- Style is aging well
- Great engine lineup
- Many trim levels
- Good infotainment
- Showing its age
- Concerning safety scores
- Costly diesel
- Still rides like a truck
features & specs
The 2020 GMC Canyon has its virtues, but its design is beginning to feel old and it hasn’t done well in crash tests.
The 2020 GMC Canyon is a no-nonsense mid-size pickup truck that remains a good choice even against its stiff competition. It’s more comfortable and luxurious than other options in its class especially in top trims, though safety is a concern, so we’ve awarded it 4.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2020, the Canyon sees minimal changes when it could have used a bigger refresh alongside the redesigned Sierra. New features include an optional power-locking tailgate, a tire fill alert that honks the horn when a tire is at optimal pressure, and an updated 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation as an option on higher trims.
From fleet-oriented SL to the opulent Denali, the Canyon takes on a wide range of personalities. There’s even an All Terrain trim that dials up off-road looks and capability, but it’s not quite on the level of its sibling, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Available with either an extended- or crew-cab body, two different bed lengths, two- or four-wheel drive, two gasoline engines and a turbodiesel, the Canyon is one of the most versatile pickups regardless of size.
A 2.5-liter inline-4 is the base engine and makes 200 horsepower, but the optional 3.6-liter V-6 adds 108 more ponies and is by far the better and more popular engine. A costly 2.8-liter turbodiesel makes gobs of torque and increases towing capacity up to 7,700 pounds. For most users, the gas-fueled V-6 will be just fine. A manual transmission is standard, but a largely docile 8-speed automatic is far more common.
The Canyon is composed and quiet on-road, especially in more luxurious upper trims, and offers impressive standard features as well as useful options, including an excellent infotainment system. No automatic emergency braking system is available, however, an oversight that makes it hard for us to recommend the Canyon.
In the face of stiffer competition than ever, the Canyon represents a strong option, but fails to set itself apart in terms of looks or extreme off-road capability.
2020 GMC Canyon
The 2020 GMC Canyon wears its boxy, business-like sheetmetal well, though it’s becoming awfully familiar.
The 2020 GMC Canyon is handsome by all accounts but could benefit from some updated styling tweaks. We give it 7 out of 10 for looks.
Next to the redesigned Sierra, the Canyon looks outdated, but clean lines and just the right amount of chrome make this pickup a classy option. If the Chevrolet Colorado is a denim jacket and work boots, the Canyon is a blazer and dress shoes, sporting boxy fender flares and rounded rectangle design elements. In both extended- and crew-cab form, the Canyon is well-proportioned, but the optional long bed for the crew cab model is a step too far (literally) and makes the truck somewhat ungainly.
Inside, the cabin is all business, with a no-nonsense dashboard that features just the right number of buttons flanking the excellent touchscreen infotainment system. Range-topping Denali models get faux wood trim and contrast stitching on the leather upholstery, but even the most down-market Canyon is a pleasant place to spend some time.
2020 GMC Canyon
The 2020 GMC Canyon has two good optional engines and a comfortable ride in most trims.
The 2020 GMC Canyon offers three engines, two drivetrains, three transmissions, and something for almost every truck buyer. We give it 6 out of 10 here, based on four-wheel-drive versions with the V-6 engine.
Base Canyons come with a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard as well as rear-wheel-drive, while a 6-speed automatic and four-wheel-drive are optional. This engine feels inadequate even in a mid-size truck, which is why the vast majority of Canyon buyers opt for the 3.6-liter V-6. With 308 hp and 275 lb-ft, this smoother, more potent power plant is optional on extended cab models and standard on crew cabs. A smooth 8-speed automatic fires off quick shifts and helps the V-6 model manage a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds.
Finally, a 2.8-liter turbodiesel rounds out the lineup, making only 186 hp but a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque with a 6-speed automatic. This engine is powerful, refined, and helps both fuel economy and towing capacity, pushing them to 30 highway mpg and 7,700 pounds, respectively. It’s also expensive, which makes it a tough sell for most buyers.
While falling short of its Olympic-level sibling, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the Canyon does offer some off-road capability, especially in All Terrain X form. This package includes Goodyear off-road rubber, upgraded suspension, a beefed-up transfer case, and more go-anywhere goodies.
The highlight of the Canyon’s driving experience is its ride quality, especially in Denali form, which mitigates road imperfections and other bumps despite the old-school body-on-frame and leaf spring suspension design. It’s not as compliant as the unibody Honda Ridgeline, but we wager most truck buyers will be pleased overall.
2020 GMC Canyon
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 GMC Canyon is well-built regardless of trim, and can be almost luxurious in Denali form.
The 2020 GMC Canyon runs the gamut from humble work truck to near-luxury pickup, but all models are well-built if not particularly spacious. We give it 5 out of 10 with a detraction for the cramped back seat.
In SL form, the Canyon is meant primarily for fleet buyers, and features vinyl seats and flooring. The base model and SLE trim offer cloth upholstery and minimal creature comforts, while the SLT and Denali models come with leather and more features. All Terrain models are available with either cloth or leather depending on how much you’re willing to shell out, and every Canyon features an excellent touchscreen infotainment system with the option for navigation and monthly 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot access.
Front seat passengers will be fairly comfortable in any Canyon, with features such as heated leather seats and power adjustability making SLT and Denali models a nicer place to spend time. While the crew cab offers more room in the back and an easier-to-use conventional door, the rear seat is a cramped affair for most passengers, and the upright rear cushion makes it less comfortable on long journeys.
The Canyon also comes with the option of a 6-foot-2 bed that’s standard on extended cab models but optional on crew cab, while the crew cab normally gets a bed that’s one foot shorter.
2020 GMC Canyon
The 2020 GMC Canyon fails to deliver in the safety department.
The 2020 GMC Canyon is not up to snuff in terms of safety. Its crash-test results are just so-so, and it lacks advanced active safety gear that could prevent accidents. We rate it just 2 out of 10, a disappointing figure.
All models come with anti-lock brakes, six airbags, and a rearview camera, while an optional package includes forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, but no automatic braking is available on any trim.
The 2020 Canyon received only four stars overall from the federal government, including a three-star rollover rating. The IIHS gave the Canyon “Acceptable” ratings in front and side tests along with a “Poor” headlight score. That should be discouraging for family-oriented buyers, many of whom are switching to mid-size trucks with more options now available.
2020 GMC Canyon
The 2020 GMC Canyon makes the most sense in SLE trim.
The 2020 GMC Canyon is available in so many configurations that buyers will be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t suit their needs and tastes. We give it 6 out of 10 here for its good infotainment.
Fleet buyers should opt for the Canyon SL, which features hose-down vinyl seats with power adjustability on the driver’s side as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. This trim only comes in extended-cab form, however, and rear-wheel-drive is the only setup.
Stepping up, the confusingly named base Canyon includes cloth upholstery and the option for four-wheel-drive and the V-6 engine, but it’s identical to the SL otherwise.
Most buyers will start shopping with the SLE, which adds an 8.0-inch infotainment system with available navigation, alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and some other creature comforts. Heated seats, skid plates, and other a-la-carte options are available as well.
Next up, the All Terrain adds an off-road suspension kit, skid plates, recovery hooks, and some styling tweaks such as a blacked-out grille to the SLE, while the X package throws on a spray-in bedliner, Goodyear all-terrain tires, and metal side steps. An SLE with a few options makes sense for around $35,000.
The SLT trim comes with leather as standard, 18-inch wheels, a power passenger’s seat, and remote start. Finally, the Denali model adds ventilated front seats to go along with heat, Bose audio, navigation, forward collision warning, a heated steering wheel, and big chrome 20-inch wheels.
For 2020, the Canyon gets a remote locking tailgate as an option on the base trim and standard on SLE and above, while all models get a new tire fill alert system. The optional upgraded infotainment system is also improved for this year, and available on SLE and above.
2020 GMC Canyon
The 2020 GMC Canyon is about average for a small pickup, although its available turbodiesel is relatively miserly.
The 2020 GMC Canyon lineup rates as a 3 out of 10 overall based on the V-6 with four-wheel drive, though a turbodiesel truck would score almost 5 points.
Base inline-4 Canyon trucks are rated at 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. Adding four-wheel-drive dropped those numbers slightly to 19/24/21 mpg.
The 3.6-liter V-6 managed 18/25/20 mpg and 17/24/19 mpg with two- and four-wheel-drive respectively, and spending more for the turbodiesel helps save at the pump, with figures of 20/30/23 mpg and 19/28/22 mpg for two- and four-wheel drive models.
Both gasoline models run on regular fuel, but if you do opt for the diesel, keep a close eye on prices as the extra cost of fuel may offset the mileage savings for that engine.