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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Mike Magda
November 12, 2008
Vehicle Overview The GMC Canyon is a twin to the Chevrolet Colorado. The GMC versions are priced slightly higher than the Chevys, and that gets buyers more-contemporary styling and a refined interior. Mechanically, and in terms of feature availability, there are no differences between the two trucks. It's all in the appearance and perception. The Canyon returns with three cab styles and three trim levels: WT, SLE and SLT.
New for 2009 The big announcement is the availability of a powerful 300-horsepower V-8. Not that the 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder engine isn't a strong performer, but all other compact trucks — with the exception of the Ford Ranger — offer strong V-6 engines, and the midsize Dakota has a 4.7-liter V-8.
The Canyon generally caters to an upscale audience, so the V-8 may make up a greater percentage of Canyon sales than it does of Colorado sales. The V-8 can also be had with the slick-handling ZQ8 suspension, which returns for 2009. The ZQ8 lowers the truck about an inch and comes with revised steering and suspension tuning, performance tires, and unique 18-inch wheels to provide more aggressive handling. The Z71 suspension is designed for offroad use, while the Z85 suspension is standard.
Also for 2009, Chevy beefed up the brake system and now includes electronic stability control and XM Satellite Radio on all models.
Exterior The Canyon is saddled with an angular headlight brow, borrowed from the Colorado, that forces a more trapezoidal execution of the grille than do standard GMC truck front ends. Other GMC trucks, including the updated Sierra, have the more familiar rectangular-oval grille.
The Canyon still sports a very athletic silhouette that has been cleaned up for 2009. Latest changes include additional body-colored moldings, bezels and surrounds to add a more sporty appearance to some trim levels.
New 17-inch wheels for Z71
Z71 suspension has taller ride height than previous models
New wheel designs for SLE and SLT
New colors include Navy Blue and Aqua Blue Metallic
Interior The Canyon has a hint of cosmopolitan features inside, but the overall ambience suffers from a plastic hangover. All the gauges and controls are in the right place, as the truck shines in the utility and function categories. Wide, comfortable front seats fit nicely in the spacious cab, but the rear jump seats in the extended cab are for kids only.
Available under-seat storage
Leather seating in crew cab SLT
Available moonroof in crew cab, extended cab
Available sliding rear window
Under the Hood
185-horsepower, 2.9-liter inline-four-cylinder with aluminum block and cylinder head, dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and 190 pounds-feet of torque
242-hp, 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder with aluminum block and cylinder head, dual overhead camshafts and 242 pounds-feet of torque
300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder head, two valves per cylinder and 320 pounds-feet of torque
Five-speed manual (standard on four-cylinder models)
Four-speed automatic (standard on five-cylinder and V-8 Canyons, optional on four-cylinder models)
Safety GM continues to beef up the safety features for its compact truck, but side curtain airbags remain optional. Stability and traction control are now standard.
Crash sensor sends GPS signal
Of Interest to Truck Owners
Maximum gross vehicle weight rating: 5,500 pounds (extended cab and crew cab), 5,500 pounds (5.3-liter and Z71 or Z85 4x4)
Maximum payload capacity: 1,422 pounds (4x2 regular cab)
Maximum towing capacity: 6,000 pounds (extended cab and crew cab V-8)