Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A gray 2021 GMC Canyon is shown from the front with a fence in the background.

Why the 2021 GMC Canyon Should Be Your Next Truck Purchase

Ask anyone to name a truck, and the chances are that Chevy’s full-size Silverado will be among the first they mention. Ask them to name a domestic midsize from that same make, and they might say the Colorado – if they are aware of it at all. One truck that is often left out of the discussion, however, is the smaller sibling to the GMC Sierra, the Canyon. For those looking for a smaller truck with full-size luxury and refinement, it might do to take a closer look at the new 2021 GMC Canyon. While it and its twin from Chevy have been on the market since 2004, the most current generation features some quite interesting refinements one would’ve been hard-pressed to find in those first offerings. Let’s start outside and work our way inward to find out what makes this truck stand out in the field.

Elegant Bodywork

The 2021 Canyon shares a strong visual similarity with the Sierra and the rest of the GMC lineup as a whole. While its sibling from Chevy leans more towards the sporty side of the spectrum with sleek curves giving off a lean, aggressive stance, the Canyon gives off an air of luxury in its design language. One of the major clues this isn’t just any midsize truck is the massive grille with the GMC logo displayed unapologetically across the front in bold typeface.

The Canyon has a blocky, solid appearance similar to that of a Rolls Royce. It looks as sturdy as a bank vault to the casual observer, equally at home on a job site as in the driveway of a country club. This is especially true of the luxurious Denali trim, introduced recently into the lineup to replace the SLT trim level. Just like the other members of the GMC family with the Denali name, the added chrome and unique grille of the 2021 Canyon Denali creates a particularly handsome exterior.

A Luxurious Cabin

In the past, the inside of most small trucks could be rather rustic places to spend one’s time, often lacking the refinements of their larger counterparts. These trucks did not have the kind of profit margins to be worth spending much time on creature comforts. If you wanted something nicer, you’d have to get a full size. Thankfully, the days of hand-cranked windows and vinyl bench seats are long gone, with even the base model Canyon offering a level of class found only on luxury cars not so long ago.

These features include a standard 7-inch infotainment system with a color touchscreen and Teen Driver mode as standard. This special mode, programmable by the parent of the teen driver, restricts the truck to preset speed and audio volume limits. The car also tracks data such as maximum speed and distance driven while it is active. While those features are standard on the base trim (called the Elevation Standard), the next two trim levels offer even more passenger comforts and features.

The gray and black interior shown in a 2021 GMC Canyon is over looking the mountains.

Variety of Trim Levels

Next up on GMC’s Sloanian Ladder is the Elevation trim. This offers buyers the option of the new 2.8-liter I4 diesel engine as well as the 3.6-liter gasoline V6 offered in the base trim (a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder is standard for both models). Another option for the Elevation is the High Elevation Package that brings black leather seating and other luxury features such as a heated steering wheel.

The top dog of the Canyon lineup is the Denali trim, and as mentioned above, it adds plenty of chrome accents to the already good-looking truck. However, it’s not all about looks! This trim offers a bevy of features that might draw the attention of even full-size luxury truck owners, impressing everyone with how much uncompromised class can be fit into such a small yet capable package. You get power-adjustable front seats, an 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen with built-in navigation, optional perforated leather seat material (not available on any other trim level), and a heated steering wheel, to mention just a few features. You’d be hard-pressed to find some of these features in the luxury field just ten years ago, let alone in a truck!

Special Off-Road Model

For those looking to leave the beaten path, and do so in style, consider the 2021 Canyon AT4. Offered as a standalone trim, it features the sturdy 3.6-liter V6 cranking out 308 horsepower and 4×4 standard, with 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac tires to round off the package. To help you tackle the toughest trails, the AT4 offers advanced hill descent computer control and an off-road suspension package. Also available are a premium Bose sound system and leather seating for off-roading in style. You do end up missing one feature found on every other truck in the Canyon’s lineup, however – an air dam. While removal of the front air dam may seem like an odd choice, it means there’s no chance of it getting damaged as you drive through rough terrain.

Also found on the AT4 is something every off-roader worth their salt will want – Bash Plates. These metal plates affixed to the underside of the truck protect vital drivetrain components otherwise left vulnerable. These include items like the oil pan and rear differential. There’s nothing worse than trying to come off a steep rock and hearing the scrape of metal, knowing you’ll have a nasty surprise waiting for you once you manage to get back home.

A black 2021 GMC Canyon is shown from the side parked next to someone hiking.

The Ultimate Midsize Truck

Take a look next time you drive through a parking lot. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a modern full-size truck parked next to a full-size truck from a couple of decades ago. The difference is staggering. While they have their purpose, there’s simply no denying that modern full-size trucks have gotten absolutely huge in the past decade. Thanks to often being used as a family’s only vehicle, they needed to grow to accommodate their new role.

For those that want a truck but want something a little more manageable, midsize trucks have begun to fill that hole left in the market. There is now no need to sacrifice comfort, convenience, or power for the sake of owning a smaller truck. The 2021 GMC Canyon model range is a stand-out for giving you all the style GMC is known for, as well as the decades of dependability the brand has under its belt. No matter what your need or desire, there is a Canyon to fit it.

Do you need a sturdy workhorse able to hang in there with the Silverados and Sierras at the job site? Look no further than the base trim 2021 Canyon Elevation Standard. Do you need a small truck able to haul both the family and a load of construction supplies in the same afternoon? The mid-level Elevation has your back. Do you want a truck with Cadillac levels of refinement and an air of respectability that everyone from your coworkers to your boss will be jealous of? The 2021 Canyon Denali is right there waiting for you. Lastly, if you want to be the hottest thing both on and off the road, the AT4 is calling your name. While some folks might not know about this great offering from GMC, you now know about what may just be the ultimate midsize truck.