- Powerful and smooth V-8
- Multiple body styles and configurations
- Fuel-efficient four-cylinder/manual option
- Genuine compact truck in short-bed form
- Agricultural four and five-cylinder engines
- Poor interior plastics
- Longest bed is only six feet
The 2010 GMC Canyon returns with its powerful V-8, more safety features, and new exterior colors, but a cheap interior remains a letdown.
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.
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.