2021 GMC Canyon vs. 2020 Toyota Tacoma

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Both the Canyon Crew Cab and Tacoma have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Canyon has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Tacoma’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Canyon are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Full-time four-wheel drive is optional on the Canyon. Full-time four-wheel drive gives added traction for safety in all conditions, not just off-road, like the only system available on the Tacoma.

Both the Canyon and the Tacoma have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

The GMC Canyon has a better fatality history. The Canyon was involved in fatal accidents at a rate 8.9% lower per vehicle registered than the Tacoma, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Warranty

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The Canyon’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Tacoma’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 36 percent more GMC dealers than there are Toyota dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Canyon’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that GMC vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 19th, below the industry average.

Engine

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The Canyon’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 41 more horsepower (200 vs. 159) and 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (191 vs. 180) than the Tacoma’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Canyon’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 30 more horsepower (308 vs. 278) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (275 vs. 265) than the Tacoma’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

The Canyon’s 2.8 turbo diesel produces 22 more horsepower (181 vs. 159) and 189 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 180) than the Tacoma’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Canyon’s 2.8 turbo diesel produces 104 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 265) than the Tacoma’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Canyon diesel gets better fuel mileage than the Tacoma:

Canyon

Tacoma

RWD

2.8 turbo 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

20 city/30 hwy

20 city/23 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

4x4

n/a

17 city/20 hwy

3.5 V6/Manual

2.8 turbo 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

19 city/28 hwy

19 city/22 hwy

2.7 4 cyl./Auto

On the EPA test cycle the Canyon gets better fuel mileage than the Tacoma:

Canyon

Tacoma

4x2

2.5 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

19 city/25 hwy

20 city/23 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

4x4

2.5 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

19 city/24 hwy

19 city/22 hwy

2.7 4 cyl./Auto

3.6 V6/8-spd. Auto

17 city/24 hwy

18 city/22 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Canyon V6’s fuel efficiency. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The Canyon has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the GMC Canyon V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Tacoma.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Canyon’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the Tacoma:

Canyon

Tacoma

Front Rotors

12.2 inches

10.75 inches

Rear Rotors

12.75 inches

10” drums

The GMC Canyon has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Tacoma. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Canyon stops much shorter than the Tacoma:

Canyon

Tacoma

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Canyon has larger standard tires than the Tacoma (255/55R20 vs. 245/75R16).

The Canyon AT4’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 65 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Tacoma’s standard 75 series tires. The Canyon Short Box Denali Crew Cab’s tires have a lower 55 series profile than the Tacoma Short Bed Limited Double Cab’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Canyon AT4 has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Tacoma. The Canyon Short Box Denali Crew Cab’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Tacoma Short Bed Limited Double Cab.

The Canyon has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Tacoma doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Canyon’s wheelbase is longer than on the Tacoma:

Canyon

Tacoma

Extended Cab Standard Bed

128.3 inches

127.4 inches

Crew Cab Short Bed

128.3 inches

127.4 inches

The Canyon Short Box Crew Cab 4x4 handles at .79 G’s, while the Tacoma Short Bed TRD Pro Double Cab 4x4 pulls only .70 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Canyon uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Tacoma doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The Canyon Extended Cab has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front legroom, 1.8 inches more rear headroom, 4 inches more rear legroom, .5 inches more rear hip room and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the Tacoma Access Cab.

The Canyon Crew Cab has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front legroom and 3.2 inches more rear legroom than the Tacoma Double Cab.

Cargo Capacity

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The Canyon Extended Cab has a much larger cargo box than the Tacoma Access Cab shortbed (49.9 vs. 42.6 cubic feet).

The Canyon Crew Cab shortbed has a much larger cargo box than the Tacoma Double Cab shortbed (41.3 vs. 34.8 cubic feet). The Canyon Crew Cab longbed has a much larger cargo box than the Tacoma Double Cab longbed (49.9 vs. 42.6 cubic feet).

The Canyon’s cargo box is larger than the Tacoma’s in every dimension:

Canyon Extended

Cab

Canyon Crew

Cab

Tacoma Access Cab

Tacoma Double Cab

Length (short/long)

74”

61.7”/74”

73.7”

60.5”/73.7”

Max Width

57.8”

57.8”

56.7”

56.7”

Min Width

44.4”

44.4”

41.5”

41.5”

Height

20.9”

20.9”

19.1”

19.1”

The GMC Canyon has a standard CornerStep, which allows for much easier access to the cargo area. The Toyota Tacoma doesn’t offer a rear cargo step.

Both the Canyon and Tacoma have bed indentations that accommodate 2x4’s for two-tiered loading, but the Canyon also has indentations to separate the cargo box into three different sections length-wise.

The Canyon has stake post holes, to allow the containment of tall, light loads. The Tacoma doesn’t offer stake post holes.

Payload and Towing

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Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Tacoma is limited to 6800 pounds. The Canyon Crew Cab offers up to a 7700 lbs. towing capacity.

The Canyon 4x4 can be flat towed on all four wheels (dinghy towed), allowing recreational vehicle owners to bring it with them on the road. When they reach their destination, the Canyon can be unhitched and driven around locally. The Tacoma can’t be towed flat on the ground.

The Canyon Short Box Crew Cab 4x4 has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Tacoma Short Bed Double Cab 4x4 (1531 vs. 1155 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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The Canyon uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Tacoma uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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The Canyon Elevation/AT4/Denali has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior, with the optional automatic climate control feature. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Canyon’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Tacoma does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Canyon and the Tacoma have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Canyon is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Tacoma prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Canyon’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The Tacoma’s standard driver’s power window switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Canyon’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Tacoma doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Canyon’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Tacoma doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

The Canyon’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Tacoma’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Canyon Denali keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Tacoma doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Canyon’s optional (except Elevation Standard) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Canyon Crew Cab has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable and it can provide a boundary between children. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Canyon owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Canyon will cost $645 less than the Tacoma over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Canyon is less expensive to operate than the Tacoma because typical repairs cost much less on the Canyon than the Tacoma, including $85 less for a water pump, $168 less for a muffler, $146 less for a starter, $156 less for fuel injection, $182 less for a fuel pump and $966 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/15

Truck Trend performed a comparison test in its May 2017 issue and they ranked the GMC Canyon Short Box Denali Crew Cab 4x4 two places higher than the Toyota Tacoma Short Bed TRD Pro Double Cab 4x4.

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