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2021 GMC Canyon Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2021 GMC Canyon?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James MurdochNorman Ruckpaul

Are You Considering a 2021 GMC Canyon? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

Many of today’s drivers prefer the maneuverability and fuel savings of a smaller pickup truck. The 2021 GMC Canyon ranks among the best midsize models on the market. Drivers praise the Canyon for its solid towing capabilities and comfortable interior. Folks seeking more luxury will especially enjoy the range-topping Denali trim. Is the new GMC Canyon the right truck for you?

What’s New for 2021?

To better satisfy outdoor lovers, GMC has introduced an extremely rugged AT4 trim into the lineup. Meanwhile, updated exterior styling helps the upscale Denali trim to dominate the street. There are also a few more luxurious amenities inside the new Canyon Denali.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2021 GMC Canyon – The Pros

1. Strong V6 Engine

The 2021 GMC Canyon comes standard with four-cylinder engine. While its 200-horsepower output gets the job done, many drivers will desire a bit more brawn. The optional V6 engine will solve this problem. It’s rated to push out a solid 308 horsepower. When accelerating, drivers will instantly notice the extra muscle under the hood. The additional power also comes in handy when hauling and towing loads. Upgrading to the V6 engine raises the truck’s tow rating to a healthy 7,000 pounds.

2. Very Versatile Duramax Diesel Engine

While the V6-powered Canyon offers the quickest acceleration, the diesel-equipped model offers more versatility. GMC tunes the Duramax diesel engine to push out a staggering 369 lb-ft of torque. This extra low-end torque makes the Canyon a capable workhorse. Drivers will be able to pull a 7,700-pound load with no trouble. Strong fuel economy also makes the Canyon’s diesel engine an appealing option. When cruising along a traffic-free road, the diesel-powered Canyon can deliver up to 30 mpg.

3. Easy to Drive

The Canyon is a great alternative to the full-size GMC Sierra 1500. A more compact design and tighter turning circle make it easier to manage in crowded places. Many people give the Canyon high marks for its precise driving dynamics. Handling is better than average for the class. At times, it’s easy to forget you’re behind the wheel of a truck. The Canyon’s direct steering helps drivers to maintain a strong sense of control. Ride comfort is also impressive for a pickup.

4. Rugged AT4 Model

All trims offer four-wheel drive. However, outdoor lovers will want the all-new AT4 model. It was specifically designed to tackle the rural backcountry. In terms of ruggedness, this new model is a step above last year’s All Terrain model. When traveling in the mud, aggressive off-road tires help the truck to maintain good grip. A special trail-tuned suspension also helps the Canyon AT4 to overcome challenging conditions. Other upgrades include an undercarriage shield and a locking rear differential.

5. Upscale Exterior Styling

The 2021 GMC Canyon shares its platform with the latest Chevrolet Colorado. However, most people agree that the GMC Canyon has a more upscale appearance. This is especially true for the chrome-laced Denali trim, which now features a more sculpted grille and new 20-inch alloy wheels. A new High Elevation Package is also offered. It decks out the truck with a cool set of 18-inch black wheels and black grille inserts. Red recovery hooks and a more rugged front fascia are found on the adventurous AT4 model.

6. Rewarding Bed Features

Drivers will appreciate the Canyon’s available bed features. The EZ-Lift and Lower Tailgate makes loading cargo a simpler task. You can also remotely lock/unlock the tailgate using the truck’s key fob. Nothing beats having an extra sense of security. Steps are also integrated into the rear bumper. A spray-on bedliner is available as an option. It makes the bed more resistant to dents and scratches. Upper tie-downs are also on the truck’s list of optional equipment.

7. Useful Safety Tech

There are some worthwhile safety innovations available for the 2021 GMC Canyon. Parents who have a young driver at home will cherish the standard Teen Driver system. It can restrict the truck’s top speed, which ultimately lowers the likelihood of a crash. The system also uses software to monitor the teenager’s driving habits. A complete driving report card can be sent to a parent’s phone. Forward collision alert and lane departure warning are optional.

8. Hassle-Free Infotainment System

Every new GMC Canyon receives a touchscreen infotainment system as standard equipment. Drivers will appreciate the interface’s straightforward design. Simple controls and big knobs make operation a breeze for everyone. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come with the interface, thus allowing drivers to quickly sync their smartphone. An onboard Wi-Fi hotspot is found on the upper trims. Multiple people can use the hotspot at once without causing reducing internet speeds. Navigation and Amazon Alexa are offered as well.

9. Suitable Family Vehicle

Drivers who must cater to their family should strongly consider the Canyon Crew Cab. Its four-door design makes entering and exiting the cabin a lot easier. There’s also enough legroom in the rear to satisfy most adults. Parents also shouldn’t have any trouble fastening child seats. While fuel economy for the new Canyon varies, most models can return at least 25 mpg on the freeway.

10. Denali Trim’s Premium Features

Truck shoppers who prefer a more luxurious commute will enjoy the leather-filled Canyon Denali. It's the only trim in the lineup that offers ventilated front seats. The truck’s Bose premium audio system also has a more powerful sound. Most importantly, all the available safety features come standard on the Denali trim.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2021 GMC Canyon – The Cons

1. Not as Capable as a Full-Size Truck

The 2021 GMC Canyon can handle the chore of pulling Jet Skis and small tractors. Its 7,700-pound maximum tow rating is commendable. However, some people will still need a bit more muscle. By comparison, GMC lists the full-size Sierra 1500 with a maximum towing capacity of more than 13,000 pounds. A full-size truck is more suitable for pulling larger campers and boats.

2. Questionable Long-Term Reliability

Unfortunately, the 2021 GMC Canyon isn’t deemed to be the most reliable truck in the segment. In regard to long-term dependability, J.D. Power gives the Canyon a two out of five rating. Truck shoppers who desire a more reliable daily-driver should consider the Honda Ridgeline. Its cost of repair tends to be low.

3. No Manual Transmission

In the past, the Canyon was available with a stick-shift transmission. However, GMC no longer offers the truck with a manual. This could be unsettling news for drivers who enjoy the interaction of a manual clutch. Drivers who absolutely demand a manual transmission should look at the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.

4. Lacks Some Modern Safety Innovations

Some modern safety innovations are absent on the 2021 GMC Canyon. Blind-spot monitoring, which can warn you of hidden vehicles, would be a big help on busy highways. While the Canyon’s available forward collision warning system is beneficial, it does not feature automatic emergency braking.

5. Interior Could Use Some Updates

While most passengers will find the GMC Canyon’s cabin to be comfortable, it’s overall interior quality is a step below the competition. Some people may also find the truck’s seat cushions to be a bit on the small side. Furthermore, there’s not a lot of in-vehicle storage space.

How It Stacks Up to the Competition

2021 GMC Canyon vs 2021 Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline consistently ranks as one of the best pickup trucks for families. Its spacious interior and car-like handling will win over a lot of people. Also, only the Ridgeline features a built-in bed trunk. However, drivers who need to haul a load will much happier with the Canyon. Honda rates the Ridgeline to tow 5,000 pounds, which is lower than any other truck in the class. Superior off-road capabilities give the Canyon another edge over the Ridgeline.

2021 GMC Canyon vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma

Many truck enthusiasts like the Tacoma’s rugged design. There are multiple off-road-ready models in its lineup. Drivers can also obtain the Tacoma with a manual transmission. However, the 2021 GMC Canyon is more efficient. Families will also experience more comfort in the Canyon. The Tacoma feels smaller on the inside.

2021 GMC Canyon vs 2021 Nissan Frontier

The Nissan Frontier has always been noted for being a tough truck. For 2021, it’s been updated with a more powerful V6 engine. While the Frontier is a more than capable off-road machine, don’t expect it to feel as smooth on the street. The new Canyon handles better and offers a smoother highway ride. Drivers can also take advantage of the Canyon’s optional diesel engine, which ensures class-leading fuel economy.


Truck shoppers who want a versatile pickup truck should definitely consider the new 2021 GMC Canyon. While the Canyon’s well-controlled handling makes it a joy to drive on the street, drivers can also take this truck on an adventure through the woods. All the necessary off-road goodies are found on the all-new AT4 model, including undercarriage protection and a trail-ready suspension. Budget-mind drivers shouldn’t hesitate to get the base model. On the other hand, the recently updated Denali trim treats you to a life of luxury.

Previous GMC Canyon Buying Guides:

Why buy a 2020 GMC Canyon? w/ pros vs cons