By: Bill Adam
It was about
ten years ago when I went over to the “dark side”. My passion has always
been with high performance cars, the ones with exceptional acceleration,
braking and cornering, the cars that make your heart beat a little
quicker just looking at them, but that all changed when I considered
buying a high performance truck. No such thing you say? Well……..you’re
right, as the phrase “high performance” took on a new definition,
meaning that it had the ability to go over some pretty high obstacles
and still keep going, with the performance part meaning that it could
accelerate, brake and corner ………sort of!
My needs at the time, dictated
that I buy something capable of towing my 7000 pound boat on my annual
trip to Canada, where the mountains in West Virginia would reduce a gas
powered vehicle to a nervous, wheezing 25 mph mobile road block. And a
diesel pick up truck DID the trick, except that I got to know the local
fuel supplier on a first name basis because of its’ thirsty 12 mpg fuel
economy ( it’s hard to call this “economy”…!!).
The 2018 Canyon Denali is
categorized as a mid size pick up by GMC and can only be had in the crew
cab configuration - a design that really isn’t a negative at all since
it’s an attractive size. The standard engine is a 3.6 liter V-6 with 308
HP and 275 lb.-ft of torque, and mated to an 8 speed transmission, the
4WD model gives a tow capacity of 6000 pounds. But the jewel in the
options list is a smaller 2.8 liter, 4 cylinder Duramax diesel that puts
out 181 HP and a massive 369 lb.-ft of torque, and increases the towing
capacity to 6200 pound for the 4WD model.
It’s this huge increase in torque
that makes this package so attractive as even with only a 6 speed
automatic, hills won’t have you staring in your mirrors for fast
approaching semi’s. Once upon a time, diesels were something of a joke
as they were looked down upon for their death rattle clatter and clouds
of black smoke belching from their exhaust pipe. Their performance was
somewhere between sluggish and stopped and they were thought of as only
good for buses or heavy haulers. Well, thanks to continuing design
changes along with vastly superior electronics, modern diesels have
exhaust emissions virtually invisible and are almost as quiet as gas
Even the stigma of finding a fuel
pump with a clean handle has changed, with more and more diesel stations
appearing and you can now find a diesel engine optionon some of the most
luxurious vehicles on the road. But as wonderful as the Duramax is for
it’s ability to tow, it’s when you’re NOT towing that it really shines.
Most driving after all, ISN’T when you’re towing, and it’s been hard to
justify the negative fuel economy of pick up trucks powered by diesels.
With this new Canyon, no longer will you have to put up with terrible
fuel economy when you aren’t towing - which is most of the time - and at
a steady 65 mph, I averaged an incredible 31 mpg!
Now think about this……in a truck
that doesn’t have the best aerodynamics in the world and only with a
relatively archaic 6 speed automatic, it’s giving better fuel economy
than most mid size sport utes and cars. Amazing! I think we’ve all heard
the phrase “drives like a truck”, when a reference is made to a car that
has a particularly brutal ride, or one that neither wants to turn or
brake. It’s not meant to be flattering in any way and truth be told,
simply no longer applies to ANY pickup truck I’ve driven in many years.
Some are better than others for
sure, but all trucks have reached a new level of civility that will
outright shock those who haven’t driven a truck in some time. Driving
the Canyon shows that it’s one of the better ones, and is a pleasant
surprise on the highway. Free of excessive wind noise or even much noise
coming through the chassis, the cabin was totally comfortable for both
front and rear seat passengers to engage in conversations without
With the Denali name, we’ve come
to expect a certain level of attractive attention to detail in the
interior and even though nothing is of the quality that you might expect
in a luxury car, remembering that this IS a truck, then the quality
works well. it is both simple and very attractive, with all controls
laid out in a logical configuration and easy to use without having to
consult the manual - something that not every manufacturer seems to
think of! The final complaint against some trucks, especially the crew
cab configuration is their challenge to use around town. Driving my “ex
truck” ( make and model discretely hidden here!), was always difficult
because of the size and parking it was something akin to docking a boat.
So it was a major surprise - a VERY pleasant surprise, when I found that
parking the Canyon was no more of a challenge than a sport utility
model. Excellent steering with a surprisingly tight turning circle,
combined with the size made
this a slam dunk.
What GMC have done here is to
create a comfortable truck that can be driven with ease under all
conditions - a luxury we haven’t had in many trucks. Think of a sport
utility that’s missing the rear roof section and this is what you have.
It’s a winner!