The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X Makes Me Wanna Rally

2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X. Photo: Sara Lacey

One of My Favorite Things About a Midsize Truck Is that it Fits Me

I do love a full-size truck, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something about the thrill of a pickup wrapped up in a package that doesn’t make me have to park it to retrieve my purse that’s slid the far side of the passenger seat. The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X brings all the fun of a pickup, like riding up high, and a bed for doing cool stuff with. And it adds a bright, open, sporty interior. But what’s more is that the AT4X is ready to rally. Meaning, it’s ready to go off-road at high speeds. Sign me up.

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2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
Reduce your tire pressure using Air Down Mode in the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X. Photo: Sara Lacey

Excellent Engine and Drive Mode Details in the GMC Canyon AT4X

The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X starts at $55,500 before destination fees. My test truck rang up at $57,145 before fees. The Canyon AT4X gets its power from a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It actually cranks out 310 horsepower. I never felt it lacking, despite the fact that the former model had a V6.

The AT4X has Baja mode, which means it’s ready to go over bumpy stuff at a quick pace. It helps that the AT4X has skid plates, is specially tuned for high-speed off-roading, and has available front and rear cameras so you can see where you’re going when you’re going over steep hills. It’s also got a feature that will let the air out of your tires for when you’re off-roading and need more grip or are worried about sharp objects puncturing your tire. Please remember to fill your tires back up later on.

I had the Canyon AT4X just a short time after I covered the Rebelle Rally, and it would be a great truck for a competition like an off-road rally. In fact, I was ready to drive the Canyon AT4X back to the California dunes to give it a whirl. The onboard systems that tell you your headings, plus pitch, roll, and even a front and rear locking differential, would make the challenging terrain a lot more manageable. In the event a tow was needed, the AT4X has recovery hooks in the front.

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2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X is a good fit in Colorado. Photo: Sara Lacey

The GMC Canyon AT4X Is a Workhorse On and Off-Road

Even if you don’t want to race the Canyon AT4X, you could have a blast finding some remote campsites or cabins. And if you have stuff to bring, the Canyon AT4X will tow up to 6,000 pounds. It should be noted here that other Canyon trims can tow up to 7,700 pounds. The Canyon AT4X gets an estimated 16 miles per gallon in the city, on the highway, and combined. It’s kind of thirsty for a four-cylinder turbo.

But what if you’re not driving up mining camp roads or snow-laden highways? The GMC Canyon AT4X is fun to drive on my suburban roads, too. It handles very comfortably for as tall as it is, it’s got some body roll which is to be expected, but it never feels as though its about to topple over. It’s rugged, but it doesn’t rattle your teeth. 

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2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The stunning red of the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X. Photo: Sara Lacey

Short People, Note Well

I need to deliver a couple of reality checks, though. If you are a person of smaller stature and the GMC Canyon AT4X is the truck you’ll drive every day, be warned. It’s tall. Very tall. And the distance between the door jamb and the seat felt like a long way. I got used to hopping up and into the cab, and I didn’t mind it. But it’s worth checking out if you are looking to buy this beautiful beast.

The ground clearance is 10.7 inches. The rails along the bottom of the door protect the AT4X from rocks and other hazards. They’re not meant as a step assist (though you can kind of wedge your foot in there). Oddly enough, there is no grab handle either.

2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The back seat of the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X. Photo: Sara Lacey

Illuminating Interior Details in the GMC Canyon AT4X

Speaking of comfort, the Canyon AT4X will keep you comfortable with features like heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel. And the interior has so many visual details that make it feel like a truly special truck. Light-colored surfaces contrast with charcoal gray. Red stitching everywhere.

Seating is mostly comfortable inside. I didn’t sit in the rear seats that long but had decent legroom. Lower anchors for child safety seats were practically out in the open, and there are a couple of cupholders in the back of the center console. There are also a couple in the pull-down armrest. There are two cupholders in the front of the center console by the gearshift. There isn’t massive storage, the glove box is a good size and the center console does have a shelf in there. A neat feature is actually in the soft-closing tailgate. The tailgate itself has a storage bin in it that closes and locks when you lock the tailgate. Cool.

A sunroof keeps the interior bright, and red details in the seats make the whole thing feel very sporty and ready for action. There is even a trim around the vents that looks like red anodized aluminum. The exterior paint is a metallic red that is so beautiful it makes my heart skip a beat. I truly would be sad to scratch that paint with some “desert pinstripes,” but I’d do it. Because I want to rally. I want to Baja! 

2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The fun interior of the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X makes me want to rally. Photo: Sara Lacey

Pressing All the Buttons in the Interior

If you do start playing with the drive modes, the 11.3-inch touchscreen display will show the corresponding mode and tell you relevant information for each mode. The in-house multimedia system is easy to use, and the icons are crisp and easy to recognize at a glance. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if that is your preference. 

I did love the presence of a bunch of buttons and knobs in the Canyon AT4X. It was fun to have a toggle for many functions. I did miss having an actual light switch, as that function is oddly housed in the multimedia screen. Another oddity is the toggle that will put all four windows down simultaneously but won’t roll them up simultaneously. 

2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X grille. Photo: Sara Lacey

What We Loved About the GMC Canyon AT4X

  • Ready to go off-roading from the get-go
  • Comfortable once you’re inside
  • Cool locking tailgate storage compartment
  • Gorgeous red color turned heads
  • Enjoyable ride even on bumpy roads
2023 Gmc Canyon At4X
The cool tailgate storage bin in the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X. Photo: Sara Lacey

What You Need to Know About the GMC Canyon AT4X

  • Less towing capacity than the regular GMC Canyon
  • Fuel economy isn’t great
  • Tough to get into and out of

I had the opportunity to do some off-pavement driving but wished I could have put this GMC Canyon AT4X beauty to a more appropriate off-roading test. The driving I did do was great fun and if I ever get the chance to do a rally, I know who I’m going to call.

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Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey