MID-SIZE PICKUP OFFERS GREAT CAPABILITY, VISIBILITY
Plenty of power, but transmission felt `a little sluggish'
Trevor Lynn has never owned a truck, but after a week with the newly face-lifted mid-size 2021 GMC Canyon AT4, he understands the appeal.
“I have driven an old Ford F-150 with a regular cab and a long box as a loaner but beyond that I have no significant experience with a pickup.”
Currently, Lynn's daily driver is a 2006 Ford 500 — a car he inherited from his grandfather when it had just 38,000 kilometres on the clock. His wife drives a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze LT they bought new, and most of their driving is in the city, although they make the occasional trek west to the mountains, or in Lynn's case, north to Edmonton for work.
GMC'S Canyon is related to Chevrolet's Colorado. Both trucks were introduced in 2004 and that generation lasted until 2012. Then, in the North American market, the trucks were absent until 2015, when second-generation pickups were launched. Those models were face-lifted for 2021.
Available as an extended crew cab with a six-foot bed or a fourdoor crew cab with either a fivefoot or six-foot box, the Canyon comes in Elevation Standard, Elevation, AT4 and Denali trims. Depending on model and drive type — two-wheel or four-wheel drive — engines range from a 2.5-litre four-cylinder to a 3.6-L V-6. Also available is a 2.8-L Duramax diesel four-cylinder engine. Backing up the four-cylinder power plants is a six-speed automatic transmission, while an eight-speed auto transfers power from the V-6.
The AT4 is a new Canyon trim, and it puts more emphasis on off-road capability. Lynn drove a four-door crew cab with short box, equipped with the V-6 engine for $44,743. All AT4S come with an off-road suspension package that includes advanced hill-descent control, four-wheel drive with automatic locking rear differential, transfer case skid plate and larger 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on special 17-inch aluminum wheels. It also has red recovery hooks coupled with a larger grille design. Lynn's truck featured only two options: the trailer tow package and spray-on bed liner.
“The Canyon AT4 really captured my attention,” Lynn said of his first impression. “I like the styling and appreciate the smaller size of it.
“When I got it, it was parked beside a large full-size truck, and the mid-size pickup is, in my opinion, a better option. New half-ton trucks are huge.”
Lynn is six-foot-three and says getting into the Canyon was easy, and once inside, he found the interior outfitted in “clean and quality materials,” including the seat fabric.
“With the slight lift kit, it was like the seat was just right there for me. In a sedan, I generally fall down into the seat, but this was ideal.
“I spent some time figuring out Apple Carplay, but as soon as I figured that out, I thought it's one of the best features ever.”
Lynn says the 3.6-L V-6, with its 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, provided plenty of power for anything he asked of the truck. However, it didn't always respond quickly.
“It sometimes seemed as though you really had to put your foot into it to get it going, and I think that's because the transmission felt a little sluggish. The shift points weren't quite where I'd expected them to be,” he says.
Handling was rated as solid, and Lynn felt the truck behaved very well in all conditions, including negotiating tight parking lots. The Canyon absorbed large bumps at low speeds with aplomb, but bridge deck expansion joints could be felt at speed.
“I do recognize this truck is geared toward off-road capability, but I'm not an experienced off-roader so didn't attempt anything too serious, apart from driving it on some rough gravel roads north of the city. It would be comfortable going anywhere, I think,” Lynn says.
Capable of towing 2,268 kilograms (3,175 kg with a weight-distributing hitch), Lynn's Canyon was equipped with the optional $295 trailer tow package that includes a hitch and seven-pin wiring connector. He appreciated the optional spray-on bed liner that added another $550 to the total, and thought the Canyon offered exceptional utility. He was able to load their bicycles in the box, fully assembled, something he can't do with his own vehicles. While he doesn't require the rear bumper step to get into the box, it was something his wife found convenient.
Although the Canyon is rated as a five-passenger vehicle, Lynn says four people is a more likely number. With four doors, the cab is easily accessible for hauling groceries, suitcases or other gear.
“For a couple like us, it would work out very well, and it made us rethink a truck,” he says. “A big plus for me is the Canyon fit in our garage alongside the Cruze — that's a cool thing — and after handing back the keys, we both wish we still had it.”