2015 GMC Canyon Crew 4×4: Is It the Right Size for the Job? [Review]

2015 GMC Canyon 4x4 crew cab 4wd slt long bed review arv voss
2015 GMC Canyon

GMC’s “Professional Grade” re-enters the mid-size truck arena with an ideal sized pickup. This follows a lengthy hiatus from the mid-size marketplace. Over the past nine-year period, the only light-duty haulers in this segment have been Nissan’s Frontier lineup and models in Toyota’s Tacoma stable, and they displayed very little change or progression in their development. General Motors now enters the scene with two very advanced and capable mid-size, light duty trucks for 2015 – The Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon. Both these new ”pick’em-ups” are attractive and may well carry more appeal than their full-size lineup of trucks. After all, not everyone needs a full-size truck, but many would like to add a truck to their personal garage inventory for practical reasons, such as the unprecedented power, improved fuel economy, increased towing and payload capacity served up by these new GM offerings that also deliver good looks and refinement in a more appropriately sized package.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price hp/ lb-ft
2015 GMC Canyon 4WD SLT Crew Long Box $37,250. $40,060. 305 @ 6,800 rpm / 269 @ 4,000 rpm
EPA Rating As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway Not tested

Chevrolet trucks have most often been perceived as the working class man’s vehicle of choice, while GMC haulers portray a more sophisticated and advanced or “Professional Grade” image. Hey, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Bowtie fans will probably not be drawn to the new GMC trucks and the same case may be made for GMC devotees who will be unlikely to cross shop to the Chevy side, as they consider GMC to be a more premium vehicle.

These latest, all-new iteration GMC Canyon mid-size pickups will come with a variety of choices: two body styles or cab configurations are available: an extended cab; or a Crew Cab, and there are also two box or bed lengths available: a 5’2” box for the Crew Cab; or a 6’2” box for both the Extended and Crew Cab models.
Two engines are currently available to provide power for the new GMC Canyon: a 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder that generates 200 horsepower at 6,300 rpm while also developing 191 pound feet of torque at 4,400 rpm; or a 3.6-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with VVT and Direct Injection that cranks out 305 horses at 6,800 rpm along with 269 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. A 2.8-liter Duramax diesel is planned to bow for model year 2016. One may choose from two transmissions: an Eaton N8D 6-speed manual is available select Extended Cab models; or a Hydra-Matic 6L50 6-speed automatic – available for Extended Cab units and standard for all other models.

Trim levels for the GMC Canyon will consist of five grades: SL, Base, SLE, All Terrain, and Denali. All models will be available in either a two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) configuration.

In terms of physical visual appeal, The 2015 GMC Canyon lineup delivers a bolder, “in your face” demeanor, with major differences appearing up front, back to the “A” pillars, with heavy, more masculine grille treatments, headlight styling, minor hood and fascia differences. Wheel styles are also varied. The GMC Canyon displays a confident and sporty stance with tall bedsides for greater payloads, and the Crew Cab exhibits an upward raked belt line. Proportions are balanced from virtually every viewing angle.
Several innovative solutions are provided for cargo hauling and access in the GMC Canyon models such as: a standard CornerStep rear bumper design; an EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate that uses an internal torsion bar, making raising the tailgate easier with even one hand, and a damper for more-controlled lowering (it comes standard on upper level models and is available on lesser trim models); a standard locking tailgate; standard two-tier loading that allows a platform to effectively split the bed into upper and lower sections, for more convenient hauling, storage and concealment of valuables such as tools; there are thirteen standard tie-down locations throughout the bed utilizing available, movable cargo tie-down rings; bed rail and tailgate protectors are standard; a factory-installed spray-in bed liner is available;
The interior provides an ideal “Professional Grade” atmosphere to fulfill on the job duties, or at play in everyday comfort. The cabin of the Canyon has been thoughtfully designed to deliver not only comfortable surroundings, but comes well equipped and provides modern connectivity features. The instrument panel is bold and upright, with large controls and a center console with a floor-mounted shifter similar to those found in midsize cars and crossovers. There’s a sculpted headliner that enhances headroom, halo lighting on key controls for easier view and an open area at the front of the center console for easier phone charging. The steering wheel design of the Canyon is bolder than that of the Colorado.
Other Impressive interior features include: an upper-instrument panel storage bin – when not equipped with the up level audio system – and a large volume glove box; a standard center console with room for tablet storage; a door-to-door rear under-seat storage is provided for additional concealed cabin cargo management. The Canyon’s seats utilize dual-firmness foam for greater comfort on long drives and high-wear, stain-resistant cloth seating trim, with leather-appointed seating available. Connectivity is provided by GM’s Intellilink and OnStar 4G LTE as standard on upscale Canyon models, with text message support and Siri Eyes Free.

The GMC Canyon features a coil-over-type front suspension with low mass, high strength aluminum knuckles that contribute to a more responsive feel and efficiency. Canyon also features the segment’s first application of electric power steering, which enhances efficiency by avoiding the energy used by what conventionally is an engine-driven feature.

The GMC Canyon has a short turning radius of 41.3 feet (12.6 meters), enabling easier turning in tight areas. Four-wheel disc brakes, with four-piston front calipers, are standard, with Duralife™ brake rotors that can offer up to double the service life, saving on maintenance.

The four-wheel drive system employs an electronically controlled transfer case that allows the driver to shift from 2WD to 4WD. The driver can select from three modes, 2WD, 4WD HI or 4WD Lo.

During the national press introduction, I piloted a Crew Cab Canyon in SLT trim and a 4WD configuration with a long bed. Power was provided by the 3.6-liter V6 with the 6-speed automatic gearbox. The midsize hauler sported an Emerald Green exterior finish with a Jet Black interior. The base sticker was set at $34,415, which came to $37,250 after factoring in the Bose Premium Audio system, metallic paint, 8” color touch screen Nav system with Intellilink, Driver Alert Package and Destination charge.

SUMMARY: this latest midsize GMC Canyon Crew Cab offers an ideal alternative for consumers who don’t need or want a full size truck, and it actually drives, handles and feels more like a family sedan, while delivering added versatility and functionality.

The 3.6-liter V6 delivers more than adequate acceleration, with the handling characteristics, as already mentioned, more car than truck like, as was the ride comfort level. The transmission changes gears smoothly and efficiently and can easily handle towing up to 3,500 pounds.
A host of accessories are available to tailor one’s GMC Canyon to suit their personal needs and lifestyles. The GearOn™ system is one such system designed to add hauling convenience and versatility. A safety package is offered that includes segment-first Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. The package utilizes camera-based technology to warn drivers of potential crash threats. Standard safety features include: six air bags, including head curtain side air bags; large rearview mirrors and standard rear-vision camera system for greater visibility and safety; StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control, hill start assist and hill descent control.

In the final scheme of things, if you are limited to owning only one vehicle, the 2015 GMC Canyon is capable of satisfactorily fulfilling a variety of roles from getting groceries to towing a trailer, with work duties and recreation thrown in for good measure. It is handsome, fuel efficient, practical and affordable. Suit your budget by picking the body style, powertrain, drive configuration, options and color that best fills your desires and needs.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2015 GMC Canyon a Buy It! For a boldly attractive, versatile and professional grade hauler.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 GMC Canyon 4WD SLT Crew Long Box

Base Price: $37,250.
Price as Tested: $40,060.

Engine Type and Size: 3.6-liter,DOHC, 24-valve, V6 with Direct Injection and
Horsepower (bhp): 305 @ 6,800 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 269 @ 4,000 rpm

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6L50 6-speed automatic.

Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / 4WD with 2-speed
electric transfer case and fully automatic locking rear

Suspension: Front – Independent coil-over twin-tube shock
Rear – Solid axle with semi-elliptic two-stage
multi-leaf springs; twin-tube shocks; G80 automatic-
locking axle.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife™
long-life brake rotors; standard ABS; hill descent
\control available.

Tires: Goodyear Wrangler 265/60 R18 110T M&S mounted on 6-
double spoke alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 140.5 inches

Length Overall: 224.9 inches

Width: 70.5 inches

Height: 74.3 inches

Curb Weight: 4,450 lbs.

Turning Circle: 44.6 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 21 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed.

0 – 60 mph: Not tested.

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.