The GMC Canyon is a midsize pickup truck that provides multi-purpose utility. As with all midsize trucks, its towing capacity and payload fall short of a full-size pickup but its capabilities are often more than sufficient for buyers who want a smaller truck. Compared with the full-size trucks, the midsize pickups are more fuel-efficient, are more agile and take up less parking space.
The GMC Canyon is virtually a twin to the Chevrolet Colorado. Canyon and Colorado were redesigned for 2015, and became the class of the field. They carried over to the 2016 model year mostly unchanged.
The 2016 GMC Canyon is updated with an enhanced IntelliLink system that features Apple CarPlay capability. Also, a sliding rear window is standard on the 2016 GMC Canyon SLT. A new turbodiesel engine is expected to be available for 2016 Canyon models later in the model year.
With its rugged aura, the GMC Canyon suggests strong capabilities. Overall, the Canyon looks more squared off than does the Chevrolet Colorado, and we lean toward the GMC approach. An unusual side-window design incorporates a shoulder line that sweeps upward near the rear pillar.
The GMC Canyon offers a choice of 200-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 305-hp 3.6-liter V6. The four-cylinder offers a choice of manual gearbox or automatic. The 3.6-liter V6 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models are available. The four-wheel-drive system includes an automatic mode. A locking rear differential is available. Chevrolet Colorado offers a more traditional four-wheel-drive system with a low range.
Fabric and vinyl seat upholstery are available, with leather standard in the top-level SLT edition. SLE and SLT models can have an optional All-Terrain off-roading group that includes 17-inch all-terrain tires on aluminum wheels, off-road suspension, and power front seats. Available options also include an E-Z Lift-and-Lower tailgate, CornerStep back bumper, OnStar 4G LTE with wi-fi hot spot, and Siri Eyes Free Mode for iPhone. Forward collision alert and a lane-departure warning also are offered.
Few pickups compete in this midsize category, and the primary ones, the Nissan Frontier is outdated. Canyon and Colorado trounce the Frontier in terms of road manners, as well as economy and performance. They also trounce the outgoing 2015 Toyota Tacoma. An all-new Toyota Tacoma debuts as a 2016 model, replacing a decade-old version.
Six airbags are standard, including side curtains. So are trailer sway control and hill-descent control, along with GM’s StabiliTrak system, a rearview camera, and large side mirrors. Options include lane-departure warning and forward collision alert. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the extended-cab Canyon a four-star overall rating, though the side-impact test was rated five-star.