2022 Canyon 4WD AT4 Crew Cab: Trendy off-road feel

The SUV category has become so popular that manufacturers are increasing their model range; to such an extent that new categories have been created. As proof, the GMC Canyon AT4 is designed precisely to meet a very specific niche.

While the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 rests in the category of extreme off-road midsize pickups, the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon type, the GMC Canyon AT4 – its mechanical twin – is more focused on competing with light off-road pickups. In other words, the Canyon AT4 competes primarily with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Nissan Frontier Pro4X and Ford Ranger Tremor.

What’s new in 2022?

The 2022 Canyon lineup has received minimal changes from GMC. The Denali Black Edition is new, which features black exterior details, including 20-inch wheels and all-weather interior floor liners. In the 2022 Canyon lineup, GMC has also renamed one of the trims, replacing the 2021 High Elevation package with the 2022 Elevation Premium package. These are the major and minimal changes to the 2022 Canyon.

As a result, in 2022 GMC offers four trims for the Canyon, starting with Elevation Standard at $27,995 MSRP, Elevation $31,495 MSRP, AT4 Off-Road at $39,545 MSRP and Denali trims starting at $42,295 MSRP.

AT4 is a name that is gaining ground in GMC’s organizational chart. The automaker’s latest creation to get this aesthetic and tech treatment goes to the Canyon midsize pickup for the 2021 model year, following the two Sierra, Acadia and even the new Yukon vintage that are fresh off our roads.

The Canyon AT4 sits below the Denali crest in the GMC hierarchy and targets an audience that doesn’t necessarily want to be seen behind the wheel of a vehicle as chrome as possible.

Exterior of the 2022 Canyon AT4

A Canyon AT4 is distinguished from a regular Canyon by its black grill and mirrors, slightly redesigned front bumper, LED fog lights, red-painted towbars, model-exclusive 17-inch wheels and wheel arches. 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tires and signature body badges. The absence of any chrome component on the exterior is a hint of off-road environment.

The 17-inch wheels are also exclusive to the AT4 package, although the black plastic apron at the base of the bumper is not designed for difficult obstacles, but rather to make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Finally, the tow hooks at the front bumper are painted red, another visual signature of the Formula AT4.

GMC also improved the surface of the Canyon’s grille, but this happened in 2021 and extended down. Also note the presence of larger LED fog lights. As for the rest of the exterior bodywork, it remains faithful to the model that was introduced to the market in 2014 as a 2015 model.

I must add that in addition to the tires and appearance, the Canyon AT4 benefits from an additional skid plate at the transfer case, an Eaton G80 limited-slip differential, a four-wheel suspension, terrain and descent control systems, an increasingly popular equipment on board these versions designed for outdoor enthusiasts.

Life inside the 2022 Canyon AT4 Crew Cab

It’s still the same old good story for the interior of the GMC Canyon. In fact, I won’t be surprised if GMC makes a huge update in the 2023 Canyon. Although the Canyon’s interior is very functional and properly equipped, certain technologies that are now standard on the competition side, such as push button start, adaptive cruise control or blind spot detector, are completely absent in the car.

2022 Canyon 4WD AT4 Crew Cab interior dash

We also notice a questionable quality of finish and cheap materials. In short, it feels like sitting in a van from another decade. But I like the simplicity. Canyon’s multimedia system is very user-friendly and quick to respond, while incorporating the latest connectivity technology. The degree of ergonomics is also excellent. The controls are clear and easy to find.

Power and engine

Two engine options are available for the 2022 Canyon AT4 version: first, a 3.6-liter V6 (under test) rated at 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque; second, a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine that delivers 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The V6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the turbodiesel engine only comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

In addition to off-road tires, the AT4 package adds useful components for trail adventures. However, the package is compelling: off-road shocks, hill control, a 4-wheel drive system including an AutoTrac two-speed transmission, an Eaton-brand automatic locking rear differential and a skid plate for the gearbox.

When equipped with the towing package and integrated trailer brake control, the V6-powered GMC Canyon AT4 can tow up to 7,000 pounds. That number rises to 7,700 pounds with the turbodiesel engine. This is the highest towing capacity in its class. It’s also much better than a Colorado ZR2 that’s limited to 5,000 pounds.

The drive unit

Behind the wheel you feel a superb chassis. I like the driving experience of the 2022 Canyon AT4 and find it to be a very fit midsize pickup.

The truck is masculine and rigid. No matter how much I moved it, through the worst imaginable potholes, the Canyon didn’t make any abnormal body noises. Sure, the Canyon still drives like a truck: the steering is heavy. The off-road suspension is stiff, and the handling differs from that of a sports car.

As for the powertrain performance, I have no complaints about it. The presence of studded tires also affects the performance of the vehicle. Be aware that the Canyon AT4 is not as comfortable as the other upholstery. Still, the tires do the job when the asphalt gives way to mud and rocks.

Although the Canyon is far less sophisticated than some of its rivals, its driving dynamics are second to none. On the contrary, this small van still proves to be very efficient, both in city driving and on the track.

2022 Canyon 4WD AT4 Crew Cab bed

There’s a sporty feel that makes the 2022 Canyon fun to drive. Admittedly, this is a frame-mounted body, meaning it bounces and wobbles as you navigate imperfections in the road, but its handling remains stable and mature despite its design. It feels light, cornering nimble (for a pickup truck), and its power steering provides just the right amount of feedback, handy for off-road driving.

The Canyon AT4 is not for everyone, if only for its discomfort on tarmac. Much of the blame goes to our rough roads, but let’s just say that this suspension has a say here. In the forest, on the other hand, this robustness pays dividends. And then, if that’s not enough, there’s always the ZR2 option at Chevrolet!

I can’t speak to the 2022 GMC Canyon’s reliability because I only test drove it for a week for this review. The best features of the GMC Canyon remain its great flexibility in the variants offered, its competitive towing capacity and its convincing off-road prowess. It is for these reasons that the GMC Canyon remains a pickup truck that I enjoyed driving and would recommend.

Armen Hareyan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which has since published expert news and analysis on the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News TwitterFacebook, Linkedin and YouTube.

Reference: RPM Web, Auto 123.

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