$17,588 - $37,275

2018 GMC Canyon Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 GMC Canyon was new.


Performance: 8.6

The 2018 GMC Canyon has impressive overall performance, with a lineup of powerful and confident engines. Fuel economy is decent with the base engine and above average with the optional turbodiesel. The Canyon has a comfortable ride quality and poised handling.

  • "With appealing powertrains and lots of utility-friendly options, the 2017 GMC Canyon pickup delivers all the capability and strength you'd expect, plus significant refinement and comfort for a pickup." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "With the cast-iron engine weighing in at 250 pounds more than the current gas-burning V6, we expected a subtle vibration that's telltale of diesels above the 2.4-liter range. Instead, and thanks to the CPVA, we were rewarded with a refined time behind the wheel of this midsized pickup truck. The result is an exceptional driving experience." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "The four-banger suffers from typical diesel-like direct injection start-up and lacks the NVH qualities of the V-6 at idle, though it has more than adequate power for most drivers. The 3.6L V-6 is lively, though not quite a substitute for a torquey small-block V-8. In comparison to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, however, well, there is no comparison – the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are far superior." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The GMC Canyon comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. This engine is fine for driving around, but you’ll need one of the available engines to unlock the Canyon’s full towing and hauling potential.

The optional engines are a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Both engines feel stronger than the base engine, and the turbodiesel is smooth and produces even, steady power.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six- or eight-speed automatic transmission is optional, depending on the engine and suspension layout. 

With the base engine, the Canyon gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, which is decent for the class. The numbers are nearly as good with the V6: 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The turbodiesel gets the best mileage of the bunch, earning 22/30 mpg.

  • "The base GMC Canyon engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 200 horsepower and either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic; it's ideal for work-truck applications. Next is an improved 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower, available only with the 8-speed automatic and with all the power you could reasonably want. Both engines offer excellent combinations of power and economy. The 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel delivers 369 lb-ft of torque, a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds and as much as 30 mpg on the EPA highway rating. We are tempted to recommend the turbodiesel except that, with a price premium of almost $4,000 over the V6, you'd drive a long time to make up the difference in fuel savings. Our pick has to be the V6." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Fitted with the available V6 engine, the Canyon has plenty of oomph. The potent yet efficient turbodiesel four-cylinder is a compelling alternative, especially if you plan to do a lot of towing." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Talk about smooth operator. This is one of the least harsh diesel engines I've ever tested, with low levels of vibration. … There's also very little in the way of turbo lag in this truck, aiding the silky character. I kind of miss the 'turbo moment' woosh of power, but I'll happily trade that for total overall refinement." -- Autoblog (2016)

Handling and Braking

Like every compact truck except the Honda Ridgeline, rear-wheel drive is standard with the Canyon, and four-wheel drive is optional. You might be surprised at how well this GMC handles. Though the Canyon doesn’t feel small, its sharp steering and sturdy brakes contribute to a moderately sporty driving experience. The Canyon rides smoothly over most road surfaces and is rarely troubled by pavement imperfections.

  • "The steering's power assist has appropriate weighting, helping it track straight as an arrow down the highway. The truck threads its way through switchbacks with precision, but the slow ratio does keep the driver's hands busy at the wheel. … You're not going to find a regular-issue pickup that feels sporty while driving around turns, but the Canyon actually tackles curves surprisingly well. Body roll is present, but it's never excessive. Confident handling is one of the Canyon's strong suits." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Regardless of engine, the Canyon enjoys an exceptionally civilized ride, with handling that far exceeds what one might expect of a high-riding pickup truck. The steering is direct and responsive, and the suspension is able to absorb most road imperfections while still remaining stiff enough to deal with off-road adventures." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "City potholes, expansion joints and irregular road surfaces, not to mention the feeling of being in the bumper-car rides at Coney Island, gave the Canyon's suspension a workout, but it still resulted in a quiet, nonjarring ride quality that was befitting of any type of premium-equipped pickup truck – midsize or not." -- Autotrader (2016)

Towing and Hauling

The GMC Canyon's base model can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while those with the V6 can tow 7,000 pounds. The turbodiesel engine has the highest towing capacity, at 7,700 pounds. Payload capacity ranges from 1,424 pounds in the base model to 1,605 pounds with the V6 engine. The turbodiesel can carry a payload of up to 1,508 pounds.

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