2021 GMC Canyon AT4 review: An old truck with a few new tricks

The Canyon has looked good since its inception.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Think of the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 as a Chevy Colorado ZR2 for people who have never consumed Monster energy drinks. It’s a little quieter, a little less robust, and while it’s aging it’s still a solid off-road-oriented mid-size pickup.

I do not like

  • Aged plastic-fantastic interior
  • A little light on comfort
  • Driver assistance missing

Butch outside, blah inside

I’ve always liked the GMC Canyon’s design over its sister, the Chevy Colorado. The more loving of the two has withstood the test of time a little better, thanks to an addiction to butch straightness that doesn’t look as aged as the cup with the great Colorado lighthouse. My tester’s $ 3,195 Off-Road Performance Edition package improves things a bit with 17-inch glossy black aluminum wheels, skid plates, black badges, and a spray bed trim. The sturdy 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires look pretty bossy too. Even the almost total lack of chrome does not hurt.

While the outside held up, I can’t say the same for the inside, which is as great as Playskool plastic like almost all other Canyon and Colorado coatings. My AT4 tester tries to spice things up with some great leather front seats, and I love how the headrest looks integrated into the seat, but the AT4 fabric seat is $ 1,800 cheaper, which is worth noting for buyers that they try to stick to a budget. There are faux stitching around the dashboard, but I can run a finger on almost any surface and it mostly feels tough and cheap which is a bit of a pain on a $ 40,000 truck. If you want something that looks like softness, you’ll have to go for the $ 45,000-plus Denali apparel.

There is some convenience to be found in the Canyon, but not a ton. The glove box and center console armrest compartment are both very sizable, but the door pockets are tiny and the optional wireless charger cannot accommodate modern Max-size iPhones ($ 389 on Amazon), a solid giveaway that this intern is preparing to collect social security checks. The cup holders will hold a 24-ounce plastic bottle, but nothing larger, so Nalgene fans will have to come up with something. The crew cab’s rear seats are a little light on legroom, but perhaps we were spoiled by all the full-size crew cab trucks and their limo-like back rows.

Perky V6, soft suspension

The Canyon AT4 can be had with a 2.8-liter inline-4 turbodiesel, but most will likely sport the 3.6-liter gas-powered V6, which produces 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, aimed at all and four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination works well, delivering plenty of low-end grunts with an empty bed, while the drivetrain runs smoothly, rarely looking for gears or taking longer than necessary. It will get up and go whenever necessary.

Fuel economy is also pretty decent, and the truck has no problem hitting the EPA’s estimated figures of 17mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway. These are solidly competitive numbers too, beating Toyota Tacoma four-wheel drive variants by 1-3 mpg on the highway (thanks in part to cylinder deactivation), although the Taco proves itself superior in the city by about the same delta.

On-road performance is great for a body-on-frame pickup. The off-road suspension is a bit soft, so while it does a good job of absorbing whatever crappy Michigan roads they have to offer, it can feel a little floating on freeway curves, and the off-road tires can roam for a while on some types of road. flooring. The steering is well balanced and the brakes have good grip and good modulation.

The interior of the AT4 is fine, but I’m not sure GM’s definition of ending cuts it in 2021.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

While I haven’t had a chance to put the AT4 to the test in all of its off-road strides, there’s plenty of kit here to make it happen. All AT4s come with an off-road tuned suspension, hill descent control, a lockable rear differential, a two-speed transfer box, and my tester takes that even further with the $ 3,195 performance package which adds an elimination of the front air dam, a 1 – inch lift up front and additional underbody protection. It’s not as purely focused as the Colorado ZR2 with its front locker and even stronger suspension, but it’s pretty damn close and most buyers will find the AT4 more than enough to meet their needs.

Don’t worry, the Canyon AT4 is still solid even for regular trucks. You can order it in a twin cabin configuration with a choice of 61.7-inch or 74-inch beds. It will carry up to 7,000 pounds and will carry stuff worth around 1,500 pounds in the bed.

Technological hits and misses

Each GMC Canyon features an 8-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet’s latest infotainment system, and it’s great. Setup is simple, it’s easy to navigate, and it includes both Apple CarPlay is Android Auto if you don’t want to knock down another $ 995 for factory shipping. OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is also standard, which I’ve always appreciated. The $ 395 Bose sound system upgrade isn’t too shabby either, and it looks like a good deal for people who are always in their trucks.

And then there is the driver assistance technology. Chevrolet, and GM in general, have always taken a more conservative approach to these systems, occasionally relying on a less expensive camera-based front collision warning (radar isn’t cheap) or blocking almost any system behind a paywall. Unfortunately, that’s still the case with the Canyon AT4, which offers non-adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard. The one-time upgrade costs $ 395 and adds forward collision warning, lane departure warning and … that’s it.

GM’s infotainment continues to improve but is already doing very well on its own.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Any truly modern conveniences like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking require a trip to the Toyota dealership, because that stuff is standard on every single Tacoma that goes off the line. Keep up with the times and stop counting beans all the time, GM. Seriously. Some truck buyers would likely ditch airbags if it meant saving $ 500 on window sticker, but sometimes you have to stop people from becoming their worst enemy.

Down to brass pins

Considering the average transaction price for new cars has eclipsed $ 40,000, I guess I can’t call the Canyon AT4 expensive, but I sure feel it. Starting at $ 39,595 (including destination) with fabric seats, my leather-covered tester plays with options at $ 45,780.

Why GM doesn’t take Toyota more seriously as an existential threat is beyond me. If you combine (and sometimes double) the sales of the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado, they still can’t match the selling power of Toyota’s venerable midsize pickup.

For what it is, though, the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 is solid. It’s an attractive pickup truck that offers more off-road prowess than your midsize medium, without requiring a deep jump into something more purpose-built like the ZR2. Let’s just hope a new generation is on the horizon.

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