GMC's latest balances feeling like a big, fun truck when you need it to without also being too much truck for urban living.
Available in a variety of configurations, the 2015 GMC Canyon driver has many choices for cab size, bed length, engine, transmission, drivetrain and more.
The "small truck" category has grown significantly over the years. Everyone who approached or rode in the Canyon commented on how big and tall the pickup was.
"That sure looks a lot like the Toyota grille, doesn't it?" asked a friend. Well, not really, but the broad strokes are kind of there and now I can't unsee the resemblance.
In its crew cab, short bed configuration, the Canyon is a bit of a do-it-all vehicle. It's spacious and comfortable like a sedan, but flexible and capable in a way that an SUV can't match.
The short box is about 5 feet long, but a 6-foot-long box is available.
The headlamps feature bright, crisp projectors for forward illumination and LED daytime running lights for visibility.
The base Canyon is available with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but our SLE model boasts a more powerful 3.6-liter V-6.
That V-6 is mated to a single-option six-speed automatic transmission. Drivers of the four-banger have an optional six-speed manual at their disposal.
Power exits via the rear wheels or at all four corners via an optional 4WD system.
With the twist of a knob, the electronic automatic transfer case can be set to 2WD (rear), 4WD, or automatic modes.
Our All-terrain model also features an automatic locking rear differential and a metal underbody transfer case shield.
Stability control is standard, as is trailering sway control. The All-terrain model also adds hill descent control which uses the brakes to rein in speed when heading down steep, low-traction surfaces.
I was pleased to find that a rear camera is standard equipment on the 2015 Canyon.
The Canyon also introduces a rear corner step for the 2015 model year to ease reaching and climbing into the bed.
The side assist step is a $745 option that is useful when paired with the All-terrain package's elevated ride height. However, I never really got comfortable using them.
Though not equipped on this example, the Canyon can be had with forward collision alert and lane-departure warning. I was disappointed to see that blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are missing from the options list.
The All-terrain model features an off-road tuned suspension, all-terrain tires and unique 17-inch wheels.
In the crew cab configuration, the rear bench offers excellent head- and legroom for two to three adults.
The front bucket seats are extremely comfortable and feature heated backs and bases at the SLE trim level and above.
The cabin feels as comfortable and fully featured as any sedan in this price range.
Though the All-terrain suspension and upright profile generate a bit of road and wind noise, the Canyon's cabin seems well insulated and remains acceptably quiet while cruising.
One of IntelliLink's coolest tricks is a simple one. A row of softkeys along the bottom edge of the screen allows the driver to save and access favorite terrestrial, satellite and Pandora Internet radio stations as well as addresses for navigation and contacts for hands-free calling.
At the center of the dashboard is the optional IntelliLink navigation and infotainment system.
The 8-inch touchscreen was easy to see and reach and was resistant to glare. However, I noticed that it was covered in fingerprints after a few days' use.
Navigation is smooth and crisply rendered. Unfortunately, I noticed that the manual destination search interface was more sluggish and unintuitive than the rest of the IntelliLink system.
Steering wheel controls are well distributed and allow the driver to control the information displayed on the instrument cluster's color display.
This color display is where you'll view fuel economy and trip data. With steering wheel controls, the display can be configured to also display navigation data, to select and call contacts and to input destinations via voice command.
Automatic climate controls are single-zone and included as part of the SLE Convenience package along with remote start.
The $500 Bose audio system isn't much to write home about, but it certainly gets the job done. Interestingly, the system features separate EQ curves for talk and music content. This is great for fans of sports radio, podcasts or audiobooks.
If you'd prefer a bowtie badge up front, the 2015 GMC Canyon is mechanically identical to the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, save a few styling, suspension and transmission tweaks. It's worth noting that an identically equipped Colorado Z71 is about $2,000 cheaper than the Canyon All-terrain.