The Off-Road-Worthy GMC Canyon AT4

GMC’s off-road Canyon AT4 proves itself.


2022 GMC Canyon AT4
The 2022 GMC Canyon AT4. Front view.

The GMC Canyon is a midsize pickup truck and a strong alternative to the larger GMC Sierra 1500. The current-generation model was introduced in 2015 and has received several updates since. A new model is in the offing for next year, but the 2022 Canyon remains a model worth considering now.


2022 GMC Canyon Overview


GMC offers the 2022 Canyon in two body styles: extended cab and crew cab. Rear-wheel drive is standard; four-wheel drive is optional. Three engine preferences and four trims – Elevation Standard, Elevation, AT4, and Denali are offered.

Prices for the Canyon range from $29,480 to $50,045, plus a $1,195 destination charge. Various packages and personal trim options deliver customization. The 2022 Canyon is largely carried over this year.


2022 GMC Canyon AT4 three-quarter front
2022 GMC Canyon AT4 profile


Highlights of the 2022 GMC Canyon


Exterior Features

Midsize pickup trucks are as large as the full-size models from the 1950s and 1960s and as much as 90 percent the size of today’s large models. Interestingly, for manufacturers that produce both, none are a derivative of their full-size companions.

That does not mean the Canyon is any less impressive than the Sierra. Indeed, both models feature upright grilles with bold fascias and accent lighting. A wide hood, upright roof pillars, and slab sides mark these models. Twin rear light displays serve as sentries adjacent to the tailgate.

Alloy wheels are standard across the model line. Most trims come with all-season tires, while all-terrain tires are included with the AT4 and available elsewhere.

Move up through the trim range and such features as chrome embellishments are included. Side steps, a spray-in bedliner, and bed lighting are available. Other options include rocker panel guards, mud flaps, and a roll-up tonneau cover.


2022 GMC Canyon front seats
2022 GMC Canyon rear seats


Interior Highlights

The seating limit changes, depending on the chosen cabin. For instance, the Extended Cab body style has four seats, while the Crew Cab layout seats five. In either form we found the front seats supportive, comfortable, and easily adjustable. A tall individual should find the seat comfortable, with the adjustable steering column allowing for the ideal seating position. The forward sightlines are good as are the side views. You cannot get the rear camera mirror offered in the Sierra, so keep this in mind if you tow regularly.

As for the rear seat, the Crew Cab is the superior choice with room for as many as three on its thickly padded seats. On the other hand, the Extended Cab gives up one seating position and legroom, making it the choice for families with small children. Seat comfort takes a hit as well due to its positioning and limited padding.

Among the standard features are full power accessories, the adjustable steering column, air conditioning, and cloth seats. Move up through the trim range and synthetic leather or real hides is available. Other features include zoned climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, and a heated steering wheel.

The cabin design is clean and orderly, or precisely the layout any pickup truck lover would expect. Even so, we think the choice of materials is only average, although once you reach the Denali and AT4 trims, the improvements are notable.


2022 GMC Canyon dashboard
2022 GMC Canyon front row


Key Safety Features

If there is a weak area with the Canyon, it is in the realm of safety. Specifically, the standard and available driver-assist technologies.

The only tech features included are a rearview camera and the Teen Driver control that allows the driver to manage speed limits and audio volume for other drivers.

Features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors are available. More robust technologies such as automatic emergency braking, fully adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist are not available. On the other hand, the competing Tacoma has these features and more.

Technology Overview

Just as the Canyon is weak in safety, it is strong in technology. We laud GMC for the wonderful infotainment system interface as it is easy to comprehend and simple to use.

The standard package includes a 7-inch touch screen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, a pair of USB ports, a six-speaker audio system, and satellite radio.

The options list features such upgrades as an 8-inch touch screen display, navigation, two more USB ports, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a seven-speaker Bose audio package, HD Radio, and wireless device charging.


2022 GMC Canyon center console


Competitive Set


The GMC Canyon and its sister model the Chevrolet Colorado compete in the revived midsize pickup truck segment. That segment was declining for years until the GM duo returned in 2015. Since then, new and updated models have rolled out. By 2023, several models will undergo overhauls, including the Canyon and Colorado.

For 2022, the competitive set is led by Toyota Tacoma, which is the clear leader in the segment. Indeed, Toyota sells nearly as many models annually as do the next three truck models combined. Besides the Toyota and the GM twosome, other competitors include the Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, and the Jeep Gladiator.


Drive Impressions


GMC offers three engine choices with the 2022 Canyon and that is more than any other model. Indeed, competitors such as the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline offer just one choice.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque is standard. This one works with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is offered with the Elevation Standard and Elevation trims with rear-wheel drive. If you want it with four-wheel drive, it is not available – you will have to upgrade to the V6 engine.

A 3.6-liter V6 engine with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque is included with the Canyon AT4 and Denali trims and optional on the two base models. This engine comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Exclusive to the Canyon and Colorado is the segment’s sole diesel engine. It is available on all but the base model. Specifically, consumers will find a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel V6, with 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power routes to the wheels utilizing a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is also the towing kingpin in the segment, with a 7,700-pound rating. Other models pull between 3,500 to 7,000 pounds.


2022 GMC Canyon wheel


GMC supplied us with an AT4 model to take it places where some other trucks do not go. As such, we will limit our comments to the choice at hand. For the most part, we almost always get the V6 gas engine when testing either the Canyon or Colorado. We received one with the four-cylinder engine once but never had the diesel.

The engine is robust, cranking out ample step-off power through generous passing grunt. The transmission works effortlessly and that is the way we like it. Four drivetrain modes are available: 2WD, AWD, 4Hi, and 4Lo. With the AWD setting, power shifts to the front wheels, as needed. That said, we left the truck in 2WD most of the time as that is the most efficient setting.

Limited Mudding

Dry conditions limited our off-road mudding, but we managed to visit a few of our local haunts to experience what the Canyon has to offer. With ample underbody protection available (skid plates), a locking rear differential, and 31-inch all-terrain tires, the Canyon AT4 is up to the challenge. It also supplies 8.4 inches of ground clearance for robust approach, breakover, and departure angles.

Not once did we feel unease when operating the Canyon off-road. Okay, there was one mystery puddle that might have covered a mini gorge, so we avoided that. Otherwise, the AT4 plowed forward with ease.

Expect that the Canyon AT4 will be joined by an even more robust AT4X model starting in 2023. That one will likely include even larger tires, an additional inch or more of ground clearance, and axle articulation galore. Shoppers in this segment are clamoring for the ultimate in off-road prowess and manufacturers are obliging.


2022 GMC Canyon front seats
2022 GMC Canyon rear seats


Parting Thoughts


Now in its eighth year, the second-generation Canyon is ready for a replacement. That said, the current model goes out with a bang. We just think that the lack of advanced safety features is a disappointment, while the tech offered is pleasing. Adding 110-volt power outlets and a head-up display would help its cause.

We recommend either one of the six-cylinder engines. That said, the diesel adds about $4,000 to the price. We can likely justify the upgrade if long-term ownership is expected. If so, the engine will likely outlast the body, delivering decades of service with it.


See AlsoClever by Design: 2022 GMC Canyon

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

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