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For 2021, General Motors has updated the grille of its “premium” mid-size pickup, the GMC Canyon, to look like the monstrous face found on the Sierra 1500 and Sierra HD. On top of that, there’s a new “AT4" off-road trim for those who want to take a mid-size GM truck out on the trails, but who for whatever reason don’t want to buy the Chevy Colorado Z71 or the extremely capable but pricier Colorado ZR2.

Hopefully you were a fan of the giant grille found on the new GMC Sierra 1500 and GMC Sierra HD, because that design has now migrated to the smallest truck in the brand’s lineup, the mid-size Canyon. The outgoing truck, in case you’ve forgotten, has a modestly-sized rectangular grille. I think it’s actually quite handsome. Check it out:


Aside from the new heat exchanger air inlet at the nose of the new Canyon, there’s also a new trim called “AT4,” which you might recognize as the off-road (ish) variant of the larger Sierra. Like its half-ton sibling, the Colorado AT4 gets red recovery hooks up front, 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain tires, an Eaton G80 rear automatic locker, hill descent control, and a transfer case skid plate.

GMC says the mid-size truck also gets “AT4" stitching on the headrests and an “off-road tuned suspension,” though it doesn’t mention anything about a lift kit, which is standard on the bigger Sierra AT4.

The company’s press release also mentions changes to the top trim, “Denali.” GMC says the highest-end Canyon gets a grille with a “more sculpted and layered pattern,” though there are no photos of the new Canyon Denali in the document, so you’ll have to use your imagination to figure out what that even means. GMC gives a hint by saying the Canyon Denali has a “look similar to the new Sierra and Sierra HD trucks.” I’d say that probably means it has a big-ass, chromed-out grille up front. Something like this:

The GMC Canyon Denali will likely have a grille that looks like the one on this Sierra 1500 Denali.

There are some interior changes as well, and GMC mentions chrome steps and “Diamond Cut” wheels on the Denali, and “dark chrome finishes” on AT4 models, but you don’t care about that boring stuff. You probably just care about that new face and the new off-road model.


I think the face looks okay. I prefer the cleanliness of the old grille, but the new AT4 looks decent, especially with the lower air dam removed as shown in these photos (GM says the air dam is easier to remove than on the outgoing Canyon). But overall, the new off-road trim doesn’t really seem to offer much in the way of new content. The 2020 “All Terrain” trim also offered hill descent control, recover hooks, an Eaton G80 automatic rear locker, Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain tires, a transfer case skid plate, and an “off-road suspension.”

So really, this AT4 just looks like an optioned-out version of that old trim with a revised face and some paint on the front recovery points. And that’s fine; The GMC Canyon’s face hasn’t changed for quite a while now, so a little refresh is long overdue. Hopefully this little explainer has been helpful.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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