’s maximum payload is 1,605 pounds. While it is solid for a small pickup, that is still not class-leading.
Interior: No-Frills Functionality
Canyon Cargo Space
The canyon provides 5 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 2 inches bed lengths. The bed is only 44 inches wide between the wheel wells, so you cannot place sheets of plywood flat between them, unlike some of its competitors. Retrieving cargo can be a struggle because of its bed sides and load floor being high. In addition, some rivals provide more in-bed features compared to the Canyon, which only offers an EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate and steps built into the corners of the rear bumper.
How many people can occupy the Canyon?
While Crew Cab models seats five people, the Extended Cab Canyon models only can only seat four. You may wish the front seats provide a little more support, however, they are spacious and generally comfortable. The second row of Crew Cab models has enough space for adults and satisfactory comfort as well. On the other hand, the rear seats in the Extended cab are very small and are best suited for very short trips or to kids.
Child Car Seats
Crew Cab models come with two complete sets of LATCH connectors for installing child safety seats. There is also a tether anchor on the rear middle seat.
There has not been much to complain about the Canyon's interior. It is attractive and functional, with some quality materials. But there are also some second-class components, even in the Denali trim. That makes this GMC feel less classy compared to some rivals..
Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
The canyons infotainment system features are generally uncomplicated, with clear icons on the touch screen and easy-to-use controls. There are also large physical knobs for other functions. Connectivity features like Android Auto and Apple CArPlay come standard, making it easy to sync your smartphone to the truck.
Standard infotainment features: six-speakers, a 7-inch touch screen, Android auto, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports, and Bluetooth
Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, a seven-speaker Bose stereo, satellite radio, HD Radio, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, and additional USB ports
Other available features: keyless entry, remote start, and automatic climate control
Is the Canyon Reliable?
The 2021 GMC Canyon earned the lowest-possible predicted reliability rating of two out five.
GMC Canyon Warranty
Canyon Crash Test Results
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2021 GMC Canyon an overall safety rating of four out of five stars. The Canyon earned five stars in the side crash test, four stars in the frontal crash test, and three stars in the rollover test.
As of this today, the IIHS has not yet crash tested the 2021 Canyon.
Canyon Safety Features
Standard advanced safety features:
- Teen Driver- allows you to do things like set speed and audio volume limits for other drivers
- Rearview camera
Available advanced safety features:
- Lane departure warning
- Rear parking sensors
- Forward collision warning
GMC Canyon Trims
Like with other trucks, you must first determine which cab and bed you prefer before choosing a Canyon model. Once you’ve decided, you are now free to pick between the four trim levels: Elevation Standard, Elevation, AT4 and Denali.
The Elevation is a good pick for most prospective consumers. It has more standard features than the entry-level trim, and also offers an upgraded infotainment system and leather upholstery that is not offered in the base trim. The AT4 is worth considering if off-roading is on top of your priority list.
Canyon Elevation Standard
This trim has a base price of $26,400. It is equipped with a 200-hp four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It comes with a rear-wheel drive. A rearview camera, cloth upholstery, Teen Driver, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
The standard setup of the Elevation Standard is the Extended Cab with long bed, but a Crew Cab/short bed configuration is also available at $28,300. Extended Cab models for this trim can offer 4WD and you would need to upgrade to a 308-hp V6 engine to get 4WD. Starting price increases to $31,800.
For $1,485, you can add the V6 engine to a RWD model, and at $630 you can get a keyless entry, a remote-locking EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate. A few other features can also be added individually (for example: a Wi-Fi hotspot and a locking rear differential).
This trim’s price starts at $30,000 for the Extended cab/long bed configuration. It has all the base trim’s features plus the automatic climate control, keyless entry, the EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, a Wi-Fi hotspot, remote start and additional USB ports.
The Crew cab/short bed configuration costs $31,900 and it jumps to $37,000 if you also want 4WD, requiring you to get a V6 engine too.
For RWD models, going for the V6 engine will cost you $1,485. You can also get the High Elevation package (at $1,400) adding heated front seats, heated steering wheel and leather front seats.You can also opt for the Driver Alert package at $690, which includes lane departure warning, rear parking sensors and forward collision.
If you want to upgrade your infotainment system, you need to add $1,095. You’ll get an 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, navigation and satellite radio. You can also individually add other features like a Bose audio system and a locking rear differential.
This all-new trim consists of two trims: the AT4 Cloth (MSRP: $38,200) and the AT4 Leather ($40,000). These prices are for the Crew cab/short box configuration. For the Crew Cab/long bed setup, the price increases by $600.
All AT4 trims are equipped with a 308-hp V-6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and 4WD. This is the only trim that does not offer RWD. The AT4 includes plenty of off-road-oriented features such as a hill descent control, a two-speed transfer case and a locking rear differential.
THe AT4 Cloth version as the name suggests has cloth upholstery and similar features listed to the Elevation model. The upgraded infotainment system and the Driver Alert package, Bose audio system and the heated steering wheel are available as options.
The AT4 Leather has leather seats and numerous additional features, such as rear parking sensors, wireless device charging, rear parking sensors, satellite radio, HD Radio, a heated steering wheel and an 8-inch touch screen. The Driver Alert package will only cost $395 in this model, and the upgraded infotainment is at $995. Like lower trims, some features can be added individually.
The top-of-the-line trim starts at $40,900 for the Crew Cab/short box configuration and if you want a 4WD, price jumps to $44,400. The long box setup only comes with 4WD and has an MSRP of $44,700. Ventilated front seats, lane departure warning, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, navigation and forward collision warning come standard. Almost all features you can get in a Canyon comes standard in this top trim so there is not a lot of add-ons.
Extended Cab versions – have two small fold-up rear seats which are a bit cramped and uncomfortable. Go for this if you do not have to regularly use the rear seats. It also comes with rear-hinged half-size back doors that you can only open if you open the front doors first, making it a bit complicated to access the second row.
Crew Cab versions – have full-size rear doors and a rear bench seat increasing the total seating capacity to 5. More spacious than the other version, adding 7 extra inches of legroom, and the better option if you’ll have regular rear seat occupants. Still, it is not as comfortable as other vehicle types.
Canyon Bed Length
There is not a lot of work that goes into choosing a bed for your Canyon. Extended Cab models feature 6 foot 2 inches bed, and it is one of the longest boxes in the class. While you can get a Crew Cab model with a 5 foot 2 inches or 6 foot 2 inches bed, it is still worth considering that the Crew Cab or long bed setup only comes in four-wheel-drive models.
In addition, if you want the Crew Cab and the long bed is that this modification is around 19 feet long. That is only 6 inches shorter compared to certain configurations of a full-sized pickup truck like the GMC Sierra 1500.
Canyon for Hauling and Towing
With the base four-cylinder engine, the GMC Canyon can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is impressive for a work-focused pickup truck. Some smaller crossovers have matching towing capacities, such as the GMC Acadia at 4,000 pounds and the GMC Terrain at up to 3,500 pounds. If your towing needs are light, then go with this powertrain.
When a Canyon is properly equipped, it can tow up to 7,700 pounds, one of the highest capacities in the compact pickup truck class. While you get that with rear-wheel drive and the turbo diesel engine, four-wheel-drive diesel models can still tow up to 7,600 pounds. The Canyon with the V6 engine can tow up to 7,000 pounds, so there isn’t plenty of incentive to go with the diesel for what is ultimately an insignificant gain in towing capacity.