Ready For Work And Play: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

Not long ago, Off Road Xtreme had the opportunity to test drive a 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 for a week, so we are excited to bring you our first impressions. To surmise, this modern mid-size pickup truck blends rugged off-road prowess and the versatility needed for work-related demands, all while maintaining a level of premium sophistication suitable for a night out. Off Road Xtreme is here with a comprehensive review after putting the truck to the test off-road and logging some miles all around town.

Mid-Size Trucks!

It almost feels like the early 1990s when every auto manufacturer had a viable mid-size truck in the portfolio. The 2023 GMC Canyon is a not-so-small mid-size truck that has big shoes to fill from popular predecessors and goes up against heavy-handed competition. For that reason, GMC brings an all-new fully redesigned exterior and interior which shares much of the same body-on-frame platform from the second-generation GMT 31XX​​. There are some alterations like moving the front axle forward and tucking up the rear lower shock mounts. Apparently, enough difference that the 2023 GMC Canyon and 2023 Chevrolet Colorado versions were classified as the third generation of “GM’s twins” and got a new GMT 31XX-2 model code.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

Speaking of GMC Canyon vehicle generations, during our test drive around town, it was fun to drive up next to a second-generation truck to compare the vehicle in size and character. Even though this 2023 truck is basically sitting on the same frame, it looks larger and feels way more spacious with much more usable room. Oddly enough, we were able to drive alongside what appeared to be a very clean 2009 Canyon Z71 in Sonoma Red. Comparing the 2023 Canyon to the first-generation GMT355, available from 2004-2014, it is wild to see how much a “mid-size” truck has grown.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

2023 GMC Canyon Specifications

All new Canyons are powered with the high-torque, off-road-optimized 2.7L turbo high-output engine paired with the Hydra-Matic 8L80 eight-speed automatic transmission. This arrangement fetches best-in-class gas engine torque of 430 lb-ft and 310 horsepower. The Canyon AT4, Elevation, and Denali are also rated for a best-in-class maximum towing capacity of 7,700 lbs. With the AT4X that drops down to 6,000 lbs. and 5,500 lbs. on the Edition 1 Package.

Sadly, the turbocharged 2.8-liter inline-four Duramax engine rated at 181 horsepower and 369-lb/ft of torque ended availability at the end of the 2022 model year.

The 2023 Canyon AT4 sports P265/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory All/Terrain tires and the standard 2-inch factory lift. This configuration marks a substantial 9.6 inches of ground clearance.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

Other Need To Know Specifications Are As Follows:

  • Tire Size: AT4 and Elevation – P265/65R18 all-terrain / AT4X – LT285/70R17 MT
  • Ground Clearance: AT4 and Elevation – 9.6 / AT4X and AT4X Edition 1 Package – 10.7
  • Off-road Approach Angle (deg.): AT4, Elevation, and Denali – 33.3 / AT4X – 36.9
  • Off-road Departure Angle (deg.): AT4 and Elevation – 22.3 / AT4X, AT4X Edition 1 Package – 25
  • Off-road Break-Over Angle (deg.): AT4 and Elevation – 20.9 / AT4X, AT4X Edition 1 Package – 24.5
  • Curb Weight (lb.): AT4 – 4,670 / AT4X – 4,970
  • GVWR (lb.): Elevation 4WD, Denali, AT4, AT4X, and AT4X Edition 1 Package – 6,250
  • Max Payload (lb.): AT4 – 1,550 / AT4X – 1,250
  • Max Trailering (lb.): AT4, Elevation, and Denali – 7,700 / AT4X – 6,000 / AT4X Edition 1 Package – 5,500

All of that looks good on paper and in person, but does the next-generation Canyon have what it takes to conquer any terrain?

2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Dominance

This AT4 truck presents an array of off-road equipment starting with four-wheel-drive and a two-speed AutoTrac Transfer Case. In the rear differential is the Eaton Limited-slip G80 automatic locking rear differential. This feature is only available in the Drive Modes Off-Road and Terrain which means it automatically engages power to the rear tire that needs it. The truck also features a Normal and  Tow/Haul mode as well.  There is also an Advanced Hill Descent Control and some underbody skid plate protection.

Even in stock form, the 2023 Canyon AT4 test drive revealed true off-road capabilities.

The AT4X receives upgraded equipment such as high-performance Multimatic DSSV dampers, a full skid plate package, and proper power-locking front and rear differentials.

2023 GMC Canyon As Tested

Standard pricing for a 2023 GMC Canyon 4WD AT4 hits $43,900. Our 2023 Canyon AT4 press loaner, as tested, carried an MSRP total vehicle price of $49,355. Optional add-ons consisted of the $645 Volcanic Red Tintcoat, AT4 Premium Package, a Power Sliding Sunroof, and a spray-on bed liner all in for $3,960. If you need the well-equipped AT4X, get ready to pony up $55,000 or more.

Key Features:

  • 11.3-inch Diagonal Center Touch-Screen and 8-inch Diagonal Digital Driver Information Center
  • Advanced Hill Descent Control and Transfer Case Shield
  • 4WD With Automatic-Locking Rear Differential
  • Two-Speed AutoTrac Transfer Case
  • Drive Mode Selector With New Off-Road and Terrain Modes
  • MultiStow Tailgate

2023 Canyon AT4 Test Drive

The first thing that struck me when I hit the trails in the Canyon AT4 is that the vehicle fits the narrow pathway shrouded by paint-scratching thorn bushes. It was nice not to worry about damaging the paint finish like I would in a full size. I noted adequate comfort from the driver’s seat while driving off-road. The off-road-tuned Rancho shocks absorb bumps and dips, ensuring a smooth ride even on the roughest obstacles. Fitted with a robust suspension system, skid plates, and all-terrain tires, this truck handled the various terrains with ease.

“GMC is flexing the might of our off-road muscle,” said GMC Global Vice President Duncan Aldred. “Canyon benefits from key learnings gained from our AT4 strategy to bring customers the most advanced off-road midsize truck.”

The four-wheel-drive system provides a sense of control, allowing me to confidently navigate mud, gravel, or rocky landscapes. The (limited slip) Eaton G80 automatic locking rear differential ensured that power was distributed effectively to the wheels, maintaining traction in challenging conditions. Hill Descent Control added an extra layer of security, making downhill descents a controlled and stress-free experience.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

Although we never got to do any seriously puckering trail challenges like we hoped, we found some hill climbs to test the truck locally. Everything we attempted, the truck easily conquered. For more pressing obstacles you can see The Fast Lane take a similarly equipped AT4 on some technically challenging trails.

Workhorse In Disguise

Beyond its off-road prowess, the Canyon AT4 proves to be a reliable work companion. The cargo bed is equipped with tie-downs, and the available spray-on bed liner protects against scratches and dings. The truck’s payload capacity of 1,550 pounds is impressive, making it a practical choice for hauling equipment, tools, or any other work-related gear. My favorite feature is the MultiStow tailgate which offers plentiful secured storage.

The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 MultiStow Tailgate is one of our favorite features.

Under the hood, the robust turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four gasoline engine delivers ample power and enough for 7,700 pounds of towing capability. This all makes for an ideal choice for those who require a truck for both work and play. The towing capacity is substantial, allowing you to confidently hitch trailers or boats for weekend getaways.

Driving up to the job site does not have to be in a clapped-out jalopy. In my opinion, the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 makes an ideal light-duty work truck for the foreman, contractor, or inspector, but not for the tradesman who is towing obscene heavy loads.

Interior Elegance

Stepping into the Canyon AT4, you’re met with a modernly refined interior that defies the traditional rugged image of a pickup truck. High-quality materials and attention to detail create an inviting cabin that wouldn’t feel out of place in a luxury SUV. The seating is comfortable, providing support for long drives on and off the road.

My 6-foot 5-inch frame was accommodated thanks to the roomy front seat. I found the interior dimensions to be more than ample at 40.3 inches for headroom, 45.2 inches for legroom, 57.4 inches for shoulder room, and 54.7 inches for hip room. I would not enjoy sitting in the back seat for a road trip since I have bean stalks for legs.

Technological features abound, with an intuitive infotainment system that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen is responsive, and the system is easy to navigate, keeping you connected even when venturing into remote areas. Advanced safety features, such as lane departure warning and forward collision alert, add an extra layer of security to your driving experience.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

The 2023 GMC Canyon Is The First Midsize Truck Offering These Key Features

  • Available underbody cameras, including front- and rear-facing views underneath the vehicle
  • Available Head-Up Display
  • Fully digital driver information center
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
  • Available Google Built-In (Google Automotive Services)

One thing to note is that there is no actual knob, button, or switch that controls the front headlamps. The truck is set to auto from the factory and has an advanced sensor that is very sensitive. The control function can be navigated through the infotainment system with a quick light settings access function or through or more complicated click path to dial into all of the vehicle light settings.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

I consider this a built-in safety feature that will hopefully help more folks keep the lights on when needed. Even though I like having traditional knob control, the auto-light feature worked so well, there was never a time when I needed to actually turn the headlamps on or off.

Versatility For Every Occasion

One of the standout features of the Canyon AT4 is its ability to seamlessly transition from a rugged workhorse to a stylish date-night companion. The exterior design exudes strength and confidence, with bold lines and distinctive AT4 badging. The aggressive front grille and muscular fenders give the truck a commanding presence on the road.

However, it’s the careful balance struck between toughness and refinement that makes the Canyon AT4 suitable for more than just work. The comfortable interior, coupled with thoughtful design elements, creates an environment that is equally at home in urban settings. Whether it’s a night out on the town or a weekend adventure, the Canyon AT4 adapts to your lifestyle with ease.

During my 2023 Canyon AT4 test drive, I found these attributes most appealing while running errands with the family and then finished up with a date night in old town, USA. Finding a parking spot during the dinner rush might be a chore in a full-size pickup. But the Canyon made squeezing into a rather tight parking spot a painless process.

Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

2023 Canyon AT4 Test Drive: Final Verdict

In the realm of midsize pickup trucks, the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 stands out as a versatile and capable option. Its off-road prowess is undeniable, making it a top choice for those who crave adventure beyond the beaten path. Simultaneously, its work-friendly features ensure that it doesn’t shy away from the demands of a job site.

What sets the Canyon AT4 apart, however, is its ability to seamlessly blend these rugged capabilities with a refined and sophisticated interior. Hauling pallets of brick and a fussy two-year-old toddler is no big deal. The truck passed the muster of doing chores and cleaned up nicely after. It’s a truck that doesn’t compromise; it conquers both the trails and the urban landscape with equal finesse. If you’re in the market for a truck that can handle the rough and look good doing it, the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 is a compelling choice.


Dual Personality Unleashed: 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 Test Drive

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GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition Revealed

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About the author

Micah Anderson

Micah is a 20 year authority in the off-road industry with extensive experience founded on marketing, events, and racing. Professionally skilled in all things creative, Micah is passionate about faith, freedom, and anything powered by adventure.
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