Almost a quarter of all trucks, SUVs and crossovers sold by GMC these days wear the Denali trim level, so it wasn’t really a huge surprise when the Canyon Denali was introduced for the 2017 model year. This new model means that, with the exception of the Savanna van, GMC’s entire lineup is available with the high-lux – and high-priced – trim level. What you’re looking at here is a midsize truck that is within spitting distance of $50,000.
Surprisingly, there is no shortage of $40,000-plus rivals for the Canyon Denali including the Toyota Tacoma Limited and Honda Ridgeline Black Edition; and that list will certainly grow with the next-gen Ford Ranger and eventual return of a midsize Ram. When you look at it that way, the Canyon Denali actually provides plenty of luxury and exclusivity.
Earlier this year, we had the chance to drive a diesel-powered Denali, but this time around we’re in a V6-powered 2018 GMC Canyon Denali Crew Cab 4×4.
2018 GMC Canyon Denali Exterior
The current Canyon dates back to the 2015 model year, and the Denali treatment does a lot to keep this design fresh. As if the squared-off headlights and bulging wheel arches didn’t make the Canyon imposing enough already, the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali is definitely in your face with its oversize mesh grille, 20-inch wheels and its flashy $495 Ruby Quartz Tintcoat paint job. Other standard Denali touches include the chrome mirrors, door handles and side steps as well as a polished exhaust tip (V6 only).
The Canyon Denali is only available with a Crew Cab, but you can get it with either short (62 inches) or long (74 inches) bed options; this tester had the short bed, which still benefits from the EZ Lift tailgate, Corner Step rear bumper and a standard spray-in bedliner with the Denali logo. Aside from the premium paint color, the only optional feature on this tester was the $1,145 bed-mounted sport bar. While this accessory does add a classic touch to this modern midsizer, the solid inserts displaying the Canyon name really hampers visibility out the rear window.
2018 GMC Canyon Denali Interior
While the exterior of the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali exudes a certain level of ruggedness, the interior focuses on adding refinements. This includes a more stylish interior with real aluminum and fake wood trim, stitched soft-touch leather accents throughout the cabin and embossed front headrests.
For content, the Denali comes with full leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, eight-inch touchscreen with the easy-to-use GMC infotainment system, Bose seven-speaker audio system and a wireless charging mat. Sadly, the high-priced Canyon Denali does lack some niceties that are pretty common (especially when you’re talking about vehicles in this price range) such as dual-zone HVAC, proximity key and push-button start.
2018 GMC Canyon Denali Powertrain
The biggest difference between this 2018 GMC Canyon Denali and our previous tester is what’s under the hood. While that truck had the torquey Duramax diesel (a $3,730 option), this truck keeps the Denali’s base engine, a 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 producing 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. With this engine, the Denali 4×4 has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway**; if fuel efficiency is what you want, that Duramax gets up to 30 mpg highway!
2018 GMC Canyon Denali Safety
The one area where the 2018 GMC Canyon shows its age is safety. Only the unibody Honda Ridgeline scores a perfect five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so the Canyon’s four-star rating is on par with the Tacoma. Where the GMC comes up short is safety tech. While forward collision alert and lane departure warning are standard on this truck, driver assistance features such as blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control aren’t available.
2018 GMC Canyon Denali Overall
In the ever-growing midsize pickup segment, the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali hits all the right notes with great style, powerful and capable drivetrain and a luxury-minded cabin. Bottom line, this baby Denali is about as rugged and refined as you’ll find in this segment.
It’s no surprise that adding GMC’s Denali treatment brings a big bump in price. While a standard 2018 Canyon starts at $21,100*, getting a Canyon Denali will set you back at least $39,600*. This mostly stock 4×4 V-6 tester had an as-tested price of $45,935, and there are still plenty of option boxes for buyers to check.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation GMC dealership and test drive the 2018 GMC Canyon Denali today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.