GMC has been around for well over 100 years at this point. It all started back in 1902 with Max Grabowsky and the Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company. However, the GMC logo and name we know today came in 1912 after William C. Durant acquired the company as part of GM. GMC has certainly made a name for itself with its distinct vehicles donning the bold logo across the front. True GMC loyalists are always on the hunt for some of the best classic GMCs to ever (and, in some cases, still) exist. If you plan on visiting a used GMC dealership, be sure to ask about these iconic GMCs.
Some are still in production, but some have been long gone and almost taken on the reputation of a unicorn, with certain circles questioning if they ever existed and turning the Internet over to find them. GMC has a rather clear and established brand today, but it experimented with some rogue concepts back in the day, and there are many who miss the charm, and daring GMC has shown in the past. Though they couldn’t all be gems, and we can see why GMC did away with some of these rare models. So, what are some of these milestone models that have or still do represent this strong brand?
#1: The GMC Envoy
Today when you think of a classic GMC SUV or family vehicle, you might think of the Terrain or the Yukon. But there was a whole fleet of SUVs that preceded and inspired those you see today flaunting the GMC logo, and the Envoy was one of the first greats in this branch of the GMC family tree.
The GMV Envoy was only produced from 1991 to 2008 and went through an interesting evolution during its time. It started out resembling and feeling like a pickup truck, but by the time its second generation came about, GMC moved this SUV onto the body-on-frame GMT360 chassis architecture. This was clearly its departure from the pickup family.
This great people hauler was a five-door SUV with three rows of seating, so everybody could get in and out with ease. Though nothing fancy, it was known for being incredibly reliable and for boasting tons of configurable cargo space. GMC managed to sell 684,240 of these beauties before discontinuing them.
#2: The GMC Acadia
The GMC Acadia is still very much in production, and we don’t see GMC stopping this popular SUV any time soon. It’s a three-row people hauler that’s taken on tons of safety and technology upgrades in recent years to make it a real joy to drive or be a passenger on long journeys. With eight seats and sliding rows, it’s a great road trip car and is easy for passengers to get into – even back row passengers. For a large car, it’s powerful with its current 310 hp engine. Many praise it for being easy to handle for this class of cars, too.
The Acadia is a staple of the GMC family now, but this beloved car got its start all the way back in 2006. Drivers were instantly excited by its crossover design, which allowed it to drive nimbly while still offering all of the cargo and capabilities of a true SUV. GMC actually had so much trust in their Acadia that it replaced a handful of other large SUVs GMC had at the time. This would become the face of the GMC family vehicle. Still in production years later, it turned out that GMC was right to have so much faith in the car. Today, you can find things like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and USB ports in new models, so GMC is keeping its finger on the pulse of what drivers want and delivering in the Acadia.
#3: The GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is often compared to the Chevy Colorado because they are built on the same platform, and shoppers considering one are usually open to test driving the other. However, while there are many mechanical similarities between these two trucks, the Chevy Colorado is designed with a bit more of a bare-bones look and feel, while the GMC Canyon adds a little bit of luxury. They’re both compact pickup trucks with a lot of get-up-and-go that offer beautiful exteriors and comfortable interiors. But, the GMC Canyon is the original. It first came out in 2003, and the Colorado followed in 2004.
The GMC Canyon has a robust build, excellent towing capabilities for a small truck, and a powerful V6 308 hp engine. Plus, it’s available in several cab configurations. So whether you plan on using it for your work vehicle or for everyday errands in the city, it’s easy to customize this truck to suit your needs. As a plus, it also has several different suspensions available. That makes this a particularly appealing truck to off-road enthusiasts who want to explore rough terrain when they aren’t using this truck on city roads.
It might feel like you haven’t heard as much about the GMC Canyon as some of their other vehicles, but this compact pickup actually surpassed sales of the Ford Ranger in 2005 by 35 percent. It’s very much still with us and continues to take on new driver-assist technology and luxury upgrades to keep up with the times.
#4: The GMC Sonoma
Some say that the GMC Sonoma was replaced by the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon. But, anyone who ever had the joy of getting behind the wheel of this truck knows there was nothing quite like it, and nothing can compare. In fact, it’s tough to see where this odd but exciting car even fits the GMC family tree.
First made in 1981, the GMC Sonoma was a high-performance truck. In fact, it’s been called a “sports pickup” because of its excellent acceleration. At one time in history, it was the fastest truck in the world, and it wasn’t strange to see someone taking one of these for a lap on a race track. Yup – a pickup truck, racing.
There is a subtle but strong group of fans of the Sonoma. Even after it was discontinued in 2004, drivers kept looking for used models of the truck long after, and they still do. It was sort of the speedy, sporty underdog of the pickup truck world. It was the black sheep that didn’t quite fit in, but everybody loved it for that.
#5: The GMC Syclone
The GMC Syclone is another high-performance truck. Seeing as it came out in 1991, just ten years after the Sonoma, it makes one think that GMC had a vision of getting more of their trucks on race tracks. Did GMC dream of being a NASCAR contender? We don’t know. But we do know that this truck had an impressive 4.3L Turbo V6 engine and could go from zero to 60 quite fast for a pickup truck. Rumor has it that it could even beat a Ferrari on some tracks.
Here’s something that had fans divided on the truck: it only came in black. In 1991, when GMC released it, black was the only color option. And there were talks of it coming in more vibrant choices in 1992, but that day never came. GMC was set to keep selling the Syclone in 1992 but only sold three units total that year. It certainly had a fan base, but it also had quality control issues, so GMC pulled it. That said, anybody out there who has always felt a little too fast for their britches can feel a tinge of nostalgia when they see clips of this little speed demon.