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What Are the Differences Between the GMC Canyon and the GMC Sierra 1500?

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Front side view of 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup parked on gravel
With its greater size and power, the GMC Sierra 1500 slots into the full-size truck segment
Photo: GMC

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

Side view of 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition driving on dirt path
The GMC Canyon is a more compact truck than the Sierra 1500
Photo: GMC


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.

Front side view of 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali pulling large trailer
The Sierra 1500 offers a wider variety of more powerful engines than the Canyon
Photo: GMC

Engine choices

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

Front side view of 2020 GMC Canyon towing a boat and trailer
The Canyon can pull a max of 7,700 pounds
Photo: GMC

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.

GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 MultiPro tailgate step function
The Sierra 1500’s available features include the six-function MultiPro tailgate
Photo: GMC

Advanced features

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.

Head-on view of 2021 GMC Canyon Denali in off-road setting
The Canyon comes in at a lower price than the Sierra 1500
Photo: General Motors


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.

Follow our coverage here at The News Wheel to stay up to date on all the latest news about the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 and GMC Canyon.