Full 2010 GMC Canyon Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the GMC Canyon gains head curtain airbags as standard across the board. But it also loses a few features, such as the previously available sunroof and, on extended-cab models, leather bucket seats.
Buyers shopping the compact pickup segment typically look for rugged styling, multiple engine and body style choices and the availability of an off-road package. Some, such as small business owners and outdoor sports enthusiasts, also want plenty of power to tow their equipment and toys with. And the 2010 GMC Canyon has all those attributes, yet remains off our list of recommended small or midsize trucks.
There are two chief reasons we don't give the Canyon (or its Chevy Colorado cousin) much love. An aging cabin with subpar materials quality and seating comfort is one, while the performance of the four- and five-cylinder engines is lackluster compared to the more potent and refined inline-4s and V6s of its rivals. Yes, the Canyon is available with a burly 300-horsepower V8, but its thirst for gas kills what is likely the main reason people buy compact pickups -- better fuel economy than the full-sizers.
Like many also-rans in today's automotive marketplace, the 2010 GMC Canyon is essentially a competent vehicle. However, the traditional segment leaders, the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, are better trucks in almost every regard. If you need V8 vigor in your smaller pickup, this GMC is worth a look, as only the Canyon and the Dodge Dakota offer eight-cylinders in this class. However, those seeking a thoroughly refined and up-to-date midsize pickup will likely be disappointed and should check the competition first.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 GMC Canyon is a compact truck available with two- or four-wheel drive in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab and crew cab. Crew cabs are equipped with a 5-foot cargo box, while other Canyons feature a 6-foot bed. There are three primary trim levels to choose from -- Work Truck, SLE and SLT -- with slightly different equipment allocations based on body style.
The regular-cab Work Truck comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, a bedliner, a 60/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control and satellite radio. The regular-cab SLE model adds aluminum wheels, foglights, chrome interior accents and an upgraded radio with a CD player, but power accessories must be added at extra cost. The extended-cab SLE boasts full power accessories and remote keyless entry. The extended-cab SLT adds chrome wheels, a leather-trimmed interior and power heated front bucket seats, while the crew cab SLT comes with these features as well as a heavy-duty suspension.
Available on the SLE and SLT trims are the Z71 Off-Road Suspension package (including larger wheels and tires, skid plates and a locking rear differential on 4WD models) and the ZQ8 Sport Suspension package (including a lowered suspension, quicker steering and 18-inch wheels with performance tires). Other options on various models include 17- and 18-inch wheels, remote keyless entry, foglamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, running boards, front bucket seats and a six-CD changer.
Powertrains and Performance
No fewer than three different engines are offered for the 2010 GMC Canyon, including an inline-4, an inline-5 and a V8.
The standard 2.9-liter four-cylinder makes 185 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque, and an optional 3.7-liter inline-5 produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. The 5.3-liter V8 (only offered on extended-cab and crew cab models) makes 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The Work Truck and SLE models come standard with the 2.9-liter engine but can be equipped with the 3.7-liter engine. The 3.7 is standard on SLT models, and SLE and SLT trims can be outfitted with the V8.
The 2.9-liter four is paired with a standard five-speed manual transmission except in the crew cabs, which only come with a four-speed automatic. All manual-shift Canyons are eligible for an upgrade to the automatic, and the two larger engines are automatic only. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while the available four-wheel drive features a shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case with push-button controls and an optional locking rear differential.
Fuel economy estimates start at an impressive 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for 2WD models with the 2.9-liter engine; by the time you get to the top-of-the-line V8-powered crew cab, however, those numbers have dropped to 14/19/16.
The 2010 GMC Canyon comes standard with the OnStar emergency communications system, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and head curtain airbags.
In government frontal-impact crash tests, the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab earned a perfect five stars for the protection of the driver and front passenger. Other Colorados earned four stars in those tests. Government and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety side-impact testing with the newly standard side-curtain airbags hadn't been performed as of this writing.
Interior Design and Special Features
While its competitors have evolved over the years with higher levels of luxury and refinement, the GMC Canyon continues to use subpar materials and mediocre seat design. However, the Canyon does deserve high marks for the simple and straightforward layout of its controls and gauges. Rear legroom is a bit pinched on extended-cab and crew-cab models, while ingress and egress for rear passengers can be a bit of a challenge due to the smallish rear door openings. Out back, the Canyon's cargo boxes feature two-tier loading, and the dual-position removable tailgate can be secured partly open to support the placement of 4-by-8 sheets of wood atop its wheelwells.
The 2010 GMC Canyon's cabin is relatively tranquil around town, though wind noise around the doors tends to increase at highway speeds. The four- and five-cylinder engines are smooth enough, but performance lags behind that of the larger V6s of the Canyon's competitors. The available four-speed automatic transmission doesn't offer as many gears as its rivals, though at least its shifts are smooth and well-timed.
Those looking for abundant power and towing capability will, of course, want to specify the available 5.3-liter V8, which places the Canyon in the same league as its brawny V8-powered Dodge Dakota rival. The Canyon's standard suspension is calibrated for a soft and comfortable ride on pavement, while the available Z71 Off-Road Suspension package improves off-road performance at the expense of on-road compliance. The ZQ8 sport suspension provides much crisper cornering response.