2019 GMC Canyon

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
February 15, 2019

Buying tip

A nicely optioned GMC Canyon SLT is essentially a Denali for less money and with less chrome, so shop smart if you can live without the styling glitz.

features & specs

2WD Crew Cab 128.3"
2WD Crew Cab 128.3" Denali
2WD Crew Cab 128.3" SLE
20 city / 26 hwy
18 city / 25 hwy
20 city / 26 hwy

The 2019 GMC Canyon is a solid mid-size truck thanks to its terrific and diverse powertrain options, refined interior, and classy demeanor.

The 2019 GMC Canyon is a mid-size pickup with hints of upscale flair, enough for a 5.2 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Like its platform mate, the Chevrolet Colorado, the 2019 Canyon can’t quite stack up to its full-size companions, but at nearly 19 feet from end to end, it’s no small fry. The Canyon comes in several trim levels, SL, Canyon, SLE, All Terrain, SLT, and Denali, ranging from utilitarian to near-luxury. Those who opt for the All Terrain trim will get a helping of off-road styling details, but this is no rock climber like the Colorado ZR2.

For 2019, the Canyon got a mild refresh, including a new infotainment system with cloud-connected navigation and automatic software updates. There’s also the option for parking sensors, a 6-way power-adjustable driver seat on several trims, a new 17-inch SLE wheel design, and four new colors: Dark Sky Metallic, Smokey Quartz Metallic, Blue Emerald Metallic, and Sedona Metallic.

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The Canyon comes in a variety of sizes, including extended- or crew-cab bodies with a short 5-foot-2 bed or long 6-foot-2 bed, with the long bed the only option on the extended cab version. Engine options include a 2.5-liter inline-4, 3.6-liter V-6, or turbodiesel 2.8-liter inline-4. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on some inline-4 models, and a 6-speed automatic is optional for the gas and diesel 4-cylinder engines, while the V-6 can be had with an 8-speed automatic. The Canyon comes in either rear- or four-wheel drive like most pickups.

Though it’s no athlete, the Canyon is quiet and agreeable on road, and with the diesel can deliver up to 30 mpg on the highway. The mighty diesel also tows up to 7,700 pounds, meeting the usual needs for many pickup buyers.

While they share engines, platforms, and more, the Canyon and Colorado differ greatly in their trim levels and intended buyers. Where the Colorado ZR2 off-road bruiser represents the best Colorado money can buy, GMC’s Canyon Denali piles on chrome trim and luxury features for those looking for a posher pickup experience.


2019 GMC Canyon


The 2019 GMC Canyon is ruggedly handsome on the outside but has a soft side within.

If you like the looks of the full-size Sierra, you should find no fault with the 2019 GMC Canyon, which we’ve awarded a 7 out of 10 for its squared-off exterior and car-like interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Canyon’s boxy shape is emphasized by its tall grille and rectangular headlights and wheel arches, giving it a more business-like look than the curvier Colorado, though the two are almost indistinguishable from the side. The high, rising belt line gives the Canyon a slightly sportier look than other trucks.

Offered in either extended- or crew-cab configuration, both versions of the Canyon come with two doors on each side, either rear half doors on the extended cab and full-size doors on the crew. The extended cab model is available only with the longer 6-foot-2 bed, while the crew cab can be had with a bed that’s a foot shorter if desired.

The curvy dashboard places most controls high up and well within the driver’s reach, and while the Canyon isn’t out to impress at the bottom of the range, the higher-brow Denali adds faux wood trim and leather upholstery.

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2019 GMC Canyon


The 2019 GMC Canyon hits a high note with its engine and gearbox choices.

The 2019 GMC Canyon can be had with a wide variety of powertrain choices, and for that we’ve awarded it 6 out of 10 points for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

If you’re cross-shopping the Canyon with its fraternal twin the Colorado, you may have noticed that the Chevy received 7 out of 10 points in this category. That extra point is for the Colorado’s hardcore ZR2 model, which packs some serious off-road hardware onto an already capable truck. The Canyon instead eschews off-road prowess for comfortable style.

The entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feetof torque. As standard, Canyon pairs 6-speed manual transmission with rear-wheel drive, and a 6-speed automatic is option with rear-wheel drive and standard with four-wheel drive. The uprated engine choice is a 3.6-liter V-6 with a respectable 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet, and it is by far the more popular engine choice for its superior power and decent fuel economy. The V-6 gets a beefed-up 8-speed automatic transmission as well.

Finally, buyers with an eye for torque and efficiency can opt for a 2.8-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4, which makes only 186 horsepower but a whopping 369 pound-feet of torque. Paired with a 6-speed automatic, the diesel impressed us with its refined performance and capability thanks to the torque, towing up to 7,700 pounds when properly equipped. The gas V-6 receives a 7,000 pound tow rating, but feels more heavily taxed when towing close to that limit.

For those interested in traveling off the beaten path, the All Terrain X package is a better choice than the standard All Terrain for its Goodyear all-terrain rubber and other off-road goodies. Canyons equipped with four-wheel drive get a stronger transfer case with an automatic mode, something not available on other trucks.

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2019 GMC Canyon

Comfort & Quality

A well-finished interior and some genuinely luxurious trim on the Denali model aren’t quite enough to offset the 2019 GMC Canyon’s small backseat.

While the 2019 GMC Canyon offers ample space up front, rear passengers will find themselves a bit squeezed, warranting a 5 out of 10 on our points scale (Read more about how we rate cars.)

If you’re looking for a Canyon SL on a dealer lot, you’re unlikely to find one, as its aimed mainly at fleet sales which prefer vinyl seats and flooring for quick, easy cleaning. The base Canyon and higher SLE trims have cloth seats, while SLT and Denali get standard leather upholstery. Despite the Denali’s swankier look and reputation, it’s not much more than an appearance package, and comes up short in actual added features.

Whichever Canyon you choose, you’ll find solid build quality throughout the interior. SL models get a standard power seat for the driver’s side, but back seat space is tight and works better as extra storage. The Crew Cab offers better interior space naturally, but this is no family crossover SUV.

With either the 5-foot-2 or 6-foot-2 bed, the Canyon is decidedly mid-size, making small pickups of days gone by seem like toys in comparison.

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2019 GMC Canyon


The 2019 GMC Canyon is no safety superstar, with missing tech features and so-so crash tests.

Though the 2019 GMC Canyon is a thoroughly modern truck, it still lacks in the safety department, with sub-par crash test scores and limited active-safety equipment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Caynon rates 2 out of 10 points on our scale based on last year's crash-test results. We'll update this space when 2019 crash-test scores are announced.

All Canyons are equipped with anti-lock brakes, six airbags, and a rearview camera, and the Driver Alert Package includes forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, but not automatic emergency braking. This package is optional on SLE and SLT models, and standard on Denali.

The Canyon also received a 4-star rating from the NHTSA (out of five stars), and the IIHS found anomalies in the way extended and crew cab models handle a crash.

The crew cab models all scored “Good” in the IIHS tests, but the extended cab model only managed an “Acceptable” result in the small-overlap front and side-impact tests. With no automatic emergency braking offered, the Canyon is ineligible for the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick award.


2019 GMC Canyon


Even base 2019 GMC Canyons come well-equipped, and the top-of-the-line Denali trim could pass for a luxury truck.

What the 2019 GMC Canyon lacks in safety features and scores, it makes up for in available options and trim levels. The terrific infotainment systems, wide customization options, and the Denali trim’s luxury appointments warrant 7 out of 10 points on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Fleet buyers would be smart to opt for the value-conscious SL model, which packs only a standard power driver’s seat, windows, and locks, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The SL is only available in extended cab configuration with vinyl seats and rear-wheel drive.

Stepping up to the “base” Canyon nets cloth upholstery and the option for four-wheel drive and the mighty V6. Most buyers will opt for the SLE trim or above, though, which ups the infotainment screen size to 8.0 inches and adds optional navigation, alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and options for heated seats, skid plates, and more.

The All Terrain model adds an off-road suspension to the SLE trim, as well as skid plates, recovery hooks, and subtle off-road inspired styling cues. Add the X package for a spray-in bedliner, and Goodyear all-terrain tires.

The Canyon SLT gets standard leather upholstery,19-inch wheels, power front seats, and remote start. The Denali model kicks things up a notch with cooled front seats, navigation, Bose audio, and 20-inch wheels.

Our advice? A Canyon SLE with the All Terrain X package is just right for most buyers.

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2019 GMC Canyon

Fuel Economy

The 2019 GMC Canyon can be plenty fuel efficient with the right options, but is average for a truck otherwise.

Thanks to its diesel powertrain option, the 2019 GMC Canyon is more miserly on fuel than other mid-size pickups, and even some mid-size sedans.

We’ve given the powertrain lineup a 4 out of 10 based on the most popular V-6, four-wheel drive configuration, but the different engine options each have their merits. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2.5-liter inline-4 represents the base engine option, and rear-wheel drive models average 20 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 combined with either the manual or automatic transmission selected. With four-wheel drive equipped, those numbers drop slightly to 19/24/21 mpg with the automatic transmission only.

The V-6 is easily the thirstiest of the lineup at 3.6-liters of displacement and manages 18/25/20 mpg with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive models earn 17/24/19 mpg.

Rounding out the lineup, the 2.8-liter turbodiesel is rated at an impressive 22/30/25 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 20/28/23 mpg with four-wheel drive, but with the higher added cost of diesel, you’ll have to check the math yourself on whether it will save you some money over time.

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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 2
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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