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2018 GMC Canyon: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 11/2/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a red car parked on the side of a road: 2018 GMC Canyon© General Motors 2018 GMC Canyon

The highly ranked 2018 GMC Canyon has an upscale cabin with a long list of available features. This fuel-efficient compact truck also has one of the highest towing capacities in the class.

The 2018 GMC Canyon is ranked:

Is the GMC Canyon a Good Truck?

Yes, the GMC Canyon is a good truck. All three of its available powertrains can get the job done, making the Canyon among the class leaders in towing, hauling, and even gas mileage. When you're driving around town, you'll enjoy sporty handling (for a truck) and a ride that stays smooth over most surfaces. The Canyon has a handsome cabin and plenty of quality materials. Crew Cab models offer ample second-row space, and there's a nice assortment of tech features.

Should I Buy the GMC Canyon?

Those shopping for a compact pickup should definitely have the GMC Canyon on their list. Despite its upscale quality, the Canyon has a very reasonable retail price for the class. Still, there are only five trucks in this segment, and most of them are excellent buying choices.

The Chevy Colorado is a slightly less-expensive (and a little less upscale) twin brother of the Canyon, meaning you could save money and get a similar truck. The Toyota Tacoma isn't as refined as the Canyon, but it’s a much better off-roader.

Compare the Canyon, Colorado, and Tacoma »

Should I Buy a New or Used GMC Canyon?

For 2018, GMC made the IntelliLink infotainment system (with a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay) standard in the Canyon. However, since that was an available feature for 2017, it may be worth shopping for a used Canyon with this system to potentially save money. You could probably save even more with an older model, but you should note there have been a couple of changes every year since the Canyon's current generation began in 2015.

A fuel-efficient and good-for-towing turbodiesel engine debuted for 2016, while 2017 saw a whole host of changes. These included the introduction of the upscale Denali trim, a new All Terrain X off-road package, standard Teen Driver mode, and the 7-inch touch-screen IntelliLink system that was later made standard for 2018. To research the other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 GMC Canyon. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 GMC Canyon »
We Did the Research for You: 37 Reviews Analyzed

Don’t spend all your free time on car research; just check out the vehicle reviews we’ve already written, which include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. Our reviews combine professional test driver opinions with data like crash test results and reliability ratings to give a complete picture of every vehicle we rank. This 2018 GMC Canyon review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years’ worth of combined experience in the automotive industry. To keep our car reviews objective, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all advertising on our site.

How Much Does the GMC Canyon Cost?

The Canyon’s base price is a shade over $21,000, which is reasonable for a compact truck. Though it’s not the lowest price in the class, it’s thousands less than the starting prices of the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. However, the Canyon’s higher trims can get expensive. The top-of-the-line Denali trim starts at $39,600.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

GMC Canyon Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: GMC Canyon or Chevrolet Colorado?

The Chevrolet Colorado is virtually identical to the GMC Canyon, as these are both compact pickup trucks from General Motors. They share the same powertrains and the same towing and hauling capabilities. You'll even find a similar list of standard and available features in both trucks. The only real difference is price and interior quality. The Canyon is more upscale through most of its trim levels than the Colorado. The GMC’s starting price is about $900 higher than the Chevy’s, and its upper trims are also more expensive than comparable Colorado models. If you can afford the extra cost, go with the GMC.

Which Is Better: GMC Canyon or Toyota Tacoma?

The Toyota Tacoma is also similar to the Canyon, but it’s geared more toward off-road drivers. The Tacoma has a plethora of available off-road equipment, all concentrated in two special models that are tailored to rough-and-tumble performance. However, if you're looking to tow and haul lots of stuff, the Canyon is the better choice. The GMC also offers technology that the Toyota doesn't, like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Unless you expect to do a lot of off-roading with the Tacoma, the Canyon is the better pick.

Compare the Canyon, Colorado, and Tacoma »

Canyon Performance

Canyon Engine: The Right Choice Depends on Your Needs

The Canyon has three engine options. There’s the 200-horsepower, four-cylinder base engine, the 308-horsepower V6, and the 181-horsepower turbodiesel (which has 369 pound-feet of torque). The base engine has ample power for daily driving, but the available engines are more capable. The Canyon has its highest payload capacity when equipped with the V6, and its highest towing capacity comes when equipped with the turbodiesel.

Canyon Gas Mileage: No Worries Here

The Canyon is part of a three-way dogfight (with the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado) for the title of most fuel-efficient compact pickup truck. It earns 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with its base engine. At those ratings, you’ll save about $100 per year on gas driving the Canyon instead of the Toyota Tacoma. The GMC’s turbodiesel is even more efficient, earning 22/30 mpg city/highway.

Canyon Ride and Handling: A Pleasant Surprise

The Canyon delivers a cushioned ride even over rough pavement, and it handles well by truck standards. There’s not too much body roll when cornering, the steering is responsive, and the brakes are strong.

Canyon Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Canyon can tow up to 7,700 pounds, and it can haul up to 1,605 pounds. These are some of the highest ratings in the class.

Read more about performance »

Canyon Interior

How Many People Does the Canyon Seat?

Extended Cab Canyons seat four (except in the lowest trim, which seats two), and Crew Cab models seat five. The front seats are comfortable and have enough support for most people’s taste. Adults can ride in the back of Crew Cab models without feeling too cramped, but the rear quarters of Extended Cab models are tight and may not be ideal if you regularly carry rear passengers – this is typical for extended cab trucks in this class.

Canyon and Car Seats

Canyon models with rear seats have two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors. There are no issues with the lower anchors, but the tether anchors are hard to find. The Crew Cab model’s LATCH system received a Marginal rating (the second-lowest score available) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Canyon Interior Quality

The Canyon is one of the most upscale compact pickup trucks you can buy. Its cabin is attractive and built with high-end materials.

Canyon Cargo Space

There are two bed lengths to choose from when buying a Canyon. A 6-foot-2-inch bed is available with both cabs, but Crew Cab models also offer a 5-foot-2-inch bed. You can also get an EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate. It’s easy to operate with one hand, which is helpful when loading cargo.

Canyon Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Canyon include a six-speaker audio system, a USB port, and the IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Available features include an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, satellite radio, a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot, automatic climate control, navigation, a seven-speaker Bose premium sound system, and wireless charging.

You’ll appreciate the IntelliLink infotainment system, which is user-friendly and makes controlling tech features easy. There are also physical buttons in addition to the responsive touch screen. Features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot aren’t offered in every competitor.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Canyon Reliability

Is the GMC Canyon Reliable?

The 2018 GMC Canyon has a predicted reliability score of three out of five from J.D. Power, which is average across the industry as a whole. The Toyota Tacoma and the Honda Ridgeline are the only class rivals with a score of four or better.

GMC Canyon Warranty

GMC covers the Canyon with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Most other compact pickup trucks have similar warranties.

Read more about reliability »

Canyon Safety

Canyon Crash Test Results

The 2018 GMC Canyon receives a four-out-of-five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earns four stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and three stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2018 Canyon Crew Cab model a Good rating in all five crash tests. The Extended Cab model receives a Good rating in three crash tests, but it only earns an Acceptable rating in the small overlap front and side crash tests.

Canyon Safety Features

A rearview camera and a Teen Driver management system come standard in the Canyon. Available driver assistance features include cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

Which GMC Canyon Model Is Right for Me?

There are a half-dozen Canyon trims to choose from, but when buying a truck, trim is never your first decision. First, you must decide which bed, cab, and engine you want, because not every option is offered in every trim. 

The Extended Cab body type is available with every trim, and the Crew Cab is available with all but the Canyon SL. You have short beds (5-foot-2-inch) and long beds (6-foot-2-inch), but the short bed is only offered with Crew Cab models. Finally, there are three engines to choose from: a four-cylinder, a V6, and a turbodiesel. Depend on your engine choice, transmission options include a six-speed manual and a six- or eight-speed automatic.

There are a ton of restrictions on which engine you can get. The four-cylinder isn’t offered in Crew Cab models with the long bed, and the diesel isn’t offered in Extended Cab models. The SLT, All Terrain, and Denali trims don’t offer the four-cylinder engine, while the SL only offers the four-cylinder. The diesel engine is unavailable in the Canyon trim (which is one level up from the SL).

Of all the trims, the SLE and SLT represent the best value for most buyers. They offer most of the features you can get in a Canyon, but they cost significantly less than the Denali trim. The SLT offers a few more driver assistance features than the SLE, as well as navigation. If you need those features, get the SLT. Otherwise, the SLE is a solid choice.

GMC Canyon SL

The Canyon SL has a base price of $21,100. The SL only comes with the Extended Cab and the long bed. The SL comes with few features, and there are very few options that you can add. This trim also has no rear seat.

The next trim up, which is the lowest trim most consumers would want, is known simply as the Canyon. It has a starting price of $24,600. The Canyon is available with both cabs and both bed lengths. The Canyon comes standard with the IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

It’s available with many more features, including the EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, a locking rear differential, and 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hot spot.

GMC Canyon SLE

The Canyon SLE starts at $28,500. The SLE is available with both cabs and bed lengths. Standard features include four USB ports, a locking rear differential, the EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hot spot, and an 8-inch infotainment touch screen. Available features include automatic climate control, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning.

GMC Canyon SLT

The Canyon SLT has a starting price of $34,800. The SLT is available with both bed lengths, and it comes standard with a V6 engine, leather upholstery, and heated front seats. Available features in the SLT include forward collision alert, lane departure warning, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and navigation.

GMC Canyon All Terrain

The Canyon All Terrain starts at $34,800. The All Terrain is offered with both cabs and bed lengths. It comes standard with four-wheel drive and several off-road-oriented features such as hill descent control, a transfer case shield, and an off-road suspension. Available features in the All Terrain include navigation and a seven-speaker Bose audio system.

GMC Canyon Denali

The Canyon Denali has a starting price of $39,600. The Denali is available with both bed lengths (but only as a Crew Cab) and comes with pretty much every feature you can get in a Canyon.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

The Final Call

There’s no shortage of reasons to like the 2018 GMC Canyon. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to name more than one or two reasons to dislike this truck without getting extremely nitpicky. Whether you’re looking for strong performance, modern tech features, or a high-quality interior, the Canyon fits the bill. That’s why it deserves a look from every compact pickup truck buyer.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 GMC Canyon review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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