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Henry Payne: 'High and wide' GMC Canyon gets remake, rugged AT4X model

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The GMC Canyon is hitting the trail in fresh duds for 2023.

General Motors' premium midsize truck gains a longer wheelbase, new engine and more rugged attitude with an all-new, AT4X off-road trim. The upgrades mirror those found on its twin Chevy Colorado pickup (with which the Canyon shares a ladder-frame platform), but the Canyon steps up the swagger with more tools, more interior décor and a range-topping Denali tuxedo trim.

The Denali dresses up with a fancy chrome grille, 20-inch rims, and quilted seats for a night out at the country club. But it's AT4X that really sets the tone for Canyon's "high and wide" theme. The Canyon is wider, higher — and higher priced — than the previous model with the entry Elevation model starting at about $40,000 (compared to the previous generation's $28,595) and the AT4X stickering at $63,350.

The previous generation Canyon's off-road AT4 trim rode in the shadow of Colorado's tree-chewing ZR2 off-roader that brought Multimatic shocks, twin-locking differentials and gnarly Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain rubber.

"GMC is flexing the might of our off-road muscle," said GMC Global Vice President Duncan Aldred of the AT4X trim that first dressed the Sierra full-size pickup.

For 2023, AT4X catches up with Chevy's ZR2 offering on all counts — then adds a standard front winch for when you get too deep in the mud. Integrated into the front bumper with a front bash and light bar, the COMEUP winch leads a comprehensive re-imagining of Canyon design. The grille is a departure from the traditional, chrome-framed GMC design — the grille integrating with bodywork and standard LED headlights to emphasize the pickup's 37-degree approach angle.

 

So focused is Canyon on off-road that even Denali ditches its front air dam. Denali emphasizes off-road toughness with its high chin and front bash plate. The AT4X has three skid plates in all to complement its 10.7-inch lift.

All four trims of Canyon — including the base Elevation and AT4 models — get a widened, 3.5-inch track over last year's model for better off-road balance. The widened track is accentuated by big, blistered steel fenders on the Canyon for a muscular look. The fenders are highlighted by yellow lights — usually found on heavy-duty tow rigs — that allow drivers to better locate their fenders in the dark off road.

Vehicle width is complemented by Canyon's 3.5-inch longer wheelbase to smooth the ride on-road.

"That extra length means that benefits the AT4X, with 33-inch all-terrain tires, to ride better on-road as well as off-road," said Cory Taulbert, Canyon performance variant manager, at a media preview.

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