The GMC Canyon is a compact truck that first hit the streets in 2004 and is available in three trim levels and cab configurations. Your trim options include the basic WT, or work truck, as well as the fancier SLE and SLT versions. Only the most basic features, such as air conditioning and AM/FM stereo come with the WT, with slight improvements to the features on the more advanced models. You still have to pay extra for a number of features even with the top trim level.

Your cab configurations include the four-door extended cab and four-door crew cab or the two-door standard cab. Standard and extended cab versions feature a six-foot truck bed while the crew cab has a slightly shorter five-foot bed.

The most powerful engine choice offered is a V8, 5.3-liter engine that performs with 300 hp. The standard engine on the WT and SLE versions of the Canyon is a 185-horsepower, inline four-cylinder, 2.9-liter engine. A 242-horsepower engine is another choice, with the option providing a five-cylinder, 3.7-liter engine. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options are available on all models as is a choice of five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic transmission.

What do reviews say about the GMC Canyon?

U.S. News ranked the 2012 GMC Canyon low on a list of best compact pickup trucks, although its overall rating only was above average. Its engine has become increasingly powerful as versions improved since the truck’s debut, but reviewers still find other compact trucks can blow the Canyon away when it comes to engine power. If you do opt for the more powerful V8 engine, reviewers say you’ll pay the price with poor mileage.

One area where Canyon has received positive reviews is for its exterior. Its boxy, solid body has remained unchanged for years but remains attractive to consumers. The vehicle’s performance rated mediocre, while its interior rated even lower.

Where does the GMC Canyon rank for safety?

Full crash tests have not yet been performed on the 2012 GMC Canyon, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did give the truck four out of five in the rollover safety tests, according to U.S. News. Previous versions of the truck did not merit such high safety marks in tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the federal government.

Tests found the 2011 GMC Canyon extended cab only marginal for crash protection in the rear, although it ranked good for front protection. Crew cab models received acceptable for its front protection, marginal for its roof strength and rear protection and the lowest rating of poor for its side-impact protection. Standard safety features on the 2012 model include airbags in the front and sides, traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and the OnStar security system.

How does the GMC Canyon compare to other compact trucks?

While the GMC Canyon weighs in with an affordable price, reviewers say it is outweighed by other compact trucks in just about every category. Both Edmunds and U.S. News reported the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma could give you more bang for your buck, with a higher-quality interior and materials. The Tacoma was especially praised for its effective combination of off-road ability, comfort, and usefulness, with the Canyon lacking in the first two categories. While reviewers said the Canyon’s performance on the road is adequate, its optional off-road suspension is bumpy, uncomfortable and not worth the extra money if you plan to drive mainly on pavement.

The Ford F-150 Ecoboost was also praised over the GMC Canyon, mainly for its powerful engine that retains good mileage, performance, and comfort. One more name dropped as superior to the Canyon was the Chevrolet Colorado.

How much is car insurance for a GMC Canyon?

Annual car insurance rates for a GMC Canyon start at more than $1,200, with the cheapest annual insurance rate at $1,228 for the most basic two-door Canyon WT with two-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine. Add four-wheel drive, extended cab, and fancier trim and the rates increase accordingly. The most expensive car insurance premiums go to the four-door, extended cab Canyon Z85 SLT model that features a five-cylinder engine. Annual insurance rates for other versions of the truck fall in between the two, with the majority of the advanced models costing at least $1,500 per year for car insurance.

How is the GMC Canyon’s warranty and reliability?

The 2012 GMC Canyon comes with the standard three-year or 36,000-mile warranty that covers bumper-to-bumper along with a five-year or 100,000-miles warranty on the powertrain that includes roadside assistance. J.D. Power and Associates have not yet rated the 2012 model, but the firm gave the 2011 model a less than average rating for reliability.