2023 GMC Canyon Denali Pros
– 2.7L turbocharged engine is impressively powerful.
– The Denali trim positions the Canyon as the one premium midsize pickup.
– It’s got loads of refinement, handling, and practicality built in.
2023 GMC Canyon Denali Cons
– The 20-inch wheels negatively impact on-road comfort.
– Denali chrome add-ons take away from the Canyon’s tough-truck looks.
The first two generations of the GMC Canyon (and Chevrolet Colorado) were mostly unexceptional save for the ZR2 which landed in 2017. Despite the presence of a Denali trim as well, launched in 206 for the first time, both trucks served more as utilitarian tools than car or SUV alternatives.
This changed for the 2023 model as the trucks have burst onto the small to midsize pickup segment with such flair, it’s as if the automaker decided it was time to fire a salvo at the likes of the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Nissan Frontier. The tested 2023 GMC Canyon Denali strikes a good balanced between capability and premium-ness, or nearly.
GMC has given the Canyon a front end that, frankly, is difficult to criticize. While the chrome-laden Denali variant might be too blingy for some, the overall design language is robust and eye-catching. Yet, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. If you’re going for the Canyon, maybe steer clear of the Denali trim.
The 20-inch wheels and chrome running boards don’t do justice to the truck’s beefiness and innate ruggedness, which even comes factory-fitted with a two-inch lift for extra ground clearance. Don’t get me wrong, the Denali is attractive, but the visual add-ons fail to highlight and support GM’s tough-truck body lines.
Upgraded cabin from the base
Inside, the Canyon doesn’t skimp. With the base model, you get an 11.3-inch touchscreen display, LEDs all around, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sirius Satellite Radio. That’s not even mentioning the 18-inch wheels and the suspension lift. GM’s design team managed to incorporate beefy elements such as a chunky steering wheel and horizontally laid out toggle-like switches to thew screen, and all of it well put together.
The Canyon’s Denali trim goes the extra mile with a digital instrument panel, a multi-stow tailgate, heads-up display, power driver and passenger seat, and more. The quality of the materials is convincing, and that includes the leather and the exquisite diamond quilting found on the dashboard.
4-pot with boost
As the third generation of the Canyon series rolls out, one significant shift that cannot be missed is the departure of the V6. Many might initially feel a twinge of skepticism — after all, for many, there’s no replacement for raw displacement. But those reservations are set to fade once they experience the prowess of the Canyon’s new powerplant.
Replacing the V6 is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a high-output 2.7L, the same offered in the Sierra. This engine churns out an impressive 310 hp and a whopping 430 lb-ft of torque. To put this in perspective, GM’s flagship 6.2-liter V8 for its full-sized light-duty truck offers 460 torques. When you consider the Canyon’s substantially lower weight compared to the likes of the Silverado or Sierra, it’s clear that this midsize pickup packs a punch — and how!
The sheer thrill of that torque can catch you off-guard at city traffic lights, places where most Denalis will find themselves. And when you floor the gas pedal, the Canyon doesn’t just move — it boogies. That acceleration and speed are not just numbers; they translate to real-world grin-inducing driving experiences.
Coupled with this power is the eight-speed automatic transmission. In city drives, this gearbox felt intuitive, always seeming to be in the right gear. Whether it’s cruising gently or pushing the pedal, the transmission provides smooth shifts, gliding from one gear to the next seamlessly. Yet, it’s robust and can handle the power when you decide to flex all that torque.
But with all its power, the Canyon Denali still behaves like a truck. Its ride, especially with the 20-inch wheels, is more attuned to the road. Every minor imperfection on the tarmac is conveyed to the driver, which might not resonate with everyone. Some might prefer the 18-inch wheels for a slightly more cushioned ride. As for the brakes, they’re typical of what one would expect from GM — reliable and responsive. In terms of handling, the Canyon Denali isn’t designed for sharp apex-hugging maneuvers however it handles decently.
As far as pricing goes, the base 2023 4×4 elevation starts at around $46,000 in Canada, and the top trim AT4X would set you back about $65,000. That’s competitive pricing for what you’re getting—feature-rich variants that cater to different needs. While the competition in the midsize segment is fierce with contenders like the new Tacoma, Ranger, and soon-to-arrive new midsize Ram, the GMC Canyon Denali, with its blend of power, luxury, and drivability, carves a niche for itself.