The 2021 GMC Canyon starts at $26,400 in the U.S. and at $28,298 in Canada before freight and delivery charges.
Good capacities, user-friendly infotainment system, sufficiently spacious cabin.
Unimpressive fuel economy, questionable interior fit and finish, stiff ride in the AT4.
With so many pickup truck buyers in North America, it’s only normal to have more than one segment, including the midsize category in which the 2021 GMC Canyon competes. And yet, for each Canyon sold, in the United States and Canada, the brand rolls out 10 Sierras. The situation is somewhat similar for Chevrolet and Ford, as their full-size outsell their midsize offerings by a huge margin.
Sure, big pickups are much more popular because they benefit from a wider selection of trim levels, powertrains and configurations. They’re aggressively priced when year-long rebates on tacked onto the window sticker, and they’re about as fuel-efficient as the midsize models. However, there are people out there who don’t need such a big vehicle, but need some versatility to tow and haul heavy loads. For them, a smaller truck will certainly do the trick.
The 2021 GMC Canyon competes against the Ford Ranger, the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier, the Honda Ridgeline, the Jeep Gladiator and, of course, its Chevrolet Colorado corporate cousin. Let’s not forget the Ram 1500 Classic, which fills the void for the brand as it doesn’t have a midsize model in its portfolio. For this new model year, the Canyon gets a few minor styling changes, new alloy wheels and paint colours, while the base trim level becomes the Elevation Standard, the SLE becomes the Elevation and the All Terrain becomes the AT4.
The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 was developed to head off the beaten path, with unique suspension calibration, hill descent control, underbody skid plates, red-painted tow hooks, Goodyear DuraTrac all-terrain tires and exclusive alloys.
Under the hood, three powertrains are on offer. The base 2.5L four-cylinder engine produces 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, matched exclusively to a 4×2 drivetrain and a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox used to be available, but was canned for lack of popularity.
Most clients will opt for the 3.6L V6 engine, which is a no-brainer for Canada and the northern states as 4×4 is also a smart choice. The V6 generates 308 hp and 275 lb.-ft., managed by an eight-speed automatic. Only the redesigned 2022 Frontier is more powerful with its 310-hp V6, but on the flipside, the Tacoma, the Ranger and the Ridgeline are all slightly more fuel-efficient. The Canyon 4×4 V6 boasts city/highway/combined ratings of 17/24/19 mpg or 14.0/9.9/12.1, and during out test, we managed 17 mpg or 13.5 L/100 km.
A 2.8L turbo-diesel inline-four is optional, which develops 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, connected to the six-speed transmission.
The 2021 GMC Canyon ranges in price from $26,400 to about $53,000 in the United States before freight charges, and from $28,298 to about $60,000 in Canada. The midsize pickup is available in Extended Cab, Crew Cab Short Bed and Crew Cab Long Bed configurations with 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains.
Why You Should Buy A 2021 GMC Canyon
- The Canyon can tow up to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) with the 3.6L V6, and up to 7,700 pounds (3,493 kg) with the diesel engine. That’s class-leading stuff, although the Gladiator’s 7,650-pound tow rating is a hair behind, and so is the Ranger with its 7,500-pound rating.
- With max payload of 1,580 pounds (716 kg), the Canyon is surpassed only by the Ranger and the Gladiator, and by only a few pounds.
- The 2021 GMC Canyon looks fairly rugged in AT4 trim, and rugged styling is definitely in fashion these days. The AT4 is no hardcore off-roader like the Colorado ZR2, but it’s nonetheless a competent trail runner.
- The Canyon’s cabin is all about user-friendliness, from the straightforward button layout, the rubber-wrapped dials and the intuitive infotainment system, with big button zones on its responsive touchscreen.
Why You Should Buy A 2021 GMC Canyon
- The Canyon’s ride is a little jittery, which is to be expected in a pickup. However, some more recently developed are more refined in this regard. We must not forget that although the current-generation Colorado and Canyon arrived in our market for the 2015 model year, the truck itself is more than 10 years old, as other variants of the midsize truck arrived in other worldwide markets in 2011.
- The cabin’s fit and finish is unspectacular, to say the least. The seats lack lateral support and the cushions are overstuffed around their outer edges, numbing our legs after a while. The luxurious Denali variant isn’t very luxurious.
- Fuel economy isn’t all that great. The 2.5L engine consumes almost as much fuel as the 3.6L unit, which makes it irrelevant. The 2.8L diesel four is better, but it lacks refinement, and it’s actually less efficient than the bigger GMC Sierra 1500’s 3.0L turbo-diesel inline-six. The Gladiator is the only other midsize pickup to offer a diesel engine, and it’s got a 3.0L six with 260 hp and 442 lb.-ft.
- The Canyon Extended Cab is really not meant for transporting people. In the rear, we get tiny jump seats with flat backsides, and parents will struggle to fit a child seat back there.
The 2021 GMC Canyon offers interesting towing and payload capacities, and seems to be more of a workhorse than a lifestyle-ish pickup truck, no matter how GMC tries to market it. It’s powerful, but not that efficient, and its interior could be more elegant.
In addition, moving up to the Crew Cab configuration jacks up the base price considerably–$38K in the U.S., and $43K in Canada. We’re starting to head up into the full-size truck territory, which are more modern, more equipped and more refined.
Bottom line: if we’re looking for a midsize pickup to run errands and haul an ATV once in a while, the Ridgeline is an overall better choice, despite it being an easy target for truck buyers’ criticism because it’s built on a unibody platform. However, if we need to tow something heavy and don’t feel like putting up with the sheer size of a large pickup, the Canyon can indeed shine. The Canyon may be getting old, it still serves a purpose if we don’t mind its various minor shortcomings.