Over the past couple of years, GMC has been getting serious about being more than just a rebrand of Chevy trucks and SUVs. The same goes for the luxury Denali line. Among the beneficiaries of this push for differentiation is the latest Canyon. On top of only being available with the wide-track layout and the most powerful engines, it gets a Denali trim that is unequivocally the most luxurious midsize truck in the segment. The GMC Canyon Denali could even be described as a luxury midsize truck, of which there are no others. And it all comes down to what GMC has done with the interior.
Open the door, and the upgrades are immediately obvious. There’s leather everywhere. It’s on the dash, the door panels, center console and doors. And it has nice details with the perforation and quilted stitching. The seatbacks get embroidered Denali logos and contrasting leather panels, too. The feel is more rugged than supple, but it is a truck after all, and the materials feel like they’ll wear nicely.
Then you notice the wood trim. The real wood trim. It’s subtle, just adorning a strip along the top of the dash and the front door panels, but the light brown color stands out against the black leather and plastic elsewhere. It’s got a natural, open-pore finish that highlights the material, and the strip in the dash gets extra laser-cut details. The branding consisting of DENALI, some stylish strakes and the coordinates of Denali, the mountain, are crisp and clear. Throw in plenty of shiny chrome, and the same quality-feeling buttons and knobs (the knurling details on the knobs are particularly nice), and just on trimmings alone, it’s obvious the Denali is the most plush little truck.
The seats themselves are solid, though not particularly exceptional. The front seats are a bit flat, but they’re also very roomy. On the Denali, the driver’s seat has eight-way power adjustability with memory, and the passenger has six-way power adjustability. Heating and ventilation are included, too. Leg, head and shoulder room are also all excellent up front.
The rear seat, like the rest of the segment, has enough room for adults, though legroom is a tad tight, with knees likely brushing the front seat backs. The seat bases in the rear are split with storage underneath, although it’s not particularly useful. Besides its meager volume and awkward shape, much of it is taken up with the jack.
On the topic of storage, the Denali comes with a tailgate that features a latching bin for tools, bungee cords or other small items. And there’s a measuring “tape” marked in inches along the tailgate.
You may have also noticed the child seat in the back. Senior Editor James Riswick handled that job, and it, in the words of my own father, was non-trivial. This was accomplished after having already installed a forward facing car seat in a Chevy Colorado, so he was already a vet. He recommends studying the owner’s manual thoroughly before tangling with the Coloranyon’s unusual rear LATCH anchor situation, and even taking the truck and seat to a certified child seat fitment specialist (fire departments are a good bet) to make sure it’s done correctly due to the difficulty. You can read more about that in his Colorado Trail Boss road test.
As for space for that car seat, it’s acceptable. Riswick reports that he had to scoot the seat forward enough so his son wouldn’t kick the front seat, but there was still sufficient room up front for his wife to be comfortable. Also worth noting is that the rear seat bottom is split 60/40, which means you can keep the car seat in place on the 40 portion while maintaining the ability to flip up the 60 portion for cargo purposes. You can’t do that in the Ford Ranger, which has a one-piece seat bottom.
The Denali adds to the luxury effect by packing loads of features. It gets an 11-inch digital instrument cluster to go with the standard 11.3-inch infotainment system. Both screens are bright and crisp, but the instrument cluster really impresses with in-depth configuration. All kinds of information can be displayed from basics such as the speedometer and tachometer, to off-road, sound system and trip info. The whole screen can also be filled by the navigation map, or everything turned off except the vehicle speed, in case you want something a bit less busy. And there’s a 6.3-inch color head-up display rounding out the screen selection. As far as connectivity, there’s standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a wireless charging pad.
The list of premium features goes on. The Denali has dual-zone automatic climate control, a Bose 7-speaker sound system, surround-view cameras, automatic emergency braking front and rear, blind-zone warning and steering assist and adaptive cruise control.
Now, the Canyon Denali is not cheap. It starts at $52,595 for the 2024 model. Still, that’s $1,000 less than the new 2024 Toyota Tacoma Limited, which has less power and torque, and an interior that does reach to the level of luxury. At $56,855, the Jeep Gladiator High Altitude is even more expensive than either, and again underperforms compared to the Canyon, while also having a tighter, less premium-feeling cabin that’s noisier than the solid-bodied trucks. As for Ford and Nissan, there aren’t any specifically luxury-aimed trims, so that leaves our previously mentioned models.
So with that all in mind, the GMC Canyon Denali is not only the most plush place to be as far as midsize trucks are concerned, it’s also the best value.