Full-sized trucks have been on a diet in the last few years. Now featuring aluminum bodies, smaller displacement engines, and the addition of forced induction to make them more efficient. Mid-sized trucks have all that, but have always lacked on some of the capabilities of their bigger brothers. That is until now. The GMC Canyon Diesel smashes that status quo.
We got an email from GM corporate and they wanted us to check out their new Canyon Diesel for a week, so we did.
Meeting the GMC Canyon
It was about 9 am when the Canyon pulled up to our office. The driver's door opened, a flash of green metallic paint made us realize that we were not looking at a black truck, but instead Emerald Greed Metallic. This thing was good looking. There were only a few small bits on the skin that tipped us off that it was indeed the diesel model. The slight hum from the engine compartment was the other indication. Long-gone are the days that a diesel's presence is announced by the clacking of the top end at 100 yards.
It was not long after the porter left that I had the bed of the truck loaded up with motorcycle parts that needed to get down to the shop. This meant a trip that included some stop and go traffic as well as a stint on the highway right off the bat.
The interior of the Canyon felt spacious behind the wheel due to the a-pillar being set nice and far away from the driver's position. This made the truck feel much like a full-sized truck. Couple that with the Canyon's stable road manners, a blindfolded passenger would be hard-pressed to determine that they were in anything but a full-sized pickup. In generations past, the ride of a full-sized pickup would translate to a bumpy and crude ride, but with every model year, trucks get more luxurious in both ride and appointment. This Canyon was no different.
The trip to the tire shop concluded with the mid-20 mpg range appearing on the gorgeous, full-color digital display nestled between the two analog gauges.
Later, I ran downtown to try my hand at one of the more daunting tasks in Austin. Trying to find, and more importantly, FIT into a parking spot in the heart of the city on a Friday night. This is something that no one in their right mind would do with a new and unfamiliar vehicle, especially during the week leading up to the SXSW onslaught. I made my way down and was able to negotiate the traffic south of the 183, Mopac exchange at peak dinner rush hour with no issues due to the small footprint of the Canyon. Positive lane changes, and squirting into an open lane when the time came to exit was made easy by the punchy little turbocharged diesel at the heart of the Canyon. I was never left wanting for down-low power, but instead, the power leveled off as the engine size made itself known. I could pull up to highway speeds easily thanks to the gearing in the transmission, but above 3K rpms, the lack of higher horsepower output left me feeling a little flat.
Once downtown, parking, traffic, and pretty much everything else amongst the congestion of a major city was an absolute breeze. There was absolutely no need for me to break out my Austin-issued 2X4.
Trucks, especially in Texas, have become the answer to so many transport questions. In a world not-too-far-past, a well-rounded garage needed the work truck and the town car, however nowadays these two have been replaced by leather-clad trucks that ride like a sedans. To put this to the test, I figured taking a friend and his fiance to dinner would be perfect.
Three full-sized adults will do well to establish a base-line for just how roomy the cabin of the Canyon is. I deliberately put my 6'1" buddy in the back seat while his petite fiance sat shotgun so I could get his honest take about the back seat. Expecting him to be knees-in-chest, or at the very least touching the back of the passenger seat. Sitting quite leisurely in the back, he had all the room that he needed to enjoy his ride to dinner. He had loads of head room and said that he didn't feel cramped in the least. Chalk another one up for the Canyon.
There are a lot of things to like about the GMC Canyon. It is a small format truck that doesn't feel small in the least. While I didn't get a chance to test out the towing capacity, the specs seem to match up with what my butt felt in the driver's seat. The diesel motor is a torquey mill that gets off the zero mph mark with ferver and pulls until the top of the rev range, where it settles in for a leisurely run down the road. The interior does not leave the consumer to wish for a more fanciful interior, but instead offers modern conveniences found in top-class sedans.
Gripes and Grumbles
Given the keys to the castle, I would have done things slightly different. My chief complaint is the way that the rear seat folds up. Folding the seat "out of the way" gains you nothing in the way of storage space or surface. You don't get any more vertical room to place things as the molded foundation for the rear seat is still in the way and does not give you a flat place to store tall cargo. You are better served by leaving the seat down and putting your things on the seat.
The model that we had was equipped with the lane departure and collision package that, to me, feel like superfluous features. Lane departure warning makes me think that it is dedicated to keeping text messaging drivers in their lane. I tried to test the collision thing, but didn't have the balls to get it to activate, so I can't speak to how well that works.
The price tag is in a stratos that makes the decision for full-size vs mid-size a tough one. At over $44K as tested, that is a lot of dough for a vehicle, so it is a tough sell for me in the new market. Perhaps a few less features would drop the truck into the upper $30's and make it a little more palatable for my pocketbook.
If you need a truck and live in a larger city where a full-size is more of a pain than a help, the lineup of small trucks available from GM are answering that call. There are few compromises in the decision to buy mid-size over full-size. Towing capacity, cabin room, luxury, and convenience in the diesel Canyon is all full-size truck level. Add to the benefit column a small footprint, and ease of parking and you have a great package in the Diesel Canyon.
Price as tested: $44,365