Comfortable, capable and fuel-efficient, the ruggedly handsome 2018 GMC Canyon is a standout in the resurgent midsize-pickup-truck segment. The new Canyon is available in several body styles and with several engines, including a turbodiesel, which is unique in the sparsely populated class. Competition comes from the popular Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier and the similar Chevy Colorado.
You'll Like The 2018 GMC Canyon If...
If you just don’t need the size, thirst and expense of a full-size pickup you’ll like the 2018 GMC Canyon. The new Canyon offers the power, features and the majority of a full-size truck’s capability but it’s more fuel-efficient and a heck of a lot easier to park.
You May Not Like The 2018 GMC Canyon If...
The GMC Canyon All Terrain is quite capable off-road, but if you’re looking to tackle the deserts of Baja the Chevy Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro offer far more extreme off-road-ready suspensions, differentials and other hardware. Toyota’s Tacoma also delivers class-leading resale values.
For 2018 the GMC Canyon is essentially unchanged. GMC has spruced up the interior of the All Terrain model with available Jet Black leather front seats with Cobalt Red stitching. Also, a washer-fluid-level sensor is now standard on all models.
The 2018 GMC Canyon’s interior is a fine blend of modern style with truck practicality. The wide seats are big-body friendly and most of the functions are in a big center stack, with large knobs that should be easily operated by gloved hands. There’s ample center-console storage, and the Crew Cab handles four adults comfortably and five in a pinch. Upholstery materials include vinyl, cloth and leather, and the available infotainment upgrade with the larger 8-inch touch screen is worth the additional cost. The system is simple to operate, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and it offers onboard Wi-Fi.
GMC calls the Canyon the only premium-midsize pickup. Marking mumbo jumbo maybe, but the Canyon certainly looks the part. Up front is a large, squared-off, big-rig-style grille that looks just right and makes an unmistakable linkage to the full-size GMC Sierra trucks. LED running lights and projector-beam headlights give a look of class and its largely flared fenders add purpose and muscle tone. Each end of the rear bumper includes what GMC calls the CornerStep, providing an easy way to step up and reach into the cargo bed. The SLT and Denali models get chrome door handles and mirrors.
From the driver’s seat, visibility is excellent, with tall comfortable seating and big windows all around. The Canyon provides an exceptionally civilized ride, with handling that far exceeds what one might expect of a high-riding pickup truck. The steering is direct and responsive, and the suspension is able to absorb most road imperfections while still remaining stiff enough to deal with off-road adventures. The base model’s reliable 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is adequate, but the 308-horsepower V6 is much better, and the torque-happy, high-mileage 2.8-liter diesel is desirable but it’s an expensive option. With the V6 and the 8-speed automatic transmission this is a fast truck with plenty of passing and hauling power. It’s also tow-rated up to 7,700 pounds, a feat made easier by such features as trailer-brake control. The 4-wheel-drive system has a low range for proper off-roading, and an automatically locking rear differential, which works exceedingly well.
There are over 20 configurations of the 2018 GMC Canyon. The least expensive, the Canyon SL Extended Cab with 2WD, the 4-cylinder engine and the 6-speed manual transmission, has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $22,000. A fully loaded 4WD long-bed Crew Cab Canyon Denali with the diesel and options can easily top $50,000. We think a good choice would be the mid-range SLE Crew Cab V6 long-bed with 4WD, and we definitely recommend the Driver Alert Package for its safety features. The turbodiesel adds about $4,000. Generally, the Canyon has to be considered very price-competitive with the Tacoma and Frontier. To get the best deal on a new Canyon, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. Resale values for the 2018 GMC Canyon are expected to be on par with the Chevrolet Colorado, better than the Nissan Frontier, but well below the Toyota Tacoma.
Even the base 2018 GMC Canyon is surprisingly well-equipped, with standard features including a 4.2-inch screen, 6-speaker audio, power windows and door locks, power driver seat and rearview camera, plus the CornerStep rear bumper, cargo-box lighting and a locking tailgate. The SLE trim level adds an 8-inch touch screen for the infotainment system, cruise control, rear defogger, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, fog lights, 17-inch tires and wheels and additional trim and convenience items. The SLT and Denali add even more, including automatic climate control, remote start, heated front seats (ventilated on Denali), rear sliding window and 18-inch wheels.
The GMC Canyon’s options list is a long one. In addition to the various upgrades associated with the trim levels, GMC’s Canyon midsize pickup for 2018 is available with numerous packages, among them a Convenience Package, SLE Convenience Package, All Terrain Package (on SLE only) and one we strongly recommend for its safety benefits, the Driver Alert Package. The Autotrac automatic 4-wheel drive simplifies 2-wheel (2WD) or 4-wheel (4WD) operation. Other options include a Bose premium 7-speaker audio system, choices of wheels and tires and several items geared to off-roading adventures and/or extra storage racks for canoes or surfboards and the like.
Rare in this segment, GMC offers forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning. Standard is GM’s clever Teen Driver system, which sends you updates and alerts about your teen’s driving habits. It also allows you to set a speed alert and a max volume limit on the truck’s audio system.
DURAMAX TURBODIESEL ENGINE
A first in the midsize-pickup segment, the 2018 GMC Canyon’s Duramax turbodiesel makes a modest 181 horsepower but a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque. With all that torque, a Duramax-equipped Canyon can tow up to 7,700 pounds and is rated at 30-mpg highway and 22 mpg in the city.
Under the Hood
The base engine in the 2018 GMC Canyon is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 200 horsepower and either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic; it’s ideal for work-truck applications. Next is a 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower, available only with the 8-speed automatic and with all the power you could reasonably want. Both engines offer excellent combinations of power and economy. The 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel delivers 369 lb-ft of torque, a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds and as much as 30 mpg on the EPA highway rating. We are tempted to recommend the turbodiesel except that, with a price premium of almost $4,000 over the V6, you’d drive a long time to make up the difference in fuel savings. Our pick has to be the V6.
200 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (2WD, manual), 20/26 mpg (2WD, automatic), 19/24 mpg (4WD)
308 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
275 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (2WD), 17/24 mpg (4WD)
2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4
181 horsepower @ 3,400 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (2WD), 20/28 mpg (4WD)
Comfortable, capable and fuel-efficient, the ruggedly handsome 2018 GMC Canyon is a standout in the resurgent midsize-pickup-truck segment. The new Canyon is available with a choice of 5- or 6-foot beds and Extended or Crew Cab configurations. Prices start around $22,000 with a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. A 2.8-liter turbodiesel and a strong 3.6-liter V6 making 308 horsepower are also offered as is 4-wheel drive with low range. The diesel is unique in the sparsely populated class, which includes the popular Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier and the similar Chevy Colorado. There are also six trim levels to choose from: SL, Canyon, SLE, the off-road-ready All Terrain, SLT and the top-of-the-line Denali, which doubles down on the chrome trim.