Test Driving the GMC Canyon Pickup Truck

With the summer doldrums in full swing and most of the striper fishing left to casting under the stars, I recently had the opportunity to shoot across the country and check out the new GMC Canyon All Terrain pickup truck. Since over 94% of On The Water readers and viewers have either a truck or SUV in their household, I figured it was a good chance to see the Canyon could fit the needs of a Northeast fisherman who wants the ability to head off-road to remote fishing spots and tow a 25-foot center console.

I’ve been a big Toyota fan since ’86, when I bought my first vehicle out of college, a 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser. I looked at this trip as a way to measure how the new GMC Canyon stacked up against the Toyota Tundra I have driven for the last eight years. In my opinion, the Toyota Tacoma owns the high-end midsize pickup market—so the Canyon had a lot to prove.

GMC Canyon Kayaks on top

The trip began in Las Vegas, where I met up with a crew from GMC and received a quick overview on the ins and outs of the 3.6L V6 mid-size truck. With just enough knowledge to be dangerous, I headed out in a brand new vehicle with my GPS pointing to St. George, Utah, where I would spend the next few days putting the truck through its paces.

As I packed the truck, my new friend (and fellow Villanova alum) Brian Goebel of GMC told me, “You need to be in St. George by 6, which gives you roughly six hours to make a 2½-hour trip. Have fun, and check out the Valley of Fire Highway…just bring the Canyon back in one piece.” I pulled out, while singing Jimmy Buffet: “Don’t worry about a thing boss, we’ll treat it like our own…”

GMC Canyon Off Road

A half-hour out of Vegas, I was already heading off-road down a dirt trail that looked better-suited for a horse and wagon in an old western. Part of me felt guilty sitting in the plush leather interior of the cab with the AC cranking and satellite radio playing classic rock, while outside I was kicking up more than dust as all civilization disappeared in my rearview mirror. After about 20 minutes of checking out the Canyon’s major features, including the on-demand 4-wheel drive, I pulled over to take some photos. Stepping out of the vehicle, I remembered something Brian had said about “triple door seal protection,” as I noticed the interior of the vehicle was spotless, but the exterior resembled a cinnamon doughnut.


Realizing the dirt road I was on had been reduced to a footpath, I followed my tracks out and headed northeast toward St. George, Utah, but not before a quick jaunt down the Valley of Fire Highway—a perfect test track for the Canyon. Through steep climbs, Nevada’s version of a mogul field, and highway strips that would make any drag racer smile, I had to admit I was more than pleasantly surprised. On hard mountain climbs with sharp hairpin turns, the Canyon hung on to the dirt road as 1,000-foot drops threatened to swallow us whole.

GMC Canyon Launching Kayaks

Over the next two days, our group of test drivers rappelled deep into the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed a day on the water at picturesque State Hollow Park, where we unloaded paddleboards and kayaks to explore a landscape that once sat at the bottom of the ocean. Through it all, I found the Canyon to be a truly worthy alternative to the Toyota Tacoma.

If you are in the market for a mid-size quality pick-up towing machine, this truck is certainly worth a test drive. It definitely got me thinking!

  1. Lee M

    So, I guess it’s OK if you’re Kayaking, but you posed the question in your first paragraph as to whether the Canyon is suitable to tow a 25′ Center console as are common in the NE. Considering a 25′ center console (~4500#), w/ twin outboards (>1000#), 200 gallons of fuel (1200#), 25 gallons of water (200#), plus ice, gear, and sitting on a 1000# aluminum trailer seems to be way over the 7000# tow rating, what do you think?

    • Kevin Blinkoff

      Great question and I would agree with you that the Canyon would be pushing its limits with the boat you described. Our OTW TV boat is a 25’ Tournament Contender rigged with a single Yamaha 300. With fuel, ice, etc we would certainly be at capacity of the 7,000 lbs. and I wouldn’t recommend hauling that boat to Florida with the Canyon, but from ramp to ramp in the NE, the truck would certainly be up for the task. Thanks for the question.


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