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2023 GMC Canyon AT4 shrinks the Sierra

2023 GMC Canyon AT4 shrinks the Sierra

GMC’s taken its midsize truck and made it a compelling option for buyers that don’t need, or want, a full-size pickup.

The Canyon’s more than a dressed-up Chevrolet Colorado. It brings forth its own distinct personality through its design and features.

With a TCC Rating of 5.3 out of 10, the 2023 GMC Canyon benefits from a strong powertrain, comfortable interior, and sharp design details. But it’s far from perfect due to powertrain tuning, a thirst for fuel, and a high price that excludes some basic features. 

The pros and cons of the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 revealed itself after a week of running errands, driving to the family cottage, and hauling kids to sports. 

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Edition 1

Pro: GMC Canyon AT4 uses a strong turbo-4

GMC Canyons are all powered by a large 2.7-liter turbo-4 rated at 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 2-speed transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive is available. This is the same powertrain as what’s found in the base full-size GMC Sierra, yet it is tasked with hauling nearly 1,000 pounds less in some configurations. This translates to a truck that leaps off the line. Even at highway speeds there’s a well of power to tap for passing.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Con: GMC Canyon AT4 brake and throttle tuning

That strong powertrain jumps off the line, which can take some getting used to. The throttle and brake pedals aren’t progressive, especially so for the brakes. The stopping power comes on early and hard, making it difficult to be smooth, and at times, it may elicit some negative feelings from loved ones in the vehicle despite one’s driving skills. 

2024 GMC Canyon AT4

2024 GMC Canyon AT4

Pro: GMC Canyon AT4 fits four comfortably

The GMC Canyon (and its Chevrolet Colorado sibling) have one of the best rear seats in the segment. The unibody Honda Ridgeline is the only midsize truck on sale today with more rear seat space. The Canyon can fit adults in its rear seat for a road trip with just enough knee and toe space. The curved seat backs snuggle you into place. Unlike the current Toyota Tacoma the headrests go to the top of my head rather than the center of my neck (I’m 5-foot-10). The seat back itself is relaxed and not as upright as what’s found in the Nissan Frontier

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Con: GMC Canyon AT4 drinks fuel

The Canyon’s turbo-4 isn’t thrifty. With EPA fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city, 21 highway, 19 combined when equipped with four-wheel drive, the Canyon is barely more efficient on paper than a full-size pickup. In reality it isn’t. Over the course of 426 miles of highway driving the truck averaged 18.3 mpg. 

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Pro: GMC Canyon AT4 sweats the details

Someone let the designers spend time with the GMC Canyon AT4 and it shows. The headlight bezels feature intricate design details and hidden GMC logos. The taillights feature pinstripes inside the lenses. Even the trim on the top of the bed rails features a pattern stamped into it. This is minor stuff but it requires someone to approve time and money on. Inside, my tester’s two-tone brown and black perforated leather interior featured a stitched dashboard and door trim along with knee pads on the center console. The bottom of the cupholders and storage cubby featured a crushed carbon-like design that’s a nice change of pace. 

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Con: GMC Canyon AT4 gets expensive quickly

The 2023 GMC Canyon costs $38,395, including a $1,495 destination charge, but my nicely equipped AT4 model cost $49,355. That’s inline with the redesigned 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, but the GMC lacks comparative features. Move past the glitzy 11.3-inch touchscreen (the Toyota has a 14.0-inch touchscreen) and 8.0-inch digital gauge cluster only to discover there’s no adaptive cruise control or surround-view camera system. Both features can be added for an extra $950, which just feels greedy. Adding a head-up display takes that package to $1,550. There are no headlight switches or knobs: some of the ordinary functions have been relegated to the touchscreen in the name of saving money. It all just seems rather expensive no matter the angle. GMC isn’t alone here, the new 2024 Tacoma lineup got more expensive for its latest generation as well, but the value equation gets a bit sketchy with these trucks.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Pro: GMC Canyon AT4 shows up Tacoma

The main reason to spend the extra $3,700 on the AT4 trim versus the base Elevation trim is the addition of full-time four-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road, and even the top-spec TRD Pro and TrailHunter grades don’t even offer full-time four-wheel drive regardless of price. The AT4 trim also nets an automatic locking rear differential. 

With a strong turbo-4 powertrain, full-time four-wheel drive, a comfortable interior, and the ability to option all the latest tech, the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 doesn’t feel like a compromise just because someone doesn’t want a full-size pickup. Even if it costs as much as one. 

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2023 GMC Canyon AT4

Base price: $38,395, including $1,495 destination

Price as tested: $49,355

Powertrain: 310-hp 2.7-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, 4WD

EPA fuel economy: 17/19/21 mpg

The pros: Strong turbo-4, nice design details, comfortable rear seats

The cons: Drinks gas, gets expensive real quick, touchy powertrain

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