By on August 11, 2020


The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gain arguably overdue refreshes for 2021, ensuring continued consumer traction amid boosted competition from rivals. The midsize pickup segment has grown, and not just in volume.

Joining the GM duo and perennially popular Toyota Tacoma last year was the Ford Ranger; meanwhile, Nissan’s long-awaited Frontier revamp lands for ’21.

Word is that the Canyon, which sees a new AT4 trim for the new model year, will don extra goodies by year’s end. Good news for a truck that’s increasingly playing second fiddle to its bowtie-wearing sibling.

According to GM Authority, the uplevel, off-road oriented Canyon AT4 will gain a Special Edition sometime later in the 2021 model year, potentially adding modest rough-and-tumble goodies from the scuppered Off-Road Performance Edition package expected to appear for ’21.

Should this comes to pass, it’s an opportunity for GM to boost the truck’s margins with readily available add-ons.

Besides the new AT4 trim, which replaces the former All Terrain model, the Canyon sees carryover powertrains and a bolder front end that better mimics the larger Sierra. Since going on sale as a 2015 model, the current-generation Canyon soon saw the gap between it and the Colorado widen as midsize pickup sales (like that of larger segments) took off.

In 2015, GM’s midsize pickup sales amounted to 114,507 units, of which 26.3 percent (or 30,077 units) were Canyon. While Canyon volume stayed relatively stable, reaching a high point the following year (37,449), Colorado sales kept climbing, reaching 134,842 units in 2018, or roughly 50,000 units more than in 2015. Last year, Canyon volume (32,825 units) amounted to 21.2 percent of GM’s midsize truck sales.

At the halfway point in 2020, as GM, like all automakers, weighed the impact of the pandemic-related lockdowns on its sales ledger, the gap grew further. Sales through the end of June fell 36.7 percent for the Colorado and 48.5 percent for the Canyon. In this time frame, the General unloaded just 9,709 Canyons to the Colorado’s 41,273 units, meaning Canyon’s year-to-date slice of GM’s midsize mix was just 19 percent.

With increased consumer spending and improved inventory in the second half of the year, that relationship could change. The new midsizers kicked off production in June, with the models rolling into dealerships in recent days. New faces are good, but in the Canyon’s case, it still won’t be able to offer something on the same level as the Colorado ZR2.

[Image: General Motors]

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17 Comments on “Report: GMC Canyon AT4 to Gain Special Edition As GM’s Midsize Pickup Gap Widens...”

  • avatar

    Looks to me like GM is doing everything possible that’s wrong for the segment. A pity. There’s not one single thing I like about the reported changes to the GMC Canyon.

    • 0 avatar

      The only thing I see reported is that mainly they are just bringing it more in line with the other current GMCs. The only significant change seems to be the addition of a package that in theory increases the off-road capability or at the minimum increases the appearance of greater off-road ability.

      Updating the look is not the wrong thing to do, sure you might find it less attractive than the old one, but others might think it at least looks more modern if not better. Adding high margin packages/trim levels is also not the wrong thing to do.

      • 0 avatar

        @Scoutdude: Less attractive, bigger, bulkier, less efficient… everything wrong.

        The article makes it patently clear that the Colorado is the more attractive to buyers. Why can’t they realize their thinking is backwards with the GMC Canyon?

        • 0 avatar

          It is not bigger, bulkier or less effecient. It may look bigger and bulkier but it is the same truck with a new look. Power trains are carry over and I seriously doubt that the aerodynamics have changed enough to lower the MPG.

          You and the writer of the article fail to look at and understand the big picture.

          The reason for the change in the mix of the two brands is the virus. Retail sales were stopped in many areas, and even if they were closed by law many potential retail buyers stayed home.

          Meanwhile the fleet buyers who ordered their trucks long enough before the shut down had them produced and took delivery of them. Fleet are much more likely to order a Chevy instead of a GMC, in part due to tradition since they used to by Chevy cars, not Buicks.

          So once the mix of retail vs fleet returns to somewhat normal levels I’m sure the mix will return to basically what it had been before.

          • 0 avatar

            Appearances are always important, especially with trucks. 90% of the people who buy a truck today choose the one they do less on real capabilities and more on what capabilities are perceived by the viewer. That’s obviously why the Canyon LOOKS so truckish. Yet, for whatever reason, the Colorado is 3x more popular, despite having nearly all of the same specs as the Canyon. The difference in price isn’t enough to keep people who want a ‘trucky’ appearance away.

            And as much as I dislike Ford, I will at least look at the Courier/Maverick when it comes out; even if I don’t buy.

          • 0 avatar

            The reason the Chevy it 3x more popular is because most fleets buy Chevy not GMC and for the retail buyers there are far more Chevy dealers than their are Buick-GMC dealers. The same holds true for the full size trucks, they Chevy far outsells the GMC.

          • 0 avatar

            Considering how many Buick/GMC dealers are directly attached to the local Chevy dealer, I find that reasoning difficult to accept. Even when they’re not directly attached, they’re usually within a city block of the Chevy dealer… and that takes into account every Chevy dealer within about 50 miles of where I currently live and where I used to live before moving over 650 miles from there to here. In fact, in one place I know, nearly every brand we know and have talked about on these forums has a dealership within an area less than one-mile-square. That includes Mercedes, BMW and all BUT the most expensive brands. Oh, and that property is only about three miles as the crow flies from a major German car factory that is itself in the process of expanding to meet BEV plans and has its railcars switched by the local tourist railroad/museum.

          • 0 avatar

            Well then the dealer distribution is far from the average in your area. Heck there have been years where there was a state where the full size GMC pickup was the best seller, ahead of Chevy and Ford. But overall that is not the case.

            There are 6 Chevy dealers in a 20-30 minute drive from my house but only 2 Buick-GMC dealers in the same radius. None of them are colocated with a Chevy dealer though there are Chevy dealers not far from those Buick dealers that do exist.

  • avatar

    You know the LS/LT V8 engine has to be cheaper to manufacture than the DOHC V6.
    Just put it in there already.

    • 0 avatar

      As was mentioned by at least one of the B&B in another thread – keep the diesel but make the Canyon/Colorado lineup 2.7 ltr Tri-power, 4.3 DI V6, and 5.3 V8 from the Silverado/Sierra.

      The past year or so I’ve seen one of the 5.3 V8 Colorados from the previous generation running around town. That engine was the only reason to buy that tin-can of a truck.

      • 0 avatar

        “make the Canyon/Colorado lineup 2.7 ltr Tri-power, 4.3 DI V6, and 5.3 V8 from the Silverado/Sierra.”

        I think that is too much overlap for the volume. They should just do the 2.7T for the Vulpine types, make the 6.2L an available option, and keep a diesel around for those weirdos.

        • 0 avatar

          I’d endorse getting rid of the diesel because I think it’s for the weirdos as well.

          The turbo 4 in the Ranger seems to be the thing that reviews like the most about the truck, the nitpicking comes with the interior, price, and a few of the features.

          6.2 is too much for the midsize especially given how hard GM makes you work to find a 6.2 in the full size. Heck the Tahoe RST doesn’t even come standard with the 6.2 (which is a crime BTW.)

        • 0 avatar

          @ajla: I think I’ve made it pretty clear by now that I don’t support using a tiny turbo engine if there’s any chance of towing something that weighs as much as the tow vehicle or more. I’ve seen what happens when a turbo blows and a 2.7 L4 is NOT going to have the strength to handle the truck AND a similarly-weighted trailer when that happens.

    • 0 avatar

      @indi500fan: I’m quite happy with a mere 300 horses and 310(or so) torque. I don’t want or need a bigger engine. If I want to go that way, give me 120kWh and at least two Tesla axle motors totaling 500+ horses and enough torque to challenge an 18-wheeler.

  • avatar

    I saw two Colorado’s working hard on the street during lunch today. Sneaking in and out of traffic, covering themselves behind larger trucks, pulling in on red curbed corners to wait for other cars to make moves…

    They were both serving as Parking Enforcement vehicles in a busy town center.

  • avatar

    Why would anyone want such a hulk of a vehicle as a daily driver. I would have more joy owning either a Sonic or Mirage than this monstrosity.

    • 0 avatar

      @akear: Believe it or not, despite owning a Colorado now, I agree with you whole-heartedly; today’s trucks are much too large, as are the truck-based SUVs built on those chassis.

      That said, Sonic and Mirage (outside of the newer CUV) are both gone. I don’t like large but I also don’t feel comfortable in most truly small vehicles (excepting the Fiat 500, which was just bloomin’ FUN to drive!)

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