Expert Reviews

Road Trip: 2015 GMC Canyon

Now that the weather has gone instantly from winter to summer, I reflect on the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado I had in what seemed like the dead of winter during the first week of March. Maybe I was a little harsh on that test vehicle, so let’s give it another chance in GMC getup in the summer when our mood is up and the sun is shining.

With enough room for your family while not being overly large and difficult to park, I can see why some choose this category of truck over a full-sized stable mate or competitor.

Doing another Day-by-Day Review of nearly the same vehicle seemed odd, so we decided to change things up and take the 2015 GMC Canyon on a small highway trip to get a feel for it as a family-mobile and everyday driver.

This particular GMC Canyon was equipped nearly identically to the Colorado I drove in March as well. That is to say this Canyon was loaded – a 4WD Crew Cab model with the 3.6L V6. Perhaps some consumers are looking for a truck like this that isn’t too large, so that they can use as an everyday vehicle that is still good in the city. With enough room for your family while not being overly large and difficult to park, I can see why some choose this category of truck over a full-sized stable mate or competitor.

So where would a truck owner take their family on a road trip to? Well I would like to think they would load it up with bikes, maybe even gas-powered bikes (dirtbikes) and head out to the cottage, maybe two hours or so away from home to get away from the city. So that was the plan, head out to the cottage and pretend I was a hauling my family along with me – of course I did the trip by myself so I could avoid the screaming kids and “are we there yet?” questions and my cottage was Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly Mosport) about three hours from my place – but hey, I drove through cottage country on the way… that’s close enough, right?

A three-hour drive on Highway 7 – The Lost Highway. The highway that used to be the main corridor from Ottawa to Toronto, which was replaced years before my time by highway 401. Like the famous Route 66 in the U.S., this highway is filled with the remains of old restaurants, gas stations and motels that have closed down due to the lack of traffic. There is still the odd motel that is in business and small chip trucks and vendors the closer you get to Peterborough, but the highway is fairly barren from Perth to Madoc.

Features like satellite radio are welcome as you lose Ottawa radio stations not too far outside of Perth and the navigation system keeps you occupied as you use it to keep pace to ensure you are going to make it to your destination on time. Other features like lane departure warning, driver alert and forward collision alert could be useful out in cottage country as well, if there were any other cars on the road. I do wonder if the forward collision alert would react fast enough to a moose if I were to nod off on the journey.

Highway 7 was for the most part repaved in the last couple of years, great for the drive, not so great for road testing a vehicle if I’m completely honest. Luckily for me I still drove the Canyon on my everyday roads and got a good feel for it on choppy pavement. This is where these smaller trucks shine as they have a soft and compliant enough suspension to soak up the imperfections on the road while not beating up the passengers. Despite this, the Canyon still feels very much like a truck (a little bounce and a lot of rigidity), which is a characteristic many trucks buyers are looking for.

What Highway 7 does have, though, is a lot of twists and turns, which show off a vehicle’s handling abilities in some areas and the Canyon, unlike other trucks, feels planted in the corners and is fun to drive in the twisties.

Unfortunately the seats let this truck down. Like most trucks they are flat and non-bolstering and I’m okay with that, but something about these seats just do not work for me. The seat bottoms are too short and the seat is far too firm and all I could think was that I wanted out of the torture chamber as my back screamed in pain just 30 minutes into my three-hour drive. But like Kimmy Schmidt would say “You can stand anything for 10 seconds at a time, so I put my mind to it and did just that. Using the estimated destination time on the Navigation as my guide to break the trip up (in my mind) as shorter segments.

I’ve given vehicles a second chance before and it does work. Everyone has a bad day / week or perhaps a flaw in the vehicle that sours the experience, so I was hoping to understand why so many love the Canyon/Colorado twins on this second chance. But this drive didn’t really do it for me and the main reason was the engine and transmission combination. Put your foot down and the transmission shudders a few times and the revs climb, noise emanates from the 3.6L engine into the cabin; lots and lots of noise. But nothing really happens for quite some time as you wait for the hamsters to get up to speed on their little wheels inside there. I don’t get it, because this engine is rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, no slouch by the numbers.

At first I thought it was me. I do like a nice V8 engine or a diesel engine in a pickup truck. But then I remember back to the 2013 Ram 1500 V6 I drove in July of 2013. The 3.6L Pentastar engine in that truck puts out the exact same numbers as the GM motor but is much smoother, quieter and seemingly more fuel efficient in a real world scenario – and don’t forget the Ram is a full-sized truck as well.

Mostly highway driving, the Canyon returned 10.6 L/100 km which isn’t too far off Natural Resources Canada rating of 9.8 L/100 km highway and 13.5 L/100km city, but again the RAM’s official ratings are 10.1/14.6. Or GM’s own Sierra 4WD rated at 10.6/14.1.

3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/160,000 km powertrain; 6 years/160,000 km corrosion perforation; 5 years/160,000 km 24-hour roadside assistance

Chevrolet Colorado
Honda Ridgeline
Nissan Frontier
Toyota Tacoma

I really would like to test a four-cylinder base model of this truck, because maybe then I would get it, but two tests down and I still don’t get it, especially with an as-tested price over $44,000. Why compromise? Unless you really don’t have the space and you live in a condo downtown… but then do you really even need a truck in that scenario? That market must be smaller than this truck.

Pricing: 2015 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SWB SLT
Base Price: $38,850
Options: Driver Alert Package $415 – forward collision alert, lane departure warning; engine block heater $100; wheel lock kit $60; 5" rectangular assist steps (chrome) $760; spray-on bedliner $525; AM/FM/satellite stereo w/ 8" touch screen Intellilink w/ navigation $795; Bose 7-speaker system $685.
Freight: $1,695
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $43,985