GMC Canyon SLT 4X4 Diesel Quick Review
Critic’s Notebook Takeaway: you can find a refined diesel workhorse after all.
Having spent the majority of my professional life driving diesel trucks, I was expecting a clunky, loud, heavy-shifting diesel box from hell. Boy, was I wrong. Powered by a 181 hp, 2.8L four-cylinder diesel engine with 369 lb-ft of torque, the GMC Canyon SLT is a refined pickup for the mpg-conscious countryman. Though the cabin was quiet, when you rolled down the window the four-cylinder's subtle clanging reminded you that you were in fact driving a diesel—but it never threw a plume of fumes in your face.
Although the Canyon is a full-function four-door pickup, its 74-inch width and 225-inch length means the truck is a manageable size. In other words, you can use it on the job site, then easily fit it on the ferry to Nantucket. The particular model I reviewed came with every bell and whistle, from a Bose stereo to a heavy-duty bed liner. Plus, safety features like blind spot-, lane departure-, and front collision warning. If you haven’t caught on by now, the luxury pickup market has officially extended to diesel trucks; I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing tooling around some posh summer community.
Even though the Canyon was far from speedy, it did return a healthy 33 mpg on the highway and around 17 mpg in heavy city traffic. With numbers like those, you should gladly relinquish your right to do a burnout or a 65-mph pass. Plus, the combination of a diesel engine and adjustable 4WD is an off-roader's or farmhand’s dream. It's still very much a work truck, but with a six-setting butt-warmer.
Unlike its (extremely) big brothers, the GMC Sierra and the Ford F-150, you don’t need a commercial license to get behind the wheel; the truck’s profile is significantly less than the width of your average lane, and its turning radius shaves more than four feet off that of the F-150. With relative easy maneuverability, it was easy to navigate tight Brooklyn streets and the illogically small driveway in my apartment complex. Still, the Canyon was able to take a decent size payload—in this case, a huge tractor tire for our office's spontaneous workout station.
As a final review, I gave it the good old-fashioned mom test. Her response: "Now this is a truck I like; it's just the right size.” My mom, and Goldilocks, approves.
The Canyon is the perfect truck for taking on any light-to-medium-duty task in your work or leisure life, without mandating four trips to the pump every week. And, despite my initial misgivings, I can’t emphasize enough how smooth the diesel truck drove. Not as smooth as the oil-burning Audi A8, of course, still light years better than the F- and E-series diesels I've been frequenting of late. The shifts were clean, the start-up seamless, and the cab didn’t fill up with that unmistakable diesel smell. Just be warned: some dude with a Phish sticker on his bumper may come up to you and say, “this sounds like my 1999 Jetta TDI, man.”
2016 GMC Canyon SLT Crew Cab 4x4 Diesel
Price (as tested, incl. destination and delivery): $37,810 ($43,335)
Powertrain: 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder turbodiesel; 181 hp, 369lb-ft; six-speed automatic transmission
0-60 MPH: 9.1 seconds
MPG (city/highway): 20/29
Towing capacity: 7,600 pounds