2008 GMC Canyon Review
2008 GMC Canyon Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Affordable, composed handling on- and off-road, good crash test scores.
- Engines lack power compared to rivals, mediocre towing capacity, subpar fit and finish, awkwardly shaped seats.
The 2008 GMC Canyon is largely unchanged from last year.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2008 GMC Canyon Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.56 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$215/mo for Canyon Work Truck
Canyon Work Truck
Avg. Compact Truck
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
2008 GMC Canyon models
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.
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.5 out of 5 stars
So far so good
2007 GMC Canyon SLE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A)
Overall an excellent vehicle. Very fun to drive. I expected a little bit better gas mileage given the 5 cyl. only getting 19 MPG, same as my full size truck got! interior comfortable front seat, wish the passager side seat had the lumbar support like the driver. The interior could have used some courtesy lighting for at night, can't find anything in the dark without having to turn on the … dome light. Given the size of the competitors small trucks GM could have given the crew cab a longer bed than the 5 feet. I wish the rear seats had just a little more angle to the backs of the seats just a few degrees too vertical. Overall nice quiet ride. i would reccomend to others
4.75 out of 5 stars
Nice Little Ride
2008 GMC Canyon SLE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A)
Purchased the 2008 SLT Crew Cab 5cyl 4WD Dec 4th, 2007. To date we have around 6000 miles from 60 miles/day commute. Initial gas mileage was avg, but has steadily increased after continued break-in. Don't expect great mpg due to weight, but to date at 16mpg hwy. Will get cold air induction, better plugs, and go to synthetic old to eek out some more mpg. Build quality good, but sparse. … This is your basic truck. Throw about 10k more for full size goodies and vanity mirrors. Nothing broke to date. Fun vehicle to drive, but turns like a ship. I hope GM fixes this and gets 5speed tranny. Roomy interior and ample hauling capability. Satisfied with money spent.
4 out of 5 stars
Nice Truck at a Reasonable Price
GMC Owner, 07/13/2009
2008 GMC Canyon SL 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 5M)
I previously owned a 4 cylinder, manual 5-speed S-10 with 118 hp, and it was running perfectly with 180,000 miles when I bought this new GMC. THE S-10 total cost of repair was less than $1,000 during the time I had it, and I hope this GMC can get close to that. The 242 hp of the GMC Canyon is a big improvement, and I don't have to worry about keeping up with traffic on steep freeway … hills anymore. The suspension is awesome compared to the S-10. The drastically increased power, and much better braking make the truck fun to drive. I get about 25 mpg highway and about 16 mpg city. In contrast, my S-10 got about 31 highway and 22 city.
4.88 out of 5 stars
2008 GMC Canyon SLE Crew Cab 4cyl
2008 GMC Canyon SLE 4dr Crew Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A)
I've had this truck for almost 2 mos. now. It replaced my 1995 Chevy p/u that had just under 370K miles on it. I was quite please with the price paid (just over 18K after rebates & GM card bonus for a base model w/ tow package) and the buying experience at the dealership. The truck itself is the best buy out there for the money. In my opinion, the 4 cyl is not much different … power-wise from the 5 cyl (I test drove both) and the gas mileage is great (have been averaging 22-23mpg in mixed city-highway driving). Plus, the 4cyl was much quieter than the 5 cyl. The interior is very nice and well-laid out. There is plenty of room for five people. It rides like a dream. Great job GM!
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2008 GMC Canyon, so we've included reviews for other years of the Canyon since its last redesign.
2008 Canyon Highlights
|Combined MPG||20 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$215/month|
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Max Towing Capacity||5,500 lbs.|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5PassengerNot Rated
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintMarginal