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GMC Canyon AT4 – In Winter, A Grand Canyon

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GMC Canyon AT4 – In Winter, A Grand Canyon

GMC Canyon AT4 – 

In Winter, A Grand Canyon

Now that all the snow has melted in North Texas, I need to thank the engineers at General Motors responsible for developing the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 pickup. Last week, in the midst of frigid temperatures and over four inches of snow and ice covering Texas roads and highways, the Canyon AT4 handled as if the pavement were as dry as July, enabliing me to drive safely from Dallas to Houston with cases of bottled water and food for my wife and daughter. GMC saved my family, and I can’t be more grateful.

When it comes to pickup trucks, bigger may not necessarily be better.  If you regularly drive full-size or heavy-duty pickups, time behind the wheel of a mid-size pickup may surprise you; they drive well and deliver a surprising  degree of capability.  Last week, just before the massive storm moved south into Texas, I was given the opportunity to drive a Cayenne Red 2021 GMC Canyon 4WD AT4 Crew Cab that came with an MSRP of $43,230. And for that week it was worth so much more.  Under the hood was a 308 hp, 3.6 liter V6 engine mated to a eight-speed automatic. Even in 4WD mode I averaged about 20 mpg on the highway.

Traction in the snowy roads was possible due to the aggressive tread design on the 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires fitted to 17-inch aluminum wheels, as well as a 4WD system with an Eaton G80 Rear Automatic Locking Differential.  Switching from 2HI to 4HI can be done with the turn of a dial and, more importantly, on the fly; there’s no need to pull over, drop into Neutral and wait. When I left snowy city streets and got onto cleared highways, I just turned a dial.  

The Canyon AT4 trim is all-new for 2021, designed to appeal to truck owners who live to drive off-road.  I rarely get to truly test the capabilities of the off-road vehicles I’m able to test, and that’s why last week was so different.  I was initially reluctant to take the truck on the snow-covered streets since we were all advised to stay home.  While I was in our soon-to-be-sold Dallas home, my wife and daughter were in Houston, in a home with heat but no power and no running water.  I came to the realization that desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures.  So, after a stop at Costco for cases of bottled water, food and chocolate(yeah, chocolate), I headed to Houston. 

The trip south during the afternoon was relatively uneventful, with at least one lane mostly clear.  However, the trip back to Dallas – once the sun went down – was a bit more treacherous, with melted snow on the shoulders turning to black ice.  Even though I drove more slowly and took more care, the Canyon was rock solid, never once giving me any need to worry. With satellite radio keeping me company, the trip back to Dallas took a little more time, but I made it back with no issues.

It was the luck of the draw that allowed me to test drive the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 when a devastating snow storm inflected so much damage to Texas and my fellow Texans. I was one of the fortunate ones to have a Canyon help me help my family. In the depths of a winter emergency, it’s the tool that I needed. Thanks again, GMC.

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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