2012 GMC Canyon Review

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • composed on- and off-road handling
  • varied engine choices.
  • Base engine lacks power
  • spartan seat comfort
  • subpar build quality
  • aging design
  • disappointing crash test scores.
List Price Estimate
$6,065 - $8,476

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 GMC Canyon looks sharp and offers good light-duty pickup truck value. But in just about every other area, it doesn't measure up to its competition.

Vehicle overview

Buyers looking for a compact or midsize pickup typically want rugged styling, multiple engine and body styles, and optional four-wheel-drive and off-road packages. The 2012 GMC Canyon meets all the criteria, yet is still a truck we hesitate to recommend. It simply lacks the overall refinement and creature comforts of contemporary rivals.

The Canyon's largest obstacles are its aging cabin and subpar materials. We're loath to cynically call the Canyon fleet fodder, but its dated and uninspiring interior makes almost no pretense of trying to compete. Lackluster performance from its base engines, including a five-cylinder that pales against competitive V6s, reinforces our suspicions. Still, the base four-cylinder is competent enough for light around-town duty, and there's also a stout, very capable -- and very thirsty -- V8.

The Canyon does offer a solid build and sharp looks, and if you must have a strapping V8 in a compact package, only the Dodge Dakota comes close. But models like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are better in nearly every regard.

2012 GMC Canyon models

The 2012 GMC Canyon is a compact/midsize pickup offered in three body styles -- regular cab, extended cab (with small rear access doors) and crew cab (with four regular doors) -- and in three different trim levels: Work Truck, SLE and SLT. Canyon crew cab models come equipped with 5-foot cargo boxes, while other models feature a 6-foot box. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is available on all models. The SLT is available only with 4WD.

Standard features on Work Trucks include 16-inch wheels, a bedliner, skid plates on 4WD models, a 60/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, six months complimentary OnStar Directions and Connections service, and an AM/FM stereo.

SLE models add foglights, tinted rear glass, chrome interior accents, power accessories, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, front bucket seats and an AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio and three months complimentary service.

The top-line SLT includes all of the above and adds 17-inch chrome wheels, skid plates, a heavy-duty suspension and heated leather front bucket seats with eight-way adjustment for the driver.

An off-road suspension package, standard on SLE extended cab and SLT models and optional on all but regular cab SLE models, includes 17-inch wheels, beefier components and a locking rear differential.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 GMC Canyon adds front bucket seats to midlevel trims and makes an automatic locking rear differential standard on 4WD and Crew Cab models.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 GMC Canyon offers three engines. A 2.9-liter four-cylinder generating 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque is the base engine for Work Truck and SLE-1 models. A 3.7-liter five-cylinder that produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque comes standard on SLE-2 and SLT models (and is optional on the SLE-1).

A 5.3-liter V8 rated at 300 hp/320 lb-ft is available for SLT and SLE-1 Crew Cab and two-wheel-drive extended cab models. Regular cab Work Trucks get a five-speed manual transmission standard, and a four-speed automatic is available. All other models get the four-speed automatic.

Four-wheel-drive models feature a two-speed transfer case with dash-mounted controls and an automatic locking rear differential (the latter is also standard an all Crew Cab models).

EPA estimated fuel economy ranges from 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 combined on four-cylinder regular and crew cabs, to 14 mpg city/19 highway and 16 mpg combined on V8 4WD crew cabs with an automatic transmission. A properly equipped V8-powered Canyon can tow up to 6,000 pounds.


The 2012 GMC Canyon comes standard with the OnStar emergency communications system, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and head curtain airbags.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Canyon extended cab received a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset collisions, while the crew cab earned a second-best "Acceptable." For side-impact protection, however, the crew cab received the lowest rating of "Poor."


The 2012 GMC Canyon's cabin is quiet enough around town, but leaks significant wind noise at highway speeds. The four- and five-cylinder engines operate smoothly, but are several lengths behind the V6s offered by competitors. The four-speed automatic offers easy, well-timed shifts.

The 5.3-liter V8 unsurprisingly offers the best power and towing ability, putting the Canyon on par with the brawny V8 Dodge Dakota, but it packs a commensurate thirst as well.


Although the Canyon looks handsome from the outside, sharing chiseled cues with the full-size Sierra, the cabin is a bit dated. As competitors increasingly refine their interiors, however, the Canyon forges ahead with mediocre cab materials, plenty of hard plastic trim and seating that's short on support or long-haul comfort.

Controls and instruments are arranged in logical fashion, however, with thick, chunky knobs designed to accommodate work-gloved fingers. There's also generous legroom up front. Rear-seat passengers in extended cab models will twist and bend to reach the back row, and once back there won't find a ton of elbow- or legroom.

Outside, the Canyon's removable tailgate can be set partially open, on an equal plane with the tops of the wheelwells, allowing for a flat load area for longer items or 4x8 panels.

2021 Canyon Elevation
Elevation Standard and Elevation


starting price
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*The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 GMC Canyon.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

ONLY small pickup that can be towed.
Never figgered out why other companies build auto transmissions that CANNOT allow people to tow the vehicle with all four wheels down. And Edminds NEVER mentions it as a HUGE advantage of GM vehicles. There are a BUNCH or RV'ers out there who buy Canyon and Colorado SOLEY due to this characteristic. Otherwise, it is a small pickup. What do you expect ? Since the S-10 got dumped, it's the only game in town.
This is a Great Little Truck
john r. page,04/19/2017
SLE-1 4dr Crew Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A)
It has its "act together."


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover18.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 GMC Canyon

Used 2012 GMC Canyon Overview

The Used 2012 GMC Canyon is offered in the following submodels: Canyon Crew Cab, Canyon Regular Cab, Canyon Extended Cab. Available styles include SLT 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A), SLE-2 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 5M), SLE-1 4dr Extended Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), SLE-2 4dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A), SLE-1 4dr Crew Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), SLE-1 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), SLE-1 4dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (2.9L 4cyl 4A), SLE-2 4dr Crew Cab SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A), SLE-1 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A), and SLE-1 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.7L 5cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 GMC Canyon?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 GMC Canyon trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 GMC Canyon SLE-1 is priced between $15,850 and$15,850 with odometer readings between 68303 and68303 miles.

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Which used 2012 GMC Canyons are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2012 GMC Canyons you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Canyon for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $17,019.

Find a used GMC for sale - 11 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $21,976.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC Canyon for sale - 3 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $24,988.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC for sale - 3 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $10,877.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 GMC Canyon?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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