The category of off-road pickup trucks has become so popular that manufacturers are increasing their model offerings; to such an extent that new categories have been created. As proof, the GMC Canyon AT4 was designed precisely to face a very specific niche.
While the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 rests in the extreme off-road midsize pickup category, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon type, the GMC Canyon AT4 - its mechanical twin - is more aimed at competing with lightweight off-road pickups. In other words, the Canyon AT4 mainly competes with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Nissan Frontier Pro4X and Ford Ranger Tremor.
What's new in 2022?
The 2022 Canyon lineup has received minimal changes from GMC. The Denali Black Edition is new, which sports black exterior details, including 20-inch rims and all -weather floor liners in the interior. In the 2022 Canyon lineup GMC has also changed the name of one the trims, replacing the High Elevation package from 2021 with Elevation Premium package in 2022. These are the main and minimal changes to the Canyon 2022.
As a result, in 2022 GMC offers four trims to the Canyon, starting with Elevation Standard at $27,995MSRP, Elevation $31,495 MSRP, AT4 Off-Road at $39,545 MSRP and the Denali trim starting at $42,295 MSRP.
AT4 is a name that is gaining ground in the GMC organization chart. The automaker's most recent creation to receive this aesthetic and technical treatment goes to the Canyon midsize pickup truck for the 2021 model year, following the two Sierra, Acadia and even the new Yukon vintage fresh off our roads.
Located under the Denali crest in the GMC hierarchy, the Canyon AT4 is aimed at an audience that doesn't necessarily want to be seen behind the wheel of a vehicle as chrome as possible.
Exterior of the 2022 Canyon AT4
A Canyon AT4 is distinguished from a regular Canyon by its black grille and mirrors, slightly redesigned front bumper, LED fog lights, red-painted tow hooks, model-exclusive 17-inch rims and wheel treads. 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road tires and signature body badges. The absence of any chrome component on the exterior is a hint of off-road ambiance.
The 17-inch rims are also exclusive to the AT4 package, although the black plastic apron at the base of the bumper is not designed for difficult obstacles, but rather to make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Finally, the towing hooks at the front bumper are painted red, another visual signature of Formula AT4.
GMC also improved the surface area of Canyon's grille, but this happened in 2021, stretching down. Also note the presence of larger LED fog lights. As for the rest of the exterior body, it remains faithful to the model introduced on the market in 2014 as a 2015 model.
I must add that in addition to the tires and appearance, the Canyon AT4 benefits from an additional skid plate at the transfer case, an Eaton G80 limited-slip differential, an all-wheel suspension, terrain and descent control system, an increasingly popular contraption aboard these versions designed for outdoor enthusiasts.
Life in The Interior of the 2022 Canyon AT4 Crew Cab
It's still the same good old story for the interior of the GMC Canyon. In fact, I will not be surprised if GMC makes a huge update in the 2023 Canyon. Although Canyon's interior is highly functional and properly equipped, some technologies that are now standard on the competition side, such as a start button, adaptive cruise control or a blind spot detector, are completely non-existent in the car.
We also notice a questionable quality of finish and inexpensive materials. In short, it feels like sitting in a van from another decade. But I like the simplicity. Canyon's multimedia system is very user-friendly and quick to respond, while incorporating the most recent connectivity technologies. The degree of ergonomics is also excellent. The controls are clear and easy to find.
Power and Engine
Two engine choices are available for the 2022 Canyon AT4 version: first, a 3.6-liter V6 (under test) with an output of 308 horsepower and torque of 275 pound-feet; second, a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine delivering 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The V6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the turbodiesel engine only comes with a 6-speed automatic.
In addition to off-road tires, the AT4 package adds useful components for trail adventure.. The package is convincing, however: off-road shocks, hill descent control, a 4-wheel drive system including an AutoTrac two-speed transfer case, an Eaton brand automatic locking rear differential and a skid plate for the transfer case.
When equipped with the towing package and integrated trailer brake control, the V6-powered GMC Canyon AT4 can tow up to 7,000 pounds. That figure climbs to 7,700 pounds with the turbodiesel engine. This is the highest towing capacity in its class. It's also much better than a Colorado ZR2 which is limited to 5,000 pounds.
Behind the wheel you feel a superb chassis. I like the driving experience of the 2022 Canyon AT4 and find it to be a very fit mid-size pickup truck.
The truck is manly and rigid. No matter how much I stirred it, through the worst unimaginable potholes, the Canyon did not emit any abnormal body noise. Granted, the Canyon still drives like a truck: the steering is heavy. The off-road suspension is stiff, and handling is unlike that of a sports car.
As for the performance of the powertrain, I have no complaints about it. The presence of studded tires also has an influence on the performance of the vehicle. Be aware that the Canyon AT4 is not as comfortable as the other trims. Yet, the tires do the job when the asphalt gives way to mud and rocks.
While the Canyon is far less sophisticated than some of its rivals, its driving dynamics are second to none. On the contrary, this small van is still proving to be very efficient, both in city driving and on trail.
There is a sporty feel that makes the 2022 Canyon fun to drive. Admittedly, this is a frame-mounted body, meaning it hops and wobbles as you navigate imperfections in the road, but its handling remains stable and mature despite its design. It feels light, nimble in the curves (for a pickup truck), and its power steering delivers the right amount of feedback, handy for off-road driving.
The Canyon AT4 is not for everyone, if only for its discomfort on asphalt. A lot of the blame goes to our rough roads, but let's just say this suspension has a say here. In the forest, on the other hand, this robustness pays dividends. And then, if that's not enough, there is always the ZR2 option at Chevrolet!
I can't speak of the 2022 GMC Canyon's reliability because I only test-drove it for a week for this review. The greatest qualities of the GMC Canyon remain its great flexibility in the variations offered, its competitive towing capacity and its convincing off-road prowess. It is for these reasons that the GMC Canyon remains a pickup truck that I enjoyed driving and would recommend.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.