A white 2022 GMC Canyon is shown driving up a rocky path.

Racing to the Trail: The 2022 GMC Canyon vs 2022 Nissan Frontier

What’s one of the most popular trucks you’ll find on the trail? The Toyota Tacoma, affectionately known as the “Taco” among off-roaders, is the first truck that typically comes to mind. GMC and Nissan, however, are determined to change that. Slating the 2022 GMC Canyon vs 2022 Nissan Frontier shows us exactly how.

Models like the 2022 Canyon AT4 and the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X roll straight off the production line ready for the trail. This means less downtime spent modifying the truck to your needs and more time to do what you love – navigating new terrain. That, of course, begs the question, “Which truck is better: the 2022 Canyon AT4 or the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X?” Answering that starts by understanding exactly what you’re getting in these trail-ready road warriors.

Engine Options

GMC recognizes firsthand that the Canyon AT4 has a variety of needs to meet, which is why the automaker gives you a two-engine powertrain lineup. The Canyon’s base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, which isn’t quite capable enough for the trail. That is why the Canyon AT4 comes with a standard 3.6-liter V6 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and sends the AT4’s power to its peak at 308 horses and 275 lb-ft of torque. You’ll find even more pulling power with the optional 2.8-liter Turbo-Diesel, which delivers 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. This range of power and capability extends the AT4’s versatility and allows it to effortlessly satisfy the demands of your workweek and your weekend.

With Nissan waiting nearly two decades to update the Frontier, it’s surprising that the automaker doesn’t offer more than one powertrain for the lineup. The PRO-4X comes equipped with the Frontier’s standard 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. This pairing delivers 310 horsepower, only slightly more than the AT4, and 281 lb-ft of torque. The Frontier’s V6 engine is responsible for the truck’s 6,720-pound maximum towing capacity, which is significantly less than the best-in-class 7,700 pounds the Canyon is capable of pulling.

A grey 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is shown during a 2022 GMC Canyon vs 2022 Nissan Frontier comparison.

Off-Road Components

What truly sets trucks like the 2022 Canyon AT4 and the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X apart from the rest of their fleets are the off-road components that ready them for the trail. For GMC, those components start with the AT4’s exclusive off-road suspension and renowned four-wheel-drive system with its two-speed AutoTrac transfer case and automatic locking rear differential, making the AT4 capable on any terrain. Sitting on 31-inch Goodyear DuraTrac tires and 17-inch Gloss Black wheels, the AT4 also comes with tools like Advanced Hill Descent Control that engineer greater confidence when you’re descending steep terrain.

GMC gives you the opportunity to extend the AT4’s capability to the next level with the available AT4 Off-Road Performance Package that adds a suspension leveling kit and removes the front air dam for improved ground clearance. Navigating rocky terrain or obstacles isn’t a concern since the package adds performance front and mid skid plates as well as an off-road rocker panel protector. The package also distinguishes the AT4 with a few aesthetic updates like Carbon Black AT4 badging, a gloss black performance exhaust tip, all-weather floor liners, and a spray-in bedliner that improves the durability of the bed.

Like the AT4, the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X is off-road ready from the factory. Nissan’s trail-runner sits on 17-inch painted aluminum-alloy wheels and all-terrain tires. It comes equipped with Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, an electronic locking rear differential, and underbody skid plates that protect the fuel tank, oil pan, and transfer case. These features are comparable to GMC’s Canyon AT4; however, you’ll find there are no options for further customization like what GMC offers with the AT4 Off-Road Performance Package. This means that any suspension leveling kit or aesthetic updates are dependent on aftermarket modifications.

On and Off-Road Technology

One of the most attractive features of buying a truck like the 2022 Canyon AT4 or the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X is enjoying the latest technology long after the pavement ends. This technology extends from the infotainment system and smartphone integration to navigation, safety, and driver-assist tools, all of which you’ll find on both the AT4 and the PRO-4X. This means you’ll stay connected, informed, and safe whether you’re cruising the highway, running errands in town, or exploring new terrain.

On the 2022 Canyon AT4, this technology is centralized in the standard 7-inch or available 8-inch color touchscreen display that’s home to the GMC infotainment system. The system gives you access to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration, which puts your favorite apps at your fingertips. You’ll also enjoy an available WiFi hotspot, navigation, and Amazon Alexa, the latter of which equips the AT4 with a virtual assistant that can navigate the quickest route, make phone calls, respond to text messages, stream your favorite music, and control your smart-home devices with simple voice commands.

Beyond the infotainment system, the AT4’s technology extends to its driver-assist and safety tools. Every AT4 is equipped with a rear vision camera, which you can upgrade to the HD Rear Vision Camera for an exceptional view behind the truck whether you’re backing out of a parking space or maneuvering out of a dicey situation on the trail. You’ll find plenty of other standard and available safety and driver-assist tools like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Park Assist, and Teen Driver that extend your peace of mind on any road.

Like the Canyon AT4, the Frontier PRO-4X offers plenty of connectivity, safety, and driver-assist tools that add to the truck’s versatility. The PRO-4X is equipped with a 9-inch touchscreen display that gives you access to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The available WiFi hotspot turns the truck into a mobile office or entertainment venue, while the available navigation system gets you from Point A to Point B with ease. The screen is also home to Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode that gives you a unique view outside the truck when you’re on the trail.

A white 2022 GMC Canyon is shown from a rear angle driving through a grassy field.

The Trail Is Calling. How Will You Answer?

There’s no question that the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 and the 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X are capable trailrunners and versatile workhorses. The Canyon and Frontier can easily meet the demands of your daily life and match your sense of adventure long after the pavement ends. They are the perfect midsize trucks, and that makes both the Canyon and the Frontier two of the best options in the segment. It also makes it harder to choose one over the other, but it has to be done.

While the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X offers many attractive features, there is a significant fact to take into consideration. Nissan waited nearly two decades to update the Frontier, leaving the truck outdated and in need of many modifications for much of its lifetime. In contrast, GMC proves its ability to evolve and meet the demands of its drivers by frequently updating the Canyon with the latest technology, features, and capability.

If you choose the Frontier PRO-4X, are you willing to wait another decade to enjoy newer features and technology or, will you drive the Frontier for a few years before trading for a different model? When shopping for a truck that can easily meet the demands of your life and your sense of adventure, a truck like the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 is both practical and fun. You know exactly what you’re getting with the GMC brand, and that’s an evolution of technology and capability that will continue to meet your needs and exceed all your expectations.