2015 GMC Canyon Long-Term Review: the 'Enthusiast' Test

Stephen Elmer
by Stephen Elmer

Welcome back to our 2015 GMC Canyon long-term test. To read previous updates in the series, click here.

General Motors has not been shy about proclaiming its new midsize pickup truck twins, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, as the perfect vehicles for outdoor enthusiasts and it just so happens that I am one.

My particular method of escaping the city for the wilderness is riding atop a snowmobile, though if you would rather take kayaks or an ATV, most of the demands are the same. Putting it simply, you need a vehicle that can get you where you want to go with all of your gear comfortably in tow. And for a snowmobiler, tons of gear is part of the gig.

2015 gmc canyon long term review the enthusiast test
I like to pack my snow gear into a large plastic tote, which fits snugly on top of the back of the folded down rear seat. The 60/40 split in the rear makes it possible for me to get all of the essentials into the back while leaving admittedly cramped space for two rear-seat passengers. Adding companions to the trip would of course add gear to the trip, so it seems a duo of adventurers is about max capacity for the Canyon when the bed is full.

The limitation on space stems from the bed being fully monopolized by my 2002 Ski-Doo MXZ. Equipped with the 6’ 2” box, the sled hangs out by just over a foot with the tailgate open. The Chevy Silverado and other half-tons generally have a standard bed length around 6.5 feet, so GM’s midsizers don’t give up much in the length department compared to their larger brethren. It’s width that’s the issue.

SEE ALSO: Colorado, Canyon to Get Updated Tachometers

I need to hop the front right ski onto the wheel arch because the bed isn’t quite wide enough to accommodate my 46.1-inch wide snowmobile. The average full-size ATV is about 47 inches wide and the Canyon’s bed is 57.8-inches wide, so just about any regular size four-wheeler will fit. But there are only 44.4 inches between the tops of the wheel wells, so like the snowmobile, an ATV would have to hop one wheel over. For comparison, the Silverado offers 51.3 inches between its wheel arches, enough so that my sled or an ATV would fit comfortably.

2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLT in Bronze Alloy Metallic with accessory Assist Steps and GearOn Package
2015 GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLT in Bronze Alloy Metallic with accessory Assist Steps and GearOn Package
Of course, plenty of enthusiast activities don’t require a wide machine. Thanks to GM’s GearOn system, you can buy a bike rack that holds two bikes above the bed, leaving space underneath for gear. Kayaks and canoes can also be attached to the truck thanks to a set of bars that sit high above the bed. Specific racks for Kayaks range from $160 to $189 through GM’s accessories program, while a single bike rack can be had for $129, but there is a catch. To get these accessories, you need the GearOn cross rail setup, which will set you back $300 plus an extra $100 for hooks that you need to support the rails.

These options might not come cheap, but a carrier specific to your needs can be extremely helpful, especially because these allow you to strap your bikes or kayaks onto the truck while not taking up space in the bed. For these types of activities where the bed can be used for cargo space, loading four passengers into the truck is a viable option.

2015 gmc canyon long term review the enthusiast test
Loading is a key part of the equation when it comes to bigger machines like a snowmobile. I am currently without a good set of ramps, so I used the old-school method: a hill. This means backing the truck across my front lawn to a usable incline and putting its axle deep into the snow. Leaving the four-wheel drive system in “Auto,” the truck let the wheels spin enough to make me worried about damaging the lawn. The re-routing of power seemed slow, but of course you can avoid that by sticking the truck in full-time four-wheel drive, which got me out of the snow with little hassle, even with all-season tires.

If you plan on tackling deep snow regularly, you’ll probably want to pop off the front plastic air dam on the truck because it acts like a mini plow. Fuel economy will take a hit, but making sure you can get out of what you got in to is important.

2015 gmc canyon long term review the enthusiast test
Weighing in at around 500 lbs (plus shovel-fulls of snow to protect the bedliner) the Ski-Doo did little to strain the V6 in our Canyon. As can be expected with payload, the back end of our truck did feel a little squishier with the weight, but it actually made the overall ride softer. This was nowhere near enough weight to throw off the Canyon’s confidence and the truck carried me comfortably to the trail head.

After a day of riding, the Canyon proved a stalwart companion, leaving me with a clear impression of who these trucks are perfect for. The truck lacks the space to fit a whole crew and its gear comfortably, which means that casual enthusiasts looking to escape the city commute once a week with a friend or two and toys in tow will be best served by this small pickup. Best of all, once the truck’s back on commuting duty, it won’t kill you at the fuel pumps (more on fuel economy in an upcoming post).

Discuss this story at our Chevy Colorado Forum

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments