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Our Take: 2018 GMC Canyon

, Contributing Editor -

The midsize truck market has a new life, thanks in part to the GMC Canyon. The twin to the Chevrolet Colorado, the Canyon offers a compelling alternative to full-size pickup trucks, along with many of the same features customers demand.

Best Value

The 2018 GMC Canyon comes in Extended Cab and Crew Cab body configurations and in the latter's case, the choice of a 5.1- or 6.1-foot bed (the extended cab is stuck with the longer setup). There are seven trim levels to choose from, although we recommend ignoring the first, as it's a dedicated work truck designed for fleet duty and won't be a common sight on dealer lots. So really, there's the Canyon base trim, the SLE, cloth and leather-upholstered versions of the All-Terrain, SLT, and Denali. As we covered in the Overview above, the Canyon is available with three engines – a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine that's limited to the Extended Cab, a 3.6-liter V6 gas engine that's standard on Crew Cab models, and a 2.8-liter turbodiesel.

Our recommendation is to take the Canyon SLT in the Crew Cab body, with the short bed, the standard 3.6-liter V6, and four-wheel drive. It's the right blend of size, attractiveness (the long bed throws off the Canyon's proportions), content, and price. We'd pass on any optional goodies, as the SLT is one step down from the Denali and comes suitably equipped with leather upholstery, heated front seats, remote start, 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, a locking rear differential, and an eight-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Take our advice, and you'll escape the dealership with a nicely contented truck for just under $40,000.

  • Model: 2018 GMC Canyon SLT 4x4 Crew Cab
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6 engine
  • Output: 308 hp/275 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 18 City/25 Hwy
  • Options: Four-wheel drive ($3,800)
  • Base Price: $35,795 (plus $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $39,495

Performance

GMC Canyon

With three engine choices available, GMC shoppers have much to consider.

The most popular of the three engines is a 3.6-liter V6 generating 308 horsepower and paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine has the best step-off acceleration and passing power of the trio. For these reasons, you’ll find more Canyons on dealer lots equipped with this engine than the other two combined.

But the available diesel is an intriguing choice. It's efficient, netting up to 30 mpg on the freeway, and with 369 pound-feet of torque, it has more pulling power than the V6. This is evident on the road, where it scoots off the line with aplomb. But unlike most diesels, GMC's 2.8-liter is an unpleasant highway companion – it's noisy and clattery and maintains an unusually high engine speed despite the eight-speed automatic it works alongside. Be sure to test drive this one thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

The steering and handling are not abnormal for a pickup truck – the former is light and effortless and the latter is ineffectual. The Canyon is more agile than its full-size sibling, the Sierra 1500, but not significantly so. There's still a lot of roll, squat, and dive. The tradeoff is a comfortable ride, particularly when the bed is loaded down with gear.

Style

We like how GMC applied big Sierra styling to this truck’s smaller frame. It works, although the Canyon isn’t a small-scale Sierra. This truck shares some of the styling brashness, especially with its grille. But the rising beltline and pronounced fender flares offer its own take on GMC styling.

Inside, there’s room for four or five, although if you want maximum passenger room, only the crew cab will do. The interior has a more premium look, especially as you move away from the base model. The leather seats are comfortable and handsome, and certainly not too delicate for this truck.

The Best and Worst Things

The available diesel engine is a peach for performance and fuel economy. Also, it's just very, very cool to have something in the baby Canyon that the big GMC Sierra doesn't (yet).

The GMC doesn’t offer the top-end off-road capabilities of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 – there's no Canyon-based analog to that brute. The Colorado is the brawnier of the two, while the GMC pushes style and elegance, but at a premium price.

Right For? Wrong For?

GMC Canyon

Individuals who want the ruggedness of a pickup truck, but not the girth of a full-size model, such as the GMC Sierra 1500. While the Sierra may struggle to fit in most garages, the Canyon should make it without complaint.

Truck fans that prize passenger-carrying space, payload, or towing above all else. Or maybe all three. The Canyon is a segment leader in towing, but it doesn’t have quite the reach of the big guys.

The Bottom Line

Credit the GMC Canyon and the similar Chevrolet Colorado with rejuvenating a moribund segment. They’re currently the most modern midsize trucks you can purchase, although the top price can approach $50,000.

Buying With CarsDirect

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Used GMC Canyon in 20149

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