2018 GMC Canyon & AutoNation GMC Henderson: ½-year owner’s review

Do I still adore my truck? Yes.

As much as I did before? No.

Making a stop at the Grewal Business Center in Baker, CA after driving through the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas in a rainstorm

Back at the end of July 2018, I purchased a 2018 GMC Canyon mid-size pick-up truck from AutoNation GMC Henderson. I’ve owned the truck for just over 7 months now, and here are the experiences I’ve had owning the truck.

  • The seat is incredibly uncomfortable for long-distance driving. I have the SLE model (yes, I am sure it is the SLE, it’s just that the exterior is modified to look like the all-terrain) and it does not come with lumbar adjustment. I’ve been on multiple trips across the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas to Southern California and back, and I usually have noticeable back pain if I don’t stop a few times to take a break and stretch my back.

    I’ve resorted to sitting half cross-legged – that is, I take my left shoe off and fold my left leg under my other leg to give my lower back a stronger base of support – to ease the pain during long-distance driving. I’ve also tried a variety of different lumbar pillows, but none of them seem to fit just right.

    If you also have lower back problems, I would recommend either purchasing a different truck (I’ve driven between Las Vegas and Southern Cali­fornia in both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier via rentals from Enterprise, and I’ve had no back problems with either of those trucks) or upgrading to a higher trim with adjustable lumbar support.

  • Right around 4,380 miles on the odometer, the vehicle just randomly shut off with no warning while I was driving. Luckily I was cruising at approximately 20 MPH (30 KPH) because I had just turned out of my cousin’s neighborhood, but I noticed that the accelerator had stopped working, and when I checked to see what was going on, I saw that the vehicle was off.

    I continued cruising to the side of the road, stopped, put the vehicle in park, removed the key normally as if I was turning off the engine, waited several seconds, then started the vehicle again, and it worked perfectly fine. I’ve driven a couple thousand more miles since then and haven’t en­coun­tered the problem again.

    I brought the vehicle to the dealership to get it checked up, but the mechanic could not find any error codes in the history, and he was unable to replicate the problem (which was expected, seeing as I had already driven about 2,000 miles since the issue without the vehicle randomly dying again).

  • The transmission is slow and lurches the vehicle when the fluids are still cold. There’s an option to display transmission fluid temperature in the gauge cluster, and whenever it’s below ~100°F, the transmission takes longer to shift to different gears. This is particularly noticeable when you’re just starting up the vehicle and making your first stop of the day. If you do not come to a complete stop then wait a few seconds (and instead just slow down and roll through a stop sign), the vehicle will hiccup and lurch when you ease your foot off the brake and begin accelerating again.

    This problem did not happen right away, but became an issue a few months into ownership. After a few months, it happened with a 100% replication rate. Unfortunately, when I took it to the dealership for warranty service, the mechanic said that he could not recreate the problem, and said that the transmission is working as intended. The worst part about it is that it literally only happens after the vehicle sits overnight and completely cools down, so because the mechanic had already driven the vehicle earlier in the day, I couldn’t just get into the truck and show him myself.

    I plan on bringing the vehicle back for warranty service, though I need to figure out a strategy to actually show the problem to the mechanic my­self (which will be difficult unless I literally drop off the truck, use rideshare service to come back home, use rideshare service to go back to the dealership the next day, then drive the truck with the mechanic in the passenger seat the next morning on a cold start).

  • The climate control was fickle and often would not fully shut off, even though the center console claimed it was off. As a result, I couldn’t just set the temperature to very cold or very hot, blast the climate control until it was a comfortable temperature, then turn it off. Instead, I had to actually select exactly what temperature of air I wanted, because even in the “off” position, it would still blow out air of that particular temperature.

    The mechanic apparently forgot to write comments about this problem after bringing it in for warranty service, but after I tried to recreate the problem, it no longer happened, so I presume that they ended up finding some problem somewhere and fixed it.

  • The dealership, AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson, was great right up until my actual warranty service began. My salesperson was awesome, and my service consultant was probably the only service consultant I’ve ever seen who seemed like they actually cared about the customer. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I’m extremely dissatisfied with the mechanics.

    Not only did they fail to recreate a very basic transmission problem, even though I went as far as to drop off my truck and let it sit at the dealership overnight so they could drive it from a cold start, but for whatever reason, they decided to disconnect my dash cam part-way through servicing my vehicle. This was apparent far before I actually looked at the footage – I knew right away because, when they reconnected it, they didn’t even bother mounting it properly again, and instead left it dangling by the wires from the headliner (I have the dash cam hardwired).

    As far as I’m aware, the only reason to actually disconnect a dash cam then literally mention nothing about it when I went to pick up the truck (and also leave no mention about it in the service notes) is if they were up to something suspicious that they didn’t want me to know about. There’s another AutoNation GMC on the other side of the Las Vegas Valley, and I’ll likely end up taking my truck to the one on Sahara for a re-check on the transmission problem, hoping that the mechanics there know what they’re doing and opt to not disconnect my dash cam (or at least tell me if they need to).

So, do I regret the purchase of a GMC Canyon? Absolutely not. But would I do it again? … Absolutely not.

My decision was a toss-up between the Toyota Tacoma and the GMC Canyon; the Canyon won because it had substantially better styling for the price (both on the exterior and interior) as well as interior luxuries and conveniences. With the mid-size pick-up truck segment evolving with vehicle redesigns in the coming few years, I’m hoping that Toyota can up the quality of the Tacoma enough that it becomes the leader in the segment in both looks and reliability.

As for my Canyon, I was originally planning on keeping it for about a decade – and if I had gotten a Tacoma, I almost definitely would’ve kept it for a decade, as those things tend to run buttery smooth for a long, long time. However, at this point, with electric vehicles poising to take over the market, I’m almost glad that I have a semi-unreliable vehicle, as it will likely encourage me in the next 4-5 years to just trade it in and upgrade to an electric pick-up truck (while if I had a Tacoma, I would likely hold onto it forever).