Sunday Drive: The new GMC Canyon AT4 is a truck that goes everywhere | News, sports, jobs

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The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition takes the Canyon’s capability to a higher level with increased protection and maneuverability.

Courtesy photo

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The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition takes the Canyon’s capability to a higher level with increased protection and maneuverability.

Courtesy photo

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The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition takes the Canyon’s capability to a higher level with increased protection and maneuverability.

Courtesy photo

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The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition takes the Canyon’s capability to a higher level with increased protection and maneuverability.

Courtesy photo

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The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition takes the Canyon’s capability to a higher level with increased protection and maneuverability.

Courtesy photo

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The last Saturday in January dawned with a clear blue sky and cold temperatures. With no inclement weather in the forecast and no snowfall for a few weeks, it seemed like the perfect time to get out into the western Utah desert and do some 4WD in the new GMC Canyon AT4.

The Canyon itself has been a big seller for the GM brand, especially for those who need a truck but don’t require the company’s full-size offering. The mid-market has become a great choice and with new additions like the AT4 it now offers even more capable four-wheelers in their own right. With more than 30% of 2021 Canyon buyers choosing the AT4 trim, we decided GM must be on to something with this new design!

So, with as much of a plan as possible on a cold January afternoon, we headed west, took the long way around the south end of Utah Lake, and then headed back on Redwood Road toward Saratoga Springs, all the while looking for some kind of good adventure in the canyon.

We haven’t spent much time on the west side of Utah Lake, let alone up on the mountain on that side, so we pretty much let nature guide us as we went. We came across Soldiers Pass Road, which looked pretty good and had been graded, so off we went thinking we’d at least get to test the AT4’s all-wheel drive performance.

The road was very well maintained and would have been fine for any AWD vehicle. After climbing to the top of Soldiers Pass, we turned north thinking that we would eventually have to either find our way into Eagle Mountain or turn around and come back.

We continued for about half a mile and the road deteriorated to a real 4WD trail with large rocks and steep slopes. It was at this point that we were very pleased that the Canyon AT4 came complete with auto-locking hubs and an optional factory-installed lift.

During our travels that day, we ended up using low-range four-wheel drive and automatic hill. We were very impressed with the automatic leveling system that came with the AT4 Off Road Performance package.

Now our only real problem was wondering if the road would actually lead us off the mountain and down to Eagle Mountain or if we would have to backtrack what had turned into a 15 mile trip.

The good news was that the included navigation package was able to show the road (such as it was) that we were on, and it turned out that it went all the way into west Eagle Mountain. So, we went ahead and drove over rocks, snow and mud with the AT4 conquering it all without even stretching its capabilities. The only thing that stretched was our nerves as we wondered what lay ahead.

After dropping down through a canyon and passing some motorcyclists literally riding straight up a mountainside, we came upon an open field. The road led through it to a gate.

When we arrived at said gate, we could only hope it wasn’t locked, forcing us to turn around and head back over the mountain. Craig inspected the gate further and found an easy-open buckle and a sign that simply asked all travelers to close the gate after passing through to keep the cows inside.

It turned out to be a fantastic afternoon, one we didn’t expect to get at the end of January. Snow is usually the dominant factor in Utah weather at this time of year, which would have prevented us from getting much mountain time in a 4×4 vehicle.

The new AT4 is equipped with all sorts of goodies that make the mid-size truck a real contender in the off-road arena. The 17-inch black wheels shod with 33-inch BFGoodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain tires had a great look and made getting over and through everything not much of a challenge for the truck.

Our only complaint with the new AT4 we drove was the fact that it required a key to start it. Now that may seem like a very first world problem; But having to dig into your pocket or purse just to get the door open is not something we’re really used to. After going to that trouble, we admit that then having to insert a key and turn it to get the truck rolling was a moot point.

Inside, the cabin was very well appointed with leather seating surfaces that were heated, along with a heated steering wheel, both of which were standard and made our week even better. The 8-inch infotainment screen was useful when we connected our phones to Apple CarPlay, and the truck even came with an upgraded navigation package from GM ($995).

On the safety side, the Canyon came with all the usual equipment, including the Teen Driver system that allows the owner to monitor the vehicle’s speed, location and other objects while a teenager or someone else is out driving the truck. Also included a backup camera and rear park assist.

We would have loved to see some other safety items included like blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and even adaptive cruise control and park assist up front on this trim level.

We really like these new midsize pickup lines, especially when they come with all-terrain equipment that makes the impossible journey possible.

Basic price: $40,200

Destination fee: $1,195

Price as driven: $46,700

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