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.