New GMC Canyon Review

2012 GMC Canyon SLE Regular Cab Pickup

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Though not as popular as full-size pickups, compact and midsize pickups fulfill an important role. For the many truck buyers whose towing and hauling needs don't require the capabilities of a full-size, these more nimble and fuel-efficient trucks are the perfect choice. GMC's entrant in this segment is the Canyon.

The GMC Canyon is handsome-looking, thanks to its square jaw and broad-shouldered stance, and its impressive crash test scores offer peace of mind to owners. It also offers available V8 power, a rare treat in this segment. When it comes to negatives, however, the Canyon is plagued with more than its fair share. For much of this truck's life, its standard four- and five-cylinder engines have been lacking in the power department, which has limited the truck's ability to comfortably haul cargo or tow heavy loads. Build quality is average at best, and many items within the truck's cabin feel flimsy and cheap.

Though the snazzy, affordably priced GMC Canyon will no doubt hold a certain charm for budget-conscious shoppers with an eye for style, we think most compact or midsize pickup truck buyers will be better served by more capable rivals like the Nissan Frontier or Toyota Tacoma.

Current GMC Canyon

Three configurations are available for the GMC Canyon: standard cab, extended cab and crew cab. Extended-cab and crew-cab models feature four doors; crew-cab Canyons have four standard-sized doors and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat that can seat three adults, while extended-cab versions offer two small reverse-opening doors and rear jump seats. Canyon crew cabs haul loads with a 5-foot bed, while the other two configurations get the job done with a bed that measures 6 feet.

Three trim levels are available: Work Truck (WT), SLE and SLT. WT models offer features like air-conditioning, cruise control and an AM/FM stereo. The Canyon SLE model adds an improved stereo and a more extensive options list, though power accessories are an extra-cost option on regular-cab SLEs (standard on extended-cab SLEs). The SLT steps it up with leather upholstery and power seats. There are also two optional suspension packages. The Z71 suspension improves the off-road performance of 4WD trucks, while the ZQ8 package for 2WD trucks enhances on-road handling and grip.

GMC Canyon buyers have a choice of three engines. A 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder produces 185 horsepower, and is standard on WT and SLE models. It comes with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder is more robust, offering 242 hp. Both a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic transmission are available. The available 5.3-liter V8 cranks out 300 hp. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are offered; the 4WD system has a dual-range transfer case and push-button controls.

The GMC Canyon has met with middling reviews from our editors. Its interior has been criticized for being below average in build and material quality. Its engines, too, have been panned as lackluster, though the optional V8 is possibly the most enjoyable engine in the compact truck segment. In consumer reviews, owners have praised the truck for its stylish exterior and quiet ride, but have expressed reservations about its build quality. In sum, unless you can't live without V8 power in your midsize truck, there are better choices.

Used GMC Canyon Models

The GMC Canyon was launched for the 2004 model year. It debuted with less powerful engines: a 175-hp, 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder and a 220-hp 3.5-liter inline-5. The ZQ8 package didn't become available until 2006, and the five-cylinder engine received a power boost to current levels in 2007, along with a revised four-speed automatic transmission with better shift quality. The V8 engine option didn't debut until 2009; this was also the first year for stability control and satellite radio.

Consumers shopping for a used GMC Canyon would probably be wise to expand their search to include its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Colorado, which offers basically the same attributes.

Read the most recent 2012 GMC Canyon review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used GMC Canyon page.

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