The 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X is precisely what the model should have always had in order to properly position itself against its twin, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. According to GM, the Canyon never received a version that was as hardcore as the Colorado because it didn’t want them to cannibalize each other. GM also sells more Colorados than Canyons in a given year, so it only made sense to prioritize the Chevy. It seems like none of these arguments matter now, because for its third generation, GM finally gave the humble Canyon the hardcore off-road model it deserves. So, is it better than the Colorado ZR2?
2024 GMC Canyon AT4X Review: The Fancier Off-Road Rig
Let’s face it, the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X is nothing more than a mechanical clone to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Both trucks received a complete overhaul last year, giving them more technology, more refinement, more power and considerably more off-road capability. Because, you know, off-road stuff sells like hot cakes these days. These midsizers are now only offered in a four-door, 5-foot bed configuration.Perhaps the best way to distinguish a Canyon to a Colorado now is by their premium promise. For instance, a Canyon comes out of the box better equipped than a Colorado, but also sold at a slightly higher price point. This method of marketing both rigs – the Colorado being the bargain basement model and the Canyon being the posh alternative – remains consistent throughout the lineup up until the trail-conquering versions. For reference, the Canyon AT4X you’re seeing in these photos kicks off at $69,725, while a Colorado ZR2 starts at $58,924. That’s a more than $10,000 gap.The main, and obvious reason for this price difference is the amount of standard equipment you’ll get from a Canyon AT4X, offered as packages on the Colorado. For instance, the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X comes standard with the Colorado’s optional wider front and rear tracks. It also offers a more extreme AEV Edition package that costs a whopping $11,895. Yes, the Colorado offers something similar called the Desert Boss Special Edition package. It’s actually more expensive ($12.695). Basically, what GM is trying to communicate with these two beasts is that the Chevy is the dune-jumper that’s available with less equipment and at a lower price point, while the the GMC comes as a turn-key, fully-loaded alternative, ready to tackle hardcore trails in a forest. At the end of the day, it’s all just marketing. The good news is although it’s expensive, you do get a lot when opting for a 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X. For starters, the old V6 engine is now a thing of the past, as is the diesel option. They’ve both been replaced by a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder, essentially the same engine that powers the Cadillac CT4-V. As a matter of fact, all Canyons come standard with the high output version of that engine, which is only available on the Colorado’s higher trim levels. It’s good here for an impressive 310 horsepower (instead of 237) and 430 lb-ft of torque (instead of 260). That engine is then mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Towing is now rated at 7,700 pounds across the lineup.In AT4X form, the Canyon gets additional equipment to make it an even more capable machine in the rough stuff. It basically kicks off where the regular AT4 stops, and cranks the volume up to 11 by adding a front locking diff, a 3.0-inch suspension lift, 33-inch factory tires (instead of 32-inch on the normal AT4) and, of course, Multimatic’s renowned spool-valve shocks (10.3 inches of travel in the front and 11.6 out back) that made the old Colorado ZR2 so special. Except, they’re now mounted outboard of the leaf springs for improved stability in the dirt. The AT4X also gives you the widest track (66.3-inch) that the Canyon lineup currently offers. The front axle was then pushed forward, giving this “small” GMC truck a 36.9-degree approach angle and 25.0-degree departure angle. Ground clearance is rated at 10.7 inches, while skid plates make sure to protect all vital components.
Always Ready To Brawl, Technologically Challenged
And it looks cool as fuck, as if the old Canyon was injected with a few cycles of testosterone then sent to a full-year training regiment designed by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. It looks mean, and ready to brawl, but it’s also a considerably more refined and capable machine than the rig it replaces. It takes in beaten surfaces with much more finesse, less cabin rattles and a lot more comfort. Its engine is also a tower of power and torque. Don’t let the four-cylinder moniker fool you as there’s more torque on tap here than any naturally aspirated V6 could ever dream of having. This engine doesn’t like to rev. Everything happens in the low to midrange areas of the powerband, which makes total sense for a pickup truck. The transmission does a fantastic job of following along.Sadly, I wasn’t able to go all-out in a hardcore off-road trail. My time with the Canyon AT4X was brief, forcing me to remain within the limits of the urban jungle. I’ll need to give it a proper drive in one of my signature trails to truly assess its improvements. But from the driver’s seat, it’s obvious that General Motors reimagined everything about this midsize truck, proving once more that these things are no longer the small utilitarian machines they once were. They’re serious go-anywhere beasts which, at times, prove to be more capable than their full-size alternatives.But being able to take on a serious trail is nothing new in this segment. Everyone now claims to build the ultimate midsize rig, and some would argue that a simple Nissan Frontier Pro-4X can get you where you need to go these days. Off-road cred in the midsize truck world has become a piss contest. What I wanted to know, rather, was if the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X was a good truck to live with on a daily basis.Turns out it is, because its cabin is a full generation better than that of its dated predecessor in terms of general comfort and technology. It’s also really good looking in there, with neat contrasting colors and upscale materials that help justify its rather inflated price tag.The new Canyon/ Colorado brothers are also much larger inside, thanks to a longer wheelbase and wider tracks. You no longer feel cramped when seating three in the back as it’s now a true five-seater truck, with a generous amount of head and legroom back there.I tell you, it feels great to see the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X arrive in the 21st century, complete with a fully digital gauge cluster than can also be customized to your liking, or an infotainment system that updates itself remotely while boasting neat graphics and features. It all looks rather dashing, too, giving this adventure buddy a sense of sophistication it never really had before.My issue with the technology inside is that one, it’s not particularly quick to react. Even the instrument cluster lags when shifting from one layout to the next. Things become a tad more frustrating when you realize that simple commands, like headlights or fog lights, can only be operated through the infotainment system. That system is also not as easy to navigate as what GM has gotten us used to. During the week I had the Canyon, the screen froze twice.Of course, these issues can and will eventually be corrected through the magic of over-the-air updates, but it had me wondering if a midsize truck really needs that many toys. That’s where the Frontier makes a lot more sense, by giving truck buyers what they need, not shoving stuff they don’t want down their throats.That all being said, it’s worth mentioning how impressive the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X is now. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I rarely do comparison tests, but rather review each vehicle independently. I’ll need to try some of the Canyon’s refreshed competitors, such as the new Toyota Tacoma or the updated Ford Ranger, to really assess its competence. But so far, consider me very impressed.
Review of the 2024 GMC Canyon AT4X by William Clavey
- Serious off-road capability.
- Turbo engine has plenty of grunt.
- Refined, sophisticated and well appointed.
- One of the most expensive trucks in the segment.
- Comes in only one cabin/bed configuration.
- No other engine options.
8 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: GMC Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]