By on August 20, 2019

2017 GMC Canyon SLT Diesel - Image: GMC

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]

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17 Comments on “An Outdoorsier GMC Canyon Waits in the Wings...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Chevy should have the off-road trims and GMC should have the sport trims (which don’t exist anywhere any longer for some reason). GM has many V8s and V6Ts they can use.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I got one of the first 2015 Colorados in my company in late 2014. I came from a Cobalt, but had plenty of previous experience driving the previous gen Colorado as they were also in our fleet. I preferred the Cobalt due to its size and maneuverability but I grew fond of the ’15 Colorado, despite its dangerously slow acceleration. The old Colorado had an impossibly huge turning radius that caused a lot of problems.

    Late last year I was contemplating moving to the beach and was looking for trucks so I could set up a tent in the back and park on it (it’s legal to drive on the beach there) and just sit and be near the ocean after work since an oceanfront house was proving to be too difficult to obtain. I wanted something small but nice and I didn’t really want 4 full doors. Obviously I had to make concession with “small.” In my searches I landed firmly on the Canyon. Everything else was either too expensive or too cheap (yet usually still pretty expensive for what you got) and the Canyon seemed to fall right in the sweet spot.

    Even the work spec version of the Chevy is a decent vehicle, and adding a few creature comforts and the V6 would probably have made it a serviceable truck for what I wanted.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    I’d wager most of these will be more useful for the zombie apocalypse than any HD off-road use. Once penile augmentation is perfected, there will be little call for these. Except for aggressive soccer moms.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Keep in mind there’ll soon be a Terrain AT4…

    Can’t wait to see that./s

    Although probably less silly than the Terrain Denali.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Nothing like a professional grade Chevrolet to prove an idiot and his money are soon parted.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    These are useless as off-road vehicles evidenced by GM insistence to use plastic bumpers that deform and pull off of the vehicle when trailing. The ZR2 is a joke that looks like a butch ISIS hauler that costs full-size money with compact sized power trains.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Bison version of the ZR2 does use steel bumpers, but it is $46K at its cheapest and all that off-road kit does tax the two available engines.

      And you can’t buy one in green any more.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Has there been a discussion on TTAC yet about the new Ford Ranger selling at about about three-quarters of the rate that the 2004 Nissan Frontier is selling over the past few months? I don’t think anyone is worrying about Ford coming up with a trim package that makes the Ranger competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      At a time when the GM design midsize is aged (and looked aged at its inception) the Ford just looks a generation old and has one engine option which would probably be dropped if offered aside a V6.

      Not to mention the Ranger is an entire size bigger than anyone yearning for a Ranger wants.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I just searched on msrps, Frontier starts just under 20 and Ranger at 24. I’m surprised the Ranger figure is even 3/4ths sales instead of 1/2, but I guess that’s the power of dealerships.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        As they said on TFL Trucks when comparing the Tacoma TRD Pro to the Frontier Pro 4X…

        “I can fix a lot of off road damage for the price difference between the Frontier and the Toyota.”

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m assuming that the Tacoma and Colorado are killing the Ranger without an average transaction price advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I know cylinder count and displacement talk elicits eye-rolls among much of TTAC, but it is possible that making a 2.3L gasoline turbo-4 the only engine offering for the Ranger is a bridge too far for truck buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the engine Ford offered is the worst possible power train solution they could have came up with. Ford would have built a much better reputation and interest by making a V8 only midsize. In this day and age 25 Highway and 20 city should be completely possible with a V8 midsizer. Priced exactly the same as the four cylinder it would have taking number 1 spot in trucks by now.

  • avatar
    JoeBrick

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

  • avatar

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

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