Driving the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition… It’s Sick, in a Good Way

The 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition is a few steps below the Colorado ZR2, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.

Folks, I truly enjoyed my time in the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition. It reminded me how sweet it is to drive a “just-right-sized” midsize pickup truck. Sure, it’s a little dated, but the overall package is outstanding.

In all honesty, the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition is basically an AT4 package with more armor, unique badges, and a leveling kit. Still, that’s enough for most – and I liked it. We took it off-road and it was more than competent. Best of all, unlike the ZR2, or other built-up off-road heroes, there is no perceptible loss of on-road performance. In fact, with those chunky 31-inch tires and the leveling kit, it felt a lot like its big brother, the Sierra AT4. That’s a good thing.

Power choices

You can still get a four-cylinder, on the base model Canyon. Upper-level versions allow you to get the turbo-diesel I4, but the volume seller is the 3.6-liter V6, like the one in our tester. It makes 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. While it’s not “best in class,” it’s still competitive. Hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, I averaged about 17 mpg. That’s just one mpg under the EPA rating, but it’s not great.

If it were my choice, I would get the thrifty diesel. We’ve had outstanding results with them in the past.

After spending the month driving the new batch of small pickups (Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz), it was a bit of a revelation to hop into a frame-based pickup. There truly is a huge difference.

My 12-year old said the truck was “sick.” It took a minute before I remembered that manes “good.” Man, I’m old.

It’s no Colorado ZR2, but…

GMC never said that the 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition would be a ZR2-ish Canyon. As such, it doesn’t have the Colorado ZR2’s trick DSSV Multimatic shocks, electrically locking front and rear axles, or the off-road body/frame upgrades.

What you do get is a capable all-around truck that has decent off-road chops. The G80 mechanically locking rear differential is fairly robust, and it does the trick. Sure, it slips a bit before engaging; but it’s tried and true, and less expensive than an electric locker.

The 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition has sliders and additional armor. It also has a chin-spoiler delete which, added to the one-inch leveling kit, gives the Canyon AT4 an impressive 30-degrees of approach angle. All that mixed with the excellent Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs makes for a great setup for fairly challenging off-roading.

Best of all, it feels great on the streets – where most of us spend most of our time.

Interior and comfort

As I indicated in the past, the seats, infotainment, and ride are pretty good. Rear seat comfort is not as good as it could be, but you can hold average size humans back there. Switchgear is okay, but I’m still bothered with the size, shape, and placement of the 4×4 controls. I get a lot of heat from fanboys, but I don’t like their placement next to the headlights. Especially being the same dial, only inches apart.

Steering input is real good, by the way. I think of it as a little less twitchy than the Ford Ranger and slow speeds. Body motions are well isolated, and; for my body shape, my driving position is more comfortable than a Tacoma’s.

I would own one, but…

The 2022 GMC Canyon AT4 starts at $38,400 – which is steep. If you add the Off-Road Performance Edition package $3195 and the leather package our tester has, along with a few options – you’ll creep into the $47,000 zone. That is a LOT of cabbage for a mid-size truck.

Still, it’s a damn good mid-size truck.

Man, I hate being poor.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.