2024 GMC Canyon AT4X – Vastly Improved


Mid-size pickup trucks are stepping up their game, getting closer to the half-ton pickup trucks when it comes to the features, luxury and comfort. They have been becoming a useful tool to do it all instead of being a work truck. Despite having smaller interior space, they can still do a lot of things really well. The updated GMC Canyon is here to jump on the bandwagon, as it needs to compete with heavy hitters in the mid-size pickup segment.

The Looks – Exterior and Interior

The GMC Canyon is the mechanical twin of the Chevrolet Colorado, and both have been updated this year not just to compete with the other entries, but also they do their best to offer the capability of their half-ton counterparts. For the Canyon and Colorado, it is not easy to offer the same features, as they are significantly smaller. The Canyon differentiates itself from Colorado when it comes to the trim choices, as Colorado is focusing more on lower-trim options including the ones meant to be used as a work truck, but the Canyon comes with higher trims for more premium experience.

The GMC Canyon is completely redesigned and it represents the latest corporate design language, including the front fascia. It comes with a huge front grille that covers 90% of the whole front end, which connects both daytime running lights. The Canyon follows the latest design trend and comes with a two-piece headlight design, which looks attractive. Our tester is the off-road-oriented AT4X trim, which offers off-road goodies including the skid plate, tow hooks, higher ride height and off-road capable wheelset.

Even though the new Canyon is slightly bigger than the older platform, it still looks like a mid-size truck from the side profile. The increased ride height and the bigger wheels gave the Canyon more road presence. The rear doors are significantly smaller than the front doors and it also comes with underbelly protection bars and skid plates for maximum protection for people who take their trucks off the beaten path regularly.

In mid-size truck fashion, you will not find many features that you would find in the half-ton truck segment, but you still get a decent amount of storage space and features unique to the GMC Canyon. It only comes with a one-bed size option, but it is a very usable space. It is clear that GMC paid attention to making the Canyon more appealing to the mainstream truck audience. The tailgate is damped and easy to lift, it comes with a measuring tape, and lockable weatherproof storage space that increases the overall usability.

The new Canyon received some features trickled down from Sierra 1500, including two tie-down points in each corner and adding more tie-downs, and comes with 6-cutout locations to use as a bed divider. A 400w plug is located on the right side of the bed. The AT4X trim does not come with bumper steps for maximum departure angle, but you can find that feature in other trims for easier access to the bed.

Just like the exterior, we found the interior is completely refreshed, and that is the most impressive part about the whole experience. However, before that, getting in and out is not an easy task, especially for shorter adults. The Canyon AT4X sits very high to the ground, and there are no running boards available, which means you literally have to climb every time you try to get in.

On the positive side, the interior design and material choices are quite impressive, which makes the Canyon class a class-leading entry if you want that premium feeling from your mid-size truck. The colour combination and accents, diversification of materials, build quality, and overall looks are something you find in much more expensive full-size trucks.

The GMC Canyon offers a really good balance of physical controls and screens in the interior. All physical buttons feel very solid, and they are placed where they are supposed to be. If you are coming from another General Motors product, you will feel right at home. Our tester offered the larger 11.3-inch diagonal center touchscreen that comes with the updated Google built-in software system, which is one of the most intuitive options available. AT4X trim offers extra off-road information pages that can be quite helpful in tight spots. The only gripe I had was the lack of headlight buttons as GMC decided to move them to the infotainment system, I wish they kept them on the left side of the dashboard.

If you like having tech, the GMC Canyon becomes the class-leading entry as it is the only option that comes with an 11″ diagonal digital instrument cluster that allows the driver to choose tons of different information. There aren’t too many customizable options, you just need to choose the layout GMC decided to put, but the screen quality is excellent. It also offers Google Maps integration, meaning that you can use your infotainment screen for something else while using Maps.

In typical General Motors fashion, the seats are firmly padded, but they are very supportive. The higher trims come with 6-way adjustable seats along with a memory seat function for the driver. The AT4X-specific seats come with dual colour options with red accents including the seat belts, which gives it a more premium feeling, especially with dual colour dashboard. I wish they also offered the same colour combination for the rear seats. Either way, you will have no issues with the interior space especially if you sit in the front. It offers tons of adjustment range and provides a nice seating position for the driver.

As expected from a mid-size truck, it does not have a lot of legroom, but it wasn’t too bad even for large adults. At 6’1″, it wasn’t a tight fit, but I wouldn’t want to spend hours in the rear. It can accommodate child seats with no issues. It still comes with decent creature comforts like air vents and USB ports for the rear seat passengers.

The Drive: Specs & Experience

The new Canyon feels completely different than the outgoing generation, and one of the main reasons for the difference is the completely new drivetrain. It no longer comes with a naturally aspirated V6 engine, the Canyon joined the downsizing club and every canyon uses a 310-hp turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four engine with 430 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the Chevrolet sibling, you will only get this variant even with the lowest trim.

The engine is bolted to an 8-speed torque-converted automatic transmission and a standard four-wheel drive system for the Canadian market. If you choose the higher trims, it also comes with a two-speed transfer case and electronically controlled rear locking differential except for the AT4X trim. The AT4X trim comes with full-locking front and rear differentials for maximum off-road capability.

The drivetrain has a completely different character than the outgoing naturally aspirated V6. It does not sound as good, but it offers more usable power and torque at lower RPMs, which helps a lot with overall ease of use, and smoother towing experience. The 2.7-litre turbo engine also offers more oomph compared to the other V6 powertrains you would find in the other entries in this segment. Despite downsizing the engine, the fuel economy numbers weren’t too impressive as I was averaging around 15.5L / 100 km with a lot of highway driving, but that’s forgivable for the off-road-oriented AT4X trim as it is the least fuel-efficient trim with larger off-road tires and higher ride height.

The GMC Canyon offers the best towing capacity in its segment, peaking at 7700 lbs for all trims except the AT4X. The off-road-oriented AT4X trim can only tow up to 6000 lbs, so you need to choose if you want better off-road performance or towing capacity. The 8-speed transmission offers a wide range of gears and it is a great match for both towing and off-roading.

The AT4X is not easy to get in and out, but it pays dividends when it comes to the ride quality. You sit very upright and the visibility is great. The Canyon AT4X sits not just higher but also has a wider track, meaning that it gives a more stable feeling at higher speeds. It is very confidence-inspiring behind the wheel on any surface and handles all types of bumps and road imperfections quite well. AT4X trim comes with an extra 3″ factory lift, which helps a lot with the overall ground clearance and going over bigger obstacles.

Different driving and off-road modes help with throttle mapping and power distribution. Even though it is a four-wheel-drive system, it is quite flexible in terms of ch allows you to keep the locking rear differential active while in 2WD mode. All-terrain tires are a little louder than the other standard tires, but the car has decent noise, vibration and harshness levels. The only gripe I had was the engine noise, especially in cold weather, you will hear valvetrain noises, it is not the most refined 4-cylinder and it is definitely noticeable at lower speeds.

The Verdict

The updated GMC Canyon is a huge improvement compared to the previous generation. It not only looks so much better, but it is a better vehicle in every imaginable way. Even though it no longer comes with a V6 engine, it is still just as good as a mid-size truck. It still offers the best towing capability in its class and much more upscale interior quality. The AT4X trim gives you the maximum off-road performance that we were able to find only in the half-ton segment before. The GMC Canyon became our new favourite mid-size truck, at least until the arrival of the new Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger.

Engine2.7-litre turbocharged inline-4
Transmission & Drivetrain8-speed automatic & four-wheel-drive
Max power310 hp @ 5600 rpm
Max torque430 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
0-100 km/h7.6 seconds
Curb Weight4865 lbs – 2207 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)15 MPG – 15.6 L/100 km
Price (starting at)$69,730

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