GMC Unveils Updated 2021 Canyon Denali and All-New Canyon AT4

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Front View Driving in the Snow

Manufacturer images

By Aaron Bragman

GMC updated its mid-size Canyon pickup truck for the 2021 model year, upgrading the Denali's interior and adding a new AT4 off-road trim level. The changes are meant to keep the Canyon fresh in the wake of competition from the recently reborn Ford Ranger, the all-new Jeep Gladiator and the slightly refreshed sales champ, the Toyota Tacoma.

Related: Why the Honda Ridgeline Won Our 2019 Mid-Size Truck Challenge

2021 Canyon Denali

At the top of the Canyon range is the Denali trim level, which we sampled in 2019 as part of our four-truck mid-size pickup comparison test; in that test, the Denali didn't impress us at all with its less-than-luxurious interior. GMC says that's changed for 2021 with the arrival of authentic open-pore real ash wood trim, aluminum decor and unique stitching effects on the interior panels. A new Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere interior color is available as well. Like before, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard equipment.

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On the outside, a new Denali grille is more sculpted and features a layered pattern. Chrome 5-inch side steps are included, as are chrome trim accents and Denali-exclusive 20-inch aluminum wheels. GMC says that the overall changes are meant to bring the Canyon's Denali styling more in line with the Denali trim on the larger Sierra 1500 and Sierra 2500/3500 heavy-duty full-size pickups.

2021 Canyon AT4

If you'd rather trade street cred for off-road chops, GMC is now offering an AT4 version of the Canyon. In the AT4 pantheon, it joins the very capable GMC Sierra 1500 and Sierra HD AT4, as well as the less impressive GMC Acadia AT4. Like the other trucks, it gets dark chrome trim, a new grille pattern and red tow hooks in the bumper. Inside, there's unique Kalahari brown stitching and AT4 head restraint embroidery, just like the other AT4 models.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Head Restraint Embroidery

But like the bigger pickups, some equipment upgrades help with off-road duty. The AT4 gets a unique off-road suspension with electronic advanced hill descent control. Four-wheel drive is standard as is an Eaton G80 automatic locking rear differential. Additional underbody protection is fitted in the form of a transfer case skid plate. Wheels get an upgrade to a unique 17-inch pattern fitted with 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain rubber.

The standard engine will be the unchanged 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, and optional is the 2.8-liter diesel four-cylinder engine. As off-road packages go, the AT4 is a mild one — this is not GMC's equivalent of a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which remains a far more capable off-road mid-size pickup. It is instead a milder, more-capable-than-stock off-road trim designed to give GMC a dirt truck to add to the Canyon's stable. We just hope that the Denali interior upgrades have done something to help the truck's interior woes, which served to sink the Canyon's results in our last truck comparison.

The new 2021 models will be on sale at GMC dealers later this year, with pricing announced closer to the start of production.

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2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Rear Profile Driving in the Snow's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Editor's note: This post was update Jan. 16, 2020, to correct the model year in subheads.


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