Margin Makers: 2021 GMC Canyon Denali, AT4 Revealed

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
margin makers 2021 gmc canyon denali at4 revealed

The upper tier of GMC’s midsize Canyon line revealed their enlarged faces Monday, heralding a similar treatment on lesser trims. Like the recent Acadia crossover, the mid-cycle refresh arriving for the 2021 model year sees the Canyon grille gain significant height, joining a revamped bumper and headlamps that mimic the larger Sierra.

Canyon also ditches the former All Terrain trim in favor of a sexier off-road-themed moniker: AT4.

First seen on the full-size Sierra, AT4 is positioned as a sub-Denali premium trim with enhanced off-road chops. It’s also a sub-brand of its own, boosting profits as it filters through the GMC lineup (AT4 recently turned up on the refreshed 2020 Acadia). In the case of the Canyon, AT4 does not net a buyer the two-inch increase in ground clearance seen on Sierra models, though it does jazz up the exterior with similar red tow hooks.

Here, the standard equipment of the All Terrain model carries over, meaning buyers can expect the same 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires wrapped around 17-inch aluminum wheels, a suspension tuned for off-road forays, GM’s advanced hill descent control system, an Eaton G80 rear automatic locking differential, and skid plates galore. Inside, things ratchet up a notch, thanks to Kalahari stitching and “AT4” embroidered onto the headrests. If you’ve shelled out extra for AT4, occupants should at least see some evidence of it.

Externally, the Canyon AT4 contrasts those red hooks with dark chrome finishes.

Moving up into the top-flight Denali (not pictured here), it seems GMC decided the lux trim needed more evidence of its own. Having piloted a pre-refresh Acadia Denali a while back, it’s no secret the trim’s interior trappings failed to live up to what one would expect of a vehicle of that price. So, for 2021 the Canyon Denali’s cabin dons open-pore wood trim, aluminum brightwork, and special stitching. Barring a full revamp of the aging midsizer, there’s only so much GMC can do.

Outside, chrome side steps, a layered grille treatment and additional chrome trim signal to passers-by that this is no regular Canyon. It’s an expensive one.

While moving up to AT4 and Denali ups the poshness, it doesn’t deliver something exclusive under the hood. Both models will continue with a standard 3.6-liter V6 rated at 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Optional is the returning 2.8-liter Duratec diesel four-cylinder, still rated at 181 hp and 369.

Still a ways off from deliveries, GMC will announce 2021 pricing — and the rest of the Canyon line — closer to its on-sale date later this year.

[Images: General Motors]

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4 of 11 comments
  • MrIcky MrIcky on Jan 13, 2020

    Nice touch that they put a Canyon Spectral in the bed of the Canyon truck. That PR hack gets a cookie.

  • Lstanley Lstanley on Jan 13, 2020

    What's the market for a mid-sized luxury pick-up? First ring suburban moms dropping off at soccer practice but also needing to go downtown to shop at a boutique? Construction project managers never needing to haul anything in the bed but still looking to tow a jet-ski? First truck for rich teenagers? Grandpa has a hobby farm? Who? Who wants a Canyon Denali?

    • See 1 previous
    • GoNavy99 GoNavy99 on Jan 14, 2020

      Gatekeeper (aka Istanley): The same people who buy Corvettes but don't have regular access to a racetrack. The same people who drive a 4 door sedan but carry only 1 person 99% of the time. Should I go on? I can - It's about personal preference in the United States - that's what you need to know.

  • FreedMike Next up: the Audi Imperial, Continental and DeVille. Much success follows.
  • FreedMike Hyundai gets it - automakers are going the haptic-touchscreeen-for-everything route because Tesla does it and Tesla's been successful, but I'd argue Tesla's success has more to do with styling and the BEV tech than it does with gimmicky dashboards. As EVs go "more mainstream," their user interfaces will need to do the same.
  • Cprescott Looks like something a 10 year old would build.
  • Cprescott In order to buy any modern BMW, you have to be blind and an idiot
  • Cprescott I predict the Lyric will be a crushing success. After the initial buyers get a hold of one, they'll end up being made into cubes to make them attractive and sold for scrap.