2023 GMC Canyon gets bigger, faster, more expensive

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The Denali isn’t dead, but the top-dog in the GMC Canyon lineup will soon become an off-road focused model.

On Thursday, the 2023 GMC Canyon debuted with a standard factory lift, a high-output engine, and a simplified trim lineup with a strong focus on off-road capability.

When the 2023 Canyon goes into production in Wentzville, Missouri, early next year it will come in Elevation, AT4, Denali, and AT4X trims. The Canyon will arrive early next year, with the AT4X coming later in the spring. Every 2023 Canyon will be a short-bed crew cab with the long-bed and extended-cab models disappearing from the lineup. RIP.

With a base price of about $40,000, the new Canyon will cost about $10,000 more in base form than today’s truck. A limited-edition AT4X Edition 1 will cost $63,350, and GMC spokespeople would only say extremely limited quantities of the Edition 1 will be built.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

High-output for all

Every 2023 Canyon will be powered by a 2.7-liter turbo-4 with 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same high-output engine found in the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. A new 8-speed automatic transmission will be standard, and while base Elevation models will come with rear-wheel drive, every other model will have standard four-wheel drive. The AT4 model will feature a limited-slip rear differential, while the AT4X will have front and rear lockers just like the Sierra 1500 AT4X.

The Canyon’s engine compartment grows in size thanks to a new frame that moves the front axle forward 2.9 inches and stretches the wheelbase 3.1 inches.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

All Canyons will have Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, and Terrain drive modes, the latter of which enables one-pedal driving for rock crawling just like in the larger GMC Sierra 1500 lineup. The AT4X will add a fifth mode dubbed Baja, which is designed for high-speed off-road driving.

The base rear-wheel-drive Elevation will be rated to haul up to 1,640 lb, and that number will drop as equipment (and weight) gets added to the truck. The AT4X’s payload rating drops to 1,250 lb. All Canyons will be rated to tow up to 7,700 lb except the AT4X, which is rated at 6,000 lb.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

Going high and wide

Every 2023 Canyon will get a factory lift straight out of the Chevrolet Colorado’s parts bin. The Elevation, AT4, and Denali will have a 2.0-inch factory lift from the Colorado Trail Boss, while the AT4X will have a 3.0-inch lift and Multimatic DSSV shocks. The AT4X is the only Canyon to run rear outboard shock mounts just like the Colorado ZR2 for enhanced stability at high speeds off-road. Wheel travel is up 15% compared to the current Canyon and the AT4X doubles that to about 30%, according to Canyon Chief Engineer Nick Katcherian.

Overall width is up 10 inches compared to the current Canyon. The wide-track stance comes courtesy of beefed up control arms (cast iron on the AT4X) and specific knuckles from the Colorado Trail Boss and ZR2. The AT4X will have three skid plates covering everything from the front bumper back to the transmission and transfer case.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

 

Base Canyons will have 9.6 inches of ground clearance (nearly two inches more than base Colorados and over a half inch more than the Z71 Colorado) and the AT4X will sit 10.7 inches off the ground. An available underbody camera will show how close off-road obstacles get to the vulnerable bits.

The Elevation will run 32-inch tires from the factory, while the AT4X will roll on 33-inch Mud Terrain tires. The high-zoot Denali will get 20-inch wheels, but will still roll on all-terrain tires. Katcherian told MA that while 33s fit just fine on the AT4X, 35s will rub. Temper those big-tire overlanding dreams.

Accessory wheel options will run deep as the 2023 Canyon runs the same bolt pattern as the Sierra 1500.

2023 GMC Canyon Denali

2023 GMC Canyon Denali

Going long on features

Every 2023 Canyon will feature full LED lightning, unlike the Chevrolet Colorado. The truck’s design is more blunt, with an upright front end and a large square grille. Exterior Design Manager Rob Hunwick told MA the Canyon’s design is functional with every trim featuring bumper cutouts up front for increased wheel travel and to prevent rubbing. The standard 33.3-degree approach will increase to 36.9 degrees for the AT4X. The hood lacks any form of hood scoop (as seen on the Colorado ZR2 and Silverado ZR2’s hoods) for better visibility while off-roading, according to Hunwick.

Notably, the 2023 Canyon will offer a sunroof, which is somehow a first for a mid-size truck, according to GM.

The Canyon’s redesigned bed has eight standard tie-downs, and buyers will be able to option another nine. Four stake pockets, along with six 2×6-inch and four 2×8-inch bed pockets, have been integrated into the design to divide up the bed and keep cargo secure. The tailgate can now be positioned halfway up to help balance longer loads of up to 500 lb with the other end on top of the wheel wells, and a water-tight storage cubby built into the tailgate is optional on the Elevation and standard on all others.

2023 GMC Canyon Denali

2023 GMC Canyon Denali

Inside, Elevation and AT4 models feature an 8.0-inch digital gauge cluster, while Denali and AT4X models upgrade to an 11.0-inch cluster. Every Canyon features an 11.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Redundant hard buttons, toggles, and knobs allow easy control of the radio and climate control functions, but all headlight controls have been relegated to the touchscreen interface and will require at least one, if not more, taps of the screen to access. More expensive Denali and AT4X models add a 6.3-inch head-up display.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

Each trim will only be available at launch with one interior color scheme. The Elevation will feature an all-black interior, while AT4 and Denali will bake in some brown trim. The AT4X adds red and white interior accents, including white on the door grab handles. Design Manager of GMC Interiors Brian Izard told MA the AT4X’s six white trim bits can be dealer swapped (for a cost that hasn’t been set) should owners desire. The AT4X will have red accents on the toggles, while the Denali will feature laser-etched open-pore walnut trim.

Safety comes standard

Every 2023 Canyon will come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic braking, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system will be available. Notably, GM’s Level 2 Super Cruise hands-free driver assist system will not be an option.

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

AT4X Edition 1

The AT4X Edition 1 bakes in some goodies on top of the AT4X, including front- and rear-facing cameras with self-wash functionality. A steel off-road bumper with a safari bar, which will be available as an accessory, will be fitted, along with an integrated 30-inch Lumen LED light bar. A Comeup winch with a synthetic line, a bluetooth remote controller, and a 9,500 lb weight rating will be integrated into the front bumper. A reconfigurable bed rail system and 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, both of which will be available as accessories at a later date, will come factory-installed, along with a model-specific front skid plate.
Oddly, the AT4X Edition 1 is one of the least capable Canyons due to the extra equipment’s weight and design. It has the lowest payload rating at 1,010 lb, lowest tow rating at 5,500 lb, highest curb weight at 5,210 lb, and a significantly lower approach angle of 32.8 degrees. That cool kit will cost capability.

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