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2019 GMC Canyon Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

The 2019 GMC Canyon certainly delivers on the performance front. It's one of the best compact pickup trucks for towing and hauling, and it handles well and rides smoothly. There are three engine choices, and the Canyon gets some of the best fuel economy ratings in the class.

  • "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. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. This powertrain moves the truck well enough and can handle some light towing work, but it doesn't really enable the Canyon to serve as anything more than a daily driver.

Two optional engines are available: a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 186 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes with the turbodiesel, and an eight-speed automatic comes with the V6. These are the engines you want for towing and hauling work, and they're noticeably stronger than the base engine.

According to EPA estimates, the Canyon gets 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with its base engine, which are good numbers for a compact truck. With the V6, fuel economy drops to 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The turbodiesel gets the best gas mileage of the three, earning 20/30 mpg city/highway.

  • "The base GMC Canyon engine is … 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

The Canyon handles well for the most part and drives with more civility than some other trucks, making it easy to control. It rides smoothly, and you won't notice too many bumps in the road.

Like every compact truck except the Honda Ridgeline, rear-wheel drive comes standard with the Canyon, and four-wheel drive is available. A locking rear differential, a two-speed transfer case, and hill descent control are available as well.

  • "Though bulky for a midsize truck, it steers and brakes more tidily than its competition. When it comes to overall performance for midsize pickups, the Canyon is near the top of the class." -- Edmunds
  • "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

With its base engine, the Canyon can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while those with the V6 can tow 7,000 pounds. Models with the turbodiesel engine have the highest towing capacity: 7,700 pounds. That's one of the highest towing capacities in the class. A trailer brake controller is available. The Canyon's maximum payload – which requires the V6 engine – is 1,605 pounds.

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