The 2023 GMC Canyon Takes the Best from the Colorado
The 2023 GMC Canyon starts at $38,890 for the base Elevation models, with top-flight AT4X Edition 1 models starting at $64,845.
The GMC Canyon’s standard and exclusive powertrain is a 2.7-liter turbocharged I4 that makes 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque.
The only two-wheel-drive available Canyon sits at the bottom Elevation trim, with four-wheel drive becoming standard on AT4 and Denali models.
It’s no mystery that GMC and Chevrolet trucks share a lot of the same hardware, which has been the case for a long time. While these two brands do share a good amount of parts, technology, and design, the two main truck arms of General Motors do have some reasonable differences. The latest generation of Canyon and Colorado trucks makes this split with standard features, and, subsequently, their respective base prices. The Canyon bunches together most of the features you want from the Colorado and packages them in a similarly styled shell.
Arguably the biggest shift on the options sheet between the two trucks is under the hood. While the Colorado has the same 2.7-liter turbocharged I4 as the Canyon, the Colorado has three power levels. Under the GMC Canyon’s hood is just the 310-hp and 430-lb-ft of torque variant, which pulls double duty as the top-rung powertrain in the Colorado. This I4 feeds an eight-speed automatic transmission, which moves power to either the rear wheels or all four wheels if you put the suitably equipped truck into four-high or four-low.
While the small Duramax diesel is missed because of how interesting it made previous-generation trucks, it’s hard to mourn the departed 3.6-liter V6. While the V6 had a more natural throttle progression, the turbocharged 2.7-liter mill under the hood of the ‘23 Canyon has noticeably more power when the turbocharger spools up.
Even though the peak torque is at 3000 rpm, you will notice that surge while rolling onto the throttle. If you’re a fan of induction or turbocharger noise, you’ll find that too. The Canyon doesn’t hide the induction noise and lets the driver know when the turbo starts force-feeding the engine.
On the road, the wide track Canyon feels, well, wide. The truck’s narrowest available 66-inch track width is wider than the base-model Colorado. You’ll find the widest track (66.3 inches) on the off-road focused AT4X model, with the regular AT4 still sporting a 66.1-inch track width. That wide track gives the Canyon a solid footprint on gravel and mud but also might make it challenging in narrow passes. More importantly, on the road, the wider and taller AT4 and AT4X models feel larger than even their numbers suggest.
Despite feeling large on the road, the Canyon drives well. The steering is light and the only major hiccup stems from an odd decision from General Motors. Instead of having a standalone headlight switch, which has been a feature on most cars since the dawn of electric light, the design team integrated the Canyon’s headlight switch into the central media touchscreen.
If you’re wondering, yes, it is annoying. Though most will leave the switch set to automatic mode, you’ll become aware of the light sensor lag when heading into unlit tunnels. The system likely works better in the slower transition from night to day, but it doesn’t work well in tunnels.
Inside, the Canyon’s cabin is comfortable. The upmarket Denali might not be as posh as some might expect, but it’s a big step up from its GMC Sonoma origins. Ahead of the driver, base Elevation and AT4 owners will see an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, which is flanked by a standard 11.3-inch touchscreen.
Denali and AT4X owners see a bump in the instrument cluster’s screen to 11.0 inches. Though, both instrument clusters work well at telling you your speed and relaying any information you need. While the large infotainment screen is confusingly home to the headlight switch, it’s also home to the off-road camera feed.
The GMC Canyon’s off-road camera is exceptional. While taking the Canyon AT4X through some mountain trails, the camera system helped overcome the high hood height and gives confidence to the driver. The low-mounted front view camera also has a washer to clear away any debris that might obstruct its vision. It’s worth noting that using the camera washer is fun, and you might want to keep curious passengers away, lest you run through all of its washer fluid.
Overall, the Canyon picks up where the previous generation left off: It’s a well-styled, easy-driving rig. The additional consumer-facing tech makes the truck an even more attractive option in a midsize truck field that is heating up.
Oh, and the price. While the more pedestrian Colorado from Chevrolet starts at $30,695 for its stripped-down WT variant, the more upmarket Canyon starts at $38,890. This step up brings a lot of extra content, but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the extra monthly payment.
What do you think of the new GMC Canyon? Can it dethrone the Toyota Tacoma? Tell us your thoughts below.