Model tested: 2019 GMC Canyon Denali AWD crew cab
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower: 308 • Torque: 275 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA ratings: 17/city, 24/highway, 19/combined
Base price: $43,800
As tested: $48,025
Overview: GMC’s Canyon is a solid midsize pickup that’s more refined than its sibling, Chevrolet Colorado. The Canyon boasts equipment upgrades for 2019, including a new infotainment system with automatic software updating and optional cloud-based navigation. Rear parking sensors coupled with a high-definition rearview camera replace the prior analog unit except on the base model. Last redesigned for 2015, the Canyon has numerous possible configurations for two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, bed length, and extended and crew cab, plus trim levels from utilitarian to near-luxury. It offers a trio of excellent powertrain choices — 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.6-liter V6 or 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel. Our short-bed, crew-cab Denali test driver featured the 3.6-liter V6, and this configuration is the focus of this review.
Walkaround: Basic styling mirrors GMC’s full-size Sierra, featuring rectangular LED headlights and tall rectangular grille, emphasizing the Canyon’s boxy shape. A high, rising beltline gives it a sportier look than the Colorado.
Interior: The Denali has a friendly, roomy, car-like interior rather than something screaming “truck.” The electronic infotainment systems are user-friendly and instrumentation is well-placed and easy to read at a glance. Front occupants have ample room. Rear seat passengers, not so much — even in the crew cab — but it’s adequate. The Denali interior trim features simulated wood and leather upholstery, which is also offered in the SLT version. However, despite the Denali’s more upscale look, it’s actually more about appearance than the typical consolidation of high-end features.
Behind the wheel: The Canyon is quite agreeable to drive, handling like a typical pickup truck — reasonably comfortable, quiet enough and with a somewhat truck-like ride. But like most trucks, it trades comfort for maneuverability in tight spots like parking lots. The 3.6-liter V6 puts 308 ponies to the pavement and can haul as much as 7,000 pounds.
Whines: Our test driver’s running boards seemed ground-clearance positioned, yet somewhat high for comfortable step in and out, especially for shorter people. Safety features are a concern in the otherwise contemporary Canyon. Only a couple of active-safety features are available — either optional or standard with Denali trim — and crash-test scores are marginal.
Bottom line: Midsize dimensions, capable powertrains, urbane design and Denali trim bordering on luxury for a truck make the Canyon exceptionally tempting.