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GMC’s midsize Canyon pickup adds luxury Denali model

April 3, 2017 GMT

The midsize GMC Canyon pickup returned to the market two years ago after a three-year absence, and last year it received its first diesel engine option. Now, for 2017, the Canyon moves into the luxury realm with the introduction of the Denali crew cab version.

Under the hood is a new, more-powerful 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine, producing 308 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque, which helps move this fancy Canyon model right along.

This new engine also comes with a new class-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission, which helps boost fuel economy for the gasoline engine.

The Denali name is used throughout the GMC pickup, SUV and crossover lineups to denote the most-luxurious version of each line. There are Denali models of GMC products ranging from the full-size Sierra pickup and Yukon sport utility to the Terrain crossover.

Some of the hallmarks of the Denali models are hand-crafted leather interiors, and special exterior features, including chrome trim and special wheels.

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GMC took the Denali name from the native Alaskan designation for the highest mountain in the state, which until recently was officially known as Mount McKinley.

Canyon Denali prices begin at $39,055 (plus $940 freight) for the rear-wheel-drive version, and $42,820 for the four-wheel drive, which we tested for this report.

The Denali has a special chrome grille, unique 20-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum with painted accents, five-inch-wide chrome side assist steps, a polished exhaust tip and a factory spray-on bedliner.

Our test vehicle’s only option was the Dark Slate Metallic exterior paint, which cost $395 extra.

The standard Jet Black interior included leather heated and ventilated front seats, a unique instrument panel and console trim, Denali-logo sill plates and floor mats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, GMC IntelliLink with Navigation and an eight-inch color touch screen, and built-on 4G WiFi hotspot.

Also included are automatic climate control, a full-color driver-information center, remote start, Bose premium seven-speaker audio system, and three USB charging ports - two on the rear of the center console and another inside the console.

But there’s also wireless charging available for smartphones on a flat rubber-based tray just in front of the console box between the front seats. It worked on our Samsung Galaxy S7 phones, keeping them charged (one at a time) without us having to plug them in to the USB ports or 12-volt power outlets. Oddly, though, this convenience was not mentioned on the Canyon Denali’s window sticker list of included features - we just discovered it on our own.

Among the Denali’s standard high-tech safety features are forward collision alert and lane departure warning, rearview camera with display on the center-dash audio/navigation screen.

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Other new features for the Canyon - not just the Denali - for 2017 include the updated IntelliLink radio with seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen (upgraded to the eight-inch for the Denali); standard Teen Driver Mode through IntelliLink; and three new metallic exterior colors: our vehicle’s Dark Slate, along with Mineral, and Red Quartz.

The new 3.6-liter V-6 is the second generation of GM’s double-overhead-cam engine architecture. It’s essentially the same engine used in a variety of GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Camaro.

It also has improved variable valve timing for intake and exhaust, improved direct injection, and Active Fuel Management, which automatically disables two of the cylinders during level cruising to help boost fuel economy.

Consumers can pay an additional $3,730 to replace Denali’s V-6 with the Canyon’s 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Duramax clean-diesel turbo engine.

The diesel models come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings with the diesel are 22 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined for two-wheel-drive models, and 20/29/23 with four-wheel drive.

In comparison, our Denali four-wheel drive was EPA rated at 17 city/24 highway/19 combined, and we averaged about 18.7 mpg during our test week, with mostly around-town driving, but some highway use. Two-wheel-drive Denali models are rated at 18 city/25 highway/20 combined.

The optional diesel brings 181 horsepower and a whopping 369 foot-pounds of torque, which allows the truck to tow trailers weighing up to 7,700 pounds with two-wheel drive, or 7,600 pounds with four-wheel drive.

Our Denali tester was rated for towing 7,000 pounds with the V-6 engine, and there was a Trailering Equipment Package included in the Denali base price. It brought a tow-haul mode for the automatic transmission, along with other tow-related gear.