This Dude Actually Bought A Manual GMC Canyon, Here's What It's Like

A reader went ahead and bought himself a true unicorn: a base-trim 2015 GMC Canyon with a manual transmission. Here are his first impressions after getting it home and getting some miles on it.

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I bought a MANUAL 2015 GMC Canyon

Well, I did it. I bought the one truck that GMC thought they would never be forced to make. That's right, I ordered a 2015 GMC Canyon with a manual transmission. So, as I have not yet read a review of any sort for the manual transmission version of the 2015 Canyon or its twin, the Chevrolet Colorado, I plan on doing so here, if I may be so indulged.

First, let me get some of the nannies out of the way.

Trim: Base Canyon

Body/bed: Extended cab, long box six foot bed.

Options: Convenience package (keyless entry, cruise control, rear window defogger, alarm, and the "E-Z lift and lower" tailgate); Intellilink Bloothtooh radio; factory drop-in liner (dealer installed).

Color: Bronze Alloy Metallic paint, Black/Dark Ash interior

I chose this truck over the full sized options for the same reasons that were talked about before buy just about everyone else, namely those things are just too big for my every day needs. I didn't like the Nissan which, like the Toyota, is just too old of a design; both very nice trucks, but clearly dated. I liked the look and a few other things from the GMC over the Chevy and the price was within spitting distance apples to apples.

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It took me a while to actually sit down and get one ordered, because I had to have the manual. Only one dealer in all of Phoenix had one to drive, so although I settled on the truck, options, colors, everything, even who to buy it from, I had yet to test drive an example. So, after trekking from my south of town home, past Barrett-Jackson, to the north of town dealership, I was finally able to drive the only manual transmission GMC Canyon in all of Phoenix. The dealer did present me with number from them, but they were way off on my trade (by a few thousand dollars) and reluctant to match the (albeit small) discount on the truck from the other dealer. As such I went with [dealer that sells GMC's and Buick's in Gilbert]

Although I won't name them, because your experience at the same place could be different than mine, I still want to give them a little bit of time here. The whole experience for me was great! I asked them if I could look at both the full size and the midsize to compare, and they complied. I asked if there were any discounts on the truck, or if they were marking them up; they replied they would sell for invoice. I told them I didn't want a lot truck, and wanted to order; they didn't bother with trying to get me into a truck "today." When it came to ordering, they were very, very patient; I built the truck in the purchasing manager's office, and they allowed me to think over the offer overnight, with no pressure to sign right now. They answered all my questions, and never once made me feel like I was being pushed into something I didn't want.

OK. So now to the review of the truck!

SO first thing's first; I think GM is doing a disservice to themselves by only offering the manual transmission in the lower trim trucks. If I could have optioned it with the next trim up, the SLE, I probably would have. Going from a base trim (with the v6 and auto transmission for an apples to apples) it's about $2,000. Doing so gives you more standard features, and opens up more color choices for the interior. By limiting the trim choices I feel as though GM will turn off some buyers, who could end up purchasing the Toyota, which can be ordered with a manual in the higher trims.

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Even with the lower trims, and the smaller engine, this truck is very well appointed. Being mandated for all vehicles in a few years, the standard back-up camera is nothing to write home about as a feature, but it is worth noting that it is also better than most. The manual climate controls are easy to use and all buttons can be used with work gloves (yes I tried this). The standard non-touch screen radio still has a nice (enough) sized screen, and the Bluetooth connects even to my BlackBerry. I did option the truck with the convenience package and the Bluetooth connectivity radio, which adds many features of the SLE trim, and makes it a lot easier to live with day to day.

Getting the manual also means the center console is redesigned. The cup holders are moved back and the larger tray that sits being the automatic's gear selector is removed to accommodate the cup holders. Still, there are a million and one trays, cubbies, pockets, and hide-away' s that I can use to store and keep just about anything I could ever imagine.

Driving around town I am amazed at how well the truck just coasts down the road. My morning commute is rather early at around 5:30 am and with no other cars on the road, I can coast along with the cruise control activated, getting close to 40 MPG real time at 45 MPH. So far on a half a tank (I did just pick her up the other week) I've returned 22 MPG in mostly around town driving. Still If I can return about 25-28 MPG mixed use, that's the same as my old BMW and I'm not buying high grade fuel anymore. (UPDATE: getting around 23 mpg after two tanks... this will probably be the norm from now on. Still cheaper than filling the BMW every week.)

Acceleration could be a little better, but I think I might be biased coming out of the 330ci and going to a truck. The reality is, although it's no sports car, it is fine for a truck. If you have reasonable expiations then you won't be disappointed in the 2.5 liter engine, or the manual. Shifting is also somewhat of a biased learning curve for me. Again, having reasonable expiations counts, and after a few days of getting used to the longer throws, and the newness of the gearbox, I can happily report that the six speed shifts great.

About the worst trade off, is the low towing/hauling capacity. The smaller engine and manual transmission is only rated to tow 3000 pounds. That's fine for me, because about the only thing I would tow is a trailer full of nothing. Expiations – remember? If you want to haul your house behind you, there's a truck for that; the 3500HD. If you have a boat, or want to haul anything more than a motorcycle, or a jet ski, then you need the bigger engine or the full-sized 1500. I plan to go to Home Depot/Lowes and the gravel quarry, nothing more. Hauling 1,000 pounds of landscaping stone is more than enough work for my Saturday, and won't come close to the rear axle max weight rating of 3,500 pounds.

My few minor quips are that the radio does not download the playlists from my phone, though it could be because I have a BlackBerry. The reverse lockout requires me to push down on the shifter, which I'm sure I'll get used to, and that there is no hand brake (it's a foot brake).

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The bottom line is, if you are like me and have to have a manual, you will not be disappointed in being forced into the lower trim, and smaller engine. The truck comes with plenty of features, and opting for the convenience package and Bluetooth radio makes it easy to live with. Would I have liked to get the tan interior? You bet. Would I have liked to have the soft touch dash and the stainless trim? Hell yes. Do I miss them? Not really. For me, it's actually driving the vehicle and using it as intended that counts, not that my butt can be heated and cooled.