2023 GMC Canyon AT4X

The Canyon AT4X's trick Multimatic dampers alone are as close as you can get to mechanized magic
The Canyon AT4X's trick Multimatic dampers alone are as close as you can get to mechanized magic

by Nathan Leipsig | June 25, 2024


Context is crucial. Finding out that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father has no impact if you don’t have the context of knowing that Vader spent two of cinema’s greatest films as Luke’s nemesis prior to that reveal. Similarly, when I first drove a new GMC Canyon last year, my context to frame that review was totally different; it was the new kid on a block full of old fogies. Now, just six months later, the neighborhood is totally different. The geezers have retired and moved out, and their ambitious offspring have moved in.

The main rivals of the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X — the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma — have both been rejuvenated, and they’re both very good. Moreover, I’ve spent a good amount of time with both of their hardcore, dune-jumping, rock-crawling variants, so I have a a lot of context heading into time with GMC’s own varietal of less-large-off-road rig, the Canyon AT4X.

First things first: this isn’t as hardcore as the Ranger Raptor, the Tacoma Trailhunter, or even the very closely related Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. As such, at $67,314 as-tested, the Canyon AT4X comes in a damn sight less dear than them, but doesn’t have a sport bar or a lightbar like the ZR2, cool control arms or a hybrid powertrain like the Trailhunter, or a bespoke frame and engine like the Raptor. Instead, it has everything you could reasonably want for your occasionally unreasonable adventures: chunky guards to protect the rockers, 33-inch Goodyear Territory MT Tires, a three-inch lift and wider stance over the base model, front and rear locking differentials, a transfer case shield, underbody cameras, and the big highlight, Multimatic DSSV dampers.

The Multimatic dampers alone are about as close as you can get to mechanized magic. Their genius lies in their simplicity, foregoing electronic adjustment in favour of really clever mechanical engineering, using a novel speed-sensitive spool valve to control fluid motion. This allows for both the ability to have a decent ride and the ability to withstand a hard landing. In similar fashion to the Tacoma Trailhunter’s ARB position-sensitive shocks, the ride is decidedly firm, although a tiny bit more forgiving overall with what at least feels like a greater ability to adapt as the going gets tougher.

Additionally, I’m not sure how much of this is down to these shocks or the other chassis tweaks, but the Canyon AT4X handles incredibly well. The Raptor may have a lot more going for it on paper, but the Canyon tackles corners on loose surfaces even more aggressively, with more hooligan-tastic tail-wagging antics, but all done very predictably. It’s actually shocking how good this thing is.

In a similar vein, while both the Raptor and Trailhunter have the Canyon AT4X outgunned in the powertrain department, you wouldn’t know it from the behind the wheel. Its 2.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine isn’t the sexiest-sounding thing around, and may take a tick longer to spool up, but its snappy eight-speed automatic and 400-pound (give or take) weight advantage makes it just as urgent in its power delivery as its costlier competitors. In my time with the Canyon, I observed an average fuel use of 13.5 L/ 100 km, though I’ll add the caveat that I did a lot of highway driving with it, keeping the average down.

The AT4X is a fine highway mile-muncher. It’s fairly quiet, rides well for a small truck, and has a well-stocked cabin. The white and red accents in the interior are exclusive to the AT4X, and while I tend to take issue with white interiors especially trucks, it goes a long way to helping the cabin feel more special than it is. This is a very pedantic complaint, but some of the switchgear feels cheap and the amount of hard-touch surfaces is disappointing at this price point. Neither the Ranger nor Tacoma have these nit-picks, and the Canyon’s rear seat is really tight, too.

Having said that, the 11.3-inch digital gauge cluster looks great and has some of the most customization in the business, the heads-up display is well-integrated, and the Google-based infotainment looks good and works well, save for the occasional minor Google-ism, like refusing to acknowledge the existence of more remote roads. The Bose Premium audio system sounds decent if you like bassy systems, as it generates enough low-frequency vibes to rattle the door panel. The adaptive cruise control works well, the heated and ventilated seats are great, and visibility is terrific.

So, now that I’ve given myself the context of driving the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X’s new rivals, just like watching the first two Star Wars movies give context to that most famous twist in cinema, it has much greater importance. Whereas before I just thought the Canyon was an impressive new offering into a stagnant field, I now see its place with a full perspective. It may not quite stack up on paper, but it drives really well and can handle life’s adventures with the best of ’em, all in a package that looks great and offers excellent value in the segment.


Vehicle Specs
Midsize pickup truck
Engine Size
2.7L turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower (at RPM)
310 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
430 lb-ft @ 3,300 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Five-foot bed
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '23 Miata Club 6MT, '86 535i, '99 Beetle TDI 5MT