2023 GMC Canyon preview

Reviews

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 GMC Canyon? What does it compare to?

The redesigned 2023 GMC Canyon mid-size pickup truck shares its bones with the Chevy Colorado and its beating heart with the larger GMC Sierra, but GM has positioned the Canyon as the more off-road ready truck. We’ll see how it stacks up against the Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Gladiator, and Nissan Frontier among others. 

Is the 2023 GMC Canyon a good truck?

Review continues below

We won’t know until we drive it next spring, but its bona fides sound promising on paper. It will only be offered in one size, a crew cab with a short bed, and one engine, a high output 2.7-liter turbo-4 used as the base engine in GM’s larger trucks. GMC has corrected its biggest shortcoming with more standard safety and convenience features that portend a much higher TCC Rating than the 4.8 out of 10 of the outgoing model. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2023 GMC Canyon?

Most everything is new on the 2023 Canyon, with a more upright look with a taller ground clearance befitting of its status as the off-road-ready mid-size truck. That applies across the lineup of Elevation, AT4, and Denali trims, but GMC drives it home with the new AT4X. 

First teased as a concept in 2021, the 2023 Canyon AT4X is GMC’s answer to the 2023 Colorado’s ZR2. An off-road sub-brand first introduced on the 2022 GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck, the Canyon AT4X rides higher than other grades, due in part to a 3.0-inch factory lift that enables a ground clearance of 10.7 inches. It also comes with three skid plates and uplifted front and rear bumpers for better approach and departure angles. An Edition 1 package slaps on all the off-road gear, from safari bars to winches on the front bumper and 17-inch beadlock capable wheels, but its approach angle suffers due to that equipment. 

The rest of the 2023 Canyon lineup follows the lead of the AT4X, with a much wider track and a 2.0-inch factory lift that increases the ground clearance to 9.6 inches. Across the lineup, the wheelbase stretches 3.1 inches longer due to the front axle being moved forward. The lineup looks more imposing. Each trim has a different slotted grille that is bracketed by split LED running lights that seem to point down to the front skid plate. 

Each trim features a distinct interior as well, such as black-on-black in the not-Johnny-Cash Elevation trim, or the two-tone white-on-black with red accents on the AT4X. The Denali beams with laser-etched wood trim and leather upholstery. Despite the large 11.3-inch standard touchscreen integrated into the dash, there are still temperature and volume dials, climate control buttons, and other buttons for mechanicals. A mechanical gear shifter remains in the console, though it’s been shifted to the right to give the driver easier access to the drive mode dial.

Performance

That dial unlocks Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, and Terrain modes, with Terrain mode acting like a low-speed cruise control for crawling, same as in the Colorado and larger GMC Sierra 1500. The AT4X adds a Baja mode for higher-speed off-roading. 

Powering these expeditions is a high-output version of the 2.7-liter turbo-4 shared with the base Sierra as well as the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. All four grades of the 2023 Canyon get the same tune of 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. This marks the biggest powertrain difference between the Canyon and Colorado, which has three iterations of the turbo-4. Our testing of the high-output turbo-4 in the heavier Silverado proved punchy and quiet for a full-size truck, so we expect to be more impressed with it in the Canyon. 

A new iteration of the 8-speed automatic returns quicker downshifts, and shuttles torque to the rear wheels on only the base Elevation; the other grades come standard with four-wheel drive. The AT4 trim adds a limited-slip rear differential, and the AT4X model adds front and rear lockers, and Multimatic internal bypass shocks to handle extreme compression off-road while still allowing enough stiffness for on-road comfort. On other trims, the rear suspension uses leaf springs, while the independent front suspension features coil-over shocks. 

The new front and rear ends allow for greater approach and departure angles, with the 33.3-degree approach increasing to 36.9 degrees on the AT4X. It rides on 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch mud-terrain tires, whereas the AT4 and Elevation have 18-inch wheels with 32-inch all-terrain tires. The Denali rolls on 20 inchers with AT tires.  

GMC estimates the Canyon can tow up to 7,700 lb, which is much higher across the lineup except for the outgoing turbodiesel model, and the AT4X tops out at 6,000 lb. Payload increases to 1,640 lb, but the AT4X is limited to 1,250 lb.

Space

Even though the wheelbase is longer and the track is wider, the space in the crew cab remains mostly the same as the outgoing model. The 34.7 inches of rear leg room is smaller than most crossover SUVs, so seating three adults in back might not result in any of them offering up gas money. 

The 5-foot-2 bed has eight tie downs, with an option for nine more, as well as stake pockets and two indents for tires in the bed wall. The tailgate hides a 4.0-inch deep and 45-inch long storage area with a drain that doubles as a toolbox or a cooler.

Safety

The new Canyon likely will perform better in crash tests. Until the NHTSA and the IIHS weigh in, GMC equips the Canyon with standard driver-assist tech proven to mitigate or avoid crashes. That includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic high beams, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors, rear automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system are options. 

How much does the 2023 GMC Canyon cost?

The Canyon Elevation with rear-wheel drive starts at around $40,000, which is about $8,000 more than the outgoing model with a crew cab and short box. It comes much better equipped, too, with an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, an 11.3-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone capability and an infotainment system running on Google. Options include a Canyon-first sunroof, a Bose 7-speaker sound system, an 11.0-inch instrument cluster, a 6.3-inch head-up display, and a 10-camera projection system including a waterproof underbody camera with a washer. The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Edition 1 bumps the Denali off its perch as the top trim, and will start at $63,350.  

Where is the 2023 GMC Canyon made?

In Wentzville, Missouri, alongside the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado.

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