When it comes to midsize pickup trucks, the GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma are popular choices. Their prices are also close, with the Canyon costing slightly more than the Tacoma. So you might assume they’re pretty evenly matched.
Sure, a glance at their exteriors and prices might have you thinking these two trucks are on par. But a closer look reveals one offers much more than the other.
The 2021 GMC Canyon
According to Car and Driver, the 2021 GMC Canyon is a snazzier version of the Chevy Colorado. The Canyon is marketed as a premium truck in the midsize-pickup segment even while its top-shelf Denali fails to hit that note.
The Canyon offers plenty. You get a choice of three engines, including a four-cylinder diesel with plenty of torque and a stout V6. This truck offers a composed ride with excellent handling — surprising for a pickup not based on a crossover — Car and Driver says.
The 2021 GMC Canyon also boasts impressive hauling and towing chops that rival that of full-size trucks. It has luxury touches such as flashy chrome and cooled and heated seats.
But it doesn’t offer many active safety features. The base models have only the basics. And the mid-trim levels get forward-collision and lane-departure warnings. Other features, like automatic emergency braking and blind-spot warning, aren’t available.
The 2021 Canyon starts at $27,595. Consumer Reports gave the newest model an overall score of 44 out of 80.
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma, which fans affectionately call the Taco, is a quality midsize pickup truck offering great value. It’s also popular for off-roading. The TRD models are trail-ready to tackle any off-road adventure you like.
The Tacoma can be a workhorse with its rough-and-tumble chassis and a bed made from durable composite plastic. According to Consumer Reports, it drives like a “primitive, agricultural-era relic.” Still, it offers relatively good gas mileage and spirited acceleration.
The ride is still loud and wild, but there’s a new power driver’s seat for comfort. The controls are easy to use and reach. The addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will make many drivers happy. Did we mention when properly equipped, the Tacoma can tow up to 6,400 pounds?
As far as standard safety features, the Tacoma offers Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard. This suite offers forward-collision warning with auto braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, a rearview camera, and rear parking sonar are all available options.
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma starts at $27,425. Consumer Reports gave it an overall score of 51 out of 80.
The Tacoma is the better truck
These two trucks are comparable, with the GMC Canyon priced slightly higher than the Toyota Tacoma.
But considering the Tacoma’s active standard safety features, you have to wonder why the Canyon costs more. The Tacoma has average crash test ratings, but the driver-assistance technology is the best in its class.
The safety features, along with the Tacoma’s slightly better predicted reliability rating, are likely why the Tacoma gets a better overall CR rating than the Canyon.
The CR team recommends the 2021 Toyota Tacoma’s TRD model. The trim gives you access to many available features but doesn’t stick you with the stiff off-roading suspension. They recommend the power driver’s seat and the V6 tow package if you plan to put the truck to work.