Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A silver 2024 GMC Canyon Elevation is shown driving on a rocky dirt road.

Is the GMC Canyon the Trimflation Fighter We Need?

With so many packages and trims to choose from, today’s midsize pickups are nothing if not customizable. These options make it easier than ever to build the one-of-a-kind pickup of your dreams, but there’s only one problem: it’s not going to come cheap. Once you factor in all the added equipment, it’s not unusual for that reasonably priced entry-level model you researched at home to quickly balloon into a substantial automotive investment once you actually leave the dealership. This sort of inflation––commonly referred to as “trimflation” within the industry––has been on the rise in recent years. It’s a clever bit of business on the part of automakers, who use these added features and equipment packages as a means of increasing the profit margin on each vehicle sold, but it can be a little annoying if you’re on the other side of the sales desk.

If you’re a budget-conscious driver looking to avoid this type of trimflation, it’s all about choosing the right model and paying close attention to the list of standard features. While some brands are content to sell you a pretty well-rounded car, truck, or SUV right out of the box, others tend to lock some of the most alluring features behind a paywall, nickel-and-diming customers to claw a little more profit out of each sale. The 2024 GMC Canyon represents the more consumer-friendly approach. This midsize pickup is notable for its long list of standard features, especially when it comes to off-road and performance-related equipment. With the Elevation trim starting at just $36,000, it’s worth asking the question––is the Canyon the best-equipped enthusiast truck out of the box? Read on as we answer that question and see how GMC’s refreshing take on pickup pricing sets the Canyon apart in an increasingly expensive market.

Canyon Elevation

We’ll start with the GMC Canyon’s most affordable option in the Elevation trim. The Canyon isn’t the cheapest option in the midsize segment, but GMC has packed it with more than enough standard features to justify the investment. The Elevation’s most intriguing value proposition might be its engine. The base trim comes with the same turbocharged 2.7L TurboMax engine that can be found on every Canyon, allowing drivers access to considerable power no matter their budget. The TurboMax engine puts out 310 hp, besting the entry-level trims from Chevy, Toyota, Ford, Jeep, and Honda by a considerable margin.

That said, it’s the truck’s 430 lb-ft of torque that will really catch the attention of those seeking a ready-made off-road vehicle. Any experienced off-road driver knows how important torque can be when it comes to finding success on the trail, and the Canyon once again outshines its rivals from other brands with best-in-class standard torque. Torque also comes in clutch when you’re in the mood to do some towing, with the brawny TurboMax allowing the Canyon to max out at a class-leading 7,700 lbs for even the base trim level.

Buying the base trim also doesn’t close the door to a little off-road fun, especially when you factor in the pickup’s four-wheel drive option, horizontal recovery hooks, fully boxed frame, and standard off-road suspension with a two-inch factory lift and ultra-wide stance. This design gives the truck a considerable advantage in off-road environments where the ability to glide over obstacles and protect the underbody can be so vital. The Elevation also comes standard with GMC’s StabiliTrak traction control system, which jumps into action to equalize torque when encountering challenging road conditions. A Drive Mode Selector includes Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, and Terrain modes.

On the safety side of things, GMC has packed the base Canyon trim with a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems. This includes popular features like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian and Bicyclist Braking, and IntelliBeam headlights that can automatically detect approaching vehicles and adjust the lights accordingly.

A black 2024 GMC Canyon Denali is shown driving on a paved road.

Canyon AT4

The Canyon AT4 is where standard four-wheel drive enters the picture, making this trim the go-to choice for those seeking an off-road-capable pickup without breaking the bank. The four-wheel drive system includes an Autotrac two-speed transfer case with push-button controls and three available modes. 2WD Hi mode is perfect for on-road use, maximizing fuel economy. 4WD Auto mode is for on-road driving, automatically engaging when it senses wheel slip. 4WD LO is ideal for any off-road driving, tailoring the truck’s gearing to maximize your chances of success when tackling snow, mud, sand, and other challenging surfaces. This three-pronged approach allows the Canyon AT4 to excel in a wide range of driving scenarios, but it’s not the only standard feature aimed at ensuring off-road success.

The Canyon AT4 also comes with an automatic locking rear differential that can direct torque where it’s needed, as well as Hill Descent Control, an innovative feature that basically amounts to a sort of specialized off-road cruise control. Hill Descent Control can be activated whenever you’re making your way down a slope, activating the truck’s brakes to provide a steady descent. This allows drivers to set a predetermined speed and focus their attention on navigating down the hill instead of fussing with the brake pedal and can pay dividends when it comes to improving off-road safety. A 120-volt box-mounted power outlet represents one of the AT4’s more intriguing creature features, as does the EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate with an integrated MultiStow storage compartment.

Canyon Denali

When you’re named after the tallest peak in North America, off-road and performance features can never be treated as an afterthought. The GMC Canyon Denali is more of a luxury-focused trim, but while it might not be quite up to the task of summiting the 20,000-foot Alaskan peak, it certainly does the mountain proud with an impressive suite of standard features.

The Denali rides on a set of striking 20-inch diamond-cut dark gray aluminum wheels wrapped in 20-inch all-terrain tires, which will come in handy when venturing off-road. A standard spray-on bedliner gives the Canyon’s five-foot bed an ultra-grippy surface that should help keep all your cargo in place while preventing the dings and dents that can come with heavy-duty use. The Denali’s most compelling off-road-focused feature would probably have to be HD Surround Vision. This feature uses a network of exterior cameras to give drivers a comprehensive look at the road in front, behind, and beside the GMC Canyon.

The live video is fed directly to the dash-mounted infotainment display and represents a real leg-up when it comes to avoiding rocks, logs, and other off-road obstacles. Not the type of driver to try their hand at the road less traveled? HD Surround Vision also makes short work of tricky parking scenarios by making it easier to spot any obstacles, vehicles, or pedestrians that might be tough to see from the driver’s seat. The system can even provide guidelines to show the truck’s potential path, allowing drivers to gauge the feasibility of a potential parking spot before committing to a choice. The Denali trim also adds a Rear Cross Traffic Braking feature to the truck’s driver-assist arsenal, which will be useful when trying to pilot the Canyon through hectic parking lots.

Most of the Denali’s other standard features are more focused on appearance, comfort, and convenience. This includes the chrome door handles and mirror caps, black window surround moldings, six-way power front passenger seat, 6.3-inch multicolor Head-Up Display, adaptive cruise control, Bose premium sound system, heated steering wheel, perforated leather-appointed front seats, and wireless charging.

A red 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X is shown driving off-road.

Canyon AT4X

Finally, we arrive at the Canyon’s most off-road-ready trim, the AT4X. Debuting in 2023, this version of the Canyon is ready to take whatever the trail can throw at it. The highlight is the addition of a suspension underpinned by Multimatic’s DSSV spool-valve shock absorbers, which ditch the traditional damper design for a new approach that’s ideal for rugged off-road use. The DSSV dampers are tuned to excel in a number of different off-road scenarios, from clawing through sand and mud to tackling boulders, berms, and sheer rock faces. The dampers also provide excellent resistance to heat and cavitation, which is when the pressure exerted on a set of shocks can lead to bubbles in the fluid that compromise performance. There are few better ways to ensure off-road success than a good set of shocks, a fact GMC seems to have taken to heart when designing the Canyon AT4X.

The range-topping trim has also been treated to a three-inch suspension lift that makes it the tallest Canyon on offer. Speaking of ground clearance, the AT4X is built with off-road rocker protectors, additional skid plates, and the most generous approach, breakover, and departure angles of any Canyon model, allowing drivers to tackle the trail with confidence without having to worry about bottoming out on a particularly steep section. The trim also comes standard with a wider track, 35-inch mud-terrain tires, and a driver-selectable front locking differential to complement the rear differential found on the AT4 trim. The Drive Mode Selector sees the addition of Baja mode, a new feature designed specifically for the sort of high-speed off-road driving one might encounter at the famed Baja 1000 or a similar desert racing event.

Straightforward Pricing and Standard Features

Packed with a full slate of standard off-road and performance features, the 2024 GMC Canyon might just be the most well-equipped pickup in the midsize segment. GMC’s straightforward pricing is a refreshing approach in a market where optional add-ons and packages often obscure a vehicle’s true price, but it’s not the only thing there is to love about the Canyon. Whether you’re looking for an affordable entry-level pickup like the Elevation, a well-rounded off-road model like the AT4, a luxuriously appointed truck like the Denali, or a no-holds-barred beast like the AT4X, there’s a Canyon out there to suit any driver. GMC’s reputation for heavy-duty construction adds even more value to the midsize pickup, enabling drivers to put their Canyon through its paces without having to worry that it won’t be able to keep up. With any luck, more automakers will start to emulate GMC’s direct approach and leave the whole concept of trimflation in the dust where it belongs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *