2015 GMC Canyon 2.5L Automatic 4x4 Extended Cab

2015 GMC Canyon 2.5L Automatic 4x4 Extended Cab 2015 GMC Canyon 2.5L Automatic 4x4 Extended Cab
Instrumented Test

Six cylinders. That’s what we’ve found to be a requirement as we’ve made our way through the various available configurations for the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon, General Motors’ highly anticipated, recently introduced mid-size pickup twins. The 2015 GMC Canyon tested here has just four cylinders, and it isn’t exactly the full-size truck replacement for adventurous weekend warriors that GM thinks it is.

But Look at Its Fuel Economy!

GMC will tell you that the Canyon’s standard-issue 2.5-liter four-cylinder will net you the best fuel economy of any mid-size pickup, with an EPA rating of 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. That’s great, until you consider the Canyon’s (and the identically rated Colorado’s) decade-old competitive set. (A new Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier are on the way, however—as well as a second-generation Honda Ridgeline.) And things decline from there: Add four-wheel drive, like our test truck had, and the EPA figures drop to 19/25 mpg. Not only is that just 2- and 1-mpg better than the far more powerful V-6 4x4’s numbers, but it’s also not far enough above the thriftiest full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 4x4 trucks (17/22 with the base V-6) to seem worth it.

In this test we saw 18 mpg, with the 2.5-liter four fighting a multi-pronged battle against the axis of weight (4158 pounds), a six-speed automatic whose overriding goal was to grab the highest gear possible, and torque and horsepower peaks (191 lb-ft and 200 horsepower) situated too close to redline to be useful. For comparison, a V-6–powered Canyon 4x4 crew cab we recently tested got 17 mpg, and a Chevrolet Silverado crew cab 4x4 V-6 managed 16 mpg. Those trucks also happened to be 1.7-and 1.5-seconds quicker to 60 mph than this Canyon, while also offering useful back seats.

Cruising at speed, the Canyon required a downshift (or two) to maintain 75 mph when encountering a slight grade, and even then, the engine sounded coarse and displeased with the request. Should you be hooking up a trailer, the V-6 Canyon can tow up to 7000 pounds, while the six-cylinder Silverado/Sierra can lug as much as 7600 pounds. Given that our four-banger test truck can pull only 3500 pounds, the other trucks’ real capability seems worth the sacrifice of 1 or 2 mpg.

Six-y Dreams

In fact, we’re not even sure why GMC sees fit to offer the four, especially given how the brand’s pricing structure practically begs buyers to upgrade to the 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6 that’s optional on every Canyon save for the base SL. On the second-rung-up Canyon (curiously, GMC’s trim-level structure moves from SL to “Canyon” to SLE, then SLT), the V-6 commands $1235, plus the required $650 six-speed automatic for a total of $1885; on the SLE, where the automatic is standard, the six also costs $1235; finally, on the top-flight SLT, GMC charges just $950 for the same engine.

Being 5.7 inches narrower, 17.1 inches shorter, and 3.6 inches lower than an equivalent extended-cab Sierra, you’d think the Canyon would be more maneuverable, but your first three-point encounter with a perpendicular parking spot quickly banishes that hopeful thought. GMC says the Canyon’s turning circle is 41.3 feet, which, while not as bad as a Sierra’s 46.9, is still less than nimble.

Are there upsides? Sure, the Canyon rides well, although the body and chassis don’t feel as ingot-solid as do those of a Sierra, and the truck is willing to round corners even when traveling at a quick pace. The interior looks pleasant, even if all the materials are generally bland and hard to the touch, and—somehow—power mirrors aren’t included on a truck with an as-tested price of $30,200.

All of this isn’t to totally shoot down the Canyon. Like the Colorado, trim-level-for-trim-level, it’s several thousand dollars cheaper than an equivalent Sierra or Silverado. And while it doesn’t redefine the segment, despite having a head start on the competition, it is newer and offers many more modern conveniences. Just do yourself a favor and get the V-6.