Exactly why Ford and Dodge (now Ram) gave up on the small truck market is difficult to surmise. There’s a sizeable market for smaller trucks after all, evidenced by key models like Toyota’s Tacoma…

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
The 2017 GMC Canyon looks fabulous in black, not to mention 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Exactly why Ford and Dodge (now Ram) gave up on the small truck market is difficult to surmise. There’s a sizeable market for smaller trucks after all, evidenced by key models like Toyota’s Tacoma and General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. For this reason it’s equally odd that Nissan hasn’t redesigned its Frontier pickup in so long it should be facing child abandonment charges.

Rubbing salt in blue oval brand’s wound, the Ranger was once the bestselling pickup truck in the compact class, as was the Dakota in its slightly larger mid-size segment. I’m not sure if the Frontier ever held the top spot, although Datsun probably did back in the ‘70s when my dad, my sister, and just about everyone else owned a “Sportruck”.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
The stylish mid-size Canyon offers plenty of trim options as well as highly efficient turbo-diesel power. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, the only brands suffering from this lack of investment are Nissan, Ram and Ford. Ford and Ram will argue their clients are merely purchasing lower end versions of their F-150 and 1500 pickups respectively, but Nissan’s Titan doesn’t attract enough buyers to make such a claim. As it is, Nissan could only find 2,293 Frontier buyers over the first six months of 2017, whereas Honda’s all-new Ridgeline managed a much healthier 2,579. Next in line was this very GMC Canyon that sold 2,792 units at the close of Q2, whereas its badge-engineered Chevy Colorado sibling managed 3,583 deliveries. Altogether, General Motors sold 6,375 collective examples of both trucks, which are pretty well identical under the skin, resulting in 61 more than the total number of Toyota Tacomas delivered over the same six months—6,314 if you’d rather not pull up your calculator app. I think congratulations are in order, or maybe such applause comes a bit early being that the year was only half over when I tallied up these numbers.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
The Canyon’s optional 2.8-litre turbo-diesel makes 369 lb-ft of torque yet gets a claimed 10.3 L/100km combined. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Still, I can’t help but give GM a big pat on the back every time I test one of its new mid-size pickup trucks. Just take a look at this GMC Canyon in its 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain setup. I think it looks great, and always enjoy spending time behind the wheel thanks to its class-exclusive turbo-diesel four-cylinder powerplant, the type of engine Toyota should be putting into its Tacoma and Nissan needs to consider for its long overdue Frontier replacement.

I spend a lot of time in and around Metro Manila, Philippines, my second home (Antipolo City to be exact), and have witnessed all the diesel trucks on offer. The Ford Ranger mentioned earlier is easily one of the best looking trucks there or anywhere, also diesel powered, whereas the Asian-spec Navara is the pickup Nissan should’ve imported to North America along with its fuel-efficient turbo-diesel powerplant. The Philippine-market Toyota pickup is dubbed Hilux and diesel-powered as well, while Chevy also sells a diesel-powered Colorado in the Philippines, although the rebadged Isuzu D-Max isn’t even close to North America’s Colorado.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
The Canyon delivers a well organized cabin with some truly top-tier equipment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Diesel power is the first reason I’d recommend our Canadian-spec Canyon or Colorado to truck buyers here, even over the Tacoma. Some Canadians might pretend that fuel economy isn’t as big an issue now as it was before the oil crash, but a quick study of our current economic situation will show that it’s even more important to find economical transportation now than it was then, especially in a smaller, less-expensive pickup class that’s likely being purchased for financial reasons first and foremost. Last week pump prices rose to more than $1.40 per litre in my part of the country, which is considerably higher than just before the bottom fell out of big oil. What’s more, the majority of Canadians should be well aware how these low oil prices hit our collective Canadian gross domestic product (GDP) bottom line, not to mention the wallets of many Canadians’ personally, plenty which come from parts of the country where pickup trucks are a larger percentage of the market, such as Alberta, so it’s probably not a good time to be loose with our fuel budgets.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
This is one of the best infotainment systems in the mid-size pickup class, while auto climate control is a nice upgrade too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for where the Canyon and Colorado fit within the overall scheme of things, let’s face the fact that most buyers would rather own a full-size Sierra or Silverado than anything midsize. Bigger trucks deliver more space, performance and functionality, albeit at a higher price. This need to target entry-level pickup buyers is exactly why the smaller Colorado and Canyon exist, but before I go on let’s make sure we’re both perfectly clear about why these two trucks are succeeding in a market segment where others have failed miserably: they’re sensational.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I happen to think both trucks look great. I’m a bit more partial to the Canyon that Colorado, unless the latter is upgraded to new ZR2 off-road race truck spec. Interestingly, styling might matter more amongst pickup trucks than the sports car market, buyers in this sector wooed by rugged designs that appear like they could trek across seemingly impassable terrain as if they were domesticated equivalents of an M1A2 Abrams tank, or in the case of this smaller pickup something along the lines of the now-discontinued M551 Sheridan.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
Comfortable powered seats? An upcoming review will reveal all. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Adding an oil-burning variant only ups their go-anywhere character, the 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel under my 2017 Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain tester’s sculpted hood capable of a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm, not to mention a very efficient 12.0 L/100km in the city, 8.2 on the highway and 10.3 combined. It makes 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm too, incidentally, but that’s not as important a number in pickup truck circles, where useable towing twist is king for some and the ability to delve deeper into the wilderness on a single tank of fuel reigns supreme for others.

Another GM pickup game-changer is the CornerStep-infused rear bumper, an intelligent design that adds handy toe cutouts to the corners of the back bumper to ease smaller statured and/or maturing folks up onto the cargo bed with more grace and less potential bodily harm, the latter especially relevant when wet weather transforms the otherwise tiny rounded nubs at each corner of every competitive truck’s rear bumper into a slippery accident waiting to happen.

2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain
GM’s intelligently designed CornerStep bumper is a key dealmaker. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve said too much, this being an “In Our Garage” story and all. Then again there’s plenty more that makes the Canyon worthy of your attention, all of which I’ll go over at length in my upcoming road test review. Until then take a glance at the photo gallery for some details, my 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain nicely outfitted with 17-inch alloys, a Z71 off-road suspension, skid plates, body-colour bumpers, side steps, remote start, powered and heated front seats, auto climate control, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming audio, voice activation, satellite radio, four USB ports, OnStar 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, plus a sliding rear window, a tow package, etcetera.

Come back soon to get my take on how all this gear works, how it’s all put together, plus how this particular diesel-powered Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain drives…

Remember when full-size truck-based SUVs were the environmental equivalent of the antichrist? Hummer was the “Chucky” poster child brand of everything automotively evil, and its 2010 demise at least…

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
The 2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali looks positively rich with its massive chrome grille, 22-inch chrome wheels, and gorgeous optional White Frost Tricoat paint. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Remember when full-size truck-based SUVs were the environmental equivalent of the antichrist? Hummer was the “Chucky” poster child brand of everything automotively evil, and its 2010 demise at least partially due to socially falling out of favour with the do-gooder elite that helped it get a foothold in the mainstream market in the first place.

That would be pre-California governator Arnie Schwarzenegger in the driver’s seat, the real Col. John Matrix even influencing the design of GM’s Tahoe/Yukon-based H2 before turning up personally to introduce it in concept form at the 2001 New York auto show. Not long after it became politically incorrect to be seen in anything so carelessly gluttonous with fossil fuels (he first ran for governor in 2003 and was elected in 2006), a photo of Arnold spinning a globe of the world on his finger with the words “Save the Planet — Or Else” on the cover of Newsweek comes to mind. His environmental scorecard wasn’t exactly agent orange, but then again it wasn’t anywhere near as green as predecessor Gray Davis’ agenda, or for Jerry Brown that both preceded and immediately followed, but the True Lies star had to at least look more steward than predator.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Long? This Ohio-class SUV needs a nuclear reactor of its own. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Not anymore. Arnold drives an even bigger military grade Hummer H1 now, while relatively cheap gas and even cheaper money has caused a spike in the number of big SUVs leaving domestic and imported brand showrooms. Only Toyota’s Sequoia (What’s that you ask?) has taken a downturn in recent years, with every other full-size mainstream branded SUV having had its best year in a very long time in 2016, if not its best year ever. GM dominates this segment, with 10,681 Chevy Tahoes/Suburbans and GMC Yukons down the road last year, while the next-best Ford Expedition found just 3,729 buyers. Nissan’s new Armada saw considerable growth in 2016 with 716 sales, whereas the aforementioned Sequoia dropped to 697 units.

Here in Canada, GMC regularly outsells Chevrolet in the full-size SUV category, with last year’s totals being 5,446 units compared to 5,235, whereas it’s a much bigger gap in the opposite direction in the U.S. market where Chevy sold a total of 163,388 Tahoes and Suburbans to GMC’s 90,501 Yukons for a much greater per capita total of 253,889 units. Just for fun, can you guess how many plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles sold during the same 12 months? Out of 30 unique offerings, U.S. sales totalled a mere 159,139 units, and that’s after baiting customers with mega government handouts. So much for the environmental movement hitting the mainstream.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
There’s lots to love about the Yukon XL Denali, including a full 14 inches of wheelbase and 20 inches of extra length over the regular Yukon. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To GM’s credit its Chevrolet Volt was a major player on that list of 30 plug-in models, while the new Bolt EV is a very real, affordable electric that consumers can buy now—no jab at Tesla intended. These (likely) money-losing bowtie projects are funded by the aforementioned high-profit SUVs, as well as even higher profit pickup trucks, ultra-popular crossover SUVs, and a number of strong selling conventionally powered cars (the new Malibu is superb, by the way), which is just another reason for Arnie and company to embrace the big SUV.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully respect and appreciate Arnold Schwarzenegger; I loved Hummer, especially the final H2 and H2 SUT while rock-crawling around Aztec, New Mexico in 2008; and I adore the Yukon, especially this mammoth Yukon XL, GMC’s version of the 14-inch extended-wheelbase Chevy Suburban, making both 20 inches longer overall and more than doubling cargo capacity behind the third row. The Denali is even better, coming close to the ultimate Cadillac Escalade ESV experience without the, “In yo’ face mutha f…” hip-hop star attitude.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
The Denali comes very well stocked with luxury and convenience features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Its massive 420-horsepower 6.2-litre V8 feels like it’s got enough twist on tap to spin the world in the opposite direction when accelerating westward, its standard 275/55R20 or even meatier as-tested 285/45R22 rubber churning asphalt from all four corners via an efficient eight-speed automatic fed by 460 lb-ft of torque. Despite pushing 2,605 kilos (5,743 lbs) of bulk it feels light on its feet, but I best not go into driving dynamics details before the upcoming road test or this wouldn’t be a “Garage” teaser story, now would it?

I will fill you in on some 2017 updates, mind you, a new “Teen Driver” feature allowing some parental guidance when the big ute is out of site with kids at the wheel. Safety issues in mind, low-speed forward automatic braking is now optional on lesser models and standard with the Denali, while all trims get new active front aero shutters to improve highway economy.

I thought you’d never ask. The Yukon XL is five-cycle Transport Canada rated at 15.1 L/100km city and 10.4 highway with the base 5.3-litre V8 and RWD, while that engine with 4WD is good for a claimed 15.2 city and 10.8 highway. The as-tested Yukon XL Denali gets a 16.0 L/100km city and 11.7 highway rating, which is actually pretty good compared to some full-size SUV rivals.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Do you think you might fit in? You’d need to be 251-cm (8-foot-2.8-inch) tall Sultan Kösen to feel cramped, not Arnold who’s “only” 188 cm (6-foot-1.6). (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Other than the obvious chromed styling enhancements and larger engine, multi-speedier transmission, standard 4WD configuration, and 20-inch rims, the XL Denali gets a standard magnetic ride control suspension, heavy-duty trailering package with an integrated trailer brake controller, transmission oil cooler, HID headlights with auto high beams, fog lamps, an acoustic laminated windshield, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, chrome-accented assist steps, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a unique leather-clad interior, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front memory seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door remote, tri-zone auto climate control, 8.0-inch customizable colour TFT driver information display, a head-up display that projects key info on the windshield, a rear parking camera, OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, active noise cancellation, 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround audio, HD and satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with lane change alert and lane keep assist, forward collision alert, a safety alert driver’s seat, power-folding third-row seats, a powered liftgate, and plenty more.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Cargo space? Unless you’re hauling a house you’ll probably be ok. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My stunning White Frost Tricoat-painted tester, an $1,195 option, was completely loaded up past the Yukon XL Denali’s reasonable $82,290 asking price, with gorgeous $3,195 22-inch six-spoke chromed “Multi-Feature Design” alloys, plus $1,920 power-retractable assist steps that neatly tuck up within the rockers to look like a nice strip of chromed trim.

Additionally, a $2,900 (including a $795 option credit) Open Road package added a powered glass sunroof up front and a ceiling-mounted flip-down Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system in back, the latter with Wi-Fi wireless projection capability, a remote, four pair of two-channel wireless digital headphones, a cluster of auxiliary HDMI/MHL audio/video inputs, two rear USB ports, plus nine months of SiriusXM radio and NavTraffic service. Not so obvious but appreciated even more was $1,095 worth of adaptive cruise control with the fortunately unsung benefit of Automatic Collision Preparation, which replaced the previously noted standard Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking with full forward collision mitigation. There was more, adding $11,350 in options for a new total of $93,640 before freight and fees, but we’ll leave it there.

Come back soon for experiential details from the driver’s seat, plus the good, the bad, and the… no there’s nothing ugly inside, the pros and cons of its infotainment touchscreen, switchgear quality, overall comfort levels, load-holding, load-hauling and towing specifics, and anything else I can think of adding. Until then, don’t go and buy a Sequoia…

At almost 3 tons the Yukon Denali needs all 420-hp from its 6.2L V8, but rest assured it’s plenty quick and even more luxurious. Standard kit in this $77k SUV includes an 8-speed auto, HID headlamps,…

2016 GMC Yukon Denali 4WD Road Test Review

GMC is on a bit of a roll lately. OK, that's an understatement. While last year's U.S. sales were the best in more than a decade, its Canadian numbers were better than at any time in recent memory (we could only find records going back to 2002). What's more, General Motors' truck and SUV division is by far more popular in Canada than it is in the States, at least per capita.

U.S. sales were 558,697 during calendar year 2015, while Canadians purchased 85,757 GMC models, the full-size Sierra pickup truck line by far the most popular with 53,727 deliveries, followed by the Terrain with 10,844, Savana with 6,809, Acadia with 6,452, Canyon with 4,635, and this Yukon finding 1,711 regular wheelbase buyers plus 1,579 long-wheelbase XL customers. At a glance the Yukon's sales don't look all that significant compared to some of the others in GMC's lineup, but we first need to factor in the model's combined short- and long-wheelbase totals that resulted in 3,290 units last year, and then Read Full Story
The stylish new GMC Canyon is now available with the SLE Crew Cab Nightfall Edition, complete with black paint, a body-colour grille, special 18-inch rims, chrome exhaust tips, remote start, a rear window…

2016 GMC Canyon SLE Crew Cab 4WD Nightfall Edition Road Test Review

Do you think kids still debate over which two GM pickup trucks look better? Chevy or GMC? I was a city kid too, but I spent many a weekend and much of each summer enjoying the great outdoors, and when discussing with my friends at school or brother at home I always chose GMC over the bowtie brand, not that there was much else different about the two models. The same applies today, with my personal preference and GMC, although now there are two pickup truck nameplates within each brand.

Back in the '70s only Chevy offered a compact pickup dubbed Luv, which was cute but nothing a real truck fan could get excited about. The Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma that arrived in 1982 were quite a bit stronger and tougher looking albeit still compacts, whereas the larger and much more attractive first-generation Colorado and Canyon pickups didn't come along until 2004. After an extremely long initial lifecycle, briefly interrupted by a two-year hiatus between 2012 and 2014, the Colorado and Canyon Read Full Story
Is the updated Terrain Denali a premium SUV? With a base of more than $42k it’s pricier than every luxury-badged rival except the 4 Germans and then only $235 less than Audi’s bestselling Q5. GMC…

2016 GMC Terrain Denali AWD Road Test Review

I walk up to my Terrain loaner and immediately notice the big chrome grille up front and bold "DENALI" lettering down the side of the front door, which I must say has me a bit excited. I remember hearing that GM was updating this model and, while the previously one hadn't fully impressed, I was looking forward to putting less than ideal memories to rest. After all, Denali is GMC-speak for luxury, a word that carries a lot of swagger in pickup truck circles.

General Motors considers Denali a premium sub-brand and prices its various models accordingly, my tester just ten bucks shy of $49k with freight and pre-delivery prep included, or more specifically $42,365 for the base Terrain Denali plus $4,925 in options, which include the stylish White Frost tri-coat paint at a whopping $1,145, a V6 upgrade at $2,165 that also added a nice set of machine-finished 19-inch alloys with grey painted pockets, $430 for a Class II trailering package, $365 for a Cargo Convenience package that adds Read Full Story