2020 GMC Canyon

2020 GMC Canyon Review: A Truck For Everyone

by Deiondre van der Merwe

If you're looking for a midsize pickup truck in America, you're likely to be rifling through a list that reads longer than the Declaration of Independence of makes, models, trims, and configurations. The GMC Canyon is a notable candidate in a sea of pickup trucks and offers a wide range of configuration options to suit your needs, whether you're after a workhorse or a daily pickup. A 2.5-liter engine is available with 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, but we'd recommend steering clear of that lethargy - you'll be better off with the zestful 308-hp 3.6-liter V6 or fuel-efficient turbo-diesel. It's meritable, but trying to beat the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma is about as easy as trying to climb a very large, billion-dollar wall. To this end, the GMC Canyon plies its trade as an upmarket truck, but when sharing bones with the humble Chevrolet Colorado, it might just be charging top dollar for the sake of a badge, diminishing its appeal among the hardcore truck enthusiasts.

2020 GMC Canyon Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Canyon?

Minor changes accompany the pickup truck in 2020, with GMC simplifying trim levels and configurations and adding some additional options. The long-box model is no longer available in 2WD guise, and you'll have to live without the AWD All Terrain extended-cab. GMC has added a remote tailgate locking option as a standard feature to the SLE trim upwards. Carbon Black Metallic has also been added to the exterior paint options for this year.

Pros and Cons

  • Refined interior
  • Excellent fuel economy from the diesel engine
  • A respectable number of standard infotainment features
  • Wide variety of engine, drivetrain, and transmission choices
  • Stingy suite of safety features
  • Sluggish base 2.5-liter engine
  • Higher trim levels are expensive

2020 GMC Canyon Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SL
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$22,200
Base
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$25,700
SLE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$29,100
SLT
3.6-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$35,900
All Terrain - Cloth
3.6-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$36,600

Canyon Exterior

Undeniably hard-edged, the Canyon carries itself well and it's clear that it means business, but only the Denali trim can lay claim to true attractiveness. The base-level SLE and All-Terrain come with halogen headlights with daytime running lights, with the SLE on 17-inch wheels, the All Terrain on 17-inch wheels, and the SLT on 18-inch wheels. The Denali trim adds chrome assist steps and extra chrome for the grille, as well as cargo box LED lighting and 20-inch wheels.

2020 GMC Canyon Front Angle View GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Front Angle View 1 GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Rear Angle View GMC
See All 2020 GMC Canyon Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Plenty of configurations are available for the cab and bed of the Canyon, so a host of different measurements come along with the range depending on whether a Crew Cab or an Extended Cab is opted for, along with your choice of box size. The Crew Cab is available with either a short bed or a long bed though the latter is only available with AWD. The shot box Crew Cab and standard box Extended cab models both measure an identical 212.4 inches long with a 128.3-inch wheelbase, while the long box Crew Cab has a 140.5-inch wheelbase and a 224.6-inch overall length. Heights range between 70.3 and 70.7 inches, depending on drivetrain choice and configuration, with a maximum ground clearance of 8.2 inches and a maximum width of 74.3 inches. Base curb weights range from between 3,937 lbs and 4,495 lbs depending on configuration.

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

Exterior Colors

An 11-color exterior palette is available for the Canyon, though some trim levels do not get access to all of them. All trim levels come with one standard exterior paint option, being Summit White. The SLE and SLT get access to all 11 colors, ranging from Onyx Black and Cardinal Red that carry a $195 price tag to metallic hues for an extra $495 including Smokey Quartz, Blue Emerald, Satin Steel, and Marine Blue. The most premium color, Red Quartz Tintcoat, will cost an additional $595, with all trims except the SL and base Canyon trim given access to it. All Terrain and Denali models lose access to colors including, Blue Emerald and Marine Blue and the All Terrain is not available in Smokey Quartz. These higher trim levels get access to Onyx Black and metallic hues inclusive of Dark Sky, Carbon Black, and Satin Steel. New for 2020 is Carbon Black Metallic, but it comes with the caveat of late availability.

Canyon Performance

Performance and capabilities vary greatly according to the configuration you choose, given that three different engine options and two different transmissions are available along with the choice of 2WD or 4WD on all models. The 2.5-liter four-pot that comes standard in base and SLE models is enough to get the wheels turning and tow a maximum of 3,500 lbs but is best ignored if power is important to you. If it's strength and power you're after, you'd be better off with the 3.6-liter V6 that comes standard from the SLT trim upwards; this mill gets the Denali from 0-60 mph in under seven seconds, according to numerous independent tests. It has a maximum towing capability of 7,000 lbs. The Canyon's hauling abilities greatly increase when 2WD is married to the 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine, and can lug a maximum of 7,700 lbs without running out of breath. You'll have to sacrifice some pace with the king of hauling though, and the 2.8-liter Duramax engine will take a few seconds longer to get to 60 mph. Notably, the Canyon is one of the very few midsize pickup trucks that offer a turbo-diesel engine.

2020 GMC Canyon Front View Driving GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Rear View Driving GMC
2020 GMC Canyon 3.6L V6 Engine GMC

Engine and Transmission

A choice of three different engines and two transmissions can be had in the Canyon range, though they are dependent on which trim level you opt for. At base-level, the SLE comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed transmission. A 3.6-liter V6 comes standard with the SLT, All Terrain, and the Denali producing considerably more power with 308 hp and 275 lb-ft easily pushed out by the naturally aspirated motor. Steady power and impressive acceleration are strong merits of the V6 and this engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers precise changes, with no dredging in sight. The eight-speed auto is a considerable improvement on the six-speed found on entry-level models.

The 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine is additionally available on certain models and sacrifices significant horsepower in comparison to the V6 with a maximum of just 181 hp. Still, it provides much higher torque with 369 lb-ft. It is significantly more capable of hauling heavy loads compared to other two engines but comes coupled with the less-impressive six-speed automatic transmission. All three engines are capable enough, but if you're planning on heavy-duty hauling, the turbo-diesel should be your first choice if you have the budget for it. We'd steer clear of the base engine, too, as it simply can't compete with rival offerings like those from Ford.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

One's driving experience with the Canyon is totally dependent on the configuration of the midsize pickup, and with three engines and two transmissions available, as well as 2WD or AWD and extended-length models, it's a mixed bag. The 2.5-liter four-pot provides very little power and visibly struggles to lug the pickup around, so it's best to avoid this one in search of the smooth and refined power that comes from the V6 engine.

The All Terrain by no means an off-road king, but does well on roads less traveled compared to other models due to its off-road suspension and hill descent control. 2021 will bring with it a new AT4 derivative geared towards true off-road prowess, but until such time as it arrives, there are stronger off-road offerings from the likes of Toyota as well as the Jeep Gladiator.

Perhaps one of the pickup truck's strongest points is its handling, especially on higher trims such as the Denali, with the Canyon swallowing up lumps and bumps expertly without a second thought. Highway driving is refined and relaxed, and the steering is surprisingly sharp for its class. Combine this with its compact dimensions and the Canyon isn't tedious on smaller roads and in tight parking spaces.

Canyon Gas Mileage

The multiple engines, gearboxes, and body configurations of the Canyon make it a mixed bag of fuel economy figures. At a base level, the 2.5-liter gasoline engine achieves best figures of 20/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined in 2WD guise, with AWD dropping these to 19/24/21 mpg. When the thirstier V6 engine is opted for, the EPA claims estimates of 18/25/20 mpg and 17/24/19 mpg for @WD and 4WD models, respectively. Diesel-equipped models are by far the most frugal, with estimates of 20/30/23 mpg for 2WD models and 19/28/22 mpg on 4WD trucks. However, despite its frugal tendencies, it fails to beat the gasoline engine found in the Ford Ranger.

When its 21-gallon fuel tank is at capacity, the V6 will get 420 miles of range, and the 2.5-liter engine will offer 441 miles of range. The diesel engine will allow for around 460 miles of range, making it the best engine choice of the lot in terms of overall fuel economy.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/26 mpg
* 2020 GMC Canyon 2WD Extended Cab 128" SL

Canyon Interior

The inside of the Canyon is equipped with a pleasant amount of tech and space, but passenger real estate obviously depends on whether you opt for an extended cab or a crew cab variants. The pickup doesn't offer much in SL form, which is directed at fleet purchasers, and the SLE doesn't do a whole lot better. But, from the SLT upwards, GMC does a good job of adding some more premium interiors and improving the cabin. Cheap bits can be observed if you're taking a long look, but overall, the interior is premium for the segment. This is not to say it's top of the class, and rivals like the Ford Ranger have done a better job putting together a segment-leading cabin.

2020 GMC Canyon Dashboard GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Driver Seat GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Front Seats GMC
See All 2020 GMC Canyon Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

At base level, the Canyon will manage two occupants only, while the Extended Cab models can add two seats to the rear. A three-seater bench can be found in the rear of crew cab models. The front seats of the cab are comfortable to live with from day to day, but may be the contributors to some discomfort on prolonged journeys. A six-way power-adjustable driver's seat comes standard on all models and a four-way power-adjustable passenger's seat comes standard from the SLT upwards. Space in the front of the pickup leaves little to be desired and bests the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma, but the rear of the Crew Cab isn't impressive and is more cramped than the rear of both aforementioned rivals and might provide a challenge for six-footers with only 35.8 inches of legroom compared to the front's 45 inches.

  • Seating capacity
    2-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.0 in
  • Front Head Room 41.4 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Interior materials aren't dazzling, but they're functional and resilient. Standard vinyl upholstery in the SL is available in a combination of Jet Black and Dark Ash. The rest of the range feels classier, with cloth made standard on the Canyon in the same color scheme, upgraded to a choice of either Jet Black/Dark Ash or Cocoa/Dune on the SLE. The All Terrain gets Jet Black Cloth with mesh inlays and Cobalt Red accents. Leather is available on the All Terrain in the same colors, while the SLT gets leather in the combination of colors found on the SLE. Lastly, the Denali gets Jet Black perforated leather.

A range of trim finishes complements the upholstery options. On the SLE and SLT you get Axiom Aluminum trim inserts and Smoked Mahogany Wood Tone door and console accents. The All Terrain sees these upgraded to Dark Aluminum and Off-Road Carbon Accent, respectively, while the Denali gets Burnished Aluminum and Hanon Oak Wood Tone highlights.

Canyon Trunk and Cargo Space

Cargo volume is something the Canyon exceeds at, whether the short bed or the long bed is opted for, and it boasts class-leading cargo space. The short bed has a length measurement of 61.7 inches and has a total volume of 41.3 cubic feet, while the long bed offers 49.9 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to a longer bed measurement of 74 inches. The maximum payload of the Canyon varies from 1,349 to 1,609 lbs, depending on its configuration.

General storage on the inside of pickup is useful enough thanks to a deep center console and sizable door pockets. A generous glovebox and two cupholders are located in the front. On the Crew Cab models, a large plastic bin under the rear seat adds extra storage practicality.

2020 GMC Canyon Rear Passenger Seats GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Trunk Space GMC
2020 GMC Canyon Cargo Area GMC

Canyon Infotainment and Features

Features

The pickup doesn't exactly come stacked to the rafters with standard features, and this is especially true for its bare-bones fleet model, but it does well for the segment with standard features from the SLE, inclusive of keyless entry, a leather-clad tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, single-zone climate control, and a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Moving up to the SLT and the Denali sees the addition of a heated steering wheel, and heated front seats with lumbar control. Safety features are rudimentary in the SLE and include a rearview camera, and traction control, and the SLT only adds rear park assist. The Denali adds forward-collision warning, rear park assist and lane departure alert.

Infotainment

At the base-level, the Canyon's infotainment suite is average, but it becomes slightly more impressive as one moves up the trim levels. The base Canyon starts off with a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth support, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality and voice control, paired to a six-speaker sound system. The SLE comes standard-equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen that also includes HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio. Two charge-only USB ports come standard along with two fully functional ports, while the SLT trim adds wireless smartphone charging. The Denali receives an upgraded seven-speaker Bose sound system and adds navigation to its suite of features, while models lower down in the range get the option of this system.

Canyon Problems and Reliability

The 2020 GMC Canyon hasn't been on the receiving end of a recall yet, and neither has the 2019 model. Backing it up in case of any unlikely issues, GMC offers a three-year or 36,000-mile basic warranty and a slightly below-average three-year or 36,000-mile corrosion warranty. Also below average for the segment would be the two-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance outshined by rivals from Ford and Toyota.

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

Canyon Safety

In its review of the 2020 GMC Canyon, the IIHS awarded a broad spread of Good scores, although the Extended Cab picked up a couple of 'Acceptable' remarks in certain tests. A four out of five-star overall safety rating was given to the 2020 Canyon by the NHTSA, making it quite safe for the segment.

US NHTSA crash test result

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

Key Safety Features

Safety features on the Canyon's entry-level models leave a bit to be desired, but its standard Teen Driver function allows for the limitation of certain features and provides an in-vehicle report of driving habits, which can come in handy for parents teaching their teens how to drive. All models come with six airbags, including side curtain airbags, as well as a rearview camera and systems such as traction control and ABS brakes. The SLT adds rear park assist, while on the Denali, you get forward collision warning and lane-departure warning, optional on lesser trims.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 GMC Canyon a good Truck?

The GMC Canyon is one of the few midsize pickup trucks in the segment to offer a turbo-diesel engine option, which is a big plus; it aids towing capability greatly, and provides substantially improved fuel economy. But going for this engine will prove to be an expensive exercise, as it's a pricey additional option, and rivals offer comparable gas mileage from their gasoline engines. The Canyon range as a whole is impressive and offers sufficient infotainment at base level, but lacks convenience features on lower trims in comparison to rivals. Another downfall would be its disappointing suite of safety features, even on the Denali trim. A notable merit for the Canyon range would be that it offers a wide variation of configurations including three engines, two transmissions, and 2WD or 4WD, which means that it's unlikely that shoppers won't be able to find a model that's right for them. The GMC also offers great handling and ride quality. There are a host of additional packages to improve certain areas, like the All-Terrain X that improves off-road capability. The Canyon is worthy of considering if you are shopping within the segment, especially if you're prone to some heavy-duty towing and hauling, but as an all-rounder, options from Ford and Toyota are generally a little better.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 GMC Canyon?

With so many available configurations, the Canyon has a days-long pricelist to cover all options. However, in their most basic forms, the various trims are relatively affordable. The SL starts at $22,200 as an Extended Cab 2WD model, excluding destination and delivery fees of $1,195. From there, the Canyon derivative is priced from $25,700 and the SLE at $29,100. The Extended Cab in All-Terrain trim requires both the V6 engine and 4WD for a starting fee of $36,600. SLT derivatives require the Crew Cab configuration and the V6 engine and carry a starting fee of $35,900, while the Denali's base price in the same configuration is $40,500. Up-speccing the 2WDmodels from the 2.5L engine to the 3.6L V6 costs around $1,500, while adding 4WD adds a further $3,195 to the overall fee. To upgrade from a short box to a long box on crew cab derivatives sees a further surcharge of $600, while equipping the diesel engine on available trims asks $5,245 and requires 4WD. Fully loaded, a long box Denali with the diesel engine and all the options will set you bacon in excess of $54,000.

2020 GMC Canyon Models

The GMC Canyon Range comprises seven trim levels, starting from the fleet-only SL, the Base, SLE, SLT, cloth-appointed All Terrain, and leather-appointed All Terrain, and the Denali. All models are available in either 2WD or 4WD guise (except the 4WD-exclusive All Terrain), and a choice between three engines is available. Engine options are inclusive of a 2.5-liter four-pot, a 3.6-liter V6, or a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine. Both of the smaller engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission while the bigger V6 engine gets paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The fleet-only SL comes standard equipped with impressive features considering that its intended purpose is to be a workhorse. Standard features are inclusive of hose-down vinyl upholstery and a four-way power-adjustable driver's seat as well as a seven-inch touchscreen that allows for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth streaming. Two USB ports are standard along with a six-speaker sound system.

Moving up to the base Canyon sees the addition of cloth upholstery and rear seats and it makes the option for a V6 engine and crew cab available.

The SLE adds keyless entry, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat and a 4.2-inch driver information display as well as cruise control, upgraded eight-inch touchscreen with HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio.

Nearer to the top of the range, the SLT adds notable features to its standard list, including remote start, leather upholstery, and heated seats. It also adds a heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Rear parking sensors are added to safety features.

All Terrain models beef up off-road capability with hill descent control, off-road suspension, and a rear locking differential.

The top of the range Denali adds five-inch assist steps coated in chrome, and a spray-on bed liner as well as ventilated front seats, an upgraded Bose sound system and navigation as standard features. Lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning are added safety features.

See All 2020 GMC Canyon Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

GMC makes quite a few additional packages available for the Canyon, and they aren't ridiculously expensive by segment standards. The Elevation Edition Package starts at $650 and adds 18-inch wheels and a black grille, while the California Elevation Special Edition Package starts at $1,195 and adds black badging and three-inch assist steps as well as all-weather floor liners and rear splash guards. For the adventurous, the All Terrain X package adds a spray-on bed liner and all-terrain tires to the mix for $2,070. For performance enhancements, the Power Package adds a performance-enhanced exhaust system and performance air intake for $1,850.

🚗What GMC Canyon Model Should I Buy?

The Canyon SLT is probably the best value-for-money model of the range, with all things considered. It adds considerable amounts of features and doesn't carry the hefty price tag of the top of the range Denali. This trim level adds plenty of standard features over the lower SLE and we'd recommend taking it in 4WD guise with the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine option for heavy hauling. If you're prone to go on muddy adventures, the leather-appointed all-terrain model would be an excellent consideration, as it's far better equipped to handle off-road situations thanks to its off-road suspension and other added bits to increase capability.

2020 GMC Canyon Comparisons

Chevrolet Colorado Chevrolet
GMC Sierra 1500 CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
GMC Canyon200 hp20/26 mpg$22,200
Chevrolet Colorado 200 hp20/26 mpg$21,300
GMC Sierra 1500 285 hp16/21 mpg$29,600

2020 GMC Canyon vs Chevrolet Colorado

The GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado are relatives under General Motors, so it's not surprising that they share very apparent similarities. The two also share the same engine lineup and boast the same impressive towing abilities, and if you were presented with a features list from either one, it would be indistinguishable as to which pickup it belongs to. Possibly the only difference between the two is that they each have a trim level that the other one doesn't have. The Colorado offers a ZR2 trim level that should rival the All Terrain Canyon, but the two are worlds apart and the ZR2 will outshine the Canyon in any off-road setting. Notably, though, the Denali trim level is more luxurious than any of the trims found in the Colorado range, so which one is better entirely depends on what you're looking for out of a pickup truck. If luxurious interiors are essential to you, the Canyon would be the better choice, but if you're after a rugged off-roader, the Colorado takes the cake.

See Chevrolet Colorado Review

2020 GMC Canyon vs GMC Sierra 1500

Two siblings from the GMC trucks range, the Canyon fills the mid-size void while the Sierra 1500 is the entry-point to the full-size segment. In addition to a massive increase in size and capability, the Sierra is also vastly more expensive. A good couple of thousand dollars cheaper, the Canyon offers better fuel economy but at a price. It's considerably smaller than the Sierra and offers less interior room over its larger relative and offers less safety features, but it does do well with attractive styling and a good interior. The Sierra may appeal to a different shopper than the one looking at the Canyon, thanks to its bigger size and vastly more powerful engine options that include a monstrous 5.3-liter V8. An excellent choice for midsize truck shoppers, the Canyon offers more agility at a much lower price, but is significantly outshined by the Sierra in terms of space and power.

See GMC Sierra 1500 Review

GMC Canyon Popular Comparisons

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Photos
$22,200 - $44,300
Price Range (MSRP)
GMC Canyon