Offering much of the utility of a full-size pick-up while saving money both at the dealer and the pump, the 2016 GMC Canyon provides big value and performance from a “small” pick-up.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 GMC Canyon is offered with two gasoline-powered engines; a 200-horsepower base 2.5-liter inline-four and a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. A third, soon to be available, 2.8-liter diesel engine will arrive in dealers in the Fall of 2015.

GMC’s mid-size pickup truck is available in both a two-door extended cab and four-door crew cab version. Both models are available in multiple trim levels, ranging from the $20,995 2.5-liter gasoline powered manual transmission rear-wheel-drive SL Extended Cab to the top-trim $41,875 SLT 2.8L Diesel 4WD Crew Cab.

The 2016 GMC Canyon is available in two or four wheel drive configurations and with either a 5.2- or 6.2-foot bed.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard in SL Extended Cab and the Base Extended Cab trims. A six-speed automatic is optional on Base Extended Cab models and standard on all other trim levels.

Performance Pros

GMC Canyon Grille

I was able to spend time in both the 2.5-liter inline-four and 3.6-liter V6-powered versions of the Canyon. Both engines provide excellent power and performance for specific applications.

Buyers looking for superior fuel economy, but who are not as concerned with dynamic acceleration and tow less than 3,500 pounds, will find the 200-horsepower four an excellent choice. Gas mileage is rated at a surprisingly efficient 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

Those requiring more hauling and towing power will want to investigate the V6 with its 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph zips by in an inspiring 7.5 seconds, which feels really quick in a pickup. When a V6 Canyon is equipped with the Max Trailering Package, the vehicle offers a max trailering rating of 7,000 pounds.

In the Fall of 2016, GMC will launch the highly anticipated 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-four to U.S. markets. Rated at 181 horsepower and an incredible 369 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm, the diesel-powered Canyon is set to be a fuel-sipping high-capacity hauling machine.

  • The smallish profile of the Canyon and the fine tuning of the suspension and electric power steering provides a driving sensation more in line with many of today’s crossover vehicles than the pickup trucks of the not-so-distant past.
  • Even after a brief test drive, you get the feeling that you are cheating a little; a pickup should not feel this comfortable in traffic and crowded parking lots.

Thanks to the four-wheel anti-lock discs that come from the factory with long-lasting Duralife rotors, braking is excellent.

Performance Cons

  • The six-speed manual transmission is only available in the lower trim levels, and is exclusive to the Extended Cab versions of the Canyon.
  • Ride quality, while excellent for a midsize pickup, is still a little more truck-like than many car-based crossover SUV fans may desire.

Interior Pros

GMC Canyon Interior

The Canyon is essentially an upscale version of Chevy’s highly praised Colorado twin. The interior is well-designed and full of tech and safety features, especially in the higher trim levels.

  • The cabin is a nice compromise for those looking for a truck that feels like a sedan, but still offers hints of the full-size big brothers from GMC.
  • The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system found in higher trim levels is easy to use and -- arguably -- one of the best all-around systems in the industry. GMC’s OnStar, now with 4G LTE WIFI connectivity is a game changer with its nice integration with cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Once you’ve become accustomed to the convenience that it offers, it is hard to live without.

Interior Cons

The rear seating in the extended cab is a compromise as best, even for the two people it claims to accommodate.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

I was genuinely taken back by how much my family enjoyed the GMC Canyon during my week-long review period. Rarely does a pickup truck garner so many compliments.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The pricing of higher-trim Canyon models is dangerously close to that of the full-size Sierra, diminshing the allure of buying a midsize pickup in the first place. My suggestion is to comparison shop and see if the midsize Canyon's utility checks all of your boxes before committing to a purchase.

The Bottom Line

The GMC Canyon and its twin Colorado radically changed the midsize pickup game last year when they arrived on the scene. Both continue to be top picks in the segment and offer excellent value. Car, crossover and smaller SUV owners who are looking to transition to something bigger to gain the utility of a pickup may find the Canyon to be the perfect fit. I also think that full-size pickup owners and/or shoppers who rarely need the extra cargo space and hauling capabilities will find the Canyon attractive.