2015 GMC Canyon SLT review

2015 GMC Canyon review

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Until now, shoppers wanting something less than a full-size truck had exactly two choices, and neither of them were what we'd call fresh, or innovative.

The mid-size niche is growing this year, in the form of two new trucks nearly identical in configuration, but not so close in style: the Chevy Colorado, and the 2015 GMC Canyon.

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With the Canyon, GMC hopes to woo drivers back into mid-size trucks from the crossovers they're currently driving--where many decamped when the last Canyon and Colorado went away in 2012, and the Ford Ranger, soon after.

This is no compact truck, though. With a maximum bed length of six feet and with its biggest engine a 3.6-liter V-6, the bigger and more expensive Canyons overlap the base versions of its sibling, the GMC Sierra.

Sharing much of its underpinnings and basic design with the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC Canyon is no surprise but that makes it no less welcome as a supplement to the full-size trucks roaming the nation’s streets, job sites, and dirt roads. It's a solid alternative for those who might otherwise buy a mid-size crossover but want the open bed, and don't want to be forced into a full-size truck that's upscaled and upsized substantially from just a decade ago.

With crisp, familiar front-end styling, the Canyon looks burly, rugged, and capable, just like its Sierra inspiration. The front-end is in line with GMC’s other trucks, as is the tailgate and bumper area; even the flared-and-squared wheel arches are a familiar detail. Where the Canyon diverges from the pickup mainstream is along the side, where the cab’s lower window line sweeps upward toward the rear. Inside, its cockpit is also patterned after the Sierra's: a central dash pod houses the primary controls and display unit, while a beefy steering wheel with its own control buttons sits in front of a gauge pod.

No more V 8 option2015 GMC Canyon Styling :

With somewhat edgy looks—certainly not adhering to the full-size orthodoxy—GMC’s Canyon nonetheless pulls off a burly, rugged, and capable stance.

The Canyon's front end is in line with GMC’s other trucks, as is the tailgate and bumper area; even the flared-and-squared wheel arches are a familiar detail. GMC execs say that's because their buyers crave the familiar look, whereas Chevy Colorado buyers might like its more global cues.

Where the Canyon diverges from the pickup mainstream is along the side, where the cab’s lower window line sweeps upward toward the rear, creating a line that’s at once modern and somewhat foreign—as well it might, as the rest of the world has had this generation of mid-size pickup for three years already, and it made its original debut at the 2011 Bangkok Motor Show, though it wore an even more unusual front-end in its original, non-U.S. guise.

2015 GMC Canyon Performance :

Under the hood of the new 2015 GMC Canyon you’ll find one of two engines: the base 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder, or a 3.6-liter V-6. One makes for an good economy-car substitute, while the other's more a necessity if you're replacing a full-size towing appliance.

The four-cylinder installed in the base Colorado is rated at 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. It's the only one offered with a manual transmission, which we haven't sampled. With the six-speed automatic bound to be on almost every Canyon sold to retail customers, the engine's ideally suited for anyone that owns a truck more for the openness of the bed, rather than the ultimate capacity.

The four-cylinder's very smooth and unobtrusive in most of its working range, quick enough for interstate-grade acceleration, and can deliver up to 22 miles per gallon combined. It's no diesel Chevy Cruze, but that compromise number is offset by the enormous open-air backpack following you everywhere. Like the six-cylinder in today's full-sizers, this four-cylinder covers a much wider swath of users than previous base engines. Be honest with yourself and if you only haul mulch and tools and yourself, the four is the better idea.

2015 GMC Canyon Comfort & Quality :

Mid-size trucks are an obvious compromise--not just because they're scaled down from the full-sizers that dominate the sales charts, either. They cut across more drivers and needs, typically, than full-size trucks: they're economy-car substitutes, weekend toy pullers and carriers, and basic hard workers.

Imagine designing a cab and bed to suit all of those, and you can better appreciate how well the Canyon's come out of the packaging process, body-on-boxed-ladder-frame and all.

In the front, no matter which of the three body styles you choose, it does a much better job on the comfort front than the Tacoma and the Frontier. On seating position alone, the Canyon's higher hip point and better headroom give it a more natural driving position than the legs-out rivals. Even better, the Canyon's front seats are shaped well, with almost sporty bolstering.

2015 GMC Canyon 1
2015 GMC Canyon Safety :

Safety features included in the 2015 GMC Canyon include six standard airbags, with head curtain side airbags designed to reduce the risk of occupant ejection in the event of a crash or rollover. A rearview camera is also standard, as are oversized side mirrors for enhanced rearward visibility.

In addition to the StabiliTrak system, the Canyon also gets standard trailer sway control and hill-descent control systems.

Optional safety extras include forward collision alert and lane departure warning—both of which GMC claims as segment firsts.

2015 GMC Canyon Features :

Three trim lines will be offered in the GMC Canyon: base, SLE, and SLT. Base $23,575 trucks come with an admirable set of standard features, including a stereo with a USB port; air conditioning; power windows; a rearview camera; cloth or vinyl seats; a power driver seat (with manual recline); and tilt steering. Options on this trim level include a package with an easy-lift tailgate, keyless entry, cruise control, and a rear defogger.

Base trucks will likely be rare outside of fleet duty, though. More buyers are likely to opt into the $27,520 Canyon SLE, which gets those base features plus a color touchscreen radio with GMC's IntelliLink infotainment interface and satellite radio; three USB ports; cruise control; a rear defogger; aluminum interior trim; remote keyless entry; and a tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio controls. Options include navigation; Bose premium audio; a package with automati climate control and remote start; a sliding rear window; forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems; and an All-Terrain package with 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, and heated power driver and passenger seats (with manual recline).

The $30,655 Canyon SLT builds on that version with standard automatic climate control; remote start; power front seats with lumbar adjust; and options for navigation, Bose audio, a sliding rear window, and the forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.

2015 GMC Canyon SLT 4x4 Test Drive Video Review - Mid-Size Pickup Truck

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2015 GMC Canyon Fuel Economy :

Along with its twin, the Chevy Colorado, the GMC Canyon is the most miserly mid-size pickup you can buy. It's not a magnitude of efficiency that would make a Sierra full-sizer seem like a silly choice, though.

At best the Sierra earns a 19-mpg combined rating from the EPA. The Canyon, on the other hand, tops out at 22 mpg combined--or 20/27 mpg city/highway for the two-wheel-drive models with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. With a manual, the same combo rates 19/26 mpg or 22 mpg combined.

For comparison in its league, the Canyon also beats the four-cylinder manual Nissan Frontier, at 21 mpg combined, while a base Toyota Tacoma four-cylinder manual matches the Canyon's 22-mpg combined figure. The Canyon counts on active aero grille shutters to help it reach its figures, while the Japanese trucks don't offer that fuel-saving feature.

2015 GMC Canyon

Highs :

  • Modern design, inside and out
  • High-tech options like 4G LTE
  • Potent V-6 engine
  • Considerable towing capability
  • More efficient four-cylinder option


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