Behind the Wheel of the 2015 GMC Canyon

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“Where are you going to take it?” says David Kearney, Sales Manager at Leith Buick GMC. He’s talking about the 2015 GMC Canyon parked just outside the showroom, the truck he’s agreed to let us test drive.

“Uh,” we say, hesitant to answer. We had an idea but weren’t sure exactly how far away it was.

“The only reason I ask is it’s almost out of gas,” says David. “I’ll get someone to fill it up for you.”

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Sensible, on top of being a necessary courtesy. We thank him and take a seat while we wait. Before the Canyon disappears, we snap a picture of it with our phone and text it to a friend who has asked what we’re driving today. “Wow,” they say. “That looks huge.”

“It’s actually small compared to most trucks,” we explain. The Canyon was released last year to great fanfare. Full-size pickups have dominated the landscape in recent years, and while they’re great for hard-working drivers and big families, people in search of a great mid-size truck had been left wanting. We think the Canyon fixes that issue, and we wanted to drive it to make sure.

“Well it still looks huge,” says our friend, and we agree it does without the right perspective. Finding a picture of the full GMC truck lineup, we send it to them and receive another “Wow” in response.

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Wow, indeed.

In short time, the truck returns with a full tank of gas. Climbing in the driver’s seat, we notice that the truck not only looks big, but it feels big, too. As we noted in our review of the Yukon, GMC has a knack for making the driver feel totally in control, granting them a seat that is more throne than chair. We always get this feeling when we’re able to rest both elbows on the arm rests and grasp the steering wheel at the same time. Said steering wheel is adjustable and telescoping, and the front seat is both powered and heated in this model.

We make the necessary adjustments, ensuring our mirrors and seat are positioned correctly, and then move on to the most important item of our pre-drive checklist: syncing our phone so we can play music. GMC’s Intellilink® system makes this task simple as can be. Just make sure your phone’s Bluetooth® is turned on and select “Pair” on both the car and your device, then let Intellilink® do the rest of the work. You can press the Media button on the center console to get to your music, which will start shuffling your library automatically.

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Modest Beginnings

Once there’s music playing and the engine is running, we have to return to David’s question: “Where are you going to take it?” Perched on the edge of the auto park, waiting for the light to change, we still aren’t sure. Where do you take a truck on a test drive? How do you test a truck? You don’t go in search of loosely enforced speed limits and winding roads.

We take a left turn and head further east, down 64. We had this notion of driving to Wendell Lake, just to see if there’s a good view of the water and the dam. Getting there means driving through Wendell proper, a town that is little more than a handful of intersections. The town is so modest that it’s easy to miss the town hall, even with signs pointing you in its direction. The banners that hang from the telephone poles read “Experience Wendell, Since 1903,” the date of the town’s incorporation. We can’t help but wonder if those banners have been up for the past twelve years, ever since some kind of centennial celebration. Maybe they’re too proud to take them down.

The way to Wendell Lake is through downtown Wendell, then taking Wendell Road to Lake Wendell Road. Perhaps the town isn’t so modest after all, but at least the directions are easy to remember. Who was Wendell first? Was it the town, or the lake, or the roads?

The answer is the poet. Back in the nineteenth century, as the small satellite community grew larger, its citizens asked a local school teacher, a Mr. M.A. Griffin, to give their town a name. He was a huge fan of Oliver Wendell Holmes and suggested they could name the town for him.

In our reverie, we miss the first turn, but that’s ok. It gives us a chance to test the Canyon’s turning radius on a U-turn. We swing it around in an easy arc.

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To Test a Truck

Minutes later we’re heading down Wendell Road, finding ourselves in Johnston County. The roads around Wendell ain’t what they used to be, which is to say they’re much, much smoother. There’s no true test for our truck’s All-Terrain Package. A knob to the left of the steering wheel can engage 4WD, and buttons at the bottom of the center console show this Canyon is also equipped with Hill Descent Control and Stabilitrak® Traction Control. Later, we’ll also learn that this package provides off-road suspension and an automatic locking rear differential.

It would be great to try some of these features out. We have a strong urge to take a sharp turn down any of the dirt outlet roads we pass. We want nothing more than to find an endless field of some tall-growing crop and reenact a scene from Twister or Interstellar, harvesting produce with nothing more than our front bumper. We know such a test is not ours to facilitate, though. That’s a trial reserved for the eventual owner of this truck, should they choose.

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For our part, we’ll say that if the Canyon handles as well off-road as it does on, it handles quite well indeed. We feel nary a bump as we continue toward the lake, windows down, rock music blaring (the sound system is good enough to be heard over the air rushing into the cabin).

It isn’t a quick truck, but it is steady. A 3.6L V6 engine has no trouble bringing the Canyon up to speed, and more importantly, when combined with the Trailering Package, it can give this truck a tow rating of 7,000 pounds. That’s better than every other mid-size truck on the market. If you prefer, there’s a smaller engine available, too. A 2.5L 4-cylinder engine grants 200 horsepower, opposed to the V6’s 305 horsepower. Fuel efficiency is excellent no matter what.

Overall, the Canyon’s performance reminds us of an old poem called “Contentment.”

I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait–two forty-five–
Suits me; I do not care;–
Perhaps, for just a single spurt,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

“Contentment” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

We end up passing by Wendell Lake. There are no obvious access points to the private lake, but a bridge runs by the dam, and we can look out across the water. Tall pines line the shore, casting shade on anyone who might be fishing for bass or bream.

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Between Mountains

Halfway through our route, we have to consider who this truck is for. We pass small communities and neighborhoods. Westlake. Eagle’s Crossing. Indian Rock. Arborvitae. All the biggest buildings in this area are churches, and traffic, such as it is, consists mostly of other trucks.

Even so, we don’t feel confined to rural roads while driving the Canyon. The benefits of a smaller truck is it can navigate most any road, even those of the city, where we’re from. We wouldn’t have any trouble parking in one of the decks of downtown Raleigh on our way to Moore Square or the convention center.

At one point we stop and climb into the backseat. It’s spacious enough for an adult to sit comfortably, and this truck has lots of storage in the center console and in each door, so kids are more than welcome.

We walk around the back, too, and take a look at the bed. The tailgate doesn’t just fall open, but lowers gently, and there are steps built into the rear fender for easy access to whatever you might be hauling. This truck won’t carry a full load of lumber or a huge couch, but it will hold any luggage you’re taking on a trip, or whatever you need for a tailgate, or supplies for a camping trip. It will definitely tow a fishing boat, along with all manner of bait and tackle.

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The Canyon probably isn’t your new work truck, but not every truck is meant for that. Instead, think of it less like a literal canyon and more like a valley. It’s the space between mountains where people actually live.

Ultimately, we know exactly where to take the 2015 GMC Canyon: back to the dealership, where it is waiting for you.

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We want to thank Sales Manager David Kearney and the rest of the staff at Leith Buick GMC for making our test drive possible. If you have any questions or are interested in testing the 2015 GMC Canyon yourself, please don’t hesitate to call or visit our dealership today. We’re just minutes from downtown Raleigh, and we can’t wait to see you.

Behind the Wheel of the 2015 GMC Canyon was last modified: December 1st, 2015 by Leith Buick GMC

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