2008 GMC Canyon Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 31, 2008

The 2008 GMC Canyon is right-sized for today’s gas prices -- if only its engines were quieter and its rear seats more comfortable.

TheCarConnection.com’s team of car enthusiasts and writers researched stories about the GMC Canyon online to bring you this comprehensive review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also drove the 2008 GMC Canyon to be able to deliver more driving impressions where needed, to compare it with other cars in the class and to help you decide which review to trust when they have differing opinions.

Small pickup trucks have their place in the world. Pickups like the 2008 GMC Canyon are the main vehicles of choice for some plumbers, electricians, and some drivers looking for off-road capability without the punishing fuel bills of a full-sizer.

While it’s compact and reasonably easy on gas, the 2008 GMC Canyon isn’t much fun to drive. A near-twin of the Chevrolet Colorado, the Canyon’s four- and five-cylinder engines and its six-foot-long-at-best pickup bed draw a tight circle around its capabilities and its fun.

Two engines are offered on the 2008 GMC Canyon. Base versions use a 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine offering 185 horsepower, while the optional in-line five-cylinder engine measures in at 3.9 liters and delivers 242 horsepower. The four-cylinder gets as much as 18/24 mpg, while the five-cylinder musters 15/20 mpg with the automatic transmission. With either engine, the Canyon is disappointing. The engines are noisy and unrefined, even compared to the four-cylinder Nissan Frontier. A smooth V-6 would be a good option but none is available.

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The 2008 GMC Canyon does come in a wide range of styles. It’s available in either rear- or four-wheel drive, in short-wheelbase regular-cab and long-wheelbase extended- and four-door crew-cab versions, and can seat up to six passengers in crew-cab mode. The back seat stands uncomfortably upright on four-door versions, though, and there’s no option to fold the seats under the floor, which would make the rear area much more useful. The six-foot “long” bed won’t carry the 4x8 sheet of plywood, and four-door Canyons have only a 5-foot, 1-inch bed anyway.

The GMC Canyon’s styling is somewhat better than the Chevrolet Colorado, but it’s still a little too much for a small truck. The Canyon’s interior wears a lot of plastic and clicky switches.

Three different suspension packages are offered, along with a long list of options that allows for maximum customization. In most versions the 2008 GMC Canyon has better-than-average ride and handling.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and folding exterior mirrors. Options include traction control, XM, fog lamps; leather seats; a sunroof; a six-CD changer and a sliding rear window. OnStar is offered but there is no navigation system, a real need in work trucks.

The four-door GMC Canyon gets five-star crash scores, while other versions get four stars. Side curtain airbags are optional but inexpensive.

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