2018 GMC Canyon Denali, Comfort and Performance in a Mid-Size

2018 GMC Canyon Denali

If you want pickup truck versatility in a manageable size the GMC Canyon fits the bill almost perfectly. Just under 18 feet long the Canyon will fit in most garages, navigate in town traffic and still haul your boat or up to 1500 pounds of bed payload. The Canyon is available with 3 power options, including a fuel efficient diesel.

Our test truck was the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali, the top of the line offering from GMC for the year. Powered by the 3.6 liter gas engine making 308 horsepower and mated with the 8 speed automatic transmission the Denali provided more than adequate performance. Rated to tow 7000 pounds the Canyon Denali fills the needs of most people. Real world fuel economy during our week long drive was very close to the advertised 17 city and 24 highway and with the 21 gallon gas tank the Canyon will have a decent range between fill ups. 

The Denali option brings most of the trim and luxury features offered by GMC including leather interior, power heated and cooled seats, 8 inch touch screen infotainment, running boards, HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and a spray in bedliner. There are a few add ons such as remote start, extra trailer cameras, trailer brake and extra bed tie downs but much of the high tech that is standard or

LED Daytime lights and HID headlamos on the Canyon

LED Daytime lights and HID headlamos on the Canyon

optional of the full size Denali pickup isn’t available on the Canyon for 2018. Hopefully the 2019 series will bring more of that to the smaller truck.

The Canyon drive experience is a bit different than what you get in its full size brother truck. The shorter wheel base and narrower stance makes the ride a bit more jarring, especially with the tight 4 wheel drive suspension in our test truck. Maneuverability is more driver friendly compared to a full size, with a tighter turning radius, foot and a half shorter overall length and about 6 inches less height. The term small pickup may be a bit misleading as the Canyon is not that much smaller than a full size, but just enough so that it makes the Canyon more in town friendly.

Large and comfortable front cabin on the Canyon Denali

Large and comfortable front cabin on the Canyon Denali

Front cabin room is excellent with plenty of head and shoulder room and enough seat and steering column adjustment to accommodate almost any size driver. Seat comfort is very good in the Denali trim level. Rear seat room is just a little cramped with less legroom than desirable for larger passengers and the seats too narrow to fit 3 comfortably. Cab front seat height is just a bit high for flat footed entry and low for using a running board. I found myself using the board to enter but bypassing it to exit and as a result found a dirt line across the back of my pants leg at the calf where it rubbed the side of the running board as I got out of the truck.

From the driver’s seat all of the controls are easy to reach and clearly marked. Most functions have real knobs for control making it easier to work things even with gloves on. The exception is the frustrating controls for the audio system that require use of the touch screen and can take a little head scratching to figure out. There is a handy driver information screen in the center of the instrument panel with a selectable display. The Denali comes with a high end Bose sound system that fills the cabin with fidelity audio. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard on all upper level Canyon trims and make integration of your smart phome simple and quick. You can bypass the on board voice controls and go directly to Siri by holding down the steering wheel voice button a little longer.

Unfortunately missing

from even the top of the line Denali series is push button keyless start, blind spot monitors, emergency forward collision braking, active cruise control and cross traffic alert, but maybe we will see those on the new 2019 models coming out soon.

A large center console, glove box and several cubbies provide good storage space in the front and a fold down center arm rest in the rear sports a couple of cup holders. Rear seats fold up from the lower cushion or down from the seat back, but in neither case does that improve storage in the back of the cabin. There is a built in storage box under the seat but it is small and not lockable. Rear seat LATCH points are provided on the outboard seating and they are fairly easy to access.

The Canyon Denali we drove was equipped with electronically selectable 2 speed 4 wheel drive that adds a lot of off the asphalt capability to the truck. The Canyon is also available in an All Terrain edition   with the well known Z71 suspension package and hill decent control making it the right choice if you intend to spend much time off the pavement.

The Canyon is available in extended or crew cab, short and long bed and with 3 engine choices. A basic Canyon can be had for as little as 22 thousand and our fully decked out Canyon Denali stickered for $45,835 including options and destination charges.  

The 2018 GMC Canyon Denali is easy to drive, performs well, offers decent economy and is more comfortable to travel in than most of its competitors.

 Check out all the Canyon choices here

Listen to the on air review from October 6, 2018 below