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Test drive: GMC Canyon Denali appeals as a classic, classy truck

A friend recently asked what truck he should get. My usual response to this type of question is, “What truck do you want?” 

He wasn’t seeking what he wanted to hear. He genuinely wanted to be directed at the onset of his quest for a new car. Even though he was an electrician, he didn’t want an electric truck. His family of four had a minivan, and they had no intention of towing, but he wanted a bed for his daughter’s stinky hockey gear on long road trips through the Midwest. He reminded me of many people who want a truck but struggle with justifying it in the family way. 

As much as he loved his Honda Pilot, which would go to his daughter next year when she turns 16, the Honda Ridgeline wasn’t trucky enough.

A Ford Maverick was too small, a full-size too large. 

My personal algorithm struck a match with the GMC Canyon. 

“Oh, yeahhhh,” he said, as if rediscovering that a human recommendation was the basis for all things Google. “I liked that one you had.”

He was referring to a GMC Canyon Denali crew cab  that we drove around in Toronto during a hockey tournament at the beginning of the year. It was the redesigned 2023 model, but the 2024 GMC Canyon Denali remains the same, except for a $100 increase. 

Here were some of my recommendations to him about the Canyon Denali. 

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Pro: GMC Canyon embraces classic truck looks

With its burly shape and chrome surrounds on black body parts, the GMC Canyon Denali strikes the pose of the Harley-Davidson of pickup trucks. It blares Americana. A vertical face, boxy ends, and squared-off wheel arches housing 20-inch wheels give no clue that it’s a smaller truck. This is the definitive truck for the combustion age. The interior evolves into the digital age with rich graphics on both the 11.0-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.3-inch touchscreen, yet it still has dials for climate controls and switches for other functions so it’s glove-friendly. Then there’s the classy Denali blend of leather, wood, and metallic trim pieces. 

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Pro: GMC Canyon’s solid turbo-4

There is nothing underpowered about this 4-cylinder engine. The turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-4 makes 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, a diesel-like churn of torque that’s good enough for the base Sierra 1500 full-size truck. At 4,860 pounds, the Canyon Denali 4WD weighs 360 pounds less than a similarly equipped Sierra crew cab with the 2.7-liter, so it’s lighter on its big 20-inch feet. The 8-speed automatic shifts quickly through the lower gears at moderate throttle, and the cabin remains relatively quiet aside from a distinct ticking from the engine. It tows up to 7,700 pounds.

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Con: GMC Canyon’s inefficient turbo-4

Like adulthood, buying a vehicle is all about tradeoffs. The turbo-4’s power is impressive, but its smaller displacement doesn’t result in efficiency gains. It’s more potent and quieter than GM’s old V-6s, but it has the same EPA rating of 19 mpg combined with 4WD. In mixed driving, we averaged less than that. It’s not just the tradeoff for buying a truck. The turbo-4 in the new Ford Ranger 4WD has an EPA rating of 22 mpg; the V-6 in the AWD Honda Ridgeline rates at 21 mpg combined; even the Nissan Frontier’s 3.8-liter V-6 rates higher at 20 mpg combined.  

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

Con: Flimsy 4WD selector

In the redesign, GMC moved the mechanical gear lever to the passenger side of the center console, and put a circular dial for the drivetrain settings on the driver side. Twist it and it shows the different drive modes—Off-Road, Tow Haul, Terrain, Normal—bright and clear on the touchscreen, but then to switch it to 2H, 4H, 4L and you have to push down on the dial. It limits the number of toggles and buttons on the center stack and console, but it feels clumsy to use, and not as solid as the rest of the switches on the interface.

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

Pro: GMC Canyon is a right-sized truck

We hauled four people and hockey gear around the outskirts of Toronto, and parallel-parked downtown without a problem. The Canyon fits in a suburban garage without stuffing it like a Sierra. Two adults and two adult-sized teenagers had plenty of comfort in the large crew cab. The 34.7 inches of rear legroom may sound small compared to a three-row crossover SUV or especially my friend’s minivan, but the Canyon’s cab is wide and tall; the teens had their backpacks between them, spewing the detritus of the modern teen everywhere. 

With the gear in the bed and the weight balanced in the cab, the solid rear axle didn’t jounce on the leaf springs too noticeably. Toronto’s roads are pretty smooth, however, compared to Detroit’s or Chicago’s, so ride quality could vary by city. 

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Con: No six-way power tailgate

The AT4X now climbs above the Denali in the top of GMC’s trim hierarchy, but at $54,905 as tested, including a $1,595 destination fee, the Denali should have included the brand’s clever six-way power tailgate. It would have made a nice seat and speaker for tailgating in the parking lot.  

While a low fuel economy rating sinks the 2024 GMC Canyon’s TCC Rating to 5.3 out of 10, it’s a recommended pick for shoppers who want the classic truckiness of a truck without skimping on features or being overwhelmed by size. The bed as hockey locker is an added bonus. 

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2024 GMC Canyon Denali 4WD

Base price: $52,595

Price as tested: $54,905

Drivetrain: 2.7-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 18/22/19 mpg 

Pros: Good looks, right size, strong power

Cons: Inefficient, expensive, clumsy drivetrain selector




This article was originally published by a www.thecarconnection.com . Read the Original article here. .

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