First Drive – 2015 GMC Canyon SLE Crew Cab

by Tony West and Daryl Payne
2015 GMC Canyon
2015 GMC Canyon

GMC tries to up the ante in the mid-size pickup truck segment with their new Canyon, adding a hard-bodied cool design and refining their tech savvy cabin. The 2015 GMC Canyon also boasts a combined EPA of 20 mpg with their efficient new V6 engine. The pickup is stylish, functional -but not too intimidating, and it’s fun to drive. The big-body offers a wealth of features for its $35k sticker price.

2015 GMC Canyon three truck family
2015 GMC Canyon three truck family

The 2015 Canyon is offered in a base, SLE, and SLT model in 2WD and 4WD, plus an All-Terrain Package for the SLE model. We reviewed the new 2015 Canyon SLE with all bells and whistles; Crew Cab-5”2’ box, 4WD, and the All-Terrain Package.

 

 

 

Highly Functional Stout Design

At first glance, the 2015 GMC Canyon looks big and brawny like its big brother, the Sierra. It’s tricked out with a huge chrome grille, LED daytime running lights, projector beam headlights, and an aluminum hood.

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab All-Terrain
2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab All-Terrain

The 2015 GMC Canyon also features the segment’s first active grille shutters that aid aerodynamics by closing at high speeds. The Canyon’s aggressive front end has wide intakes and chrome trim, adding style and resilience. The Canyon also has a chrome corner step rear bumper that’s body color in the All-Terrain model. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard with Blackwall All Season Tires.

A fully boxed perimeter frame provides strength and support for its capabilities. The steel bodied Canyon also features triple sealed inlaid doors for a smooth quiet ride.

The 2015 Canyon offers an extended cab model with 6”2’ box, a crew cab with 5”2’ bed, and a crew cab with 6”2’ bed. With the tailgate down, the longer bed allows for 8-foot long cargo. And with the Trailering Package, the new Canyon can haul up to 7,000 lbs. An EZ Lift and Lower locking tailgate uses and internal torsion bar for ease with raising, and a damper for more controlled lowering. The bed has 13 configurable and 4 stationary tie down locations for cargo tie down rings.

2015 GMC Canyon All-Terrain
2015 GMC Canyon All-Terrain

A Gear On system is available to make hauling easier. The Gear On system is designed to fit perfectly within the bed for significant storage and hauling flexibility. It’s upgradable with modular cargo dividers and tiered storage.

 

 

Class-Leading Efficient Engines

The 2015 GMC Canyon’s efficient powerful performance is centered on its engine lineup. A 2.5 liter I-4 engine is standard with 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, with 90% of peak torque available from 2,000 rpm – 6,200 rpm. It also can boast a 27 mpg highway EPA.

2015 GMC Canyon
2015 GMC Canyon

The Canyon SLE crew cab we reviewed has an efficient 3.6 liter DOHC V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, and a 24 mpg highway EPA. Both engines have a forged steel crankshaft and aluminum blocks and dual overhead camshafts.  And both engines feature direct injection and continuously variable valve timing for improved efficiency and refined power.

The engines are matched to a 6 speed automatic transmission. A 6 speed manual transmission is available with the 2.5 liter engine in the base extended cab/2WD models.

The V6 in the Canyon is powerful and robust. Acceleration is great-too great, because when the Canyon reaches 70 mph, there’s little downgrade even when I’m not on the gas. It’s hard to slow down. Cornering is also difficult too in this big-body truck. Wide turns have to be easy on the gas.

Electronically assisted power rack and pinion steering with aluminum components feature variable assist. Steering is tight, making the ride more like an SUV than a car. Motorsport Correspondent Daryl enjoyed whipping the Canyon. He like the tight steering that helped him command the pickup with confidence in any road condition. And when he had to swerve, the Canyon’s steering was quick and responsive. And the Canyon has a tight turning radius, so it’s easy to park in tight spots.

The 2015 Canyon is also offered with AutoTrac automatic four-wheel drive that can operate in 2WD with an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case. Four modes are selectable, 2WD, Auto, 4WD Hi and 4WD Lo.

The ride in the 2015 Canyon is surprisingly quiet and smooth. Along with front independent coil over shock suspension and multi leaf rear suspension, the 2015 Canyon features aluminum steering knuckles that are low in mass and high in strength.

2015 GMC Canyon
2015 GMC Canyon

Four-wheel disc brakes with four piston calipers are standard and feature Duralife rotors. They’ll stop the Canyon with a hard slam.

The rear axle is available in the SLE and SLT models with GM’s G80 locking differential which reads and reacts in milliseconds. In normal driving conditions, the differential functions as a light-bias limited slip axle. The G80 is standard with the All-Terrain Package.

The All-Terrain Package ($1,190) adds Z71 off-road suspension, Hill Descent Control, 17 inch dark argent metallic wheels, and some extra interior flair.

With all the bells and whistles including aluminum suspension parts, the GMC Canyon was still bumpy for the rear passengers. And there should’ve been more advanced upgrades for suspension, and more off-road functionality. There also could have been a snow mode for added traction.

 

 

Simplistic Tech-Functional Interior

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE Interior
2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE Interior

The 2015 Canyon’s cockpit is huge, allowing for comfort for all 5 passengers. Driver and passenger have 4-way adjustable bucket seats. The 2015 Canyon has folding rear bench seats. The front passengers have 45 inches of legroom, and the rear has 35 inches of legroom. A leather-wrapped heated steering wheel is standard. I needed an adjustable pedal, a sunroof, and power folding outside mirrors.

The design of the seats is cool with the All-Terrain Package, offering Jet Black or Cobalt Red cloth seats with its emblem on the headrest. I like the rubber/ leatherish seat material that’s durable and easy to clean. Along with Jet Black and Cobalt Red, the interior is offered in Dark Ash.

Drivers use a soft touch instrument panel with aluminum trim that houses a standard 4.2 inch multi info display and 3.5 inch display on the base model. The driver info display shows digital controls for Valet Mode and Teen Driver controls, along with Convenience and display configurations.

Valet mode will lock the infotainment system, restrict steering wheel controls, and can limit top speeds and access to storage. Teen Driver controls can display a report card, erase teen keys, and set a speed limit.

2015 GMC Canyon All-Terrain
2015 GMC Canyon All-Terrain

The Canyon also boasts a heated steering wheel with controls for audio, phone, and cruise controls. Storage is abundant in the Canyon Crew Cab with a huge center console, storage in the doors, and a storage compartment under the rear seats. An available Convenience Package adds automatic climate control and remote start. The Canyon boasts other perks like body color door handles, keyless entry, and available sliding rear window.

2015 GMC Canyon SLE center stack
2015 GMC Canyon SLE center stack

The center stack design is highly functional and user friendly. All of the controls the driver needs are right at their fingertips. And with an available Bose premium 7-speaker sound system, the sound is pure, but still heavy hitting just like the pickup trucks performance.

IntelliLink is standard in the SLE and SLT models. It features OnStar Bluetooth, text messaging, voice command, and Pandora. The Canyon is also a WiFi hotspot. Navigation is standard and includes verbal traffic warnings, weather forecasts and weather warnings. The 2015 Canyon also has 4 USB ports.

 

 

Safety Tech Needs Dynamic Boost

Standard safety features on the 2015 Canyon All-Terrain include Stabilitrack with traction control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, and hill assist control. A Driver Alert Package is available on the SLE and SLT models but not on the All-Terrain model. It includes forward collision alert, and a lane departure warning.

2015 GMC Canyon
2015 GMC Canyon

The 2015 Canyon SLE has some nice big side mirrors and great visibility in the front windshield to the wide rear window. But where’s the Blind Spot Monitor? A safety alert seat would’ve also been nice. Brake Assist, and an adequate Pre Collision System would also aid driver confidence in this heavy truck.

The 2015 GMC Canyon offers class-leading capabilities and technology along with an impressive powertrain. For 35k, the Canyon offers more than the Toyota Tacoma, and the Nissan Frontier across the board. It’s easily one of the best all round mid-size trucks in the segment with little competition.

Check out more pics from our First Drive Review with the GMC Canyon on our Facebook Page!