Experienced by Leon Brittain
There is steep competition in the midsize pickup truck field with the likes of the Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, and the Chevy Colorado, sister to the next-generation 2023 GMC Canyon which I just experienced in AT4 superhero form. Each competitor represents a unique trait to offer buyers with the Canyon delivering a bold, aggressive exterior and comforting interior amenities that will make you think twice about taking it into the wild. However, it’s an AT4 variant designed for off-road terrains, overlanding, or adventure outings.
During my time with a Desert Sand Metallic 2023 GMC Canyon 4WD AT4, I organized a few days of mountain biking with our team of Fit Fathers in Patapsco State Park in Maryland. The area is omnipresent with 2-wheel trail action, so we left no stones unturned. The Canyon AT4 had no problems traversing muddy paths to our meeting spots. Additionally, an AT4X package is offered on the new Canyon for the most extreme off-roading mindset. GMC engineered the Canyon AT4x with a 3” factory lift, ultra-wide track, 33” MT tires, skid plates, Head-up Display, Bose 7-speaker audio entertainment system, and the AT4X-exclusive Baja drive mode. The hour-long drive to reach our destination was enriching and relaxing since the pickup was enhanced with an array of new technologies including:
- Fully digital driver information center
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Google Built-In
- Underbody cameras
“GMC is flexing the might of our off-road muscle,” said GMC Global Vice President Duncan Aldred. “Canyon benefits from key learnings gained from our AT4 strategy to bring customers the most advanced off-road midsize truck.”
But I will be the first to admit I’m a full-size pickup type of guy, so I have to adjust anytime a midsize rolls into the driveway. Yes, midsize trucks are more efficient and agile, yet I need additional hardware and bed capacity. My two second-row passengers were packed in pretty tight without much wiggle room for their knees. However, the midsize truck genre continues to sell like pancakes on weekends, therefore, who am I to judge?
Aesthetically, the GMC Canyon AT4 sensationally features a strong 15-pod grille with the red GMC insignia, a front skidplate with recessed red tow hooks (I would like to see them protruding), 18″ rims powered by 265/65 R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires, a 2” lifted suspension, cornerstep rear bumper, and a wide stance thanks to an upgraded off-road suspension package providing 9.6” of ground clearance. Upon purchase, I would first add a set of running boards or rock sliders because my loaner looked naked without them and the raised body requires a slight one-legged hop to climb into the cabin. Some Canyon models come with chrome assist steps but my ride was devoid of them. Though, the embedded bumper step allowed me to easily access the bed to load up our mountain bikes. Within the tailgate is a unique MultiStow Tailgate storage compartment covered by a camouflaged panel. This was perfect for storing gloves, chains, water bottles, and day packs.
On the highway, the GMC Canyon AT4 is full of energy from the off-road-focused 2.7-liter I4 turbo engine pushing out 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. Passing power was available at lower and higher rpms while the front end was agile from responsive steering inputs. But the truck bounced around a bit, immediately indicating it was clamoring for beaten paths. Updated drive modes allow you to customize the truck‘s mannerisms depending on your situation. They include Terrain Mode, Off-Road Mode, Normal Mode, and Tow/Haul Mode. The AT4 can tow 7,700 lbs and haul (payload) 1,550 lbs. Keep in mind that the numbers vary depending on your model choice and configuration: Elevation 2WD, Elevation 4WD, AT4, AT4X, Denali, AT4X Edition 1 Package. Expect 17 city and 21 highway mpg (miles per gallon).
Back inside the two-tone Jet Black and Timber cabin, my truck featured the $1,000 optional sunroof, an 8-way power driver seat, an all-digitized 8” diagonal driver information screen, and an 11.3” diagonal color touchscreen with sliding app pages. Google navigation is fast and accurate and specific pages such as the off-road performance display provides data on what your vehicle is doing. Large knobs and dials are simple to access and a robust hand shifter dominates.
Pricing for the 2023 Canyon starts at around $40,000. My 2023 Canyon 4WD AT4 kicked off at $43,900 and topped off at $49,205 after all options and a $1,495 destination charge. If you want the best the family offers, flow with the Canyon AT4X Edition 1, which will set you back $63,350. But of course, safety abounds with standard Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking with Bicyclist Detection, Following Distance Indicator, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and Forward Collision Alert, to name a few.