2004 GMC Canyon Z85 SLE 4WD Extended Cab (501)

This week I tested the new for 2004 GMC Canyon Z85 SLE 4WD Extended Cab Pick Up truck. It replaces the Sonoma in 2004. My construction friend Ken asked me to evaluate the Canyon some months ago when it had just arrived on the scene.

Unfortunately he bought the Chevy S-10, and although he picked up 15 added horsepower with the V6, he sacrifices 4 mpg. Unfortunate because had he looked closer I believe for his application he would have bought the GMC. Don’t tell him, though, because I don’t want him to feel bad.

He’s a GM kind of guy from Michigan where they do a lot of hunting and fishing. Ken’s a loyalist, so as expected he stayed with GM. He opted for the Crew Cab but I’ve never seen him ferry a lot of workers around, so that may be an added luxury not needed. In either case both have short beds, which is perfect for his use. But it would be limiting for a contractor who will be using it for down and dirty hauling of plywood, dry wall etc. Ken’s role in his company is more supervisory in nature. So in the final analysis, the application and expected use should be the determining factor in which vehicle you choose.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Shreveport, LA.

Class:  – Standard Pickup

Cars: – Canyon, Envoy, Safari, Savana, Sierra, Sonoma and Yukon.

Handling & Performance:

My first pickup truck was a fire engine red 1946 Chevrolet 6 cylinder ½ ton. But my real love was for the subsequent Turquoise 1955 Ford ½ ton Pickup. At 16 years old these are vision that never disappear and they will forever be indelibly etched on my brain. In the realm of pick-up trucks not much has really changed. The interior is more car like, and the mechanical is naturally more sophisticated and refined. But at the end of the day, this workhorse vehicle will take you back home in comfort.

And because it is a workhorse, it is enough that it is also comfortable. Speed is not it’s middle name but power and torque are both good for the task I’d expect it would need to handle. On the ranch my Dodge Ram 3500 dual rear wheel will haul a house while carrying a ton and a half of hay. As it turns out the guy who owned it before me used it for long haul of doublewide trailers. He bought it new and put on 212,000 miles when I bought it.


Nice. It looks the part and lends a bit of confidence by its rugged appearance. Chevy would say it is “Built like a Rock”.

Fit and Finish:

Very Good.


More than a work truck needs, but we all want the creature comforts when all is said and done. Anyway, I would surely opt for the auto trans and XM radio is becoming more attractive to me.


Competitive in class.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you won’t need to haul a lot of hay, the GMC is really a nice truck and the price is right. I have a weakness for Pickups, and although I like the Crew Cab better, it isn’t that often I really need to have the back seat occupied. If you won’t be carrying 3 passengers often, this extended cab is adequate.

The Competition:

GMC Canyon $16-28,000, Ford Ranger $15-26,000, Dodge Dakota $17-26,000, Chevrolet Colorado $16-28,000, Mazda Truck $15-24,000, Toyota Tacoma $12-23,000, Nissan Frontier $13-28,000.

Good News:

Decent fuel economy, comfortable, nice looking.

Bad News:

Rear extended cab will only accommodate 2 additional passengers. The inside cargo space even with the rear seats folded away is small and not easily accessible.

Standard Equipment:

2.8 liter 175 hp L4 engine, 4 speed auto trans, power steering, front disc and rear drum antilock brakes, 4X4, front air bags, theft deterrent system, dual rear doors, rear folding seats, air conditioning, stereo with CD player, cruise control, tilt wheel, 100 channel XM radio, side curtain restraints and compass with information system.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 23 Highway MPG.


MSRP $25,935.

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