2017 GMC Canyon 4WD Crew Denali Review- A Truck Built With Women In Mind

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali
The GMC Canyon Denali has a gorgeous front end. photo credit: Jenn Greene

Yes Ladies, Trucks Can Be Great.

I love trucks, but a full-sized truck intimidates me. My brother-in-law drives a full-size truck, and I am always afraid to borrow it because it’s a beast. The 2017 GMC Canyon Denali is not the least bit intimidating, in fact it is just the right size for my family.

While we had this truck we used it for grocery trips, quick school runs and just about anywhere else we went. With its mid-size body, the GMC Canyon Denali isn’t much different than driving a full size SUV. In fact it was a little easier to park. The crew cab was also quite roomy for my girls, and they didn’t feel cramped. (Maybe the family-friendly design is due to the fact that the chief engineer for GMC’s mid-size pickups is a woman, Anita Burke , as is GMC’s head of design, Helen Emsley.)

The truck I drove was the four-wheel-drive Denali crew cab. It offered all of the luxury and tech you can get in GMC’s smallest pickup, including 4G LTE WiFi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, lots of USB ports, heated and cooled front seats, a stitched dashtop, and more.

The base price of $22,000 is quite economical for a mid-sized pickup. You can of course upgrade and get all of the extras you want and it still won’t cost an arm and a leg.

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The Denali line is the top of the line in the GMC Brand. Photo: Jenn Greene

Who the 2017 GMC Canyon Denali Is For

  •  Singles, couples or families of four or less
  •  Empty Nesters planning home improvements
  •  Avid Road Trippers that want 4WD Capability
  •  Buyers who want a good value in a mid-size truck
  •  Small business owners who need a work truck

What is Denali, anyway? Read this for the answer

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali Review

The front cab of the Canyon Denali is quite spacious. Photo: Jenn Greene

What It Costs

  • SL, $21,880
  • Base, $24,895
  • SLE, $28,890
  • SLT, $33,275
  • Denali, $42,820
  • Price of the model we drove: $44,255 (The shiny red color adds $500 to the cost.)
2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The smaller size of GMC Canyon Denali makes it much easier to park that its full-size counterparts. Photo: Jenn Greene

A Comfortable and Quiet Interior

Big trucks are loud, there is no way around it. The GMC Canyon Denali is quiet. I didn’t have to scream at the kids in the rear cab over the engine, and that was a big plus for me. The Denali line really takes the experience up an entire level with luxury features. Who says a truck can’t have the feel of a luxury car?

The GMC Canyon doesn’t even drive like a truck, the ride is smooth. With a quiet interior and a smooth ride this was a win for me. I have been in trucks where I am screaming across the front passenger seat and getting motion sick, not the case with the GMC Canyon Denali. When I say built with women in mind this is certainly one reason. You can have all of the comforts and functionality of a truck, but the feel of a full-size SUV. 

See our review of the mid sized Toyota Tacoma pick up truck

Interior Features

  • Dual-density seat foam that holds its shape longer and enhances comfort
  • Leather-appointed, heated & ventilated front seats
  • Heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Durable, soft-touch instrument panel
  • Burnished aluminum trim
  • Contrasting stitching- this really makes the seats pop and gives it an appeal; these are not your typical cloth truck seats
  • Large center console
  • Four USB ports and a 12V charging outlet
  • Controls that are large and easy to read
  • Wireless charging pad

In the cabin, there are plenty of storage places to stash electronics, toys and whatever else may magically appear. The rear seats also fold up to allow for bulky items to be placed behind the front seats if you’re carrying something that you don’t want to leave exposed to the elements. This was great for my trip to the grocery store, I didn’t have cans rolling around in the truck bed.  Seeing how it is a truck, the center console is roomy but not roomy enough to store a purse or large bag. I put mine on the passenger seat, and that was fine with me as that is usually where my bag ends up.

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The details are what make the 2017 GMC Canyon Denali really stand out. From wood grain trim throughout to wireless charging pad, all the extras make a difference. Photo: Jenn Greene

4G Wifi To Keep You Connected On The Go

The available built-in 4G WiFi Hotspot lets you stay connected to the internet on the go. The system, powered by AT&T is strong enough to connect up to seven mobile devices at once.

You cannot use the data from your cell phone, you have to subscribe to a plan separately. The cost is $20 per month for a connected car unlimited plan. This was not activated in the truck I drove, so we couldn’t test it for ourselves. If you don’t have unlimited data on your cell phone plan, and spend ample time in the car this is a great way to keep the kids busy.

2017 Gmc Yukon Denali

Connectivity is key in the GMC Canyon Denali with premium features at your fingertips. Photo: Jenn Greene

Easy to Use Media Console

The 8-inch-diagonal color touch-screen navigation with IntelliLink lets you customize your media and connect with ease. Features include:

  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone integration for hands-free calling and phone book access
  • MyMedia that connects media libraries from multiple devices
  • Customizable “Favorites” lets you save albums, songs, artists, destinations and contacts

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

Safety Comes First

Safety features in trucks are key because the vehicle is bigger, which means it isn’t always easy to see what’s going on around you. That’s especially true for women who are smaller of stature.

With forward collision alert and lane departure warning, the GMC Canyon Denali has a camera to watch where you may not be able to see. That means these features let you know when you may be approaching another vehicle too quickly or when you’re leaving your driving lane. The elongated front end in trucks can often make you feel that you aren’t as close to a car as you may be. The forward collision alert gave me piece of mind that I wasn’t too close to the cars in front of me.

The rear vision camera, meanwhile, gave me piece of mind when backing up. While the mid-size GMC Canyon feels smaller than a full size SUV, it’s still intimidating having the truck bed on the back. Because of the backup camera, I could always see what was behind me, so I could back up with confidence.

Want the scoop on a full size pickup? Check out the Ford F-150 

Stay Safe with OnStar

Standard on most Canyon models is a 3-month trial subscription to the OnStar Guidance Plan. The plan includes:

  • Automatic Crash Response
  • Turn-by-Turn Navigation
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Emergency Services Link
  • Remote Door Unlock

Keeping Teen Drivers Safe

I have a teen driver and I absolutely LOVE this option. We live in the country and many of the new drivers out here drive trucks. I wish more were equipped with this feature. We see kids all the time running over curbs, backing into parked cars and more because they cannot gauge the size of the truck. The mid-size Canyon is a great truck to learn to drive in.

Teen Driver is a built-in system that encourages safe driving habits for new drivers. It automatically activates certain safety systems and allows parents to set limits on other features. You can set speed alerts, a volume limit on audio and even pull up a report on where the car has gone.  A Report Card provides information on driving behavior to help parents to continue to coach their teens.

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

2017 GMC Canyon Denali Vehicle Monroney

A Sleek Exterior Only Available In Denali Model

When I look at a truck, I don’t normally think of it as being stylish. That is not the case with the GMC Canyon Denali. I loved the exterior look. The Denali is the only premium mid-sized truck available. So if you want a combination of functionality and style, you want this truck. You can see below that the Canyon Denali is not your typical truck front end.

Denali design details include:

  • Unique Denali grille
  • 20” Ultra-Bright machined aluminum with painted accents
  • Polished exhaust tip (V6 only)
  • LED under-rail bed lighting
  • Chrome fog lamps
2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The exterior of the Canyon Denali got two thumbs up from my kiddos. Photo: Jenn Greene

With Style Comes Power

No need to sacrifice the power you need in a truck for the style of the GMC Canyon Denali. The GMC Canyon Denali actually performed better on hills than my own mid-size SUV, it didn’t hesitate at all. With a 3.6L V6 engine this mid-size truck got the job done, offering an 8 speed automatic transmission and 308hp. And again it’s quiet so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the truck.

While this is a mid-size truck, the bed was very large and provided a lot of space for hauling. With the rear gate up you get 5 feet of storage; with it down you get 6 feet. Also, no need to struggle getting in the truck bed, as there is a foot rest on the rear bumper to help you in. 

Can’t decide between a mid size Canyon truck and an SUV? See our story on the full size Chevrolet Tahoe SUV here. 

2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The foot rest on the rear bumper makes it easy to climb into the truck bed. photo credit: Jenn Greene

Driver Control Technology

Stay in command of whatever you may be hauling or trailering with these intelligent control features:

  • StabiliTrak with Traction Control helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle during low-traction driving conditions on loose, snowy, icy, wet or uneven road.
  • Trailer Sway Control senses trailer sway and automatically applies the vehicle and trailer brakes and reduces engine power, if necessary, to help you get back on track.
  • Integrated Trailer Brake Controller allows your trailer’s brakes to operate simultaneously with the vehicle’s brakes.
2017 Gmc Canyon Denali

The GMC Canyon Denali has a mid-size bed that can be used for hauling and it can tow up to 7,000 pounds. Photo: Jenn Greene

What We Loved

  • Easy maneuverability
  • The smaller profile that makes it easier to drive and park
  • 360-degree safety features that make it easy for drivers to see where they are going
  • Leather trimmed seats that give the interior a sleek finish
  • Front seats that suck you in for a comfortable ride behind the wheel
  • Front and rear cup holders
  • Plenty of seat-back storage
  • Front door pockets
  • Heated and cooled front seats
  • The affordable price
  • Good towing power for a mid-size truck

What You Need to Know

  • Average fuel economy is just 19MPG city, not the best but not awful either.
  • The running boards on this mid-size truck are offered as an option, but we found them entirely unnecessary. Unless you’re extremely short or have difficulty with steps, there’s little reason to add running boards to this mid-size truck.
  • Passengers in the back seat leave no space for grocery bags in the rear cabin. They have to go in the bed of the truck, which means you have to tie them down to keep them from flying all over.

The GMC Canyon Denali is a truck that I would definitely purchase. With the Denali trim it has all the bells and whistles I want, including a sunroof. The sleek exterior doesn’t make it look like the same old pickup at the Home Depot. It stands out, just like a woman should, with confidence and personality.

Mom, Wife, Writer and Avid Traveler Jenn wears many hats. She grew up in the car industry and has... More about Jenn Greene