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GMC Canyon pickup family adds premium AT4 off-road model for 2021

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press
The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 midsize pickup has a black chrome grille and skid plate to protect its transfer case.

GMC’s Canyon midsize pickup family will add an upscale AT4 off-road model and new features for its top-of-the-line Denali model for the 2021 model year. Sales should begin in spring.

GMC is rapidly adding the off-road AT4 models across its vehicle lineup to complement the upscale Denali model, which has boosted the brand’s image and padded profits. GMC already sells AT4 versions of its Sierra full-size and medium-duty pickups and Acadia three-row family SUV.

While the Acadia AT4 isn’t intended for serious off-roading, the Canyon AT4 gets mechanical upgrades including a skid plate to protect its transfer case and a rear electronic locking limited slip differential, which manages power to the rear wheels to keep the vehicle moving in difficult terrain.

The Canyon AT4 should help GMC’s midsize pickup compete with off-road oriented versions of the Jeep Gladiator and Ford Ranger, both of which went on sale in 2019.

"The Canyon AT4 will bring outdoor enthusiasts looking for a premium midsize pickup to GMC,” Buick and GMC vice president Duncan Aldred said.

Other equipment on the Canyon AT4 includes:

  • 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Off-road tuned suspension
  • Hill descent control
  • Larger grille
  • Red tow hooks
  • AT4 headrest stitching

The Canyon AT4 replaces the Canyon All Terrain, which offered the same off-road equipment but never caught on with buyers.

“This is a truck created with outdoor enthusiasts in mind,” Aldred said.

The Canyon Denali will likely aim a little upmarket of the AT4. It’ll be downtown, not upcountry, with features like 5-inch chrome assist steps, appreciated by city folk, but detrimental to off-road ability, where lots of ground clearance is more important than stepping in and out of the cab easily.

AT4 stitching and upholstery on seats of 2021 GMC Canyon midsize pickup.

Another visible change to the Canyon Denali is what GMC calls “a more sculpted and layered” grille.

Interior features include:

  • Standard heated and ventilated front seats
  • Standard heated steering wheel
  • Open-pore ash wood
  • Aluminum trim
  • Unique stitching
  • “Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere,” a new interior color scheme

The AT4 and Denali will be available with either 3.6L gasoline V6 or 2.8L diesel four-cylinder.

Canyon AT4 and Denali prices and fuel economy will be announced closer to when sales begin. GMC builds the Canyon alongside the Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup in Wentzville, Missouri.

Tailgate of 2021 GMC Canyon midsize pickup

Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or  mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: GMC Canyon pickup family adds AT4 premium off-road model for 2021