2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE 4WD review: In the middle

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD

If you buy pickup trucks by the pound, look elsewhere. Not that the 2015 GMC Canyon is a lightweight, but it’s certainly doesn’t spin the needle on the Toledo No Springs Honest Weight quite like, say, a GMC Sierra would. Rather the GMC Canyon is referred to as a mid-size pickup, a notch down from the full-sized Sierra, and larger than a compact pickup, something we haven’t seen in a long while.

At least in GMC’s case, that’s since the Sonoma, which itself replaced the GMC S-15, both compact pickups along with the Chevrolet S-10 dating back to 1981. The Sonoma was replaced by the Canyon in 2004, along with the Chevrolet Colorado—and the Isuzu i-Series, for those into pickup truck trivia. The Canyon and Colorado were upsized, bigger than the Sonoma, with a peculiar five-cylinder, better to compete with the Dodge Dakota, which had the mid-size pickup class to its ownself, the only one ever with a V-8.

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD interior

The interior of the 2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD is simple but clean and efficient. (Click to enlarge)

Actually, the GMC Canyon is something we haven’t seen for a while. The mid-size pickup ran from 2004 through 2012 before it went on hiatus, leaving the smaller-than-full-size truck field to the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. Ford gave up on the geriatric Ford Ranger, the compact pickup expiring after the 2011 model year after years of neglect. The Dakota had gone away after 2009 following years of downward spiraling sales.

So for all practical purposes, considering the potential market, one could confidently assume that GM wouldn’t be back in mid-size. Yet here we are. We’ll look at the Colorado shortly in another review, but for now, the Canyon.

The mid-size 2015 Canyon is significantly smaller than the full-size Sierra, of course. The Canyon has a wheelbase of 128.3 and 140.5 inches, depending on cab (extended or crew) and length of bed (either 5’2” or 6’2”). The Sierra on the other hand (except for the regular cab with the 6’6” short-for-the-Sienna-bed) has 143.5 and 153.0-inch wheelbases, with commensurately longer overall length. The Sienna’s width is particularly noticeable from the inside. The outside, at 80.0 inches, is an important six inches wider than the Canyon.

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD ip

The instrument panel of the 2015 GMC Canyon is straightforward, with two small and two big gauges, plus a trip computer right in the center. (click to enlarge)

These measures that are important. Narrower and shorter than the Sienna, the GMC Canyon fits easily in places where the larger truck won’t go, or at least go with difficulty. The Canyon, for example, fits the typical suburban driveway where the Sienna takes its half and a bit more. Garages? Pshaw. With the Sienna you stand a chance. Figure a pole barn for the Sienna. And figure a long walk at the supermarket parking lot with he Sienna because if it fits between the lines, its girth and turning circle will make it hard to get there. The Canyon, on the other, has no trouble finding its place.

So with its place found, the GMC Canyon itself: The Canyon offered in four trim levels, SL, base, SLE and SLT. The SL and base are similarly equipped, though the SL a budget/roughhouse/mostly fleet special, with a lack of options the base can have and vinyl flooring to boot, though it at least has power windows, and surprise, a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLE AWD m.i.d.

The multi-information display of the 2015 GMC Canyon SLE was easy to use. (click to enlarge)

The SLE and SLT naturally enough come with more equipment, with most of the standard equipment on the SLT being optional on the SLE either in packages or a la carte. For example, heated seats are standard on the SLT, optional on the SLE. Remote start standard on the SLT, optional SLE. And etcetera and so on, although in some cases, options on the SLT—leather seating, for example—can’t be had at all on the SLE. For the specifics of what where, details are on the GMC website.

What the GMC Canyon SLE can have that the SLT can’t, however, is the All-Terrain Package. This modestly-priced ($1,100) option pack includes the Z71 offroad suspension kit, hill descent control and all-terrain tires on special 17 x 8-inch alloy rims, automatic locking rear differential and a transfer case skid plate, making the proficient where the sidewalk ends. GMC figures that if you’re going in the dirt, you’ll also want black and red cloth seating, driver and front passenger heated seats with power lumbar adjustment for driver and front passenger.

2015 GMC Canyon back seat

The 2015 GMC Canyon back seat is roomy enough for adults. The seatback folds for a cargo option. (click to enlarge)

Our test GMC Canyon also came with the SLE Convenience package—remote vehicle start and automatic air conditioning—for $500, premium Bose audio ($500) along with the eight-inch diagonal color touchscreen with navigation and Intellilink for $495. The factory-applied spray-on bedliner adds another $475 and the trailering package lists for $250. At least the 3.42:1 axle ratio is included.

Our test vehicle was a crew cab with the short box, the latter feature criticized by some armchair, well, critics as too small. Of course, for them there’s the option of the longer box or the bigger truck.

The crew cab of our 2015 GMC Canyon, however, was suitable for a crew. Even a six-footer could be comfortable in the back—if not luxuriating—although remember again this is a mid-size truck. Small scale humans and humans under construction won’t be cramped, though three across is a bit snug.