If you’re shopping for a serious off-road truck, you might be looking at the 2023 GMC Canyon vs 2023 Ford Ranger. These midsize trucks pack a lot of power into their tough frames and are definitely ready to handle drivers who will put their capabilities to the test and drive them through rough environments. If you need a genuine beast of a vehicle that’s ready to go through the jungle and back and look unscathed (figuratively––but perhaps literally, too), either of these pickups is worthy of your attention.
The truth is that if you are tough on your truck, you just need more out of a vehicle than your regular sedan driver. You’re frequenting terrain that’s a bit more unpredictable than a supermarket parking lot or nice paved highway. Some trucks have the special features needed to live that lifestyle, while others fall short. How do these two hold up? The 2023 GMC Canyon is, without question, a pricier buy than the 2023 Ford Ranger. But is it worth it? Let’s take a look.
The Devil Is in the Details
When you’ve ventured far off the beaten path and have lost cell reception, you need a pickup truck that will keep you safe and in the know about what’s happening in and around your vehicle. That’s where some details rise to the top in the new GMC Canyon.
A major perk of the Canyon is its available front and rear underbody cameras, which are waterproof to boot. If you’re going to drive through streams and over boulders, you need to know what’s happening beneath your truck. The good news is, you will, thanks to these nifty cameras on the Canyon. No such cameras exist on the Ranger, so you just have to hope that no obstacles are messing up your undercarriage.
Another detail worth noting is the towing capabilities of these trucks. For the 2023 GMC Canyon, that’s going to be 7,700 lbs, thanks to its 2.7-liter turbocharged engine kicking out 310 hp. In contrast, the towing capacity of the Ford Ranger caps out at 7,500 lbs. It might not seem like a major difference, but when you need to tow those extra 200 lbs, you’ll be glad you have the Canyon. This discrepancy can be explained by the weaker, smaller engine of the Ranger––a 2.3-liter EcoBoost with just 270 hp. It’s still a solid engine, but the Canyon is where it’s at if you need power.
The Tough and the Fun Stuff
These two trucks were made for off-roaders and offer special packages dedicated to the lifestyle. The best way to describe the differences would be that the Ranger’s off-road package (the Tremor) is very practical. It boasts a modified suspension and added ground clearance, along with skid plates, tow hooks, and six upfitter switches (which you may or may not ever use). However, if you want to go beyond just the basic, practical features, you will have to look to the aftermarket to bring the Ranger up to par.
On the other hand, the 2023 Canyon’s AT4X Edition 1 Package is a lot of fun right out of the box. In addition to the valuable stuff like skid plates and raised ground clearance, it also has a really cool-looking 40-inch lightbar to illuminate your way in the dark and reconfigurable bed rails that give you more options on how to store stuff in the back. Plus, it has a best-in-class COMEUP winch for when the trail gets tough. Let’s not forget the safari bar. There’s simply no denying that the GMC Canyon’s off-road package is just as fun to look at as it is to utilize.
Top Trim Excellence
Now both of these trucks have their “luxury” trims. That’s going to be the Denali for the GMC Canyon and the Lariat for the Ford Ranger. People have been talking about GMC’s Denali trim a lot. It’s the one to beat right now in terms of luxury trims on pickups, and it’s easy to see why.
The Canyon Denali has an exclusive jet-black interior with stunning teak accents, perforated leather seating, and laser-etched open-pore wood trim. Let’s be honest: it’s like a cigar lounge turned into a truck cab, and it’s just gorgeous. It feels like a velvet rope and a bouncer should greet you when you open the door. Along with its pretty features, the Denali has got some fun stuff, like an 11.3-inch diagonal center touchscreen where you’ll find all your favorite apps and navigation. The dashboard area, as a whole, is spacious and beautiful.
You might be wondering how the 2023 Ranger Lariat compares to the Denali. Well, nothing compares to the Denali. But the Lariat is nice. It has heated front leather seats, and you can enjoy a convenient flow-through console with a shifter and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. But it doesn’t have the exquisite jet-black interior and wood accents of the Denali. To be honest, the Lariat feels more like a consolation prize or a last-minute creation for those who want the Ranger but want luxury. It doesn’t feel as well thought out as the Canyon Denali.
More Room to Relax
Not to be petty, but the GMC Canyon is just bigger than the Ford Ranger. It has a super-wide stance that really gets your attention. It’s taller. Its cabin is roomier. You just feel large and in charge in the Canyon. If that matters to you (which it usually does to off-roaders and truck drivers), you have to get the GMC Canyon.
Don’t get us wrong: the 2023 Ford Ranger is a nice size. It feels strong. But it’s not one of those trucks that make you go “Woah” when it drives by. You know the ones. They have a presence. When you’re in them, the rest of the world just melts away because they’re so comfortable and pretty. The Ranger is not that, while the Canyon is. Even with its top trims and optional packages, the Ranger just doesn’t catch the eye.
The GMC Canyon Is Worth Every Extra Penny
Ultimately, you can see why the 2023 GMC Canyon costs significantly more than the 2023 Ford Ranger. Some might say the two aren’t even comparable––they’re just totally different classes of vehicles. Sure, they’re both midsize trucks with off-road capabilities, but that’s almost where their similarities end. The GMC Canyon is a noteworthy beast of a truck with the luxury Denali trim that makes you feel like a million bucks. It has features like those underbody cameras and a COMEUP winch that just make you feel like you’re in the cream of the crop. It’s massive, really powerful, and beautiful.
The 2023 Ford Ranger is a solid truck and will always have a place in our hearts. When you need a reliable, tough, and easy-to-handle midsize truck, the Ranger has you covered. It has its respectable off-road package, its own version of a luxury trim, and a spacious enough cabin. And, hey, it has an attractive price tag. If luxury features and fun extras aren’t important to you, the 2023 Ford Ranger is nothing to sleep on. It’s all about asking yourself what you’re looking for: a real luxury truck or a simple work truck.