By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 GMC Canyon is the mirror image of its sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Colorado. GMC adds a few upscale touches to try and distinguish its truck, but, for the most part, the two are interchangeable at every level. As with the Colorado, the Canyon offers customers a compact truck big on value, with a choice of four or five-cylinder engines, two-wheel or four-wheel drive and three configurations: Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab. Though not as powerful or roomy as the imports, the Canyon does have its strong points, namely an affordable base price and relatively good fuel economy.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like the clean yet bold look of GMC pickup design, but want it in a smaller package that gets better fuel economy, check out the 2009 GMC Canyon. We think the optional five-cylinder engine is an under-appreciated gem.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you need something with more interior room, cargo space or towing capacity, you will be better off looking at some of the larger mid-size trucks from Dodge or Nissan, or even a full-size pickup.What's New for 2009
A host of new equipment includes revised wheels, more standard equipment on SLT and Work Truck trims and an improved Z71 package. Enhanced safety features include standard StabiliTrak stability control and a new braking system. A 5.3-liter V8 can now be ordered on both Extended and Crew Cab models and the sport-oriented ZQ8 suspension package is revived for 2009.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2009 GMC Canyon's greatest improvement over previous GMC compact trucks can be found in its chassis and powertrain. The body-on-frame chassis is extremely rigid and you can feel it in the way the Canyon handles, both off-road and while cornering. Even over washboard roads, the Canyon exhibited none of the dash-rattling or squeaks that might be expected, although the rear axle does hop around quite a bit. GMC has created a number of performance and off-road packages to enhance the Canyon's rugged image. Oddly, despite its short wheelbase, the Canyon exhibits an unusually large turning radius. As for power, the standard in-line four-cylinder is fairly potent for such a small engine. When ordered with the manual transmission, it also offers exceptionally good fuel economy.Favorite Features
The Canyon's tailgate can be set at a 55-degree angle that aligns the top of the tailgate with the tops of the wheel housings, thus allowing easy loading and hauling of large, flat panels.
Optional side-curtain airbags are an inexpensive safety feature that can protect occupants in the event of a side impact accident.
The Canyon's interior layout is highly functional, with all the gauges and controls within clear sight and easy reach of the driver. The seats offer firm bottoms and good lumbar support and the cloth fabric is both durable and comfortable. Crew Cab models offer a usable but somewhat upright rear seat, while Extended Cabs feature two, limited-use flip down seat bottoms best used on short trips and with short passengers. The Canyon offers a bit more contrast inside than its Chevy cousin, which helps break up the monotone color scheme and lends an upscale look.Exterior
Bulging fender flares and bright alloy wheels punctuate the Canyon's tall slab sides. Regular Cab models ride on a 111.3-inch wheelbase while Extended and Crew Cab models ride on a 126.0-inch wheelbase. The bed length for the Regular and Extended Cab models is about six feet, while that for the Crew Cab model is just over five feet. Both beds feature tall sidewalls, for deeper storage, which give the Canyon best-in-class cargo volume. The Canyon has a clever tailgate that can be opened flat or set at a 55-degree angle, effectively placing the top of the tailgate in line with the tops of the rear wheel wells for easy hauling of large, flat panels.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2009 GMC Canyon SL has a 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine that develops a healthy 185 horsepower. You'll also find a five-speed manual, air conditioning, cruise control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), StabiliTrak stability control, chrome front and rear bumpers, dual outside mirrors, automatic headlamps, a tilt steering wheel, AM/FM stereo with XM Satellite Radio, and tachometer. Various additions for the SLE levels of trim include a CD/MP3 player and upgraded upholstery and trim items.Notable Optional Equipment
Options include four-wheel drive, a four-speed automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, running boards, automatic locking rear differential, the Z71 off-road package, a tow package, six-disc CD changer, side-curtain airbags, power sunroof, power and heated leather seating, ZQ8 sport suspension and 17- and 18-inch wheels.Under the Hood
Engine choices for the Canyon include four- and five-cylinder powerplants. The standard 2.9-liter four and the optional 3.7-liter five are both derivatives of the in-line six found in the GMC Envoy, and although engines of these sizes might seem small, they are both big on power. The 2.9-liter four produces an impressive 185 horsepower and offers up most of its 190 pound-feet of torque between the ranges of 1200 and 5600 rpm. That's enough power to muscle any lightly-equipped four-wheel drive vehicle through the toughest terrain. The optional 3.7-liter engine makes 242 horsepower. Both of these engines produce class-leading horsepower while returning outstanding fuel economy. While the 5.3-liter V8 offers impressive power, its fuel economy figures fall far short of its smaller stable mates.
2.9-liter in-line 4
185 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
190 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (2WD), 17/23 (4WD)
3.7-liter in-line 5
242 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
242 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 16/22 (4WD), 17/23 (2WD, Crew Cab), 16/21 (4WD, Crew Cab)
300 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
320 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)
The 2009 GMC Canyon Regular Cab Work Truck, which features slightly less content than the SL, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $17,500, while the Extended Cab starts around $19,500. A fully loaded, four-wheel-drive SLT Crew Cab with 4WD tops out around $35,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price paid for a Canyon, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. When compared to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, the Canyon holds a less-than-average projected residual value over time. However, the Canyon equals, and in many cases, exceeds the Ford Ranger's projected residual value.