The midsize truck segment is one of the most competitive in the market. Hitting the sweet spot between efficiency and power, midsize trucks are some of the most versatile vehicles around, so it’s little wonder that it’s become such a hotly contested category as of late. Some automakers have struggled to make their midsize offerings stand out from the competition, but when you’re a brand that’s built its legacy around offering some of the most rugged, dependable, and luxurious trucks around, it’s a walk in the park. The 2022 GMC Canyon is the perfect example of a well-rounded pickup that doesn’t need to rely on gimmicks or splashy marketing campaigns to get drivers behind the wheel. With a strong selection of robust engines, sharp styling, a smooth ride, and a host of high-tech features, the 2022 Canyon sets a pretty high mark for the rest of the midsize segment.
Powerful Engine Options
Regardless of its ride comfort, infotainment features, cargo capacity, or styling, a pickup is always going to be judged first and foremost on what’s under the hood. As the veritable workhorse of the auto world, a pickup can get away with a lot just so long as it’s not perceived to be underpowered. In this respect, the GMC Canyon gets high marks. While the base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder option might not blow away drivers, it does the Canyon name proud while offering the best fuel efficiency of any of the traditional gas engines on offer for 2022. The base engine posts an estimated 19 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway, which, when outfitted with the standard 21-gallon fuel tank, gives the Canyon a range of more than 460 miles. It’s not afraid to take on a little work either, with the ability to tow 3,500 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,600 pounds.
The four-cylinder option goes a long way in keeping the base model Canyon’s price down and making it one of the more affordable midsize options on offer, but the V6 engine is the real standout in this year’s lineup. The 3.6-liter engine sees a 100-plus horsepower upgrade over the four-cylinder setup, boasting 308 ponies along with an impressive 275 lb-ft of torque. Pair this with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and you’ve got a responsive, peppy ride that will have no problem holding its own at highway speeds. How peppy? Well, the V6 can bring the 4,513-pound truck from zero to 60 in less than seven seconds. Surprisingly this larger engine doesn’t come at the cost of fuel efficiency, with the V6 lagging only marginally behind the four-cylinder engine at 18 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway when configured for two-wheel drive.
Of course, those seeking the ultimate in efficiency need look no further than GMC’s impressively thrifty 2.8-liter turbodiesel. With an estimated 20 MPG in the city and an almost unheard-of 30 MPG on the highway, the diesel provides the perfect option for drivers looking to save at the pump without a marked decrease in power. Sure, opting for the alternate fuel engine will add a couple thousand to the base price, but in an era of ever-rising gas prices, it’s looking like a better deal with every passing day. That diesel setup does wonders for the pickup’s towing capacity, which rockets to 7,700 lbs thanks to the engine’s considerable 369 lb-ft of torque.
Injecting Some Off-Road Fun
Off-road versions of popular trucks and SUVs are all the rage these days. Some brands have opted to split the difference with so-called “soft-roaders” which, while they might look the part, don’t offer all the heavy-duty components and performance tweaks that would allow them to truly excel in off-road scenarios. Then there are models like the GMC Canyon AT4. While it might not offer the same high-performance goodies as the hulking (and far more expensive) Ford Raptor or Ram TRX, it earns its spot in the midsize tier with a robust slate of dependable off-road features.
It starts with an Autotrac two-speed transfer case, which allows drivers to choose between 4HI and 4LO modes depending on what sort of off-road obstacles they might be facing. In 4LO mode, a lower gear ratio means higher torque and a slower output speed for the wheels, which is perfect for climbing steep inclines. 4HI mode improves traction at the cost of power and is ideal for slippery surfaces or getting yourself out of sticky scenarios like deep mud or snow. The AT4 also features a nifty automatic locking rear differential, which can engage four-wheel drive without any driver input when it detects rough or slippery conditions.
Drivers looking to truly optimize the AT4’s off-road credentials will want to investigate the available Off-Road Performance Edition package. Offered for an additional $3,195, this top-tier package includes all the bells and whistles that allow the Canyon to hold its own when the road gets rough. A front leveling kit adds one inch to the Canyon’s height which, along with performance front and mid skid plates and off-road rocker protection, represent the package’s biggest performance upgrades, but it doesn’t stop there. GMC has removed the chin spoiler as part of the Off-Road Performance Edition package, which might not seem like much, but goes a long way in bringing the truck’s approach angle up to 30 degrees. The package also includes a few thoughtful features to improve the pickup’s ruggedness, such as a spray-on bedliner, all-weather floor liners, black chrome exhaust tips, and eye-catching black AT4 badging throughout.
The AT4 version of the Canyon comes standard with a V6 engine (or optional Duramax turbodiesel), giving the pickup all the power it needs to navigate tricky off-road terrain. Perhaps one of the most notable features of this off-road model is what it can do on the road. That might seem a little antithetical, but too often when it comes to these off-road-inspired models, automakers fail to recognize that, regardless of how much drivers might wish otherwise, a majority of the time spent in the truck will take place on boring, old paved roads. GMC has made an effort to ensure the Canyon performs just as well in both scenarios, with the AT4 serving as a particularly telling example. The pickup provides an exceptionally smooth ride both off-road and on, despite the AT4’s massive 31-inch tires.
A Canyon for Everyone
The AT4 also looks every bit the off-roader with a bevy of stylish and functional components that go a long way in elevating it beyond the base model Canyon. From 17-inch Dark Argent Metallic cast aluminum wheels and red horizontal recovery hooks to the full-size spare with black finish and huge 31-inch Goodyear DuraTrac, the AT4 has a decidedly aggressive appearance and a host of high-end features that are right at home on the trail. But how does the rest of the Canyon lineup stack up?
The GMC Canyon is slated for a redesign in 2023, so the exterior design changes have been modest for the 2022 model year. As the affordable base model Canyon, the Elevation Standard trim is a little more pared-down than its contemporaries. That’s not to say it’s not stylish, but given the pickup’s modest sub-$30,000 starting price, we can’t really complain. The 18-inch black gloss aluminum wheels give the pickup a more aggressive, serious look, and a GMC CornerStep rear bumper is a thoughtful inclusion that makes loading up the bed easier than ever.
The Elevation trim stays true to its name, elevating the pickup over the standard trim with a host of new styling cues and features. These include LED fog lamps – the Elevation Standard opts for halogen bulbs – as well as a spotter mirror, heated exterior mirrors, and a sliding rear window. The trim also features a number of novel amenities that go a long way in expanding the pickup’s functionality, such as remote start, rear USB ports, and the EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate. Designed to make the grating noise of a slammed tailgate a thing of the past, this tailgate uses an internal torsion bar and rotary damper to ensure a slow, controlled lowering motion.
The Canyon Denali represents the upper end of the lineup with all the bells, whistles, and refinery one would expect at the 41k price point. The most obvious upgrade is the 20-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum wheels with painted accents, which go a long way in allowing the Canyon Denali to stand out from the competition. Chrome has always been a great way to set luxury vehicles apart, and GMC clearly got the memo with the inclusion of 5-inch chrome rectangular assist steps and chrome door handle.
The Denali trim also features a massive upgrade when it comes to interior tech with an 8-inch infotainment system and 4.2-inch color driver information center. The whole family will appreciate the bevy of USB ports, and bringing your own tunes along for the ride is easier than ever with an AUX input jack and SD card reader or HD Radio for when you just can’t decide on an album. The pickup also includes a host of advanced trailering and towing tech that will take a lot of stress out of your next camping or boating excursion with an HD rear vision camera, hitch guidance, and purpose-built tow/haul mode.
Another Strong Year for the GMC Canyon
2022 marks another strong showing for the Canyon, which doubles down on what it does best to give the rest of the midsize segment a run for its money. The truck’s V6 engine provides the ideal mixture of power and fuel efficiency and goes a long way in keeping the Canyon relevant in such a hotly contested market. The AT4 trim allows the Canyon to flex its off-road muscle with a host of thoughtful features that can make all the difference in challenging conditions. The off-road model balances this rugged performance with a smooth, responsive ride on paved surfaces, proving once again that GMC knows a thing or two when it comes to engineering the modern pickup. The automaker has provided plenty of options when it comes to building the truck of your dreams, and between the rugged AT4, luxurious Denali, and well-rounded Elevation, there’s a Canyon trim out there for every type of driver.