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A red 2019 GMC Canyon is parked with a sun flare in the background.

2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Ford Ranger

A new oldie is set to enter an already crowded mid-sized pickup market with the reintroduction of the Ford Ranger. It is a market that been dominated primarily by General Motors with its twin cousin pickups the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, so it is no wonder that Ford is looking to once again get into the mid-size pickup game and steal some of GM’s thunder, or more appropriately some of their profits. But of the two models, which is better? Let’s look at the 2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Ford Ranger a little further.

Popularity and consumer demand has really soared for both SUV and truck markets in the past ten years. It comes as no surprise that every automotive manufacturer not only wants some skin in the game in both these highly profitable markets but are also seeking out every possible penny of profit by introducing multiple variants and even creating some additional subsets within the categorizations of truck and SUV. Similar to the recent push from automotive manufacturers that has placed the focus of consumer attention on the release of compact SUV models, trucks are now being offered in various size combinations to match the current trend of customizable driver options that is all the rage. Modern drivers are not looking for some one-size fits all truck designed for the heavy-duty lifting of a work site alone. They are looking for versatility in their vehicles to match their many-faceted lives, and the mid-size truck has been gaining traction in the market for this very reason.

Trucks like the GMC Canyon are essentially scaled down versions of their much larger, heavy-duty big brothers, in this case, the Sierra, capable of handling the heavy workload while packaged in a comfortably smaller, civilian-based platform. The Canyon, in particular, has been a huge success for GM with its multiple engines and variant trim levels that provide a variety of optionable creature comforts meeting the needs of previous generations of truck owners as well as those new to the pickup game who were swept up in the recent trend of truck enthusiasm.

We have set up a spec by spec comparison just to see how Ford’s new oldie the Ranger will compete or even if it can keep up with GM’s long running Canyon. We think it will become quite evident that GMC’s Canyon bests its competition with a wide assortment of options providing modern truck drivers with the high-performance capabilities and modern comforts that they have come to expect from a mid-size pickup. And that while Ford may be reintroducing the Ranger, it merely seems like they dusted off the old version offering no updates or options for creature comforts providing a basic pickup, even for its stone aged era, reminiscent of a simpler time when a truck only needed to have two doors, a cab, and a bed.

Performance/Powertrain

Right out the gate, the GMC Canyon offers buyers a bevy of options right where it matters most, underneath the hood. With three available engine options, the Canyon sets the tone for a medium-sized pickup designed to meet the needs of a variety of drivers from the casual city dweller to the rough tumble heavy-duty worker and everything in between. We have a feeling, though, most truck drivers, even the casual weekend warrior movers, will want to take advantage of the 3.6-liter V6 engine that churns out an impressive 308 horsepower and is capable of providing 275 lb-ft of torque.

Available on lower trims and standard once you hit the SLT and Denali, the powerful V-6 is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that is quick off the line and provides a surprising amount of thrust for a pickup showing no lack of confidence in accelerating either while passing on the highway or with the stop and start of city traffic. Edmunds’ fully optioned Canyon Denali 4WD test truck was able to hit 0-60 mph in a truck impressive 6.9 seconds. And then there was only one option left on the table; for the pickup of driver in need of heavy-duty towing capabilities, the Canyon also offers an impressive 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that although makes significant sacrifices when it comes to quickness, looking at a 3 second delay from 0-60mph in comparison the V-6, it more than makes up for in fuel efficiency and towing capabilities.

A silver 2019 GMC Canyon is towing a boat. Check out performance when comparing the 2019 GMC Canyon vs 2019 Ford Ranger.

The Canyon’s diesel engine is an impressive piece of machinery for any sized truck capable of towing up to a whopping 7,600 pounds when properly equipped; that’s a 600 lb upgrade from the already powerful V-6 while the gasoline four-cylinder posts a respectable, if not “wow” worthy 3500 lbs. As far as fuel economy, probably the least of truck buyers worries given their traditionally low EPA estimates, the Canyon fairs well posting slightly above average stats with the base engine getting 19 mpg city and 24 highway. The muscular V-6 is a just 2 shy of those figures, perhaps another strong advocate for choosing to upgrade, and the diesel version has an EPA-rated estimate of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The 2019 Ford Ranger shows up to the mid-size pickup party late and still wearing last season’s styles, in particular, the 2011 style it wore during its last year of production. Like other mid-size offerings from the big automotive manufacturers, the Ranger is basically a downsized version of its big brother the Ford F-150; that sounds amazing, right? A downsized F-150 with all the features at an affordable price; however, the excitement and comparisons of the Ranger to the F-150 stop in concept form and appearances alone. Unlike the F-150 with its variety of powertrain options, the Ranger is only equipped with a single engine: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that produces 270 horsepower with 310 lb-ft of torque. The Ranger’s major failing is not being able to meet the expectations of the modern truck driver by offering even just a few powertrain options to choose from. However, the engine Ford has placed under the hood of the Ranger does provide enough power to make their mid-size pickup competitive in the least when it comes to quick acceleration and heavy-duty trailering. The Ranger does post an impressive maximum towing capacity when fully equipped of 7,500 lbs.

Technology

GMC decks out the Canyon with the latest in technology on the interior and once again bests its competition by offering most of these tech features as standard on all trim levels. The infotainment touchscreen system is intuitive and easy to use with crisp graphics and quick responsiveness while toggling through menu options. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which ease the use of smartphone integration. The SLE trim model and above are outfitted with 8.0-inch touchscreens as well as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot while the Denali has an exclusive wireless charging pad.

The Ranger skips the standard option beat once again, so drivers are under-represented on the tech front if they fail to buy an XLT trim model or higher. The upper tier trims operating system is a Sync 3 touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the interface lacks the user-friendly intuitiveness of most infotainment systems. The menu options can become exhaustive as you get buried further into programs, and there is a serious need for shortcut options.  The touchscreen infotainment system, Ford’s latest Sync 3 software, is unfortunately only optional (not standard) and the base models are provided with the bare minimum, somewhat stone-aged standard radio display with a tiny screen and no frills.

Conclusion

In comparison to the 2019 GMC Canyon, the lack of powertrain options as well as lower towing capacity figures are a clear sign that the Ford Ranger is still a step behind the times when it comes to the mid-size pickup truck market.  Oh, and did we forget to mention that the GMC Canyon also has a low starting MSRP of $21,500. Clearly, Ford needs to take some pointers from GM and seriously upgrade their mid-size pickup game.

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