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The 2021 GMC Canyon is one of the most serious work trucks on the market today regardless of size and can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

What’s New for the 2021 GMC Canyon?

The GMC Canyon is now nearing the end of its second generation in 2021. It features rear or four-wheel-drive, three different engine options, and four trims. For 2021, GMC has renamed the trim levels on the Canyon, changed the grille for the Canyon Denali, and slightly readjusted standard equipment across the lineup. Every Canyon gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and above average driving dynamics. A new AT4 trim level focuses on off-road performance. In addition, the Canyon can tow up to 7,700-pounds when fitted with a V6 or diesel engine.

2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com

2021 GMC Canyon – gmc.com |  Shop 2021 GMC Canyon on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $27,995

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

RWD or 4WD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

20 City / 30 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 4

The Breakdown

Serious towing capability

Excellent V6 and diesel engines

Tough interior

Lackluster luxury on Denali trim

Smallish infotainment system

No advanced safety equipment

2021 Canyon Specs

Trims & Pricing

Elevation Standard - $27,995
Elevation - $31,495
AT4 - $39,595
Denali - $42,395

2021 GMC Canyon Powertrain

2021 GMC Canyon 2.5L I4 - P&M Productions on youtube.com
2021 GMC Canyon 2.5L I4 - P&M Productions on youtube.com

Pokey might be the only proper word to describe the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s standard in the bottom two trims of the 2021 GMC Canyon. It makes 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. For a GMC, we’d like more power. It just feels incapable of shuttling you anywhere without having to work really hard. In the cheaper Chevy Colorado, it’s not so glaring. The available 3.6-liter V6 and the 2.8-liter turbodiesel both do a far better job though.

The diesel is fuel-efficient and incredibly torque-rich. With 369-lb-ft it’s got nearly 100 more torques than the gas-powered V6. So it’s happy to sip fuel as you trundle down the highway or to yank stumps out of the ground, your choice. Then there’s the V6 found in the AT4 and the Denali that’s making 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. It’s smooth and silky. Passing is particularly easy with this option, as it makes it one of the fastest mid-size pickups on the market.

2021 GMC Canyon 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com
2021 GMC Canyon 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com

Paired to the 2.5L gas and 2.8L diesel engines is a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6L V6 is the only one that gets additional cogs from an 8-speed automatic transmission. Whichever setup you choose, the Canyon can be had with a rear-wheel-drive setup or an all-wheel-drive one optionally.

Nevertheless, this is still a truck, so don’t expect particularly athletic handling. Body roll isn’t too wild, but the nose will dive on hard braking. We like the balance that the suspension provides though. This truck isn’t too hard on you and at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it’s floating down the road.

Towing & Payload

2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com

The 7,700 pounds max towing capacity of the 2021 GMC Canyon is nothing to look down upon. That’s a great maximum towing capacity for its size and class. It also offers up to 1,605 pounds of payload capacity.

2021 GMC Canyon Fuel Economy & MPG

While the 2021 GMC Canyon with the 3.6L V6 gets 21 mpg combined with RWD or 18 mpg combined with 4WD. The other available engines both do alright here. The gas powered 2.5L four-cylinder gets up to 22 mpg combined when paired with either drivetrain, while the diesel is capable of getting 23 mpg combined with RWD and only drops to 22 mpg with 4WD.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

This is a work truck and the interior of the 2021 GMC Canyon doesn’t pretend otherwise. Even the swanky Denali model won’t be accused of following form over function. The cabin is straightforward and frankly, quite simple. Here’s just one example, if you get any trim aside from the Denali, you’ll get up with a 7-inch infotainment system and a manually reclining driver’s seat. That’s not a huge deal, but it’s telling.

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Still, there are some benefits of that straightforward design. This is, after all, a truck. So when it’s at work, it’s easy to clean and hard to damage. No, the plastic switchgear won’t make you feel special, but it also is unlikely to let you down. The ride quality doesn’t let you down either.

Cabin noise is fairly light. It’s easy to see out of the Canyon too. The locking tailgate is a nice feature to have as well. Overall, comfort and cargo space in the 2021 GMC Canyon is more than adequate.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com

The mid-size truck segment is an interesting one. It doesn’t get the flashy interior treatment that the full-size pickups get. The 2021 GMC Canyon is another example of that. A new Sierra Denali will look like it’s as modern as possible. The Canyon is still good, it’s just not as loud about it. The 7 and 8-inch infotainment systems are solid performers with easy to learn user interfaces and good design. If anything, we’d like to see them larger and brighter. The optional Bose premium sound system is great, but might not get as loud as you’d like.

Safety Features

The biggest issue with the 2021 GMC Canyon is a lack of advanced safety equipment. The base Canyon comes with none. The only available options are lane-departure warning, rear parking sensors, and forward-collision warning. These missing features wouldn’t matter so much if the Canyon had a five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA, which it does not, or was a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, which it is also not.

2021 GMC Canyon Trims & Pricing

2021 GMC Canyon Elevation Standard - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon Elevation Standard - gmc.com

Elevation Standard – $27,995

As the base of the 2021 GMC Canyon lineup, the Elevation Standard gets 18-inch wheels, a four-way adjustable driver’s seat, and a 7-inch infotainment system equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It comes with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. It uses a six-speed automatic to send power to the rear wheels. Four-wheel-drive is optional on all Canyon trims other than the AT4 where it’s standard. Two other engines, including a 3.6L V6 and a 2.8L diesel are available on both Elevation models.

2021 GMC Canyon Elevation - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon Elevation - gmc.com

Elevation – $31,495

The non-standard Elevation model adds on LED fog lights, a remote locking tailgate, a sliding rear window, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon AT4 - gmc.com

AT4 – $39,595

Go for the off-road-focused AT4 and you’ll get a suspension that’s only found in this trim as well as hill-descent control, a shield for the transfer case, and unique 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires. It also gets the 3.6L V6 as standard equipment.

2021 GMC Canyon Denali - gmc.com
2021 GMC Canyon Denali - gmc.com

Denali – $42,395

The Denali also gets the 3.6L V6 as standard equipment. It rides on 20-inch wheels and adds leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a wireless charging pad, an 8-inch infotainment system, and a spray-in bed liner. It also includes lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, and rear parking sensors.

Warranties

General Motors offers a single complimentary maintenance visit with every new 2021 GMC Canyon. It also provides a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What we think

2021 GMC Canyon - gmc.com

2021 GMC Canyon – gmc.com |  Shop 2021 GMC Canyon on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 GMC Canyon is a workers’ truck. It’s not fancy, it’s not tech-heavy, and at the end of the day, that’s ok. It’s got a couple of great engines and can tow anything that weighs as much as the average male Orca whale (7,500-pounds) or less.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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