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2015 GMC Canyon: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2014

The arrival of the fully redesigned 2015 GMC Canyon -- and its stablemate, the Chevrolet Colorado -- marks General Motors' return to the midsize-truck segment following the cancellation of the Colorado and Canyon after the 2012 model year. In the interim, General Motors has had a lot of time to think things over -- and the result is a new pickup with a completely new look, an improved driving experience, a much nicer interior and two excellent new engines.

For now, the Canyon runs circles around the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, its two main midsize-pickup rivals, in nearly every aspect, though it remains to be seen whether U.S. truck shoppers will embrace the smaller GM models or instead choose a full-size truck with more capabilities, such as the Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra.

What's New for 2015?

The Canyon is completely new for the 2015 model year.

What We Like

Far-superior interior compared to the old Canyon; much better engine performance; wide range of equipment; better ride than other midsize trucks

What We Don't

Ride is still pretty bumpy; front-seat comfort could be improved; pricing might not be enough to distinguish it from larger Sierra

How Much?

$21,900-$38,100

Fuel Economy

The Canyon is available with two engines. Base-level models use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes a respectable 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque; it's offered with 6-speed manual (rear-wheel drive only) or 6-speed automatic (rear- or 4-wheel drive) transmissions. Rear-drive Canyon models return up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with the manual or 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the automatic. Opt for 4-wheel drive, and fuel economy ratings fall to 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

For drivers interested in more power, the Canyon also offers a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for that engine stands at 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The Canyon comes in four trim levels: the base-level Canyon SL, an unnamed midlevel Canyon trim, the SLE and the upscale SLT. Three body styles are offered: a long-bed extended cab, or a crew cab with either a long or short bed. Although GMC has not yet confirmed it, we expect to see a high-end Canyon Denali debut eventually, possibly for the 2016 model year.

The Canyon SL model ($21,900) is only offered in the truck's base-level, extended-cab configuration. Pitched as a bare-bones work truck, it includes a backup camera, a power driver's seat, LED daytime running lights, vinyl floor coverings, no rear seats, air conditioning and a USB port for music. It skips out on essentials such as cruise control and remote keyless entry.

If you want a few more features, enter the Canyon ($23,600), which adds rear seats and carpeted floor coverings to the mix. More importantly, it adds a wide range of desirable options such as remote keyless entry, cruise control, a spray-in bed liner, a 3.6-liter V6 and a few extra colors.

Next up is the Canyon SLE ($27,500), which adds a host of new items, including two rear USB charging ports, a multi-color driver information display, remote keyless entry, cruise control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, an 8-inch color touchscreen, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot capabilities, 17-in alloy wheels, power mirrors and additional aluminum trim, inside and out.

Topping the range is the Canyon SLT ($30,700), which adds automatic climate control, a remote starter, heated front seats, 18-in wheels and a power passenger seat.

Canyon options include the truck's 3.6-liter V6 engine, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, running boards, an innovative in-bed cargo-divider system, chrome wheels, a navigation system and a Bose sound system.

Safety

All 2015 GMC Canyon models come standard with dual front airbags, along with side-curtain airbags for front and rear occupants. The Canyon also includes a standard backup camera and traction control. Options include forward-collision alert and a lane-departure warning system.

As of this writing, the Canyon had not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

If you're a small-pickup fan, there's a lot to love about the latest GMC Canyon. For one thing, it offers a better ride than all of its small-pickup competitors and a better interior, too. It's also a big step above the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma in terms of gadgets, interior quality and -- in our opinion, anyway -- style, given its brand-new design compared to rivals' aging looks.

We're also highly impressed with both of the Canyon's engines and their capabilities. Although it isn't a workhorse, the base-level 4-cylinder is acceptable for a lot of situations. The 4-cylinder gets great mileage as well, but the V6 is the engine to have, offering brawny acceleration and an excellent 7,000-lb towing capacity.

As for drawbacks, we have only two: While the ride is great for a small truck, it's not exactly luxurious, and shoppers who previously owned a sedan or a compact crossover might be disappointed. More importantly, we discovered that the front seats could be a little more supportive after a long stint behind the wheel.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Colorado -- The Canyon's Chevrolet-badged stablemate is obviously worth considering, as the trucks are highly similar in a lot of ways. The Colorado may soon offer an exclusive diesel engine, which could sway shoppers toward the Chevrolet bow tie.

Toyota Tacoma -- The Tacoma is the Canyon's chief rival, offering notoriously durable construction and boasting a loyal following. We like the Tacoma, but we think that the new Canyon is a better truck.

Used Chevrolet Silverado -- If you need more capabilities than the Canyon can offer, consider a used Silverado. Though we especially like the all-new model, which came out last year, earlier versions are also worth a look.

AutoTrader's Advice

Our dream Canyon is a well-equipped SLE model with the pickup's optional 3.6-liter V6 engine. That way, we could get a wide range of amenities without spending big money, and we'd still have the pickup's bulky 6-cylinder engine for muscle when necessary.

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Used 2015 GMC Canyon 4x4 Crew Cab SLT
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Used 2015 GMC Canyon 2WD Extended Cab
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2015 GMC Canyon: New Car Review - Autotrader