Pickup trucks in America come in many different forms, flavors, and “sizes” to appease just about everyone who seeks such a vehicle. Among them, there remains to be the more affordable and smaller midsized truck segment which remains somewhat competitive. GM’s line of smaller trucks, most notably the GMC Canyon, has received a new trim addition in taking a page from the larger Sierra to add an AT4 variation.
The new GMC Canyon AT4 embodies a few of the welcomed additions of a more rugged attitude with larger knobby all-terrain Wrangler Duratrac tires wrapping 17-inch aluminum wheels, darkened trim with a unique dark front grill to match, and red-painted front tow hooks to further signify its unique AT4 moniker. Fundamentally, the AT4 trim slots the Canyon just below the Denali trim but does without the chrome-clad trim aesthetics of the Denali. Other details that make the Canyon AT4 unique are a skid plate on the transfer case, an Eaton G80 limited-slip differential, a hill descent control system, and specialized off-road suspension.
As far as changes go on the inside of the new GMC Canyon AT4, you will be forced to look closely to find the “AT4” embroidering in the seat headrests and subtle accented Kalahari
stitching throughout the soft-touch dashboard and leather seating surfaces.
Powering the GMC Canyon AT4 is left to either the familiar 3.6-liter V6 engine with 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, or an optional turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel 4-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the V6 as found in my test vehicle, the engine sends power through an 8-speed automatic transmission. However, if you choose the fuel-saving diesel option (up to 30 mpg highway), you’ll be left to a 6-speed automatic, with four-wheel-drive coming standard on the AT4 trim level.
As I’ve noted in previous test drives of the GMC Canyon with its V6 engine, the smaller truck is surprising in the way it drives and its capability of towing up to 7,700 pounds, in addition to hauling up to 1,620 pounds. Acceleration is predictable but somewhat on the slow side, which is partly forgiven considering how surprisingly capable the Canyon AT4 is for towing and some off-road duties.
Fuel mileage is consistent in the Canyon AT4 matching its 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway figures. I averaged around 18.4 mpg with mixed highway and city driving without hauling or towing, which is just below the EPA’s 19 mpg combined figure. Here, as you would expect, you can outdo full-sized trucks and save at the pump.
Where the GMC Canyon may be a questionable choice is in the area of comfort, which I find to have rather hard, uncomfortable seats and a little short on interior space so much that its difficult to find a good seating or driving position. Naturally, some of these shortcomings can be blamed on the Canyon’s size classification, the one compromise that you can’t get around in choosing such a truck.
The expected creature comforts are included in the GMC Canyon AT4, such as leather-appointed heated front seats with 6-way power adjustability (w/power lumbar) for the driver’s side and just 4-way power for the passenger. There are several soft-touch areas in just the right places up front but most of the door trim and surrounding lower dash are all of hard plastics.
In the area of technology, the GMC Canyon AT4 uses the latest GMC infotainment unit with an 8-inch touchscreen, which exhibits user-friendly controls and just the right physical turn knobs and buttons below the screen. The new GMC Canyon AT4 also uses extremely helpful LED fog lights up front, which help overshadow and aid the antiquated halogen headlights that are still used.
The slight compromises that you find in the GMC Canyon are somewhat forgiven in its pricing where everything about the Canyon is in a smaller dose when compared to its larger Sierra 1500 sibling. Adding few unique characteristics of the AT4 to the Canyon keeps the pricing respectable without sacrificing the desirable nimble ruggedness of a smaller truck. You’re looking at an attractive starting price of just $26,400 for the base trim and its 4-cylinder engine. When you move up to the Canyon AT4 trim, which is just one notch below the top-level Denali trim, you’re looking at spending the as-tested price of $43,230 for what you see here. The GMC Canyon AT4 is a nice addition to a well-aged midsized truck to save a little money without much of a compromise versus the Denali trim – if a truck of this smaller stature is your thing.