Did anyone really not see this coming? Ever since the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 in 2017, midsize off-road enthusiasts have been calling for an equivalent for its mechanical sibling, the GMC Canyon. In the years since, GMC added the Canyon AT4 to its lineup (for 2021), along with an off-road performance package that added a small lift, bigger tires, rock rails, and more to that already capable Canyon AT4. Then, the company rolled out the impressive Canyon AT4 OverlandX concept at the 2021 Overland Expo Mountain West event, and the pining for a mightier Canyon only grew stronger.
Hot on the heels of its successful Hummer EV launch, GMC has released a single teaser image of what the company is describing as “the next-generation” Canyon, which will include an all-new Canyon AT4X off-road trim that might just answer those GMC Canyon lovers’ prayers.
2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Off-Road Hardware
While the teaser photo appears limited in scope, there’s still quite a bit that we can glean from it. First, and most obvious, is the inclusion of 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels. As with other companies that have offered beadlock-capable wheels, end users will need to purchase the beadlock rings separately. The truck is also fitted with rock rails to protect the rockers from off-road damage, which are likely to be the same stainless steel units used on the Colorado ZR2. Tires are the fantastic Goodyear Wrangler Territory M/T, which is an improvement over the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires used on the ZR2. What we don’t know, however, is tire size. The current Colorado ZR2 is fitted with a 30.5-inch 265/65R17 tire, while the upcoming 2022 Sierra 1500 AT4X will be fitted with 32.5-inch 265/70R18 tires. We’re hopeful that the Canyon AT4X will be fitted with a 33-inch tire (even the 2022 Yukon AT4 comes with a 33-inch tire), but we’re not holding our breath either.
Less obvious is what the Canyon AT4X is hiding beneath its outer shell. Going off what we know about the current ZR2 and AT4X lineups, we would bet good money that the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X will be damped by the impressive Multimatic DSSV dampers. We would also venture to guess that the truck will feature front and rear electronic locking differentials. It’s also safe to assume that the Canyon AT4X will feature a similar 2.0-inch ride height increase and 3.5-inch track width increase to that of the Colorado ZR2. The truck should also come fitted with a full skidplate package, a trailer hitch as standard, and of course red front towhooks.
What Engine and Transmission Will the 2023 Canyon AT4X Have?
What intrigues us most about GMC’s statement is calling this truck “next-generation.” The current model Canyon first went on sale as a 2015 model (after being adapted for the U.S. market from a global pickup that already had been on sale for some time, making it effectively even older) and has seen little more than cosmetic updates since. Currently, GMC offers a 308-hp 3.6-liter gas V-6 and a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel with 369 lb-ft of torque. Either of these engines would be a suitable option for the new 2023 GMC Canyon, but we suspect there’s more in store for this truck.
There have been reports that GM will discontinue use of the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine for the next-generation Colorado and Canyon, due in part to the closing of its assembly plant in Thailand. Rumors suggest that the company’s turbocharged 2.7-liter gasoline I-4 engine could be taking up residency in the midsize Canyon for 2023, and we’d certainly welcome the addition. If the engine came backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission we’d be even happier.
Is the 2023 GMC Canyon Really All-New?
To say the GMC Canyon is ready for a refresh would be an understatement. It’s not that it’s a bad truck, but it has been seven years, and technology has improved greatly during that time. Looking closely at the cryptic photo that GMC has shared we can be confident that this is the full refresh we’ve been waiting for. The front fenders along with both doors appear to sport completely different profiles than those of the current 2022 model. Also hidden in the details appears to be a camera nub on the bottom of the sideview mirror, which indicates the addition of a 360-degree camera system. We can also see the addition of the keyless entry button, which is common on other GMC models, on the driver door. Both of these would indicate a great improvement in available technology is forthcoming.
When Can We See the 2023 GMC Canyon for Real?
GMC is set to debut the next-generation 2023 GMC Canyon later this summer. We expect the refreshed Canyon to go on sale to the public near the end of 2022, with the AT4X making its way to dealer lots in spring of 2023. Stay tuned.