What Are the Differences Between the GMC Canyon and the GMC Sierra 1500?
If you’re shopping for a GMC truck, should you choose the 2021 Canyon or the 2021 Sierra 1500? With the Canyon, you’ll get a smaller, less expensive truck that can still handle routine towing, hauling, and recreational activities. The Sierra 1500 is pricier, but with the expanded power, capabilities, and features to match.
Spotlight on the Canyon: Get the details on this do-it-all GMC truck
As a full-size pickup, the Sierra 1500 is longer, taller, and wider than the midsize Canyon. The Sierra comes in three cargo box sizes, all of which offer more cargo volume than the Canyon’s two box sizes. Inside, the Sierra’s crew cab and double cab configurations offer a more generous amount of second-row headroom and legroom.
While the Sierra’s extra size is a definite advantage for hauling people and things, the Canyon’s more modest dimensions are perfect for when you’re trying to navigate narrow streets or off-road terrain, squeeze into a parking space, or fit in a garage.
As you’d expect with its larger size, the Sierra 1500 offers a wider, more powerful lineup of engine options. These include a standard 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower, a 2.7-liter turbo engine that delivers 310 horsepower, and two 5.3-liter V8s that both put out 355 horsepower. The 6.2-liter V8 leads the way with 420 horsepower and joins the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel with 460 lb-ft of torque.
The Canyon offers three engines that you can choose from: a 2.5-liter four cylinder rated at 200 horsepower, a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel rated at 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.6-liter V6 that yields 308 horsepower.
Your Next Family Hauler? The GMC Sierra 1500 boasts capabilities that go well beyond towing and hauling
Hauling and towing
Thanks to its larger size, the Sierra 1500 naturally possesses bigger towing and hauling capabilities. When properly equipped with the Max Trailering Package and the 6.2-liter V8, it can pull up to 11,800 pounds. It can also handle a max payload of 2,200 pounds with the 4.3-liter V6 and a long bed.
The Canyon can’t handle quite as much weight, but it still delivers plenty of capability in its own right. It can tow up to 7,700 pounds with the Duramax turbodiesel or haul up to 1,609 pounds with a crew cab/short bed and the 3.6-liter V6.
The Sierra 1500 was fully redesigned just a few years ago, while the Canyon isn’t due for a major makeover until 2023. This means the Sierra can provide more advanced technologies and upscale options than the Canyon. Key available features that only the Sierra offers include the CarbonPro carbon-fiber bed, the six-function MultiPro tailgate, the ProGrade Trailering System with multiple camera views, the Rear Camera Mirror, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The Sierra also has a bigger selection of standard and available safety systems, a larger number of trim levels, and more interior and exterior styling options.
As the smaller truck, the Canyon also has a smaller price tag than the Sierra 1500. The Canyon’s entry-level Elevation Standard trim begins at $27,995, compared to the base Sierra’s $31,795 starting MSRP. The price difference is even more pronounced at the high end. The top-of-the-line Canyon Denali starts at $42,395, while the Sierra Denali starts at $57,495.
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A longtime editor/writer and recently transplanted Hoosier, Caleb Cook lives in Xenia, Ohio. His favorite activities are reading and listening to music, although he occasionally emerges from the heap of books and vinyl records in his basement to stand blinking in the sunlight. Once fully acclimated to the outside world again, he can be observed hanging out with his wife, attempting a new recipe in the kitchen, attending movies, walking the dog, or wandering into a local brewery to inquire about what’s on tap. See more articles by Caleb.