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Original MSRP: $16,705 - $27,075
MPG: 18 City / 24 Hwy
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2009 GMC Canyon Performance

This performance review was written when the 2009 GMC Canyon was new.

The 2009 GMC Canyon gets generally positive reviews for performance. Reviewers like its smooth ride, but aren't fans of its four- and five-cylinder engines, which many say are underpowered.  Reviewers who test drove the new-for-2009 3.5 liter V8 engine, however, came away impressed.  The sporty ZQ8 suspension also impresses reviewers.

  • "The big announcement is the availability of a powerful 300-horsepower V-8. Not that the 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder engine isn't a strong performer, but all other compact trucks - with the exception of the Ford Ranger - offer strong V-6 engines, and the midsize Dakota has a 4.7-liter V-8." -- Cars.com
  • "You might be thinking, "How can GMC's compact pickup feel like a muscle car?" Well, there's more to it than stuffing a 5.3-liter V-8 under the hood, but that engine goes a long way toward giving the Canyon its burly performance." -- PickupTrucks.com
  • "The 2009 GMC Canyon's greatest improvement over previous GMC compact trucks can be found in its chassis and powertrain. The body-on-frame chassis is extremely rigid and you can feel it in the way the Canyon handles, both off-road and while cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The four- and five-cylinder engines are smooth enough, but performance lags behind that of the larger V6s of the Canyon's competitors." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The GMC Canyon comes with one of three engines -- a 2.9-liter in-line four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque, or a 3.7-liter in-line five that makes 242 horsepower and 242 pound-feet of torque.  New for 2009 is a V8 engine, which gives the Canyon power on par with its competitors.  The new 5.3 liter V8 makes 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, though there is a resulting drop in fuel economy.  The four-cylinder is available with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, while the five-cylinder and V8 comes with the automatic.

  • "The performance of the Canyon's four- and five-cylinder engines is forgettable. . . Those looking for abundant power and towing capability will, of course, want to specify the available 5.3-liter V8, which places the Canyon in the same league as its brawny V8-powered Dodge Dakota rival." -- Edmunds
  • "Obama Nation won't like it, but the 2009 Canyon V-8 I had recently was vastly nicer than the five-cylinder truck. Power to the pickups, I say." -- Dallas Morning News
  • "With either transmission, the 4-cylinder engine has adequate power for around town driving, but lacks reserve for passing or hauling heavy loads. Five-cylinder versions are sprightly with 2WD, adequate with 4WD. That engine is particularly well-matched to the quick-shifting automatic transmission." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The V-8 teams with a four-speed automatic transmission that's both smooth and quick to downshift when you need a quick burst of power for passing or merging." -- PickupTrucks.com

Handling and Braking

The GMC Canyon's ride, reviewers find, is easily the best aspect of its performance. Steering gets fair marks, but reviewers who tested trucks with the ZQ8 suspension report that the Canyon can be very fun to drive.

  • "The Canyon's standard suspension is calibrated for a soft and comfortable ride on pavement, while the available Z71 off-road suspension package improves off-road performance at the expense of on-road compliance. The ZQ8 sport suspension provides much crisper cornering response." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2009 GMC Canyon's greatest improvement over previous GMC compact trucks can be found in its chassis and powertrain. The body-on-frame chassis is extremely rigid and you can feel it in the way the Canyon handles, both off-road and while cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Canyons corner with reasonable poise, though some testers find these trucks slow to react to steering inputs. Good straightline stability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Fast, responsive steering and a taut suspension create a driving experience that's decidedly untrucklike, and they give the Canyon a performance-car edge." -- PickupTrucks.com
  • "The steering was pretty good for a pickup - relatively quick and not overly boosted. Likewise, the brakes were strong enough to contend with the V-8's respectable power." -- Dallas Morning News
  • "unperturbed by even the worst pavement," --Automobile Magazine.
  • "On smooth pavement the overall feel is softer than you might expect for a pickup." --Edmunds
  • "The Canyon gets down the road with a level of smoothness, a quiet, sure steering feel and general overall comfort that, if not equal to a luxury sedan, is at least commendable for a midsize pickup." AutoMedia.com 
  • "Oddly, despite its short wheelbase, the Canyon exhibits an unusually large turning radius." Kelley Blue Book
  • "Freeway tracking is excellent, with a strong sense of straight-ahead. There's minimal kickback, even on potholed roads, and the vibration that does wend its way up the column is, by truck standards, forgivable." Car and Driver

 

Review Last Updated: 6/25/09

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