Car Review

2008 GMC Canyon: Used Car Review

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Used 2008 GMC Canyon
Used 2008 GMC Canyon
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author photo by Ron Sessions December 2014

Introduced in 2004 to replace the Sonoma, the Canyon was GMC's first midsize pickup. The 2008 GMC Canyon is available as a 2- or 3-passenger Regular Cab, a 4- or 5-passenger Extended Cab, or a 5- or 6-passenger Crew Cab. The Regular Cab has two doors, and the Crew Cab has four. The Extended Cab offers two full-size front doors and a pair of rear-hinged half-length rear doors with two fold-down rear seats. The Regular Cab and Extended Cab come with a 6.1-ft bed, while the Crew Cab uses a 5.1-ft bed. Both rear-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive (4WD) are offered. Rack-and-pinion steering and 4-wheel-drive anti-lock brakes are standard. Safety gear includes dual-stage front airbags and optional head-curtain airbags. OnStar is standard on most models, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio is available. Navigation, Bluetooth and stability control are not offered on the 2008 Canyon.

The GMC Canyon is a good personal-use pickup truck for buyers more interested in fuel economy and maneuverability than in maximum payload and towing ability.

What We Like

Maneuverable size; 5-cylinder performance; roomy front seats; smooth-shifting transmissions; configurable tailgate

What We Don't

Cheap-looking dash and door trim; ride harshness; tow rating below that of other midsize trucks

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2008 Canyon is available with a 2.9-liter dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 4-cylinder engine or a 3.7-liter DOHC 5-cylinder engine, which are both inline designs with four valves per cylinder and continuously variable valve timing. Both engines use regular unleaded fuel.

The base 2.9-liter 4-cylinder engine develops 185 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. Two-wheel-drive (2WD) versions are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel-drive versions with the 5-speed manual transmission are rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, and 4-wheel-drive vehicles with the 4-speed automatic are rated at 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy.

Standard on 4WD Crew Cab models and 2WD Z71 Crew Cabs, and optional for all other Canyons, the 3.7-liter inline 5-cylinder engine makes 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. A 4-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 5-cylinder engine. Two-wheel-drive versions are EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. Regular Cab 4WD 5-cylinder models net a 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy EPA rating, while Crew Cab 4WD versions get 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2008 GMC Canyon comes in WT, SL, SLE and SLT trims.

The WT (Work Truck) is a bare-bones model with rubberized vinyl flooring, AM/FM radio, a cloth front bench seat and 205/75 tires on 15-inch steel wheels. Other standard equipment includes air conditioning, intermittent wipers, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, traction control (2WD only) and folding outside mirrors.

Typical SL equipment includes fog lamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 225/75 tires on 15-in alloy wheels, color-keyed trim, interior carpeting and an AM/FM/CD stereo.

Moving up to SLE typically adds upgraded cloth seats, bright interior accents, cloth door trim inserts, OnStar communication, a center front-seat storage armrest, and options such as SiriusXM Satellite Radio, remote keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power heated front seats, leather seat trim, a 6-disc CD player, a power sunroof, a sliding rear window, and power windows, mirrors and door locks.

The top SLT trim includes power front bucket seats, a 6-speaker stereo, automatic transmission, and power windows, mirrors and door locks.

The off-road-oriented Z71 package, available on both 2WD and 4WD Canyons, includes 265/75-15 on-/off-road tires, increased ground clearance, wheel flares, brushed aluminum side steps and off-road suspension with monotube shocks.


The Canyon's more maneuverable size makes it a sensible alternative to full-size pickups for light hauling in urban areas where high fuel prices and tight spaces prevail. Regular Cab 2WD 4-cylinder SL and SLE models can be had inexpensively, but be prepared to pay double for clean 4WD 5-cylinder Crew Cabs with the SLT trim or Z71 package.

To get a good idea of the prices of used 2008 Canyon pickups, check out the used-car values at You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2008 Canyon:

Contamination in the brake-light switch may cause the brake lights to malfunction, increasing the risk of a rear-end crash.

Regular and Extended Cab models with a 60/40-split front bench seat lack access to a top anchor to tether a child-restraint device in the middle seat position.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2008 Canyon Regular Cab and Extended Cab four stars for frontal impacts, driver-side impacts and rollover performance. The Crew Cab model received five stars for frontal and passenger-side impacts and four each for driver-side impacts and rollover performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2008 Canyon Crew Cab as Acceptable for moderate-overlap front impacts, Poor for side impacts and Marginal for head-restraint and seat crash performance. However, it gave the Canyon Extended Cab a Good rating for front impacts.

GMC covered the 2008 Canyon with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

GMC certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be less than 5 years old. Every CPO Canyon undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus whatever remains on the transferable, original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2008 Ford Ranger -- Smaller and less roomy than the Canyon is, the Ranger offers an impressive 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy EPA rating with its base 143-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. Two optional V6 engines, a 148-hp 3.0-liter and a 207-hp 4.0-liter V6 deliver added oomph. The Ranger is available in regular and extended (Super) cabs only. Its maximum towing capacity is 5680 pounds.

2008 Toyota Tacoma -- Toyota's eighth-generation Tacoma is the best-selling small or midsize pickup and offers a 159-hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder or 236-hp 4.0-liter V6. There are 18 different configurations to choose from, with regular, Access (extended) and Double (crew) cabs, a lowered X-Runner sport truck, and TRD Off-Road and Rugged Trail versions available. Its maximum towing capacity is 6500 pounds.

AutoTrader's Advice

The midsize GMC Canyon offers a fuel-efficient, garage-friendly and maneuverable alternative to full-size trucks. For personal use, as well as commercial duty that doesn't involve hauling big payloads or towing heavy trailers, the midsize Canyon pickup is a sensible choice. Although Regular models offer the greatest parking and maneuverability advantages, Extended Cab and Crew Cab models offer far more people- or gear-toting space under lock and key, and will retain the best resale value. A 2008 Canyon is too vintage to qualify for certified pre-owned status, so look for lower-mileage examples that have seen obvious care and maintenance. Avoid modified trucks if possible, and look for a vehicle with a Carfax or equivalent vehicle-history report. Make sure that all applicable safety recalls have been performed on the Canyon you're considering.

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Used 2008 GMC Canyon
Used 2008 GMC Canyon
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2008 GMC Canyon: Used Car Review - Autotrader