What's New for 2007
The GMC Canyon gets brawnier for 2007. A new, 185-horsepower, 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (VVT) replaces the previous 175-hp 2.8-liter four. The inline five-cylinder is also improved. Now displacing 3.7 liters and equipped with VVT, it makes 242 hp, 22 hp more than last year. Other changes for 2007 include a standard tire-pressure monitor, improved shift quality for the four-speed automatic transmission and new wheel styles.
The GMC Canyon debuted a few years ago as a replacement for the Sonoma. Being a compact pickup, the Canyon promises decent utility without the bulky size or elevated price one normally associates with a full-size pickup. On that aspect, the GMC delivers. But in many other areas, the Canyon is a disappointment.
A twin of the Chevy Colorado, the 2007 GMC Canyon differs chiefly in its front end design and little else. It's a handsome rig, but its available engines come up a bit short in backing up that tough-truck look. On paper, both "Vortec" engines look impressive. Equipped with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, electronic throttle control and, new for '07, variable valve timing, they're fully up to date with the latest technology, and reasonably fuel-efficient. But these are the only engines offered, and they're outmatched in terms of acceleration and pulling power when compared to the larger V6, and even V8, engines found in the top competing pickup trucks.
The other main drawback for the Canyon is its mediocre interior. Most folks buy and use compact pickups as daily drivers, and as a result, the trucks' cabins have become increasingly luxurious and refined. Although the Canyon's cabin is better than its predecessor's, it still trails the top trucks in this class -- the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier -- by a wide margin. Controls are well-placed and easy to use, but an abundance of hard plastic and so-so build quality makes the Canyon feel cheap.
In its favor, the Canyon offers a choice of several well-sorted suspension setups that provide impressive capability off-road or sporty handling dynamics on twisty blacktop. But in our editors' opinion, this isn't enough of a draw. If you're shopping for a smaller pickup, make sure to check out the offerings from Dodge, Nissan and Toyota before settling on the 2007 GMC Canyon.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 GMC Canyon is a compact pickup truck that's available in three body styles: a regular cab, an extended cab with small reverse-opening doors and a crew cab with four normal doors and the lineup's largest rear seating area. To keep the truck's overall size manageable, crew cabs come with a 5-foot bed while the other two have a 6-footer. There are three basic trim levels: SL, SLE and SLT. (There's also a Work Truck trim, which is for commercial use only.) SL models come standard with air-conditioning, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, an AM/FM stereo, a tilt steering wheel and a 60/40 cloth bench seat. The SLE actually consists of three subsets: SLE-1, SLE-2 and SLE-3. The SLE-1 adds a CD player, titanium-colored trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and upgraded upholstery. The SLE-1 crew cab and all SLE-2s come with bucket seats, full power accessories, keyless entry and a five-cylinder engine (versus the inline-4 standard on lower trims). The SLE-3 (regular cab only) adds foglamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror (with compass and outside temp display) and a sliding rear window. The top-of-the-line SLT features leather upholstery as well as front seats that are heated and power adjustable.
Several packages are available to tailor the GMC Canyon to specific duties. The Z71 "High Stance Off-Road" suspension package offers a taller ride height, along with a locking rear differential, oversize tires and skid plates on 4WD models. The ZQ8 "Sport" suspension, available on 2WD models only, is geared toward street performance, with a lowered suspension, quicker steering and 18-inch wheels fitted with performance tires. Other options include OnStar, XM satellite radio and a "Sun and Sound" package that bundles a six-disc CD changer with a power sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
For the 2007 GMC Canyon, both engines are slightly larger and more powerful. The 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder makes 185 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque -- the most of any four-cylinder engine offered in a pickup truck. The 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all four-cylinder Canyons (except the 2WD crew cab), while a four-speed automatic is optional. The automatic comes standard on five-cylinder trucks. Although their outputs are respectable, neither engine provides acceleration on par with the V6 and V8 engines offered on the Canyon's competition. Four-wheel-drive models feature a dual-range transfer case with push-button controls and offer an optional locking rear differential. Maximum towing capacity, at 4000 pounds, is subpar for this class of truck.
Antilock brakes are standard, and side curtain airbags are optional. Traction control is also optional, but only on 2WD automatic trucks. Stability control is not available. In government crash tests, the GMC Canyon crew cab earned five stars (out of five) for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. The other body styles earned four stars in those tests. Side-impact crash testing resulted in four stars for front-passenger protection and, on the crew cab, five stars for rear passengers. In IIHS frontal-offset crash testing, the Canyon rated "Good," the highest score possible.
Interior Design and Special Features
Trucks may have gotten more hospitable in recent years, but don't expect anything fancy in the Canyon's cabin. Simple rotary climate controls and a large stereo face plate make the interior seem instantly familiar as soon as you get in. The gauges are similarly basic, but functional in their design. Materials range from average to substandard in quality, and build quality is inconsistent.
The inline engines are reasonably refined, but their lack of off-the-line punch and odd exhaust notes is disappointing. Shifts from the four-speed automatic are firm and well timed, and although it's still fairly vague through the gears, the five-speed manual gearbox is about as good as you're going to find in a compact pickup truck. The stock suspension tuning is on the soft side, but the GMC Canyon handles well for this class. Go with the ZQ8 package for sharper reflexes on pavement or the Z71 for a boost in off-road capability.