Most pickup truck drivers assume that bigger is better. Sometimes, however, good things come in small packages. That’s the case with the GMC Canyon, a compact pickup that has great towing and hauling capabilities. The Canyon is an excellent vehicle for drivers who want the strength and cargo capacity of a pickup, but also need a vehicle that is small enough for city driving (and parking), and that will not cost too much at the fuel pump.

The GMC Canyon was reintroduced to the market in 2015, after a three-year hiatus. Since then, a turbodiesel engine and off-road trim have been introduced as available options. However, the look of the Canyon has remained largely the same, making it a great choice for shoppers who want a used truck that still looks relevant.

Considering buying a compact pickup? Here’s everything you should know about the GMC Canyon.

Price and Value: The base 2019 GMC Canyon costs about $22,095 to purchase new. That’s comparable to other compact pickups, and about $1,000 more expensive than the Chevy Colorado, the Canyon’s twin. Like other pickups, the price rises steeply with various trim options. A top-of-the-line GMC Canyon will cost more than $40,000 new.

To save money, consider shopping for a used GMC Canyon. The build of the truck has been the same since 2015, so shoppers can score a bargain without the body shape looking outdated. A diesel engine was introduced for the 2016 model year, so choose that year or later if you are looking for diesel. Other than that, the GMC Canyon has remained largely unchanged over the past five years.

The GMC Canyon: A small truck with great capabilities

Configurations and Trims: The GMC Canyon is an extremely versatile truck. It comes in six different trim levels, with two cabin options and two bed options. It is available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, with four-cylinder, V6, or turbodiesel engine options.

First, drivers should consider what cabin and box they want. The GMC Canyon seats four to five passengers, depending on the configuration. It’s available with a five-foot or six-foot bed.

Here are the configuration options for the 2019 GMC Canyon:

  • Extended Cab: This smaller option has seating for four, and comes with with full front doors and half-sized rear doors. Rear passengers have 28.6 inches of leg room. This cab is available on the Canyon, SLE and SL trims, and only comes with a six-foot box. In the base trim, this cab is available with no rear seat.
  • Crew Cab: The crew cab has seating for five people, and rear passengers have 35.8 inches of leg room. This cab is available in all trims. It can be paired with the six-foot box, or with a short box that measures just over five feet.

Next, drivers should consider what trim they want. Here’s what you can expect from each trim (using 2019 specs):

  • Canyon: The base level GMC Canyon comes with seating for four. Buyers can also chose to have the rear seat removed, leaving them with seating for two. The Canyon comes with a touchscreen, a rear-view camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (on model years 2018 and later).
  • SLE: This trim adds a six-way power adjustable driver’s seat, EZ-Lift and Lower Tailgate, heated exterior mirrors, and keyless entry.
  • SLE Elevation Package: This adds a body-colored grille and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
  • All Terrain: This trim adds off-road suspension and an automatic locking rear differential. You’ll also get heated from seats and slightly different styling inside and out.
  • SLT: At this trim, a V6 engine and leather seats come standard. You’ll also get rear parking assist, remote start, and wireless charging for smartphones.
  • Denali: The Denali comes with heated and ventilated leather seats, a Bose® premium sound system, spray-on bedliner (which prevents rust) and LED lights in the bed.

Engine Options and Fuel Economy: The GMC Canyon is available with three different engines. Here’s what you should know about each:

  • Four cylinder: The GMC’s base engine is a four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined fuel economy in two-wheel drive.
  • V6: The Canyon is also available with a 308-horsepower V6 engine that gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg combined in two-wheel drive.
  • Turbodiesel: The 181-horsepower turbodiesel (introduced in 2016) gets 23 mpg combined fuel economy, according to GMC. The diesel models are slightly more expensive (about $3,000 more new), but are more fuel efficient and longer-lasting than their gasoline engines. This is also the best engine for towing.
The GMC Canyon: A small truck with great capabilities

Towing and Hauling Capacities: Although the Canyon is a small pickup truck, it can tow and haul enough to make it a perfectly functional work vehicle. With the long box, the Canyon can haul eight-foot lengths with the tailgate lowered, making it comparable to full-sized pickups. The shorter box has 41 cubic feet of cargo space, while the longer box has 49 cubic feet.

The Canyon has great towing capacity for a smaller truck. With the base engine, it can tow about 3,500 pounds, which is comparable to the towing capacity of a mid-sized SUV. However, with the V6 engine, towing capacity increases to 7,000 pounds. The turbodiesel has the best towing capacity – up to 7,700 pounds when properly equipped. That’s enough to pull a medium-sized camping trailer or boat.

Safety: The GMC Canyon has a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Canyon the top two scores of “good” and “acceptable” in various evaluations of crash worthiness. The safety features in the GMC Canyon vary widely by trim. The base Canyon comes with a rear-view camera, but not much else. Rear parking assist is available on the SLE and All Terrain trims, and standard on the SLT and Denali. Lane departure warning and forward collision alerts are available on the SLE and SLT trims, and standard on the Denali.

The GMC Canyon: A small truck with great capabilities

Reliability: The 2019 GMC Canyon is the most reliable model year of the truck to date, with a rating of 3.5 out of 5 from J.D. Power. Model years 2016-2018 had a perfectly average reliability rating of 3 out of five, while the 2015 Canyon only had a reliability rating of 2 out of 5. There are no recalls on the 2019 GMC Canyon as of this writing.

Ratings: The GMC Canyon is among the most popular small pick-up trucks. It also has among the best towing capacities in the class. That’s in part due to the fact that the Canyon (along with its twin, the Chevy Colorado) is available with a diesel engine, a rarity among small trucks.

The Takeaway: The GMC Canyon stands out among pickups for its great gas mileage and towing capacity. Drivers who want grit will love the Canyon’s optional diesel engine. The highly customizable truck is suitable for an array of driver needs, from an upscale family vehicle to a reliable work truck.

Have your heart set on a different vehicle? Search our inventory of thousands!