2010 GMC Canyon Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 25, 2009

The 2010 GMC Canyon returns with its powerful V-8, more safety features, and new exterior colors, but a cheap interior remains a letdown.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the GMC Canyon, including the V-8 models, and bring you their driving impressions and other observations in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com’s team of writers has also researched a range of reviews covering the 2010 GMC Canyon by some of the most respected review sources on the Web.

The GMC Canyon and its Chevrolet Colorado sibling went on sale six years ago as replacements for the Sonoma and S-10. Ideal for those who desire a small, capable pickup that is maneuverable and fuel efficient, the 2010 GMC Canyon provides a good alternative to full-size pickups and comes with a range of different body styles and drivetrain options.

Nearly identical to the Chevrolet Colorado—though arguable slightly better-looking than the Colorado, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com—the Canyon is available in regular and extended-cab configurations with a six-foot bed, and as a crew cab with a five-foot bed.

All models come in either two- or four-wheel drive with either the Z85 standard suspension or the Z71 off-road setup. Last year, the special ZQ8 sport suspension was only available on two-wheel-drive extended- and crew-cab models with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, but for 2010 the ZQ8 Sport Suspension package is now available on two-wheel-drive extended- and crew-cab SLE-1 and SLT variants, both of which utilize 2.9-liter four-cylinder engines.

Review continues below

As previously reported, the carried-over V-8 engine still outputs 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, accelerates the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, and can tow up to 6,000 pounds. All that grunt gives the 2010 GMC Canyon a relaxed but still torquey driving experience, and it’s powerful enough to make takeoffs at stoplights seem like you’re in a muscle car.

The V-8 joins the returning 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder and 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder engines that got a revised fuel control module last year to improve fuel economy. The 185-horsepower four-cylinder now gets ratings of up to 25 mpg highway, while the 242-horsepower five-cylinder musters an EPA-rated 15/20 mpg highway/city fuel economy with the automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the smaller engines in the 2010 Canyon tend to be a little noisier and less refined than we'd like, especially considering that other budget pickups such as the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger don't suffer from this same problem.

Once again electronic stability control is standard across the lineup, and the fortified brakes from last year make a return. While power and braking in the 2010 Canyon are adequate, handling remains a weak point; it feels vague and hesitant to unwind on twisty roads. It also tends to require frequent adjustments on the highway.

Inside the cabin of the 2010 Canyon is where things begin to unravel a little. Cursed with unrefined switchgear and cheap plastic, the Canyon highlights itself as a good work truck rather than anything else. On the upside, the Canyon has what will probably please serious buyers most: a simple, straightforward instrument panel layout, with push-button controls for the 4WD system mounted high. And front seats, though flat-feeling, provide a good driving position, while in the back on Crew Cab models there’s plenty of space for two adults or three kids. It is, however, important to note that that four-door Canyons have only a 5-foot, 1-inch bed, and the 6-foot "long" bed on two-door models won't fit the standard 4x8 sheet of plywood flat.

Air conditioning comes as standard, as well as a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and folding exterior mirrors. Options such as traction control, XM, fog lamps, leather seats, a sunroof, a six-CD changer, and a sliding rear window are available. OnStar is offered, but there’s no navigation system—a necessity these days for work trucks. For 2010, three new exterior colors are available: Merlot Jewel Metallic, Gray Green Metallic, and Pure Silver Metallic.

In terms of safety, the four-door GMC Canyon is the pick of the bunch, receiving five-star crash scores, while other versions get four stars. GMC picks up head curtain side airbags as standard on all 2010 Canyon models, which should improve safety. The addition of standard StabiliTrack electronic stability control also gets a tick in our books.

6

2010 GMC Canyon

Styling

The 2010 GMC Canyon has an attractive exterior, but step inside and it’s a painfully unappealing experience.

First introduced in 2004, the new Canyon essentially has the same rugged styling as it did back then. The 2010 GMC Canyon offers three new exterior colors (Merlot Jewel Metallic, Gray Green Metallic, and Pure Silver Metallic) but is otherwise unchanged from the 2009 model.

Most reviewers are quite happy with the exterior styling of the Canyon, but the very plain interior provides a stark contrast and is almost unanimously disappointing.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com tend to appreciate the styling of the 2010 GMC Canyon, which Edmunds calls "distinctively rugged," though it certainly doesn't stand out much from some other GM light pickups on the road. Drivers pleased with the visual appeal of GMC's previous vehicles will not find any unwelcome surprises in the GMC Canyon, as Cars.com observes that the Canyon GMC has an "athletic silhouette" and "a distinctive front end...that gives the Canyon a strong family resemblance to other GMC products."

Kelley Blue Book describes the GMC Canyon as "the mirror image of its sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Colorado," and features "bulging fender flares and bright alloy wheels [that] punctuate tall slab sides." MyRide.com adds, “The Canyon is aggressively styled with angular wheel arches. Its front end is bright and bold in the GMC tradition and looks mean and menacing, albeit in a classy GMC manner."

Though reviewers might be pleased with the rugged exterior, they are very much disappointed in response to the interior. Even if the Canyon appeals from afar, Edmunds warns that "the attraction ends when you open the door." Car and Driver describes the interior as reminiscent of "rental-car interior decor," although Cars.com notes that the "Canyon's interior trim was revised to include chrome accents," and Kelley Blue Book points out that the 2010 GMC Canyon's "gauges and controls [are] within clear sight and easy reach of the driver."

7

2010 GMC Canyon

Performance

The 5.3-liter V-8 places the 2010 GMC Canyon in a more competitive position, and the uprated suspension setup available on some models improves steering and ride quality.

Last year GMC increased the fuel economy of the four- and five-cylinder engines offered in the Canyon, but the big news was the availability of a V-8 option, which returns for the 2010 model.

“Even though this engine lacks overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, it delivers a potent 300 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 320 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm,” says Automotive.com, adding, “The Canyon mainly hauled ass, although it also endured more than a 100 miles of boat towing in the dead of winter without whining.” TheCarConnection.com has confirmed the torquey, relaxed appeal of the V-8 Canyon and finds it much more appealing than the four- and five-cylinder engines otherwise offered.

Reviewers fail to find much, if anything, to love from the standard 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine (185 horsepower) or the optional inline five-cylinder unit (242 horsepower). ConsumerGuide feels that the Canyon GMC's four-cylinder offers "adequate power for around-town driving," but Edmunds notes that the smaller engine reduces the maximum towing capacity to 4,000 pounds, which "is below average for this type of truck." Car and Driver agrees, decrying the Canyon’s smaller engines as "thrashy" and claiming that "these trucks trail the competition in every way."

In terms of the ride quality, “on the highway, the Canyon feels solid and stable, with a smooth, comfortable ride,” says MyRide.com. But Car and Driver is critical once again, this time griping that the "steering is high-effort with a numb feel"—echoing the observations of TheCarConnection.com’s editors. On a positive note, the brakes are impressive and ConsumerGuide agrees that the brakes provide "quick, even stops with good pedal feel."

Automobile Magazine tests a 2010 GMC Canyon with the retuned, high-performance ZQ8 suspension/package and states that “the steering response is rapid and accurate, yet the ride is supple, even over Michigan's bombed-out excuse for pavement. The lack of steering feel will surely disappoint BMW worshippers, but a ZQ8-fortified Canyon is about as good as trucks get.” This suspension package is now available on even more variants of the Canyon for 2010.

Concerning the Canyon’s drivetrains, Cars.com says the GMC Canyon is "available with rear- or four-wheel drive" and a "choice of three rear axle ratios." Reviews of the transmissions read by TheCarConnection.com lean toward the positive end of the spectrum, and ConsumerGuide reviewers love the "quick-shifting automatic transmission." Edmunds agrees, claiming that the four-speed automatic's "shifts are smooth and well-timed,” adding that "a five-speed manual transmission [is] standard on most four-cylinder Canyons" and a "four-speed automatic is standard on five-cylinder trucks and optional with the smaller engine."

In terms of fuel economy, the official EPA estimates for the Canyon GMC range up to 25 mpg highway for four-cylinder models. Two-wheel-drive Crew Cabs with the five-cylinder engine can return 16 mpg city, 22 highway, as can manual-transmission Regular Cabs with the four-cylinder engine. The V-8 model is rated lower, at 14 mpg city, 19 highway, but TheCarConnection.com observes nearly 18 mpg in enthusiastic driving, indicating that drivers are likely to see reasonably good mileage thanks to the Canyon's relaxed, unstressed demeanor.

6

2010 GMC Canyon

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 GMC Canyon sacrifices a lot of interior comfort and build quality could certainly be improved, but a good ride helps improve its standing.  

There is general agreement among reviews of the 2010 GMC Canyon that the interior is certainly not something you would try to impress a date with—despite this, ride quality for the truck is better than most pickups can offer.

As for the interior, Automobile Magazine puts it nicely: “The top-shelf Colorado and Canyon interior trim doesn't wander far from pure molded plastic. Stuff you touch--such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel, the console top, and the armrests--are thoughtfully finished in resilient materials.” Car and Driver points out that the compact truck has "flimsy seats" and "no protective coating or tie-down rails in the bed." Edmunds concurs, going so far as to say that "the Dodge Dakota, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are simply better trucks in almost every regard." Edmunds also notices the 2010 GMC Canyon "remains saddled with sub par materials" and "an abundance of hard plastic."

In theory, the 2010 GMC Canyon Crew Cab can seat up to six passengers, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal that comfort will be a serious problem if six are crammed inside the GMC Canyon. Seating capacity and style vary by model of GMC Canyon, and Cars.com reports that regular cabs offer "a standard 60/40-split bench seat" up front, though "reclining bucket seats are available," while "four-door extended cab trucks have two forward-facing rear seats" and "Crew Cab models contain front bucket seats." The front seats fare well, and ConsumerGuide finds they deliver "lots of headroom and legroom" and are "adequately comfortable for long drives." The backseat, however, is a different story, as Edmunds claims that "rear legroom is tight in both extended cab and crew cab models," and ConsumerGuide contends that rear "legroom is still no better than a subcompact sedan's," even on the GMC Canyon Crew Cab. TheCarConnection.com’s editors consider the Crew Cab just adequate for four adults.

On the highway, wind noise intrudes, leading reviewers to question the build quality of the 2010 GMC Canyon. Edmunds reports that "wind noise around the doors picks up at highway speeds," and ConsumerGuide notes that "highway wind rush is prominent around the doors," suggesting that the Canyon isn't the most relaxing tool for long highway journeys.

The 2010 GMC Canyon gets top marks from almost everyone in ride quality, however. ConsumerGuide applauds the GMC Canyon, stating that the drive is "better than most compact pickups, provided you stick with the base suspension." Kelley Blue Book feels the "new body-on-frame chassis is much more rigid," making it the "greatest improvement over previous GMC compact trucks."

8

2010 GMC Canyon

Safety

New side-curtain airbags for 2010 that are standard across the range make the 2010 Canyon extremely safe, and combined with standard electronic stability control, there is little to complain about.

Now that GMC has provided the previously optional side-curtain airbags as standard on all 2010 Canyon models, the new Canyon qualifies as one of the safest small trucks on the market, especially with its StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, which is also included across the line as a standard feature.

The GMC Canyon earns four stars for driver-side impact protection and another perfect five-star rating for passenger-side impact protection in crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports that four-door models achieve a perfect five-star rating in front impact tests, while two-door models get four out of five stars in the same category.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) supports NHTSA’s findings, at least in terms of front impacts, where the GMC Canyon earns the Institute's highest possible rating, "good," in frontal offset impact tests. The ratings between the two agencies differ, however, when it comes to side impact protection. Whereas the GMC Canyons tested by NHTSA had the previously optional side-impact airbags installed, and thus earned high ratings, the IIHS versions did not and therefore were slapped with a "poor" rating in side impact tests. GMC has addressed the "poor" side impact rating given by the IIHS by making these side-curtain airbags standard across the model range.

Car and Driver also likes that "one year's OnStar coverage"—which might help you more quickly locate assistance if you have an accident or a breakdown—is included on all GMC Canyons.

8

2010 GMC Canyon

Features

Keep an eye on those option boxes; you can quickly turn an inexpensive 2010 GMC Canyon into a compact truck with a full-size price tag.

The 2010 GMC Canyon comes well equipped. Even the lowest trim level offers a nice array of standard conveniences, such as air conditioning, cruise control, and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel.

Moving up to the SLE trim, Edmunds notes the GMC Canyon model garners "OnStar, an upgraded front bench, a CD/MP3 player and options not available on the SL." Furthermore, the SLT trim of the Canyon GMC "adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery and heated power front bucket seats."

Edmunds reports that the Canyon GMC comes in "three body style configurations: regular cab, extended cab (with short reverse-opening doors) or crew cab with four regular forward-swinging doors."

Edmunds adds that "crew cabs come with a five-foot cargo box while other Canyons feature a six-footer." But Automobile Magazine states, “The five-foot cargo bed won't impress anyone used to a full-size pickup truck, but it is at least shrewdly configured.” Automobile Magazine adds, “The tailgate has a 55-degrees-open position to provide support at the tail end of the load. With the gate fully down, you've got an 81-inch-long load surface suitable for hauling motorcycles up to and including a Harley-Davidson Sportster. Sturdy tie-down anchors are provided.”

ConsumerGuide reviewers are disappointed to discover that "interior storage is limited on regular cabs," though they report it is "good on extended and Crew Cabs with the rear seats folded."

The short and shorter beds available on the GMC Canyon don't help much with overall carrying capacity, either. While Edmunds does note that the "dual-position tailgate can be secured partially open to better support the carrying of 4x8 sheets," the system is awkward and requires that the sheets "ride on top of the wheel wells."

Reviews about the 2010 GMC Canyon read by TheCarConnection.com’s editors reveal some enticing option packages. The Z71 Off-Road package seems to be one of the preferred choices, with ConsumerGuide reporting that upgrades include a "limited-slip differential, wheel flares, front tow hooks, off-road suspension, full-size spare tire, [and] 265/75R15 on/off-road tires." The ZQ8 package is geared toward street tuners and includes such features as "18-inch aluminum rims and a lowered ride height," according to Cars.com. Cars.com reviewers also state that other "options include heated leather front bucket seats" and "an in-dash six-CD changer"; "XM Satellite Radio is available" as well. According to Edmunds, a "'Sun and Sound' package" on the GMC Canyon "bundles a six-CD changer with a power sunroof."

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March 7, 2015
For 2010 GMC Canyon

nice truck

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Definitely need to improve the quality of interior plastic could use under dash interiorllights as well other than that no complaints here
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Styling 6.0
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Safety 8.0
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