2018 Canyon New Car Test Drive
The GMC Canyon is a rear-wheel-drive midsize pickup truck with the smooth ride and comfortable cabin of a car. Four-wheel drive is available, with an automatic mode that works like all-wheel drive in cars. Competitors include the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and the Chevrolet Colorado.
Arguably the best in the class, Canyon and Colorado are built on a traditional truck frame. Structurally and mechanically, the GMC and Chevy are nearly identical but differ in styling, trim and some features.
For 2017, Canyon got a new 3.6-liter V6 with a new 8-speed automatic, to add to the base 2.5-liter four cylinder with a 6-speed. For 2018 there are only a couple of small changes. Leather seats are added to the All Terrain offroad package, and a warning light for the windshield washer fluid level is now standard.
The four-cylinder engine makes 200 horsepower and is remarkably adequate for most needs, while its 6-speed automatic shifts quickly.
Best fuel mileage (an EPA 25 Combined mpg) and towing (up to 7700 pounds) comes from a 2WD 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes an enormous amount of torque, but it's expensive.
The base four-cylinder is rated by EPA at 22 Combined mpg with the 6-speed automatic, 1 mpg less with the manual transmission. With the V6 and all-wheel drive, it gets 19 mpg. It uses a cylinder deactivation system that cuts two cylinders when the throttle is light or backed off.
Canyon comes as an extended cab, with rear-hinged rear doors and a small bench seat in the back that can fit groceries or two child seats; or a crew cab, with four full-sized doors and seating for two adults in the rear. The bed lengths are 6-foot, 2-inch and 5-foot, 2-inch.
Standard safety features include six airbags and a rearview camera, oversized sideview mirrors, and trailer sway control. Forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are available, rare features for a midsize pickup. NHTSA gives the Canyon four stars overall in safety, while the IIHS has only tested it for frontal impact, giving it the top score.
The 2018 GMC Canyon comes in SL, base, SLE, SLT, and Denali, along with many cabin and powertrain configurations. The SL is priced at a bargain-basement $21,085, and the upscale Denali with 4WD tops the line at more than twice that, $43,570. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charges.)
Standard equipment on the base includes air conditioning, power windows, power driver's seat, and USB port. The base and SL are largely the same, except the SL is intended for more primitive work, with vinyl flooring instead of carpeting, and fewer features.
Canyon SLE adds an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control, and other features. More options are available for the SLE, including an All Terrain X package for offroad that includes skid plates, hill descent control, and all-terrain tires. Plus leather upholstery, new for 2018.
Canyon SLT, with heated leather seating surfaces and automatic climate control, was bumped out of the top luxury spot by the Denali, with cooled seats and a heated steering wheel.