2018 GMC Canyon red in desert ・ Photo by General Motors
The 2018 GMC Canyon is part of the General Motors mid-size truck tandem that also includes the Chevrolet Colorado. If sales indicate popularity, then the Colorado is the more popular of the two, but functionally they are nearly identical. And, since most consumers place GMC upscale of Chevrolet, you could say the Canyon is the more prestigious of the two.
All that said, the Canyon is an excellent mid-size pickup. It offers comfortable ride quality, significant payload capacity, and pleasant amenities. On top of that, it looks good, making the most of its bold GMC grille. While most Canyons will probably never leave hard pavement, a properly equipped version can hold its head up as a serious off-roader. Among the handful of mid-size pickups that are still offered for sale here in the United States, the Canyon is among the freshest and the best.
Pickup trucks have to carry heavy loads, but they are often driven with no cargo in the bed at all. That presents a conundrum for the engineers charged with designing the vehicle, but those who worked on the Canyon solved it well. With the bed unladen, the Canyon is docile with a ride that borders on stiff, but it isn’t harsh. With some payload aboard, the ride gets even better.
What’s more, the Canyon corners flat with almost no body roll. Steering is direct, and there is nice feedback through the steering wheel. You can tell where each of the four corners is at any time, and the truck feels planted. The rearview camera with guidelines makes backing the Canyon up a snap. It is also a vehicle that you appreciate more each time you drive it.
Photo by GMC
The GMC Canyon’s interior is pure General Motors, and that’s a compliment. Except in the upscale Denali model, you won’t mistake the Canyon’s interior for a luxury vehicle. At the same time, seating is comfortable, controls are logical, and there are no surprises. A focal point of the interior is the centrally located infotainment screen. Under it are familiar controls for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and the sound system.
The seats are comfortable, although not all that adjustable. Leather seating surfaces are available in some trim levels, and they are practical as well as good looking. The Denali version offers simulated wood trim, heated and cooled leather-covered front seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and automatic climate control. In the extended cab version, the rear seating is for very occasional use; in the crew cab, the back seat is adequate for two adults or three children.
Photo by GMC
The Canyon offers the familiar GM infotainment interface with big, bold icons that are easy to touch even when driving. The 7- or 8-inch touchscreen displays features the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can also shop for and install apps of your own choosing for music, podcasts, and weather.
The standard audio system has six speakers. SiriusXM satellite radio is standard on nearly all 2018 GM models, and the Canyon also features GM’s Teen Driver Mode, a configurable feature that lets you customize vehicle settings associated with a key fob to encourage safe driving behavior by the person — typically a teen — using the truck. The Canyon’s OnStar 4G LTE and associated built-in Wi-Fi hotspot offers a fast Internet connection for up to seven devices. The Canyon also has four standard USB ports on SLE, All Terrain, SLT and Denali trim versions.
Photo by GMC
A key goal with the Canyon’s exterior style is differentiation from the mechanically identical Chevrolet Colorado. One way to do this was to apply the highly recognizable GMC grille. It most versions, it is a giant rectangle of chrome. Beyond that, the Canyon shares a pleasing overall shape with the Colorado.
An All Terrain X package is available on the All Terrain trim level that includes Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac P255/65R17 tires, 3-inch round step bars, a spray-on bed liner, all-weather floor liners, an off-road suspension, and hill descent control. A Nightfall Edition available on the SLE trim features body-color grille and bumpers, a spray-on bed liner, blacked-out trim, and 18-inch multi-spoke aluminum wheels. The extended cab model comes with a 74-inch bed, while the crew cab is available with a 62-inch or a 74-inch bed.
Photo by GMC Media
The Canyon can be purchased with the choice of four-cylinder or six-cylinder gasoline engines and a four-cylinder diesel engine. The stalwart 2.5-liter gasoline-fueled four-cylinder boasts 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. It is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6-liter V6 offers 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, and it channels its power through an eight-speed automatic.
The 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel delivers 186 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and uses a six-speed automatic transmission. It also features a diesel exhaust brake system that enhances vehicle control and reduces brake wear. The Canyon also offers the availability of an automatic locking rear axle and a 4x4 system with a two-speed transfer case that is up to serious off-pavement use.
Photo by GMC
One potential downside to the GMC Canyon is its relative lack of electronic driver’s aids. For instance, it lacks blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, which can be handy for commuting in traffic. On the other hand, it does provide electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, hill-start assist, and tow/haul mode. The All-Terrain version also offers terrain response control, taking some of the guesswork out of off-roading.
A Driver Alert package available on the SLE and SLT trim levels and standard on Denali includes a forward collision alert and lane-departure warning. And all Canyons feature a helpful backup camera with dynamic grid lines. Six airbags are standard, including frontal airbags, head-curtain side airbags for outboard passengers in the front and rear seats, and seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger.
Photo by GMC
The Canyon is offered in extended cab and crew cab version, and that, of course, affects its interior space. The extended cab has very rudimentary rear seating that can accommodate two adults for short periods — or longer periods of great discomfort. The rear-seat area in the extended cab is better used as lockable storage, and the fold-up seats further that use. On the other hand, the crew cab can accommodate four adults for lengthy drives. The biggest sacrifice rear-seat passengers have is the lack of adjustability of the upright rear seatback.
Bed size also makes a major difference in cargo-carrying ability, with the long-bed variant obviously being the more spacious. Maximum payload is 1,605 pounds in the crew cab short-bed version powered by the 3.6-liter V6. The Canyon offers maximum towing of 7,700 pounds with the diesel engine and 7,000 pounds with the V6. An integrated trailer brake controller is available, too.
Photo by GMC
The Canyon is available in six different configurations: SL, Canyon, SLE, All Terrain, SLT, and Denali. The Canyon Denali features a unique chrome grille and 20-inch aluminum wheels, unique heated and ventilated front leather seats, and a variety of special trim and chrome bling. GMC ups its off-road cred with the All Terrain package available on the SLE trim. It includes a Z71 suspension, an automatic locking rear differential, a standard transfer case skid plate, and the availability of a terrain response system.
Both rear-wheel drive and 4x4 versions are offered in each trim level with the exception of the SL trim, which is intended primarily for commercial truck users. The Canyon grade could be the best value of the trims. While the uplevel Denali trim level is a good bargain on other GMC vehicles, the Canyon Denali doesn’t live up to that luxury standard.
Photo by GMC
Despite its relatively low volume, the Canyon has trim levels and packages to match a variety of tastes. There is a low-cost version “work truck” version that fleet buyers might favor. There is a dedicated off-road version. And there is a trim level that offers serious hauling capabilities while also featuring cushy around-town amenities.
The base rear-drive Canyon SL extended cab has an MSRP of $21,100. A middle-of-the-road SLE crew cab has an MSRP of $30,400. For those seeking off-road prowess, the All Terrain crew cab has an MSRP of $38,400. Finally, the luxury Denali trim long-bed crew cab has an MSRP of $43,600. (These prices exclude the $995 destination charge.) A SLE crew cab offers a nice combination of equipment and price. For those who favor an all-in luxury version, the Denali is the pick.
Photo by GMC