2008 GMC Canyon Review | Edmunds.com

2008 GMC Canyon

GMC Canyon Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.9 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 185 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 18/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 GMC Canyon

  • The 2008 GMC Canyon is an attractively styled, light-duty pickup that appears competitive on paper. But out in the real world where performance, passenger comfort and overall build quality really count, it doesn't quite measure up to its rivals from Dodge, Nissan and Toyota.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Affordable, composed handling on- and off-road, good crash test scores.

  • Cons

    Engines lack power compared to rivals, mediocre towing capacity, subpar fit and finish, awkwardly shaped seats.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 GMC Canyon is largely unchanged from last year.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Decent value in a midsize

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

This is a review of regular cab "work truck" 3.7L I5 with 4-spd automatic. This truck has come in very handy with home renovations and trips to the dump. The 5cyl. engine has plenty of power and rivals competitors' V6s. The 4-spd auto is very smooth. The interior is spacious and relatively comfortable, but horribly cheap in quality. Everything is hard plastic. There are ugly gaps in dash pieces. It looks poor quality. Reliability has not been all that great. The truck was purchased for a very low price, so the myriad problems are easier to swallow. I don't recommend considering this truck unless you can get a fantastic deal on one. Otherwise there are much better trucks for the money.

Tough truck

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

I have used this basically for business use the past 2 years. Towing a trailer and snowplowing with a BOSS plow. 4 wheeling is great because of the locking rear dif. It is quiet on the highway. I upgraded the wheels to 18" purchased from GM Parts.

New owner.

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

So far this has been a wonderful truck. The ride is smooth, acceleration is smooth, shifts are firm, lights at night on the outside are excellent. Gas mileage isn't horrible either, first tank, I averaged 20.13 mpg with rural/city driving [45 mph-55 mph] and the occasional passing gear stomp.

Towable 4wd/automatic

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

Edmunds and several other experts rate the GMC Canyon lower than its competitors. They overlook one important aspect. It is towable flat. You cannot tow a Toyota, Honda, Dodge or Mazda automatic flat. This is important when you want to tow a 4wd/auto truck behind a motor home. Only the GMC or its companion, the Chevy Colorado in a midsized pickup has the advantage of a neutral switch. Drop the tranny into neutral and away you go.

2007 gmc canyon

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

Although its been reliable, this is the most uselessly designed truck I've ever had. The bed is ok for firewood, mulch, etc (but the bed is too thin and girly). The mandatory 6 foot bed is annoying. You can't even lay down a six foot ladder flat. It's a real loser to load with construction materials. The tailgate lowers to accommodate 8 foot materials. However 4' wide drywall, plywood doesn't fit between or on top of the wheel wells. Very annoying. Poor design. There's also a large blind spot when turning left or going around sharp left curves.

So disappointed!

by on
Vehicle: 2007 GMC Canyon

I bought this truck brand new. They "shipped" it from PA, and when I got it there was 600 miles on it. Within the first two weeks, the driver's window and passenger windows got stuck and wouldn't go up. Then after one and a half years, I already needed rear brakes. Got those replaced and then I needed front brakes. Got those replaced and it's been squeaking ever since. Also, the tires (that came with the truck) began "warping" from the inside after about a year. On top of all these problems, the gas mileage is HORRIBLE! I travel approximately 53 miles a day and I have to fill up every four days. I'm so not happy! I'm looking elsewhere, but not looking forward to losing money.

Full 2008 GMC Canyon Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 GMC Canyon is largely unchanged from last year.


At first glance, the 2008 GMC Canyon would seem to offer much of what a compact truck shopper is looking for. It has distinctively rugged styling, efficient and capable power, available extended-cab and crew cab body configurations, and a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive configurations plus a popular off-road package.

Unfortunately, the attraction ends when you open the door and start the engine. Despite improvements over the years, seating comfort and cabin materials still leave much to be desired. Same with the driving experience -- even with its optional five-cylinder engine, the Canyon's performance simply can't match that of the bigger V6s or V8s available in most of the Chevy's rivals. If you're more concerned about ride and handling dynamics than brute power, the good news is that the 2008 GMC Canyon offers a choice of well-calibrated suspension setups that provide composed moves whether on-pavement or off.

The Canyon's biggest drawback, however, is that it gives the impression of being cheap -- which is all the more apparent in a segment filled with more polished rivals that have moved beyond mere value and simple functionality. The Dodge Dakota, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are simply better trucks in almost every regard. If you're a budget-minded shopper with light-duty usage in mind, you might investigate further. But if you've set your sights on a refined and thoroughly capable small pickup, we suggest looking elsewhere or waiting for a much-needed makeover.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 GMC Canyon is a compact truck available with two- or four-wheel drive in three body style configurations: regular cab, extended cab (with short reverse-opening doors) or crew cab with four regular forward-swinging doors. Crew cabs come with a 5-foot cargo box while other Canyons feature a 6-footer.

There are three primary trim levels to choose from on regular- and extended-cab models -- the base SL, SLE and top-of-the-line SLT. (There is a "Work Truck" for commercial customers.) The crew cab is offered in SLE and SLT trims only. The SL comes equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, air-conditioning, 60/40-split cloth front seat, a tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel and an AM/FM stereo. The SLE adds OnStar, an upgraded front bench, a CD/MP3 player and options not available on the SL. SLE extended and crew cab models include full power accessories and keyless entry, while SLE Crew Cabs come with standard front bucket seats. The SLT adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery and heated power front bucket seats.

Several packages are available to tailor the 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 XM Satellite Radio and a "Sun and Sound" package that bundles a six-CD changer with a power sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

After a power boost last year, both Canyon engines carry over in 2008: The standard 2.9-liter four-cylinder makes 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque, and an optional 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on most four-cylinder Canyons, while a four-speed automatic is standard on five-cylinder trucks and optional with the smaller engine.

Although their outputs are more than adequate, the Canyon's engines can't match the power and performance of the V6s and V8s offered by the competition. The news is better on the fuel economy front, ranging from 18 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway on four-cylinder regular cabs down to 15 mpg/city and 20 mpg/highway on 4WD crew cabs. Four-wheel-drive models feature a two-speed transfer case with push-button controls and an optional locking rear differential. Maximum towing capacity is limited to 4,000 pounds, which is below average for this type of truck.


The 2008 GMC Canyon features standard antilock brakes and OnStar emergency communications, with optional head curtain side-impact airbags and traction control (on 2WD vehicles with automatic transmissions). In government front-impact crash tests, the GMC Canyon crew cab earned a perfect five stars for the protection of the driver and front passenger. Other Canyons earned four stars in those tests. Side-impact testing resulted in four stars out of five for front occupant protection, and five stars for rear passengers in crew cab models. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, the Canyon garnered a highest possible "Good" rating.

Interior Design and Special Features

While its competitors have gotten more luxurious and refined in recent years, the Canyon remains saddled with subpar materials, an abundance of hard plastic and mediocre seat comfort. The layout of controls and gauges gets high marks, however, for their simple and straightforward design. There's lots of room up front, though rear legroom is tight in both extended cab and crew cab models. Rear entry/exit can also be awkward due to small rear door openings. A dual-position tailgate can be secured partially open to better support the carrying of 4x8 sheets that ride on top of the wheelwells.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 GMC Canyon's inline four- and five-cylinder engines are reasonably smooth, though acceleration and hauling performance is lackluster compared to the larger V6s of its competitors. The four-speed automatic transmission doesn't offer as many gears as its rivals, but its shifts are smooth and well-timed. The Canyon's standard suspension is softly tuned for a comfortable ride, and when fitted with the available Z71 off-road suspension package, the Canyon performs well off-highway. GMC's small truck is relatively quiet around town, though wind noise around the doors picks up at highway speeds.

Talk About The 2008 Canyon

Gas Mileage


  • 18
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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