By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 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. Isuzu, however, markets a version of the Canyon known as the i-Series, which carries a far superior standard warranty yet is similarly priced to its GMC and Chevrolet counterparts.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 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 a full-size pickup.What's New for 2008
OnStar with the Directions and Connections plan is standard on all but the base SL trim level, and halogen fog lights are standard across the entire line.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Canyon's greatest improvement over previous GMC compact trucks can be found in its chassis and powertrain. The new body-on-frame chassis is much more 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. 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 a first for this segment.
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. 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 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 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), chrome front and rear bumpers, dual outside mirrors, automatic headlamps, a tilt steering wheel, AM/FM stereo and tachometer. Various additions for the SLE levels of trim include a CD/MP3 player, power mirrors 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, automatic locking rear differential, the Z71 off-road package, a tow package, six-disc CD changer, side-curtain airbags, power sunroof, XM Satellite Radio and traction control.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 new 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.
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, manual), 18/24 (2WD, automatic), 16/22 (4WD, manual), 17/22 (4WD, automatic)
3.7-liter in-line 5
242 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
242 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/21 (4WD), 16/22 (2WD, Crew Cab), 15/20 (4WD, Crew Cab)
The GMC Canyon Regular Cab Work Truck, which features slightly less content than the SL, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $15,500. The Canyon SL Regular cab adds about $800 to the base, while the Extended Cab starts at nearly $18,000. A fully loaded, four-wheel-drive SLE Crew Cab tops out around $32,000. 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, over a five-year period the Canyon holds a less-than-average projected residual value. However, the Canyon equals, and with some trim levels exceeds, the Ford Ranger's projected residual value.