There’s never been a meaningful reason to choose any GMC pickup truck over its mechanically identical Chevrolet sibling. But that might be changing with GM’s latest generation of mid-size trucks, the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado, both of which are redesigned for 2023. The two are still twins underneath, but the Canyon now packages the Colorado’s best optional elements across its lineup, making it an enticing choice if you can stomach the price.
Both these trucks offer fewer configurations than before, with the regular-cab and long-bed options discontinued. That means a crew cab with a shorter five-foot bed is the only combination left, and a turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four is standard across the board. But while the Chevrolet offers five trim levels and three engine-output levels, GMC has simplified things even further. Every 2023 Canyon has the 2.7-liter’s top output configuration—producing 310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque—which costs extra on the Colorado and requires checking two separate boxes on most trim levels (the Chevy’s medium-output tune has the same 310 horsepower but less torque, at 391 pound-feet).
Four-wheel drive is also standard across the Canyon’s trim levels, save for the base Elevation. And every Canyon features the wider front track from the Colorado’s off-road-oriented trims, in addition to all-terrain tires. This gives the truck a mean-looking stance, although the funky split headlights may be more polarizing than the Chevy’s cleaner front-end look. Along with Elevation, there’s also the rugged-looking AT4 trim and the gussied-up Denali, which has nicer interior appointments and a healthy serving of chrome trim.
While the Colorado’s most off-road-ready ZR2 trim level was previously a Chevy exclusive, GMC now offers an equivalent: the Canyon AT4X. It has the same Multimatic spool-valve dampers, 33-inch tires, skid plates, and locking front and rear differentials. Like the ZR2, its rear dampers have been relocated outboard the frame rails and tight up against the wheels for better protection. We found it to be a highly capable 4×4 on the off-road trails GMC planned out for us, with plenty of ground clearance for larger obstacles and loads of low-end torque from the turbo four for getting unstuck. The AT4X also comes standard with all manner of off-road display screens and underbody cameras to keep you informed about your surroundings.
We like how the Canyon drives on the road too. Its tight suspension tuning combines with nicely weighted steering and a firm brake pedal to give it a remarkably solid and composed feel for a body-on-frame truck as capable as this. We already liked the way the old Colorado and Canyon drove, calling the Colorado “the best-driving body-on-frame vehicle on sale today” in 2019, and this new generation ups the refinement factor further. The turbo four is a bit grainy, and by GM’s own admission it’s tuned to feel somewhat like a diesel, but we like the shove of torque and we expect it to deliver 60-mph sprint times in the low- to mid-6.0-second range. The AT4X’s only real on-road compromise is the extra noise from its chunky tires.
GM hasn’t done much to improve upon the Canyon’s cramped interior; the rear seat remains tight and there aren’t many storage cubbies in the cabin. But the driving position is comfortable, and the dashboard has an appealing look with high-resolution screens for the digital gauge cluster and central infotainment display. The Denali and AT4X variants introduce quilted leather upholstery for a more upscale look, but they won’t quite be mistaken for luxury cars.
Unfortunately, the high-trim Canyons do carry luxury prices, going well into the $50,000 range and even exceeding $66,000 for a loaded AT4X with the Edition 1 package. At that point we’d probably start looking at more capable full-size trucks instead. Even the lower-end Canyon models are a bit more expensive than equivalently equipped Colorados, but now when you choose the GMC you’ll know that you’re getting the best configuration of GM’s mid-size pickup platform no matter the trim.
2023 GMC Canyon
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear- or rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
Base: 2WD Elevation, $38,395; 4WD Elevation, $41,695; AT4, $45,395; Denali, $52,495; AT4X, $56,995
Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 166 in3, 2727 cm3
Power: 310 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 430 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Wheelbase: 131.4 in
Length: 213.2–217.9 in
Width: 72.4 in
Height: 79.8–81.7 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 61/43 ft3
Curb Weight(C/D est): 4500–5250 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 6.0–6.5 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.0–14.0 sec
Top Speed: 100 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 18–20/17–18/20–23 mpg
Despite being raised on a steady diet of base-model Hondas and Toyotas—or perhaps because of it—Joey Capparella nonetheless cultivated an obsession for the automotive industry throughout his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee. He found a way to write about cars for the school newspaper during his college years at Rice University, which eventually led him to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for his first professional auto-writing gig at Automobile Magazine. He has been part of the Car and Driver team since 2016 and now lives in New York City.
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com