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2012 GMC Canyon

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2012 GMC Canyon Review

In need of a substantial update

Reviewed by Automotive on

The 2012 GMC Canyon is, along with its Chevrolet Colorado cousin, one of the last small pickup trucks in a dwindling field. It continues with minimal updates to its intended function: a small, no-frills work truck for those who don't need the excess size of its Sierra sibling.

With a 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 engine available, the Canyon can be optioned to fit almost every need. You can order a Canyon with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.7-liter five-cylinder engine as well, mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, two- or four-wheel drive, longer or shorter beds, and extended, crew or regular cab models. There are also sport and off-road suspension packages for those who like to have fun with their work trucks.

For 2012, the Canyon does get some improvements: Bluetooth now comes standard on all models, while an automatic locking differential is standard on four-wheel drive and all Crew Cab models. But the Canyon can't hide the fact that it has been around for eight years now, although construction workers and fleet buyers are more than OK with it.

The Range

Bodystyle: Truck
Engines: 2.9-liter inline-4; 3.7-liter inline-5; 5.3-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Work Truck, SLE, SLT

What's New

Bluetooth is now standard on all models. Choose an SLE2 4WD Extended Cab model and you'll a sliding rear window, while an automatic locking differential comes on four-wheel drive and Crew Cab trucks. Two packages that are now available are a Chrome Accessory Package, which adds chrome exhaust tips and gas cap, and Bodyguard Package protects the rear bed rails and adds splash guards.


The Canyon's wide, chrome-framed grille outlines a bold GMC badge. The masculine look has aged well, thankfully. Opt for the Z71 off road suspension package on four-wheel drive SLT models and you'll get 17-inch wheels, helping give the Canyon an aggressive stance.


Inside, the Canyon is strictly work-only. A bright center console tries to liven things up, however. Satellite radio is available along with MP3 compatibility, and Bluetooth, Onstar, leather-wrapped steering wheel are available on all models. Heated power leather seats and a sunroof are standard on SLT models; SLE models get a sliding rear window for more ventilation.

Performance & Handling

The Canyon's 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 engine produces 300 horsepower, and pulls strongly with lots of torque, albeit at the expense of fuel economy. Other engines include a base 2.9-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and a 3.7-liter five-cylinder rated at 242 horsepower. All engines are mated to an aging four-speed auto or five-speed manual transmission. The Canyon's heavy duty, sport and off-road suspensions offer prospective buyers flexibility depending on need.


The Canyon has front head side-curtain air bags, along with dual front air bags that can sense passengers. StabilTrak stability control, anti-lock brakes, and OnStar come standard.

EPA Fuel Economy

2.9-liter, rear-wheel drive: 18 city/25 highway
2.9-liter, four-wheel drive, automatic transmission: 18 city/24 highway
2.9-liter, four-wheel drive, manual transmission 17 city/23 highway
3.7-liter, rear-wheel drive: 17 city/25 highway
3.7-liter, four-wheel drive, automatic transmission 17 city/23 highway
5.3-liter, rear-wheel drive: 14 city/20 highway
5.3-liter, four-wheel drive, automatic transmission 14 city/19 highway

You'll Like

  • Multiple engine options
  • Configurable
  • Solid warranty

You Won't Like

  • Sub-par interior
  • Average MPG
  • Lacks top-tier technology
  • Aging transmissions

Sum Up

In need of a substantial update

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Dodge Ram/Dakota
  • Ford Ranger
  • Suzuki Equator

See the New 2015 Canyon.

Front & Driver Side View