When my friends at General Motors suggested that I test drive the GMC Canyon, I agreed.
And then I got nervous. Big B drives a truck, and it’s a beast. I can never tell where it begins and ends — and that’s in the passenger seat. Even if I was allowed to, I dare not drive it. Heck, even the 2015 GMC Acadia felt a bit big compared to the Chevy Equinox I’ve been rocking for eight years.
So when I pulled into the parking lot where the media fleet sits and saw the gorgeous, fire-engine red 2015 Canyon, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It’s a truck — no doubt about it — but it’s compact. And with that, we installed one booster and one car seat in the second row, and spent nine days touring around the GTA.
Let’s start with how good the GMC Canyon looks: it’s hot. Could’ve been the red-hot paint, but I sure got a lot of compliments while I was in the driver’s seat. My neighbour kept saying, “You have to buy that truck. You two look so good together!” Most of the men who commented thought it was the perfect “Lady Truck” as they put it. And it is. I felt in control and loved being so high up, too. In fact, it didn’t handle all that differently than my Equinox.
Aside from looks, we were HUGE fans of the built-in WiFi, connected by OnStar. You can use up to seven devices, and the WiFi continues working even when the vehicle is turned off. This means that your kids can watch all the unboxing videos they want on YouTube, their favourite Netflix shows or play Internet-enabled games in transit without eating all of your smartphone plan’s data. If this is a must-have feature for you (which it probably should be), just keep in mind that while in 2016 all Chevrolet and Buick vehicles will have 4G LTE WiFi capabilities, if you buy a 2015 GM vehicle, it’s only available on the following models from Chevy, GMC, Buick and Cadillac, respectively:
- Malibu, Impala, Volt, Equinox, Spark, Silverado, Colorado, Sonic, Trax, Corvette, Cruze, Suburban and Tahoe
- Yukon, Terrain and Sierra
- Regal, LaCrosse, Verano and Encore
- ATS Coupe, ATS Sedan, Escalade, XTS and SRX
Gas consumption on the Canyon is FANTASTIC. We picked it up with a full tank on Thursday and the gas light didn’t come on until a full week later. This included a lot of local driving (running errands, getting kids to swimming lessons, going to the mall) and four return trips to Toronto (about 70 km each way). Filling it up didn’t kill the wallet, either. At $1.15 per litre, it took $84.44 in regular gas. Not bad.
My kids and I really appreciated the little steps outside of each door; Miss Q (age 4) could get into her car seat without any help because of it. These aren’t standard, but definitely an option I would consider if we were buying a Canyon.
Access to all of the dials and buttons in the GMC Canyon is easy peasy. Everything is within arm’s reach, either on the steering wheel, in the radio/screen area or up on the rearview mirror. And it’s all intuitive. I only had to look in the manual once during our nine-day test drive to figure something out.
Messages on the dashboard alert you to low gas, incoming calls, and more — and I really liked being able to quickly dismiss them with the touch of a button on the steering wheel.
There are several USB ports plus an iPod/MP3 device plug. This helps keep everyone connected and charged up.
OnStar assistance was speedy, friendly and mostly helpful (we’ll get to that). Each call ended with “is there anything else I can help you with today?” and I got the feeling that I could have asked them to Google something as random as the closest jewelry store and they would have obliged.
With a base price of around $36,000, the Canyon is well-priced.
Before I dive into the gaffes…let’s pause for a fabulous photo break:
OnStar directions were spotty. Two out of the three times I requested turn-by-turn navigation, the directions were wrong. Not by enough that I couldn’t see it was simply a wrong turn, but it would make me nervous to use them if I was in unfamiliar territory. The directions also aren’t as adaptable as, say, your iPhone navigation or WAZE app. Let’s say you hit traffic on the highway and pull off to take a different route — your OnStar-provided directions don’t go with the flow. They require you to either get back on your route or say “update route” when prompted. And the problem with that last bit is that the updated directions serve only to get you back on your original route.
If you’re tall (six feet or more), you’ll probably find the Canyon cockpit too small, even with the seat pushed all the way back. If you’ve got passengers in the back seat, there’s little chance you’ll be comfortable on trips longer than just a few minutes. I’m somewhere between 5’7″ and 5’8″ and it was the perfect size for me with my kids in the back. As soon as my father-in-law (who stands around 5’11”) got in, he had to move the seat way back — far enough that my kids’ feet would have nowhere to dangle.
No CD player. I know this is a new trend in vehicle design, and I’m here to say that I don’t like it. Some of us have hundreds of CDs (thanks to the Columbia Music Club of the ’90s, amirite?) and don’t necessarily load everything onto a smartphone or MP3 player. Not being able to belt out RENT tunes while in transit? Tragic.
4/5 (for those less than six feet tall)