Ace of Base: GMC Canyon 2WD SL

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base gmc canyon 2wd sl

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

For years, there’s been a chorus cry from the internet: “Buyers can’t get a simple pickup truck anymore!” Well into the ‘90s, customers could waltz into many a dealer and drive off in a Spartan, four-cylinder, stick shift, rear-wheel-drive pickup with the footprint of a Twinkie.

Toyota doesn’t sell ‘em anymore. Buyers looking there for a four-cylinder stick have to pop for a 4×4. Nissan’s powertrain combo fits the bill, but its sub-$20,000 base price forgoes A/C and a radio, just like a 1987 Toyota Tercel EZ. What to do then? Surprisingly, we look to the General, which offers its Colorado and Canyon twins in poverty spec, yet still sees fit to include a few unexpected features.

The SL trim on GMC’s Canyon is an extended cab layout with the rear seat binned. Just as well, since the things are as upright and uncomfortable as a church pew. Use the space to store your testosterone-laden power tools, which you totally have because you’re buying a truck, right?

The four-pot 2.5-liter cranks out 200 horsepower funnelled through a six-speed manual and a 4.10 rear axle. With a light and unladen box, smoky burnouts should happen with ease. Vinyl covers the floor, allowing for a hosing out before a night on the town. The $0 Onyx Black paint looks sharp while the $0 Summit White will grant you access to all the construction sites in town because everyone will think you’re a contractor.

A backup camera, a feature sadly absent from my own six-year-old Ram 1500, appears at this price point and will surely help with trailer-hookup duties. Hitching the family camper solely with voice commands and hand gestures is a test of marital strength (at least in the Guy household). When not providing an aft view, the color 4.2-inch infotainment unit pumps out tunes through six speakers. Buyers of the original Nissan Hardbody never had it so good.

Paradoxically, the spare tire has a diameter two inches greater than its actual wheels, proving the scales of economy in a big company, as do standard power windows, tilt steering wheel, and power driver’s seat. GM’s beancounters — famous for cutting content to the bone — appear to have helped the situation at this end of the spectrum.

If the GMC’s standard equipment LED headlight mascara on this $21,880 is too feminine for your macho tastes, try on an equivalent Bowtie and save $885. That’ll buy you a few power tools.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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2 of 73 comments
  • DenverMike DenverMike on Aug 31, 2016

    Why no exterior shots of this stripper model? Steel wheels on skinny tires or no? Black bumpers on white trucks? All the pics I found on-line are SLE glamour shots.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 31, 2016

    The front bumpers are the same color as the body and the rear bumpers are chrome. The strip version of these trucks do not look that bad and are far from the definition of yesterday's stripper truck. Also the Base model of the Colorado/Canyon comes in white, black, and silver which I have no trouble with and have a preference for silver which I had on another truck and liked The only option I would add would be the block heater for the Winter. Big Al I prefer the looks of the Colorado but I don't mind the looks of the Canyon which looks more like a smaller Sierra. The Colorado/Canyon would be my first choice in the Base trim with the 6 speed manual in silver.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.