The 2021 GMC Canyon is the latest in a long line of compact GMC trucks. The S-15 was originally introduced in 1982 and was later renamed the Sonoma. The compact truck was a popular choice in the GMC fleet and remained in production as the Sonoma until it was replaced by the Canyon in 2004. With the Canyon offering more room and a new suite of standard features, the truck garnered praise over the next eight years before GMC discontinued the model in 2012. Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of the road for the Canyon as GMC debuted an all-new version in 2015 that paved the way for modern innovation in one of the top-selling small pickup trucks in the industry.
The 2021 Canyon is the culmination of that innovation and proves that a small truck can pack a powerful punch. Delivering up to 308 horsepower, the Canyon offers great capability at an affordable price, with the Canyon Elevation Standard starting at $26,400. While the models offer a variety of available features like the Driver Alert Package and a Bose Premium Audio System, the High Elevation Package is a popular addition and includes premium luxury features like a heated steering wheel, leather seats, and heated driver and front passenger seats.
The 2021 Canyon AT4 is designed for off-road adventures with its 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, Off-Road Suspension Package, four-wheel-drive, automatic locking rear differential, and two-speed AutoTrac transfer case. Starting at $38,200, the AT4 offers exclusive leather seating, embroidery, and Kalahari accents, as well as LED fog lamps and connectivity features like a wireless smartphone charging station. Of course, the ultimate in luxury is the 2021 Canyon Denali that starts at $40,900 and comes standard with 20-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum wheels, heated and ventilated leather seating, real wood trim, and a Bose Premium Audio System.
GMC offers three powertrain options across the Canyon lineup with the Canyon Elevation and Elevation Standard equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers a modest 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. This setup delivers an EPA estimated fuel economy of 19 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway with a maximum trailering capacity of 3,500 lbs. Drivers looking for more power can upgrade the Canyon Elevation powertrain to the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine, which is also available on the AT4 and the Denali trims. The diesel engine, which produces 181 horsepower, delivers the Canyon’s best torque rating of 369 lb-ft and its best trailering capacity of 7,700 lbs.
The most powerful engine in the lineup is the 3.6-liter V6 that is standard on the AT4 and Denali but is an available upgrade on the Elevation and Elevation Standard. The powertrain produces 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque with a maximum trailering capacity of 7,000 lbs. This power doesn’t come at the cost of fuel economy either, with the V6 averaging 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway on two-wheel-drive models and 17 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway on four-wheel-drive models.
When it comes to capability, these powertrains make the Canyon a powerful performer, but there’s no question that the Canyon AT4 offers the best performance off the pavement. The AT4 is designed to chase adventures and blaze new trails, which is why it’s equipped with the largest tires in the lineup - 31-inch Goodyear DuraTracs that beg to be taken off-road. This rugged capability goes even further with the Off-Road Performance Package, the StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control System that adjusts torque, Duralife corrosion-resistant brake rotors, and an automatic rear locking differential that maximizes traction.
The AT4’s Off-Road Performance Package ensures the Canyon is always ready and equipped for adventure and includes a factor suspension lift straight from the factory. The package also outfits the Canyon with performance-grade front and middle skid plates as well as an off-road rocker panel protector. Exclusive 17-inch gloss black wheels give the AT4 a distinct look along with the gloss black performance exhaust tip and the carbon black AT4 logos. Additional features in the package include accessory floor liners and a GMC spray-in bed liner.
Small but mighty, the 2021 GMC Canyon is also one of the best-looking trucks on the road, with a modern exterior and interior that proves drivers can have a truck that’s both rugged and luxurious. The Canyon creates a bold statement across every trim level, giving drivers options such as exclusive 18-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, a body-color grille surround and bumpers, or red recovery hooks. The AT4 obviously sits higher with its factory suspension lift and 31-inch tires that give it an imposing and rugged appearance, while the Denali boasts exclusive features like chrome exterior accents, 5-inch chrome assist steps, Denali badging, and diamond-cut machined aluminum wheels.
Another notable exterior feature on the Canyon is the available EZ-Lift and Lower Tailgate. Drivers no longer have to struggle with opening or closing the tailgate thanks to the internal torsion bar that gives the EZ-Lift and Lower Tailgate its name. The tailgate can also be locked and unlocked remotely with the key fob. Beyond the tailgate, GMC offers a spray-on bed liner that adds to the Canyon’s rugged capability as well as 13 upper tie-downs that can be used to haul cargo safely.
While the exterior of the Canyon epitomizes ruggedness, the interior is exactly the opposite and offers the utmost in comfort and style. Although the Canyon is a small pickup truck, it can comfortably seat five in its Crew Cab configuration. It also offers plenty of storage space throughout the cabin, from the large center console to the hidden storage compartment under the rear-folding split-bench seat.
The Canyon trims also offer specific interior comforts. The Canyon High Elevation Package offers premium features like leather seating, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a power driver seat with lumbar control. The AT4 boasts AT4-exclusive leather seats and embroidered head restraints. The Canyon Denali offers the utmost in luxury with perforated leather seating with Denali exclusive stitching and real ash wood trim for a luxurious and sophisticated look.
GMC equips the Canyon with the latest safety and connectivity features to ensure drivers have everything they need at their fingertips. At the heart of the Canyon’s connectivity is the GMC Infotainment System that’s available on an 8-in touchscreen display. The system gives drivers access to in-vehicle apps, navigation, and an available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Drivers can enhance these connectivity features with options like a wireless smartphone charging station, power outlets and USB ports, an available high-definition rear-vision camera, Amazon Alexa Built-In, and access to the myGMC mobile app.
Safety is also a top priority for GMC, and that’s reflected in the Canyon’s suite of advanced driver assistance and safety features. These features begin with the Driver Alert Package that includes tools like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Park Assist. These tools take the stress out of parking and cruising at highway speeds in addition to preventing or minimizing collisions. Rear Park Assist provides distance alerts to objects around the truck to help drivers navigate tight parking spaces or busy areas. The Lane Departure Warning alerts the driver when the truck unintentionally drifts from its lane without the use of a turn signal, and Forward Collision Alert keeps you from unintentionally tailgating.
GMC takes its safety features one step further with innovative Teen Driver technology that encourages safe and responsible driving habits in new drivers. The tool features Buckle-to-Drive technology that prevents the driver from shifting the truck out of Park and into Drive for 20 seconds if the driver’s seat belt is not yet fastened. The system also mutes the audio until the driver and front passenger seat belts are buckled. Once a drive is complete, the feature provides an in-vehicle report card that gives users a better view of driving habits that may need improvement.