2022 GMC Canyon AT4 test drive review

Estimated reading time: 10-11 minutes

GMC Canyon AT4 gives adventurers a wonderful mix of off-road attitude and modern technology. The AT4 trim with the Performance Edition package gives Canyon a shot of off-road steroids, with large tires and off-road suspension. It is an affordable trim package that makes Canyon better in all driving conditions and a great value for compact truck dealers.

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* KSL Cars does not recommend vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.

Price and value

The MSRP range for the 2022 GMC Canyon is $ 26,800- $ 41,200. It is available in three trim levels, with a set of features that include 308 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque and automatic rear differential locking. Some of the major differences in trim levels are noted below.

Height: $ 26,800

StabiliTrak electronic stability control

18-inch lacquered black aluminum rims

Duralife brake rotors

AT4: $ 38,400

Offroad suspension package

Automatic locking rear differential

Factory leveling kit that raises the front 1 inch

Denali: $ 41,200

Heated and ventilated front seats

Bose premium sound system

20-inch diamond-cut machined aluminum rims

Canyon AT4 is appropriately priced and offers performance that is comparable to its competitors. GMC Canyon’s warranty is standard for the segment and offers a three-year, 36,000-mile base warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile driveline warranty.

Performance

Call it old-fashioned, old-fashioned or whatever you want, but Canyon is a nice rig for terrain crawling and grocery stores. It is easy to drive, fun to drive, offers easy ergonomics and a predictable driveline that is well suited for Canyon’s go-goats attitude.

Engine

The canyon is faster and more agile to drive than you might expect. The naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 produces 308 horsepower. Its 275-pound-feet of torque works great with the eight-speed automatic transmission. I liked this driveline and appreciated GM’s fine-tuning of the engine’s throttle response and decent low torque, especially when climbing up hills on both terrain and terrain.

Fuel efficiency

For a four-wheel drive truck with a body on a frame, Canyon’s fuel economy is acceptable. The EPA estimate for Canyon AT4 is 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, for a total rating of 19 mpg. During our almost 300 miles of driving, we experienced about 18 mpg.

2022 GMC Canyon AT4 test drive review

Driveline

The GMC Canyon AT4, like most trucks, is two-wheel drive until you choose four-wheel drive. The AT4 comes with a trick rear differential that automatically engages four-wheel drive over rough or slippery terrain. Canyon remains happily engaged in a traditional eight-speed automatic transmission and never hesitated under any driving conditions.

Be careful when changing the headlight settings. The disc is located next to the four-wheel drive selector. No doubt someone unknowingly engaged in four-wheel drive when trying to adjust their lighting.

Acceleration and handling

You do not buy a compact truck that expects sports car acceleration and handling, but for what it is, the Canyon is a decent performance. Car and Driver clocked their 0-60 sprint in 6.7 seconds, which is roughly the average for the segment. The V6 always gave sufficiently low torque and terrain, which was welcome when walking up steep slopes or over rocks. Although the engine felt a bit peaked, with maximum power at 6,800 rpm, it still felt linear in its delivery throughout the power band. The steering was communicative and precise, but keep in mind that Duratrac tires can loosen the grip on the pavement during hard acceleration or on slippery surfaces.

Braking

Braking in the Canyon felt good. The pedal was easy to modulate and never felt uneven in its application. In addition to the standard ABS brake system, our tester was equipped with hill descent control, StabiliTrak stability control and front collision alert.

Interior comfort and convenience

I may be old-fashioned, but I really appreciated the Canyon’s mix of modern conveniences and old-fashioned interior layout. Everything was simple, convenient and easy to use, especially with the rubberized volume and climate knobs. The seating position is high with a long view over the hood, with room for four adults to be comfortable. AT4’s added rock rails looked cool but made it a challenge to get into the cabin without getting dirty on the leg. Oh, and you’ll love the heated steering wheel – it’s a great one.

2022 GMC Canyon AT4 test drive review

Seats

Our tester was equipped with leather seats that were comfortable and spacious. The front seats (six-way adjustable for the driver, four-way adjustable for the passenger) were heated and the heating elements worked well, even on cold mornings. While there are three seats across the rear bench, we found that two adults or two children (even in highchairs) worked best in the back. My 6-year-old son complained about the difficulty of getting in without proper side steps or a boost from his mom or dad.

Climate control

With a smaller cab than most trucks, you will find that it heats up fairly quickly during the cold months of winter. The best thing about the climate controls in the Canyon are the rubberized knobs. Although they look a bit outdated, it is very easy to use the controls, even in terrain. Well thought out, GMC.

Cargo space and cabin storage

Canyon’s internal cargo space is decent, but not great. The center console is large, deep and sits higher up than you might expect. You can easily stow a bag in there. Also, praise to GMC for having integrated a cordless phone charger at the base of the center console – despite intrusion into the gear selector.

The door pockets are small and only allow a small water bottle and maybe a sunglasses case, a wallet and a few other ornaments. Apart from that, you have a regular glove compartment and some storage space under the second row and even more with the seats folded up.

Infotainment system

I really liked the simplicity of GMC’s 8-inch infotainment screen that comes as part of the AT4 off-road Performance Package. After experiencing much more complex screens, I found the screen’s intuitive and simple character refreshing. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included in the package, as well as navigation, Bluetooth and more. Included in the package is a Bose premium sound system and it comes with the quality you can expect from Bose.

Exterior appearance and functionality

Our Canyon was painted in Cayenne Red Tintcoat (an option for $ 695) and carries the glossy black accents in the $ 3,195 Performance Edition package. This package also includes rock rails, metal sliding plates, a leveling kit that raises the front end by 1 inch and removal of the front air dam. Canyon is a truck that looks sturdy, although I can not help but wonder what 33-inch Duratrac tires would do to fill the wheel holes.

BED

Our tester was equipped with an aesthetically pleasing 5-foot bed, typical of other compact trucks. As part of the Performance Package, the bed was spray-lined from the factory and came with GM’s EZ lift and lower tailgate. The spare deck is below, so there are no storage compartments under the bed or lock boxes.

Towing capacity & payload

GMC offers three engines in its Canyon series, and ours was equipped with a 3.6-liter V6. This V6 is rated to pull up to 7,000 pounds, which is good for small off-road bikes or a small trailer. The cargo capacity is estimated at 1,599 pounds, definitely enough for a large Home Depot cargo.

Wheel

AT4 with the Premium Performance package has glossy black 17-inch shoes with 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac tires. The look really completes the rugged look of the truck. The bumpy Duratraces were surprisingly cushioned on the road and provided excellent grip terrain. The same could not be said for two-wheel drive on slippery roads, which resulted in some slippage without the four-wheel drive being engaged.

Lights and turn signals

Unsurprisingly, the Canyon AT4 keeps up with traditional projector-style headlights (not LED) and LED fog lights. The light effect is decent, but the old projector beams can not hold a light for modern LED headlights. I also could not find a way to get the fog lights on automatically. Turning them on manually was a hassle.

Cameras and side mirrors

Our tester was equipped with an HD reversing camera and no others. It would be nice to have a forward-facing camera for parking and off-road driving, but yeah. Thankfully, the side mirrors gave a good view around the truck.

Front and rear windshield

One of the distinguishing features of the Canyon is the excellent visibility, especially through the windshield. The high seating position and large windows provide a bird’s eye view, which is especially useful in traffic and terrain. The windscreen wipers and defrosts did quick frost work and gave a clear view in a few minutes.

2022 GMC Canyon AT4 test drive review

Security

Canyon is a safe truck, but it’s not perfect either. There are some safety features that should be standard in this price range (such as more cameras), and it received only five-star ratings in two of the five safety categories rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That said, Canyon always felt safe, although its safety test performance was somewhat lacking.

Features

Canyon is not the most feature-rich truck, but it has a host of standard safety features that drivers will appreciate. These include:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Rear HD camera
  • File Deviation Warning
  • Collision alarm ahead
  • Rear parking assist

Awards and ratings

NHTSA gave the Canyon AT4 a four-star overall vehicle safety rating, with its rollover and frontal crash rating keeping it from full five-star status.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave “good” points (the highest rating) in most categories but received a “bad” rating for its headlights.

Final impression

After a week of driving the Canyon AT4, I came away impressed. Of course, the interior and exterior are not the most flashy. Certainly, it is not the most capable, most extreme or most powerful truck. But it handles everything from commuting to groceries to moderate off-road driving really well. Enthusiasts (including myself) love to focus on the most capable models in each segment, at the expense of other good mid-range trims – like the AT4. But in reality, the most capable trimmers are not necessary or even desired by everyone. And that’s where Canyon AT4 shines.

If you want a good, comfortable, down-to-earth truck that can travel almost anywhere and do almost anything, the Canyon AT4 is a solid choice and worth considering. This is the exact trim I would choose, and I would even consider adding the Catback exhaust from GMC for a little extra growling.

Canyon AT4 is an underrated truck, and you can find yours today at KSL Cars.

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About the Author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 BMW M3 and a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves to share his passions as a teacher, freelance car journalist, speaker and social media manager. Contact him at jasonbellcars@gmail.com for comments / questions, or just to say “hello”.

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