Gasoline V6 and four-cylinder diesel engines tow more than rivals
Maneuverable size, along with well-mannered steering and handling
Comfortable ride over most surfaces
Front seats can feel small to larger people
Rivals offer more in-cab storage with rear seats folded
Low-hanging front airdam limits off-road potential
The 2018 GMC Canyon is a midsize pickup offered in two- and four-seat extended-cab and five-seat crew-cab body styles. There are two bed lengths and five trim levels to choose from: SL, base Canyon, SLE, SLT and the top-of-the-line Denali.
Although the GMC Canyon is a more upscale version of its Chevy Colorado sibling, there is an entry-level trim called the SL. The SL is offered only with the extended cab. It lacks rear seats and it comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a four-way power driver seat (with manual recline), a tilt-only steering wheel, power windows, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, voice commands, a USB port and a six-speaker sound system.
The next step up is the base Canyon trim, which is available in both extended-cab and crew-cab body styles and adds a six-speed automatic transmission (optional or standard, depending on the configuration) and fold-up rear jump seats (extended-cab models only). A 3.6-liter V6 engine (308 hp and 275 lb-ft) paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission is also optional or standard here depending on the configuration.
Significantly, the base Canyon can be ordered with some options packages that aren't available on the SL. Notable features to look out for include remote keyless entry, an easy-lift tailgate, cruise control and a trailering package.
Instead of picking options packages for the base Canyon, you could just upgrade to the SLE. It gets you most of the above as standard, plus 17-inch wheels, power side mirrors, upgraded interior trim materials, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, OnStar connectivity (with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot) and three extra USB ports.
Much like the base Canyon, the SLE gets most of its options in packages. The All-Terrain package (essentially GMC's equivalent of the off-road-focused Colorado Z71) bundles 17-inch dark-tinted alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, an off-road-oriented suspension, a rear locking differential, hill descent control, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat and distinctive cloth upholstery. The optional SLE Convenience package includes automatic climate control, remote start and a sliding rear window.
Even with all those available options, a few things are still left on the table, and right near the top, there's the SLT trim. It gets all the SLE's standard equipment plus the contents of the SLE Convenience package. It also comes standard with the 3.6-liter V6 engine, 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery and the All-Terrain package's front seating upgrades (power adjustments and heating).
Both the SLE and SLT can be equipped with the optional Driver Alert package that features forward collision warning and lane departure warning. Other optional extras include the turbocharged 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine (181 hp and 369 lb-ft) paired to a six-speed automatic. An upgraded seven-speaker Bose audio system is also among the extras.
If you want all the creature comforts GMC can throw at you, there's the Canyon Denali. The Denali gets the SLT's equipment plus the contents of the Driver Alert package, the upgraded Bose audio system, navigation, chrome 20-inch wheels, cargo lamps, a spray-in bedliner, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless charging for compatible cellphones and a heated steering wheel.