An Outdoorsier GMC Canyon Waits in the Wings

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Adventurous types looking for off-road fun from their local GM dealer already have the option of choosing the brawny Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and its butchier Bison variant, which leaves GM’s truck-only GMC brand as something as a spectator. GMC hasn’t gone whole-hog into the off-road midsizer niche, though it does offer its Canyon pickup in All Terrain trim. Cutaway front fenders are most definitely not included.

The same dynamic may exist after 2020, but the All Terrain will be gone, replaced with an AT4 trim that hopefully goes the extra mile in terms of off-the-beaten-track capability.

According to details blabbed by GMC at a recent first drive event, the Canyon gains GMC’s AT4 trim line for 2021, GM Authority reports. A teaser view of the upcoming lux-brawn truck was shown at the Wyoming event, bearing no shortage of front-end camo.

Can midsize truck fans expect the same treatment as the ZR2? Not likely; the more likely reason for the camo is simply because, as the publication recently learned from insider sources, the mildest of refreshes — so mild, it seems, that GM ‘s apparently not even calling it one — is on the way for 2021. The upcoming Canyon AT4 may just bear the updated grille born of this mid-cycle tweak.

AT4 is not a snorkel-sporting TRD, nor is it ZR2, but it does give a GMC truck added brush-beating content (heavily dependent on model, of course. Keep in mind there’ll soon be a Terrain AT4). Debuting on the new-for-2019 Sierra, AT4 represents a step down from Denali in terms of interior niceties, with the full-sizer gaining a two-inch lift and Rancho monotube shocks. Skid plates abound.

Having made so much coin off its Denali sub-brand, GMC saw no reason not to add a second. Within a year, AT4 will be a brand-wide offering.

And the Canyon AT4 will surely follow in the same vein as its larger stablemate, though what buyers can expect in terms of ride height remains to be seen. Certainly, the AT4 will be an upgrade over the existing Canyon All Terrain both inside and out, and its price will surely reflect this.

The question of whether a Canyon AT4 will stimulate additional interest in the model is also unanswered at this point. Compared to its Chevy twin, the Canyon lags well behind in popularity — not unexpected, given GMC’s premium pretensions. Still, “less popular” is okay as long as sales remain stable.

The Colorado and Canyon reportedly still have four years left in their current form, and while Canyon sales rose 12 percent in the first half of 2019, Ford’s rival Ranger has a laundry list of trims waiting to challenge the GM siblings. This wasn’t a concern when the current-gen GMs debuted.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • TheDumbGuy TheDumbGuy on Aug 20, 2019

    All of these expensive, pretty trucks. For gentleman farmers and twice-a-year handymen. Ah, that is the life ! Did I say expensive ?

  • Akear Akear on Aug 20, 2019

    This is yet another cheaply built GM truck with a fisher price-level interior.

  • Kosmo Love it. Can I get one with something other than Subaru's flat four?
  • M B When the NorthStar happened, it was a part of GM's "rebuilding" of the Cadillac brand. Money to finance it was shuffled from Oldsmobile, which resulted in Olds having to only facelift its products, which BEGAN its slide down the mountain. Olds stagnated in product and appearances.First time I looked at the GM Parts illustration of a NorthStar V-8, I was impressed AND immediately saw the many things that were expensive, costly to produce, and could have been done less expensively. I saw it as an expensive disaster getting ready to happen. Way too much over-kill for the typical Cadillac owner of the time.Even so, there were a few areas where cost-cutting seemed to exist. The production gasket/seal between the main bearing plate and the block was not substantial enough to prevent seeps. At the time, about $1500.00 to fix.In many ways, the NS engine was designed to make far more power than it did. I ran across an article on a man who was building kits to put the NS in Chevy S-10 pickups. With his home-built 4bbl intake and a 600cfm Holley 4bbl, suddenly . . . 400 horsepower resulted. Seems the low hood line resulted in manifolding compromises which decreased the production power levels.GM was seeking to out-do its foreign competitors with the NS design and execution. In many ways they did, just that FEW people noticed.
  • Redapple2 Do Hybrids and be done with it.
  • Redapple2 Panamera = road porn.
  • Akear What an absurd strategy. They are basically giving up after all these years. When a company drinks the EV hemlock failure is just around the corner.