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2020 GMC Canyon Review

The 2020 GMC Canyon has class-leading towing and hauling capabilities and solid handling, but it ranks in the middle of the compact pickup truck segment because it earns an unimpressive safety score and its seats need better support.

Pros & Cons

  • Great fuel economy with diesel engine
  • Responsive handling
  • Nice interior quality
  • Low safety score for class
  • Seat comfort could be better

New for 2020

  • Tire Fill Alert feature now standard
  • Remote-locking tailgate now available
  • Forward collision warning and lane departure warning now available in All Terrain trim

Rankings & Research

The 2020 GMC Canyon ranked #3 in Compact Pickup Trucks. Currently the GMC Canyon has a score of 7.8 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 32 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.8

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 6.7
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.1 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the GMC Canyon a Good Truck?

Yes, the GMC Canyon is a good compact pickup truck. When properly equipped, it can tow up to 7,700 pounds, and it offers a trio of capable engines and carlike handling. The Canyon also has a nice interior with plenty of standard infotainment features.

However, the Canyon does not have the comfortable seats and space found in some rivals, nor can it match the good crash test scores and plethora of driver assistance technology that you'll find in many competitors.

2020 GMC Canyon Dimensions

  • Length: 17 feet, 8.4 inches to 18 feet, 8.6 inches
  • Height: 5 feet, 10.3 inches to 5 feet, 10.7 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,767 to 4,576 pounds

Should I Buy the GMC Canyon?

You should buy a GMC Canyon if you want an upscale truck that’s as much at home on the job site as it is accompanying you to a fancy restaurant. Though this is a relatively small segment of the market, there are other appealing options. The Chevrolet Colorado gives you the same capabilities for slightly less money, but at the expense of interior quality. The Toyota Tacoma has excellent off-road abilities and lots of active safety features.

Compare the Canyon, Colorado, and Tacoma »

Should I Buy a New or Used GMC Canyon?

The 2020 Canyon is part of a generation that debuted for the 2015 model year. General Motors made few notable changes to the Canyon for 2020. A tire fill alert is newly standard, and an available remote-locking tailgate debuts. Additionally, forward collision warning and lane departure warning are available in more trim levels.

The 2019 Canyon didn’t see many changes, so consider buying a very similar older model instead of a new GMC Canyon. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars. The main change for 2018 was the inclusion of a standard touch-screen infotainment system. For 2017, the Teen Driver system became standard, and an eight-speed automatic transmission was introduced. The turbodiesel engine debuted for the 2016 model year.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017, 2018, and 2019 Canyon reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Canyon »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 32 GMC Canyon reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 Canyon is the right new car for you. This 2020 GMC Canyon review incorporates applicable research for all models of the current generation, which runs from 2015 to 2020.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the GMC Canyon Cost?

The 2020 GMC Canyon starts at $22,200, which is below average for a new compact pickup truck. However, that starting price is for the base model with only two seats. If you need more than that, you'll have to pay at least $25,700.

The Canyon comes standard with rear-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine. The starting price for the truck with a V6 engine is $27,185, and the least you can spend for a four-wheel-drive model is $31,100. Upgrade above the standard Extended Cab to a larger Crew Cab, and the truck starts at $27,600. The Canyon is also available with a diesel engine, which will cost you at least $37,805. The high-end GMC Canyon Denali starts at $40,500.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

GMC Canyon Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: GMC Canyon or Chevrolet Colorado?

The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are closely related compact pickup trucks under the General Motors umbrella. They have the same lineup of engines, the same excellent towing and hauling capacities, and nearly identical lists of standard and optional features. For these reasons, these trucks sit close to one another in our rankings. The Canyon gets a slight edge over the Colorado thanks to a marginally better predicted reliability rating and a nicer interior, but the Colorado is less expensive across its trim lineup.

Each of these models has a specialized trim that the other doesn’t offer. The Canyon Denali is more elegant than any Colorado model, while the Colorado ZR2 Bison is much more formidable off road than any configuration of the Canyon. When it comes down to it, choosing between these two depends on what you want out of your truck.

Which Is Better: GMC Canyon or Toyota Tacoma?

The Toyota Tacoma’s starting price is several thousand dollars higher than that of the Canyon. For your money, though, you’ll get a long list of standard driver assistance features and new-for-2020 Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road trim delivers awesome off-road abilities, and the TRD Pro is one of the best in the compact pickup truck class in that regard. The Canyon can tow and haul more, and it gets better fuel economy than the Tacoma. Both of these trucks are decent picks, so you can’t go wrong with either.

Compare the Canyon, Colorado, and Tacoma »

Canyon Performance

Canyon Engine: Three's Company

The GMC Canyon's standard four-cylinder engine puts out 200 horsepower. It's sufficient for getting you around if you're not using the truck for heavy-duty work. You can also opt for a 308-horsepower V6 engine that delivers smooth and quick acceleration. Finally, the available turbodiesel engine produces only 181 horsepower, but with 369 pound-feet of torque, it provides excellent low-end muscle.

The four-cylinder engine and the diesel both come with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is mated to a more modern eight-speed automatic, which executes timely and precise shifts.

Canyon Gas Mileage: Among the Best

With the diesel engine, the Canyon returns some of the best EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers in the class: 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The base engine is also relatively efficient at up to 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The Canyon's optional V6 engine manages 18/25 mpg city/highway.

Canyon Ride and Handling: More Carlike

The Canyon takes corners confidently, and body motions are generally well-controlled. Steering is also pretty responsive, so it may feel like you're driving a car or SUV rather than a truck.

The Canyon rides comfortably over rough pavement and mitigates bumps in the road. The cabin also remains quiet from most outside noise.

Canyon Interior

How Many People Does the Canyon Seat?

In its standard form, the GMC Canyon seats only two people. Extended Cab models have two rear seats, while Crew Cab models have a three-person rear bench seat. The front seats are comfortable enough for most driving situations, though they lack adequate support for longer trips.

Extended Cab models offer little space in the back for adults to get comfortable. The Crew Cab, on the other hand, is more serviceable with extra legroom and full-size doors, though its bench seat also could benefit from a bit more support.

Canyon and Child Car Seats

The Canyon Crew Cab has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and an additional tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seats, however, and you might confuse the tether anchors for other hardware.

Canyon Interior Quality

The GMC Canyon serves up an impressive interior. Most materials are of high quality, and the cabin design is nice. However, a few critics note that the interior atmospheres of some newer or more recently redesigned trucks have caught up to or passed the Canyon.

Canyon Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

All Canyons come with the GMC Infotainment System, with lower trims featuring a 7-inch touch screen and higher models sporting an 8-inch touch screen. The interface is straightforward and easy to use, thanks to large, clear icons and a simple menu structure. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration come standard.

Physical knobs on the center stack are within easy reach of the driver, and they're large enough to operate when wearing gloves. Optional features include up to four USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, wireless device charging, navigation, and a seven-speaker Bose premium stereo.

Read more about interior »

Read more about performance »

Canyon Reliability

Is the GMC Canyon Reliable?

The 2020 GMC Canyon has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

GMC Canyon Warranty

GMC covers the Canyon with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Canyon Safety

Canyon Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 GMC Canyon an overall safety rating of four out of five stars. The truck received five stars in the side crash test, four stars in the frontal crash test, and three stars in the rollover evaluation.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2020 Canyon. The nearly identical 2019 Canyon earned mixed crash test results. The standard Extended Cab version received the highest rating of Good in three crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the side test and the driver-side small overlap front test. The Crew Cab Canyon was deemed Good in five tests, but it received the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the passenger-side small overlap front evaluation.

Canyon Safety Features

The Canyon comes standard with a rearview camera and General Motors' Teen Driver system, which lets you do things like set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers, as well as monitor their driving performance.

Available active safety technologies are rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

Where Is the 2020 GMC Canyon Built?

General Motors builds the 2020 GMC Canyon in Missouri.

Which GMC Canyon Model Is Right for Me?

The first step in deciding on a new Canyon is choosing your cab style and bed combination. Then you can pick out a trim and powertrain. There are six trim levels, three engines, two cab styles, two bed lengths, and a variety of appearance and performance or work packages.

The standard SL trim is a sparsely equipped work truck model with only two seats. Most shoppers should consider the SLE trim or above. While all models are equipped with an infotainment system, the SLE adds basic conveniences like cruise control and remote keyless entry, in addition to a larger touch screen, satellite radio, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. To get leather upholstery, automatic climate control, and rear parking sensors, go with the Canyon SLT.

GMC Canyon Powertrain Options:

  • Base engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque; starts at $22,200 (available in SL, Canyon, SLE)
  • Available engines:
    • 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque; starts at $27,185 (available in Canyon, SLE, All Terrain, SLT, Denali)
    • 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque; starts at $37,805 (available in SLE, All Terrain, SLT, Denali)
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic (four-cylinder and diesel); eight-speed automatic (V6)

GMC Canyon Appearance Packages:

  • Exterior Convenience package (prices start at $815): 5-inch black rectangular assist steps, front and rear splash guards
  • Elevation Edition (prices start at $650): 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, a black grille with body-color surround
  • California Elevation Special Edition (prices start at $1,195): a black front emblem, all-weather floor liners, 3-inch black round assist steps, front and rear splash guards
  • All Terrain X package (prices start at $2,070): a spray-on bedliner, all-weather floor liners, 3-inch black round assist steps, all-terrain tires

GMC Canyon Performance Packages/Options:

  • Performance Skid Plate package (prices start at $375; available in Canyon, SLE, SLT, All Terrain, Denali): front and mid skid plates
  • Power package (prices start at $1,850; available in Canyon, SLE, SLT, All Terrain): performance air intake and cat-back performance exhaust system
  • Convenience package (prices start at $630; available in Canyon): remote keyless entry, cruise control, a rear-window defogger, a theft-deterrent system, and a remote-locking EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate

GMC Canyon Trims:

GMC Canyon SL

The 2020 GMC Canyon SL starts at $22,200, and it’s only available with the Extended Cab and two front bucket seats. The list of standard features includes vinyl upholstery, a four-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a rearview camera, the Teen Driver system, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, and Bluetooth.

GMC Canyon

The GMC Canyon trim costs $25,700. It adds rear seats and cloth upholstery, and it's the first trim available with the Crew Cab or with the V6 engine. Rear parking sensors and a Wi-Fi hot spot are optional.

GMC Canyon SLE

For $29,100, the Canyon SLE comes with a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an 8-inch touch screen, four USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 4.2-inch digital driver information display, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a remote-locking EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, cruise control, and remote keyless entry.

The SLE Convenience package costs $575 and includes automatic climate control, remote start, and a manual sliding rear window. If you buy that package, you can also get heated front seats for an additional $700. Navigation is optional for $495, and a seven-speaker Bose premium stereo is available for $500.

GMC Canyon SLT

The Canyon SLT comes standard with a Crew Cab with the V6 engine and starts at $35,900. Other standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and power-adjustable outside mirrors, automatic climate control, a sliding rear window, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, remote start, and rear parking sensors. Navigation and the Bose stereo are optional in this trim.

GMC Canyon All Terrain

The GMC Canyon All Terrain retails for $36,600 and features standard four-wheel drive, an off-road suspension, hill descent control, a transfer case shield, a locking rear differential, two front tow hooks, and unique interior and exterior design elements.

GMC Canyon Denali

The GMC Canyon Denali starts at $40,500. Standard features include navigation, a seven-speaker Bose premium stereo, 5-inch chrome assist steps, a spray-on bedliner, ventilated front seats, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Which Canyon Cab Style Is Right for Me?

The GMC Canyon is available as an Extended Cab or Crew Cab. In the base SL trim – only available with the Extended Cab – there are only two seats. All other Extended Cab models have two small fold-up rear seats. You can get away with this smaller cab if you usually drive alone or with only one other passenger. Rear legroom is very tight and not really suitable for adult occupants. Plus, the Extended Cab has rear-hinged half-size back doors, complicating access to the second row.

Crew Cab models have full-size rear doors and a rear bench seat that ups the total seating capacity to five. You'll get around 7 extra inches of legroom over the Extended Cab, making this a better choice if you regularly have back-seat passengers. Still, like some other compact trucks, the Crew Cab Canyon's second row isn't overly roomy. This body style has about 4 inches less of legroom than the GMC Terrain, a compact SUV.

Which Canyon Bed Length Is Right for Me?

Picking a bed length for the Canyon is fairly straightforward. The Extended Cab only comes with a 6-foot-2-inch bed, which is one of the longest boxes in the class. Crew Cab models can be had with either a 5-foot-2-inch or a 6-foot-2-inch bed. Keep in mind that pairing the Crew Cab with the longer box makes the truck almost 19 feet long, though this is still 6 inches shorter than the GMC Sierra 1500, a full-size pickup truck, in either Double Cab/standard bed or Crew Cab/short bed configurations.

Which Canyon Model Is Best for Towing and Hauling?

The GMC Canyon with the base four-cylinder engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds. That number isn't impressive, especially for a work-focused pickup truck. Some smaller crossovers have similar towing capacities, such as the GMC Terrain at 3,500 pounds and the GMC Acadia at up to 4,000 pounds. You should only go with this powertrain if your towing needs are light.

When properly equipped, the Canyon can tow up to 7,700 pounds, one of the highest capacities in the compact pickup truck class. You get that with the turbodiesel engine and rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive diesel models can tow up to 7,600 pounds. The Canyon with the V6 engine can tow up to 7,000 pounds, so there isn't a lot of incentive to go with the diesel for what is ultimately a marginal gain in towing capacity.

The Canyon has a maximum payload capacity of 1,605 pounds, achieved with the Crew Cab, short box, and rear-wheel drive. A RWD Extended Cab model with the long box has a limit of 1,599 pounds in the bed, and you'll have an extra foot of space to spread it all out.

Which Canyon Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

No GMC Canyon model can match the off-road prowess of a dedicated model like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, ZR2 Bison, or Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. For the best off-roading abilities in the Canyon lineup, you'll want the All Terrain trim. In addition to standard four-wheel drive, the Canyon All Terrain features an off-road-tuned suspension, hill descent control, a transfer case shield, a locking rear differential, and two front tow hooks. The optional All Terrain X package for this trim adds all-terrain tires, off-road assist steps, a spray-on bedliner, and all-weather floor liners.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

See 2020 GMC Canyon specs and trims »

The Final Call

The GMC Canyon can be one of the best vehicles in the compact pickup truck class for towing and payload capacities, and it has a handsome interior to boot. Those looking for a modern take on a traditional truck will be impressed. Still, it's worth shopping around to see if you like any of its rivals better.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Canyon offers some of the best towing capability in the class, along with a cushy, quiet cabin and road manners that feel more car-like than truckish. Seat comfort is impressive, and there's enough room — and enough tech — to make long road trips a pleasure. But don't think the Canyon can't do the business. Properly equipped, it can tow between 7,000 and 7,700 pounds depending on the engine. The standard four-cylinder is capable, if unremarkable, but the V6 upgrade or torque-rich turbodiesel engine are really where you'll see the Canyon shine." -- Edmunds
  • "[The] GMC Canyon may well be all the truck you need or want. … The allure of a midsize truck is it provides the pickup-truck lifestyle and a healthy portion of a full-size truck's capability while delivering better fuel economy and more maneuverability. These are solid trade-offs if you don't need to tow a huge trailer or boat." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "[The] GMC Canyon midsize pickup boasts a big dose of style and comfort unique to the GMC brand. … Offered in Extended Cab or Crew Cab configurations with 5- or 6-foot beds, the Canyon can be anything from simple work truck (SL) to luxurious workhorse (Denali)." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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