A red 2019 GMC Canyon, which wins when comparing the 2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Nissan Frontier, is on a lake shore.

2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Nissan Frontier: The Perfect Everyday Midsize Pickup


Are you one of the growing number of people looking at a pickup truck as an everyday vehicle? If so, you have quite the market to choose from. Most every automaker out there has at least one pickup truck in its lineup, and some have multiple. Some are known for their pickup trucks and focus most of their research and development on them. GMC is one such company. They don’t make cars, so they have a lot of time for their pickup trucks. One look at the 2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Nissan Frontier makes that pretty clear.

These mid-sized pickup trucks have a lot to offer a potential buyer. They are not as large and bulky as some of the larger, more well-known pickup trucks out there. They are a little more agile and have better fuel economy. They might not be able to haul or tow the greater amounts, but they are still quite utile. If you are looking at the trucks that have maximum tow ratings or can haul off a lot of equipment in the cargo bed, these might not be the trucks for you. But they are still very useful pickup trucks.

One, however, is a little better across the important statistical categories than the other. The 2019 GMC Canyon beats out the 2019 Nissan Frontier in all the places it really counts. Read on to see what we mean.


Both the 2019 GMC Canyon and the 2019 Nissan Frontier have two available gasoline engines. The 2019 GMC Canyon also has a turbo diesel engine, but we will cover that in a little bit. The base engine on the 2019 GMC Canyon is a 2.5 liter inline 4-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. The base engine on the 2019 Nissan Frontier is also a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder, but it falls short of the overall power in the Canyon, with only 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque.

If you want to upgrade the engine on one of the higher trim levels offered on either the 2019 GMC Canyon or the 2019 Nissan Frontier, you can. Both of these engines are markedly stronger, with the 2019 GMC Canyon offering a 3.6 liter V6 that has 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. The 2019 Nissan Frontiers upgraded engine is a 4.0 liter V6 with 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. Again, the 2019 GMC Canyon has the far better engine, with the Frontier having only more torque by the smallest imaginable margin.

What the 2019 Nissan Frontier does not offer is a diesel option. The 2019 GMC Canyon does, and it is a powerful engine that also gets great fuel economy. This engine is a 2.8-liter turbo diesel with 181 horsepower and a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque. That is far more torque than any of the other engines, and it enables the 2019 GMC Canyon to tow up to 7,700 pounds. The 2019 Nissan Frontier maxes out at 6,720 pounds. The Canyon also gets up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway, whereas the best the 2019 Nissan Frontier can do is 23 miles per gallon with the base engine.

Not only does the 2019 GMC Canyon have more engine options, but all three are also better options than either of the ones on the 2019 Nissan Frontier. This round goes to the 2019 GMC Canyon.

Cargo Bed

The cargo bed of the 2019 GMC Canyon is shown.

If you are not into suspense, we can go ahead and save you some trouble. The 2019 GMC Canyon will win this round, too. The cargo bed is bigger in nearly every aspect, can hold more weight and is more easily accessible than the 2019 Nissan Frontier.

Due to the fact that pickup trucks have different cab sizes and different available bed sizes, each truck has a lot of different configurations, so pure side-by-side comparisons are not always fair. Numbers will change depending on which configuration you choose. If you are looking more for interior comfort, you might not care that the 2019 GMC Canyon can hold more cargo in the back. If you are more concerned about how much you can haul, you might not care that the 2019 Nissan Frontier has a more spacious and comfortable rear seat. Then again, you might.

So, we will take the Crew Cab option with a long bed as an example. On the 2019 GMC Canyon, you will get an overall length of 74 inches, compared to 73.3 inches on the 2019 Nissan Frontier. That is virtually the same. The short bed, on the other hand, is more than two inches longer on the 2019 GMC Canyon, at 61.7 inches to 59.5 inches for the 2019 Nissan Frontier.

The real difference is in how much room each has for your cargo. The 2019 GMC Canyon Crew Cab long bed has 49.9 cubic feet of space, whereas the 2019 Nissan Frontier has only 33.5 cubic feet. The Canyon also has a higher maximum weight capacity, at 1,605 pounds to 1,460 pounds. Those are huge differences and make a real impact on how you view which truck to get.

As if the numbers were not enough, the 2019 GMC Canyon has two features not found on the bed of the 2019 Nissan Frontier that might be huge selling points to the right buyer. The Canyon offers tailgate assist, which can automatically raise or lower the tailgate, minimizing the risk for injury and maximizing the ease of use. The Canyon also has a standard corner step built into the truck’s frame, making it easier to get into the bed, if necessary. The 2019 Nissan Frontier offers neither of these conveniences.

Safety Measures

Both the 2019 GMC Canyon and the 2019 Nissan Frontier have a ton of safety features you would expect on a truck like these. They both offer plenty of airbags, a rearview camera, plastic gas tanks, traction control, and more. However, the 2019 GMC Canyon has quite a few safety features that are not found at all in the 2019 Nissan Frontier. Some of these include a back seat reminder, which will sound an alarm if it believes you have left something (or someone) in the rear seat; Collision Warning, which will flash a light and give an audible warning if it detects an impending collision; and daytime running lights, which have been shown to raise awareness of other drivers and lower collisions.

Additionally, the 2019 GMC Canyon scored higher on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s tests than the 2019 Nissan Frontier did across the board. Canyon 3, Frontier 0.

Even after all that, it is at first somewhat shocking that the Frontier outsold the Canyon by more than 2:1 last year. Then, you remember – the GMC Canyon has a twin brother, the Chevrolet Colorado. They are virtually identical, especially mechanically.  A lot of the market for a truck like this might go with the greater name recognition. Unfortunately for GMC, that means Chevy. Fortunately for General Motors, though, who owns both Chevy and GMC, the combined sales numbers for the Canyon/Colorado was nearly twice what the Nissan Frontier put up. That makes a little more sense.