Review: 2021 GMC Canyon AT4
Get the details on the most off road capable GMC Canyon.
I recently was fortunate to drive around town in a 2021 GMC Canyon AT4. I am going to go through what you get when you get the keys to the truck, what the AT4 package is all about, and of course what I thought about it overall.
What you get
The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 I tested was powered by a 3.6 liter V6 engine which put out 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. A diesel option is available with the 2.8 liter Duramax turbo-diesel which puts out 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The V6 I drove was matted to a 8-speed automatic transmission controlling power down to the trucks 4-wheel-drive system.
The exterior of the Canyon is greatly changed with the AT4 trim level and even further changes with the AT4 Off-Road Performance Package. I will go into all the exterior AT4 features below, but the truck features LED headlamps, fog lamps, rear bumper corner step, and the unique red front recovery hooks.
On the interior front, the Canyon AT4 I tested came with the GMC infotainment system providing you a 8 inch color touch screen giving you access to your navigation, Apple Car Play, and Android Auto. This particular truck also featured a premium Bose audio system. For a detailed look at the interior of the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4, check out my interior walkthrough below:
What does the AT4 Off-Road Performance Package add?
The "AT4" in the Canyon AT4's name is to signify the off road nature of the trim, but there is also an AT4 Off-Road Performance Package box that can be checked when ordering the truck. The AT4 Off-Road Performance Package adds a slew of off road performance features including a 1 inch suspension leveling kit, front and mid skid plates, off road rocker panel protectors, 17 inch gloss black wheels, a gloss black exhaust tip, carbon black AT4 badges, accessory floor liners, and a spray-in bedliner.
I am a big fan of off road packages for street vehicles. Some people may see them as poser mobiles, but to me unlike where a track car never going to the track is a waste on the street or many times worse I see an off road truck/SUV as better on the road. Every option and feature added by the AT4 trim and the AT4 Off-Road Performance Package will just make a Canyon better on the road too.
I am not crazy to believe that a significant majority of AT4's will never see a trail. I wish I was wrong, but for majority the worst off road situation to deal with will be a dirt driveway. Even so, an off road suspension package is only going to better help soak up the crumbling roads you maybe driving on in your local town. All those skid plates are in my opinion overkill for on road driving, but if you have seen some of the random objects in roads like I have any extra protection is welcome on the roads or off road. The spray on bedliner is just a great truck option, nothing really to do with off road. Everything else is for looks, but looks are good.
Something unique that deserves a call out is it still has a manual key. You can remote start the vehicle and you have a key fob to lock/unlock the truck, but to start it you have to twist a manual key still. I am 50/50 on it. On the one hand, I like that this off road American truck still has a manual key, on the other hand I want my $40k truck to simply start without my fumbling in my pocket.
There is one main negative with the Canyon AT4. The Canyon model line has a cousin across the General Motors brand line over with Chevrolet with the Colorado. You can also think of the Canyon's AT4 trim as much like the ZR2 trim of the Colorado, but there is one main difference. The ZR2's big claim to fame is it comes with the unique Multimatic DSSV suspension. The shocks are so special they have only been seen on the Aston Martin One-77, Ford GT, Mercedes-AMG GT, and the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, ZL1 1LE, and of course the Colorado ZR2. The DSSV's are absent from the AT4. I think DSSV's on the Canyon AT4 would make it a 1-2 combo with the ZR2, but I get why they aren't there. You don't really want to compete with yourself.
Honestly for the money the Canyon AT4 is a top contender for mid size truck in my book. It checks all the boxes.