2021 GMC Canyon

2021 GMC Canyon Review: More Capable Than Ever

Within the competitive midsize truck segment, the GMC Canyon has the job of luring buyers away from rivals that all have a unique selling proposition. There's the Jeep Gladiator for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, the Honda Ridgeline for those who prioritize on-road comfort, and the Ford Ranger, the all-rounder with the right badge on its nose. The Canyon is a more luxurious version of its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, with a number of upscale features on offer and a smoother ride than most others in the segment. For 2021, a new off-road-focused AT4 variant has been introduced, adding to the Canyon's capabilities with features like 31-inch tires. Although the base engine isn't particularly strong and GMC has been stingy with safety equipment, the Canyon has plenty to offer.

2021 GMC Canyon truck Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Canyon?

The major changes to the Canyon include the introduction of the new AT4 trim (replacing the All Terrain) and an even more luxurious Denali. On the AT4, standard equipment includes 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, a rear automatic locking differential, and a transfer skid plate. On the Denali, along with revised styling elements such as a new grille, the cabin received open-pore ash wood trim, along with a new Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere color theme. The trims have been rejigged in general, with last year's SL, Base, SLE, SLT, and All Terrain making way for the new Elevation Standard, Elevation, and the AT4 with cloth or leather. The Denali tops the range as it did before.

Pros and Cons

  • Good handling and decent ride
  • Strong V6 and turbodiesel engines
  • Capable new AT4 trim
  • Competitive towing capacity
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Merely average interior quality
  • Lack of driver-assist technologies
  • Not the most affordable truck in its class
  • Lackluster base engine

Best Deals on Canyon

2021 GMC Canyon Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Elevation Standard
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$26,400
Elevation
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$30,000
AT4-Cloth
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$38,200
AT4-Leather
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$40,000
Denali
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$40,900

Canyon Exterior

GMC has subtly revised the Canyon's look for the 2021 model year, with the grille receiving a redesign that adds a touch more presence than before. Depending on the version you go for, the look is either quite rugged (AT4) or flashier (Denali). Base models have 18-inch wheels, the AT4 is distinguished by its 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, and the Denali gets 20-inch diamond-cut machined alloy wheels. On the base model, expect features like daytime running lamps, halogen projector-beam headlamps with LED signature lighting, and black manually-adjustable mirrors. The AT4 has dark chrome exterior finishes and red recovery hooks, while the range-topper comes with LED cargo box lighting. Most versions have an EZ-Lift tailgate design, making it simpler to raise and lower the tailgate.

2021 GMC Canyon Front View GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Forward View GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Driving Front Angle GMC
See All 2021 GMC Canyon Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Available as an Extended Cab or Crew Cab with two box sizes, the 2021 GMC Canyon has a length of 212.4 inches, a width of 74.3 inches (excluding the mirrors), a 128.3-inch wheelbase, and a height of at least 70.3 inches, going up to 70.7 inches on some derivatives. With the long box, the Crew Cab's wheelbase grows to 140.5 inches and the length increases to 224.6 inches.

Two box lengths are on offer, with the shorter one measuring 61.7 inches at the floor and the longer one stretching to 74 inches. The cargo box width at the floor is 57.8 inches and 44.4 inches at the wheel housings.

Depending on the trim, the Canyon truck has a ground clearance ranging between 8.1 and 8.4 inches. In terms of curb weight, the lightest Canyon starts at close to 4,000 pounds and the heaviest will tip the scales at over 4,500 lbs.

  • Length 212.4 in
  • Wheelbase 128.3 in
  • Height 70.4 in
  • Max Width 74.3 in

Exterior Colors

On all trims, Summit White is the only color that comes as standard. For an additional $195, Onyx Black becomes available on the cheapest Elevation Standard trim, while a further $495 will get you either Satin Steel metallic or Dynamic Blue metallic. Moving up to the Elevation avails Desert Sand metallic at $495 and Cayenne Red Tintcoat at $645. Above this, the AT4 removes Dynamic Blue while the AT4 with leather trim removes Desert Sand, too. Finally, the Denali adds the option of Hunter metallic at an additional $495. This dark blue/grey hue does well to contrast with the Denali's extensive use of chrome.

Canyon Performance

Offered in both 2WD and 4WD configurations, the 2021 GMC Canyon is offered with a choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a 2.8-liter turbodiesel, and a 3.6-liter V6. Our review of the GMC Canyon found that the base four-pot struggles to haul around the fairly large body, but it gets the job done if strong performance is less important. That's in stark contrast to the V6, which delivers a solid 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Independent tests have shown that equipped with this engine, the Canyon will get from 0 to 60 mph in well under seven seconds, which is properly rapid for a truck. The turbodiesel engine won't get you off the mark quite as quickly, but its torque output of 369 lb-ft endows this version with the best towing capacity in the range of 7,700 lbs.

2021 GMC Canyon Side Perspective Driving GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Rear View Driving GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Driving Back View GMC

Engine and Transmission

On lower trims, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers the 2021 Canyon and comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine delivers 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. It's by no means a ball of fire and acceleration is distinctly leisurely, but as a more value-conscious choice, it does have its place in the range. The 3.6-liter V6 with 308 hp and 275 lb-ft is far more up to the job of moving the Canyon with some gusto, and its eight-speed automatic gearbox is an improvement on the base six-speeder. The engine gets the Canyon up to speed quickly and passing power is good, making this the powertrain of choice in the range. If you do need maximum towing capacity, then the 2.8-liter turbodiesel with 181 hp and a stout 369 lb-ft is the one to go for. However, it's not as enjoyable as the V6 in day to day driving.

  • Engines
    2.5L Inline-4 Gas, 2.8L Turbo Inline-4 Diesel, 3.6L V6, 3.6L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The GMC Canyon impresses with its driving dynamics, and although it doesn't ride quite as smoothly as the Honda Ridgeline, it's more comfortable than most trucks in this segment. Bumps are soaked up easily and the Canyon pickup feels refined, with some bumpiness only creeping in when the bed is completely empty, but this characteristic is typical of trucks. Good noise suppression makes longer road trips less of a chore. The steering itself is direct and precise, too, making the Canyon quite fun to hustle, especially when it is equipped with the V6 engine. For off-roading, the Canyon is better than ever thanks to the introduction of the new AT4. With its beefy tires, two-speed transfer case, and automatic locking differential, it's confident getting its boots dirty and articulation is good. So, while some rivals are even more capable off-road and some are even more serene on smooth surfaces, the Canyon pickup strikes an admirable balance.

Canyon Gas Mileage

The Canyon's economy figures are on par with most of its competitors. The most fuel-efficient version is the turbodiesel in 2WD guise, which returns EPA-rated numbers of 20/30/23 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. That's pretty good, although not as good as the Jeep Gladiator diesel's 22/28/24 mpg, especially considering that the Gladiator only comes with a heavier 4x4 system. The base 2.5-liter engine in the Canyon manages a best of 19/25/22 mpg, and although the V6 is the least fuel-efficient, it barely suffers at the pumps relative to the 2.5L with figures of 18/25/21 mpg in 2WD guise. All versions are fitted with a 21-gallon gas tank, which will enable maximum gas mileage (with the diesel) of 483 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/25 mpg
* 2021 GMC Canyon 2WD Extended Cab 128" Elevation Standard

Canyon Interior

While free of gimmicks and generally easy to use, the GMC Canyon's cabin doesn't quite nail the more luxurious truck brief. Some of the materials, such as the plastic toggle switches, don't feel as upscale as they should. While comfort is good for the driver, rear-seat legroom is lacking, especially on Extended Cab variants. Although the base variant is rather sparsely equipped, it does at least come with a four-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a user-friendly infotainment system with a color touchscreen, and single-zone climate control. Further up in the range, the Canyon gets more luxurious upholstery, wireless charging, ventilated front seats, remote start, and a heated steering wheel.

2021 GMC Canyon Dashboard GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Driver Area GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Seat Details GMC
See All 2021 GMC Canyon Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

In the Extended Cab models, the GMC Canyon pickup will seat four occupants, increasing to five for the GMC Canyon 4-door truck, known as the Crew Cab. The front seats are not the most supportive, although space isn't an issue. That's not the case at the back of Extended Cab variants, where headroom is fine but legroom is in short supply. Compared to the Extended Cab, the 4-door truck with its more conventional rear doors does a much better job of accommodating rear-seat passengers, even if the seats themselves are quite upright. Although the high ride height improves the driver's view out, it does mean that ingress and egress require some amount of effort, and older occupants may need help getting into the Canyon. An expansive windshield further aids the view out, although rear-quarter visibility isn't quite as stellar.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.0 in
  • Front Head Room 41.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 28.6 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.7 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Basic cloth trim comes as standard on the entry-level Canyon, and it's only offered in a somber Jet Black/Dark Ash color combination. For no added cost, vinyl upholstery in the same color scheme can be equipped, which also adds vinyl floor coverings. Moving up to the Elevation restricts the color choice to only Jet Black, but leather upholstery is optionally on offer at this level. The AT4 is offered with either cloth or leather upholstery, but both use the same Jet Black/Kalahari color scheme. Moving up to the more luxurious Denali brings with it perforated leather seats in either Jet Black or a Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere. Chrome interior door handles give upper trim levels a bit of a lift, as does a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Further distinguishing the top-spec Denali is open-pore ash wood trim, aluminum decor, and bespoke stitching.

Canyon Pickup Trunk and Cargo Space

For Crew Cab models equipped with the shorter 61.7-inch box, total cargo volume amounts to 41.3 cubic feet, whereas the longer Crew Cab box or the Extended Cab box increases this figure to 49.9 cubes thanks to an increased bed length of 74 inches. Both the floor and the bed sides are rather high, so this makes loading and unloading cargo quite a strenuous affair, although the integrated bumper steps do help out in this regard. An optional EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate is available, as are a set of four cargo tie-downs and cargo box LED lighting. That said, some rivals offer more features to make the most of the available space. Depending on the trim and configuration, the Canyon's payload capacity varies between 1,347 and 1,578 lbs.

In terms of in-cabin storage, all models feature a large center console along with twin cupholders for the driver and front-seat passenger. All versions besides the base trim get an overhead console providing additional storage space, while Crew Cabs receive a rear folding bench seat. However, the uneven floor makes it challenging to lay items flat when the rear seat is folded up. On the entry-level Extended Cab, the rear seat can be optionally removed entirely, freeing up a lot more storage space, but limiting seating capacity to just two.

2021 GMC Canyon Rear View Driving 1 GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Tailgate GMC
2021 GMC Canyon Rear Angle View GMC

Canyon Infotainment and Features

Features

As usual, the base Canyon pickup truck is a far more spartan affair than the feature-packed Denali at the top of the range. If all you need is the basic Extended Cab, it comes with a 3.5-inch monochromatic driver information center, a four-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-adjustable steering column, and single-zone climate control, along with basic safety equipment like a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, and six airbags. Higher up in the lineup, the Canyon offers a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a six-way power driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, remote start, wireless charging, and a heated steering wheel. On the safety front, an HD backup camera, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning are available.

Infotainment

The Canyon's infotainment system is simple to use thanks to large enough buttons, the responsiveness of the screen itself, and the logical menus. On lower trims, the screen is a seven-inch unit and can be used to control features like Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Further up in the range, the system comprises a larger eight-inch touchscreen, HD Radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Front USB ports are standard, while select trims have an SD card reader, too. Navigation is equipped as standard on the top Denali trim, which also receives a seven-speaker Bose sound system. Lesser versions make do with a six-speaker sound system. From the Elevation trim and upwards, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is equipped.

GMC Canyon Pickup Truck: Problems and Reliability

According to J.D. Power, the Canyon midsize truck has an overall rating of 80 out of a maximum 100, ranking it just behind the Honda Ridgeline but ahead of rivals like the Toyota Tacoma and Jeep Gladiator. Promisingly, the Canyon has so far received zero recalls for 2019, 2020, and 2021 model years.

If anything does go wrong, all GMC Canyon models are covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain/drivetrain warranty. The latter increases to 100,000 miles for fleet purchases. GMC also includes one scheduled maintenance visit in the first year, corrosion protection for three months or 36,000 miles, and a six-year/100,000-mile rust-through warranty. Finally, roadside assistance runs for five years or 60,000 miles, increasing to 100,000 miles for qualified fleet purchases.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2021 Warranty \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

2021 Canyon Safety

Although the NHTSA has not provided an official safety rating for the 2021 GMC Canyon pickup trucks, the 2020 model was rated at four out of five stars for overall safety. This evaluation was made up of a four-star score for the frontal crash, five stars for the side crash, and three stars for the rollover test. The IIHS bestowed the 2020 Canyon with mostly Good ratings, although the small overlap front passenger-side test received only a Marginal score.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

GMC has fallen short of its midsize truck competitors when it comes to standard driver-assist technologies. For instance, the base variant only comes with a rearview camera and essentials like six airbags, electronic traction control, electronic stability control, a teen driver feature, and tire pressure monitoring. Higher-spec trims have rear parking sensors and an HD rearview camera, but you need to go all the way up to the pricier Denali to get standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning. The Ford Ranger and Honda Ridgeline are both better equipped with safety gear, even on their base trims.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 GMC Canyon a good Truck?

The GMC Canyon is a solid offering in its segment and, although it falls short of the class leaders, it ticks enough boxes to merit consideration. It's comfortable and pleasant to drive, especially if you skip the underpowered base engine, yet also performs well as a hard-working truck with its favorable towing capacity. The turbodiesel engine option is a rarity in this segment, further setting apart the Canyon, while the new AT4 trim enhances the Canyon's off-roading capability, too. On the downside, the cabin feels like it has aged and GMC could have done more to improve the Canyon's range of standard and available safety equipment. If you've committed to the GMC brand, then the Canyon is a more affordable alternative to the Sierra 1500 if you don't require the added capability of that truck. In its segment, though, the Canyon can't quite elevate above the likes of the Chevrolet Colorado and Ford Ranger.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 GMC Canyon?

The cheapest GMC Canyon is the Elevation Standard at an MSRP of $26,400. It's followed by the Elevation at exactly $30,000, the AT4-Cloth at $38,200, and the AT4-Leather at $40,000. Finally, the Denali carries the heftiest price in the 2021 GMC Canyon range at $44,400. These prices represent each trim in their least expensive form and excludes tax, licensing, registration, and a destination freight charge of $1,195.

At the time of writing, the turbodiesel model was not yet available as this engine option is subject to late availability. However, on the entry-level Extended Cab, upgrading from the 2.5L four-cylinder to the 3.6L V6 will add $1,485 to the price, while 4WD (with the V6 added by default) is an additional $5,400. The cheapest Extended Cab's price will rise by $1,900 if upgrading to the Crew Cab with the short box. A fully loaded Denali can cost well in excess of $50,000 when equipped with all the available accessories.

2021 GMC Canyon Models

The new 2021 GMC Canyon truck is available in a choice of five trims: Elevation Standard, Elevation, AT4-Cloth, AT4-Leather, and Denali. All versions besides the AT4 and the Crew Cab with the long box are 2WD as standard, with 4WD optional. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 200 hp and 191 lb-ft, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful 3.6-liter V6 with 308 hp and 275 lb-ft is standard on AT4, Denali, and all 4WD-equipped versions. Finally, there is a 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine offering a strong 369 lb-ft of torque.

The base Elevation Standard comes with 18-inch black-gloss wheels, halogen projector-beam headlamps with LED signature, and manual-folding black mirrors. Inside, there are cloth seats along with a four-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a six-speaker audio system, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, and manual single-zone climate control.

Moving up to the Elevation equips body-color exterior trim, a manual sliding rear window, a remote locking tailgate, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic single-zone climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The off-road-focused AT4-Cloth gains 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, 17-inch alloy wheels, an off-road-tuned suspension, standard 4WD, and an automatic rear locking differential. The AT4-Leather has all of this plus leather-upholstered seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, and an upgraded infotainment system with HD Radio.

Finally, the more luxurious Denali comes with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, an eight-inch touchscreen interface with navigation, a seven-speaker Bose premium sound system, and heated/ventilated front seats.

See All 2021 GMC Canyon Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

A range of packages and standalone accessories are available across the Canyon lineup.

On the most affordable Extended Cab in Elevation Standard trim, the $630 Convenience Package adds a remote locking tailgate, remote keyless entry, a rear window defogger, and cruise control. The Sport Bar and Lighting Package goes for $2,295 and includes off-road lights and a sport bar with a Canyon logo. There's also a Power Package for $1,850 with a performance air intake system and a cat-back performance exhaust.

Moving up through the range of GMC Canyon midsize trucks, the Crew Cab in Elevation trim has access to the $1,400 High Elevation Package. This introduces power lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat, leather front seats with heating, and a heated steering wheel. Additional safety gear in the form of rear park assist, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning comes via the $690 Driver Alert Package.

The top-spec Denali has fewer upgrades owing to its higher standard specification, although it can be had with the Performance Skid Plate Package at $375 and the aforementioned Power Package, both of which are available to lower trims, too.

🚗What GMC Canyon Model Should I Buy?

As usual when it comes to trucks with their multiple configurations, your specific needs will determine whether you really need 4WD, a bigger box, or the added cabin space of the Crew Cab. The AT4 is the easy choice for off-road enthusiasts who want the peace of mind that their truck can handle the rough stuff, but if yours will be spending more time on asphalt, consider the Elevation with the upgraded V6 engine, which isn't much heavier on gas but is a far more spirited performer. The one box we would tick is for the Driver Alert Package, as the Canyon has precious few driver aids fitted as standard.

2021 GMC Canyon Comparisons

Chevrolet Colorado
Ford Ranger Ford
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
GMC Canyon200 hp19/25 mpg$26,400
Chevrolet Colorado 200 hp19/25 mpg$25,200
Ford Ranger 270 hp19/18 mpg$24,110

2021 GMC Canyon vs Chevrolet Colorado

The GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado are corporate cousins, which explains why they share the same range of engines and, consequently, are similarly capable when it comes to hauling. Although the Canyon was the truck that looked more luxurious previously, the Colorado's latest facelift works well and, on the aggressive ZR2 off-road trim with its lift kit, it easily matches the Canyon AT4 for visual appeal. The ZR2 is perhaps the more extreme off-roader though, as Chevy specs it with both front/rear locking differentials, position-sensitive dampers, and a suspension lifted by two inches. However, as before, the Canyon Denali offers a superior alternative for buyers wanting a more luxurious midsize truck. With a starting MSRP of $25,200, the Colorado once again undercuts the Canyon. If capability and bed size rate highly, then the Colorado does exactly what the Canyon does, but at a more wallet-friendly price.

See Chevrolet Colorado Review

2021 GMC Canyon vs Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger may live in the shadow, quite literally, of the all-conquering F-150, but it's a solid, if outdated, choice. Although the Ranger comes with just a single engine option in the form of its 2.3-liter turbo, it comprehensively outperforms the Canyon's base engine. Towing capacity comes within 200 pounds of the Canyon's maximum, and there is a similar amount of space in the beds of these two trucks. Although the Canyon feels a touch more luxurious inside, it's the Ranger that benefits from a superior suite of safety equipment such as forward-collision warning and available adaptive cruise control. There isn't much in it, but the Ranger's better safety spec, strong turbocharged engine, and similar capability see it edge the Canyon, if only just.

See Ford Ranger Review

GMC Canyon Popular Comparisons

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Photos
$26,400 - $44,700
Price Range (MSRP)
GMC Canyon