GMC Canyon — Living up to its premium billing

By Dvid Finkelstein

Some are suggesting that the GMC Canyon mid-size pickup truck is simply a glorified higher trim rendition of the same vehicle sold and badged as a Chevrolet Colorado. Well, the fact of the matter is that Canyon appears to be more refined on many fronts including the truck's drive and handling characteristics coupled with its totally quiet interior cabin.

Additionally, the Canyon is the segment’s only premium midsize truck. With ”premium” being the key-word here as it further raises the bar when it comes to everything from the engine's horsepower output to the truck's fuel efficiency. And don't try to cross-shop a similar truck over at Ford dealerships because they no longer offer a truck in this segment.

The new GMC pickup draws from its accolades. For example, the Canyon has received awards for being a leader in capability and safety features. It also leverages notable cargo-hauling and trailering versatility. The Canyon has also been honored for its best-in-class interior. The interior reflect a high degree of design harmony throughout, overall ergonomics, quality materials, seating comfort and driver information rolling technologies.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here, whereas Canyon is uniquely different than its sister product? Two engines are offered. the entry-level model is the 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four cylinder. If more acceleration, and performance is required with a higher degree of trailer tow capacity, I recommend the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine. It generates 305-horsepower. With the V6, this “personal size truck” has a remarkable trailer towing rating of 7,000 pounds. To safely tow that much weight, you'll also need to consider the factory-installed trailer towing option package.

The EPA fuel consumption numbers are among the best in the category. For instance, it's rated at 20-mpg city/27-mpg highway with the automatic transmission (two-wheel-drive) and the 2.5L engine. When equipped with the V6, EPA numbers show 18-city/26-highway, again, with 2WD and the 6-speed automatic. A six speed manual transmission is offered on entry-level level models. All build combinations have a 21-gallon fuel tank.

It was also brought to my attention that a new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel engine will be offered later in 2016. Canyon, which is manufactured just west of St Louis, is offered in the SL, SLE and SLT models and in 2WD and 4WD. An aggressively styled All-Terrain package is offered on SLE models. It includes 17-inch painted aluminum wheels wrapped with all-terrain tires, a body-color grille surround with horizontal chrome bars, a body-color rear bumper, front recovery hooks, hill descent control and specific suspension tuning. It also includes a power-adjustable front passenger seat.

Canyon is also the only truck in the segment to offer AutoTrac automatic four-wheel drive, which allows the driver to select "manual" 4WD engagement or "automatic"engagement. Its function is basically seamless.

Customer-focused technologies include available OnStar 4G LTE connectivity mobile Wi-Fi plus "segment-first" available driver alert features such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and a standard rear-vision camera system. The factory installed built-in Wi-Fi hot-spot provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hot-spot is active whenever the truck is running.  It comes with a three-month/three-gigabyte data trial, whichever comes first.

When it comes to the truck's capability, a superior ride and the best in technology and entertainment, nothing quite matches up to the overall qualities of the GMC Canyon. The interior is refined and has exceptional materials used to help in making a statement.

The truck's exterior has a commanding presence and footprint. The bold front-end styling incorporates standard projector beam headlamps and GMC’s LED signature lighting. Three body configurations are offered: An extended cab model with a 6’2” bed, a crew cab with a 5’2” bed, and a crew cab with a 6’2” bed. With the tailgate down, the longer bed allows eight-foot-long items to be hauled with ease.

From a refinement standpoint, the Canyon features triple-sealed doors inlaid in the body sides for improved aerodynamic performance and a quiet interior. It also features the segment’s first active aero grille shutters, which close at certain highway speeds to enhance efficiency through improved aerodynamics.

As with the full size pick ups from GM, an aluminum hood is used in order to help reduces mass and improves the front-to-rear weight balance. Six air bags, including head curtain side air bags are standard as is electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology and trailer sway control.

The model I drove had an MSRP of $41,785 after some additional options plus shipping and destination charges. The powertrain warranty blankets this 2015 Canyon for 5-years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first.