2009 GMC Canyon – a date with a V-8

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As if straight out of a “Pimp My Ride” episode on TV, General Motors is offering its compact pickup trucks with a fullsize V-8 powerplant under the hood, complete with a factory warranty and fully-intact fenders and hood.

Yes, you read correctly, GM offers an optional 5.3-liter eight-cylinder engine in the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup lineups for 2009. Thank goodness gas prices have been cut in half since last summer, otherwise this might come down as one of the poorest-timed decisions from Detroit in recent years.

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The concept is quite basic, as the small trucks are built in the Shreveport plant that also produces the HUMMER H3, which began offering the V-8-equipped Alpha model last year. Putting the Vortec 8 in the pickups seemed a logical follow-up, I just wonder how loud the cries were from consumers seeking the larger (and less fuel efficient) engine.

Despite all that, this will most likely be one of the most sought after used vehicles down the road. Customizers looking to build the ultimate “street sleeper” will be clamoring for a V-8 compact pickup.

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The 2009 Canyon we tested recently also featured the new ZQ8 sport suspension, a fine complement to the new powertrain. Transmission duties are still via a four-speed automatic but I guess we all have to make sacrifices. At least they threw in a limited-slip rear differential and traction control defeat button. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

To clear a couple of things up, the trucks actually DO offer a manual gearbox, in five speed variety, but not behind the V-8. And that ZQ8 suspension is actually returning from a brief retirement.

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So why the V-8? For one thing, power is up to 300 ponies and 320 lb. ft. of torque, meaning towing capacity is increased to 6,000 lbs.

The ZQ8 suspension is only offered on trucks equipped with the V-8, giving these sporty little pickups specific steering and track-tuned enhancements that increases ride stiffness by about 30 percent. The trucks also get high-performance coolers, sit about 1 inch lower and ride on unique 18-inch aluminum wheels and sport tires.

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And get this race fans – the V-8 trucks offer a choice of rear-end gear ratios up to a set of 4.10s. Sweet, except that our test truck came with the 3.42.

Pricing begins at $23,420 for a 2009 GMC Canyon Crew Cab with base powertrain, but our V-8 tester comes rolling in at $31,230 thanks to the powertrain and suspension mods.

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This is the truck that us guys used to sit around and eventually come up with following a few cold ones. This is that “Hey, what if …” truck. This is that truck – complete with a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.

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