Behind the Wheel

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Review: More truck than most anyone will need in a midsize package

GMC added the Canyon AT4 to its lineup for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of GMC

It's no secret that Americans love their pickup trucks and SUVs, so much so that a few automakers have stopped making most car models altogether. GMC is just a truck and SUV brand, so it's not surprising to see it expand its existing offerings with more specialized, technical models in an effort to broaden their reach. The 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 is one of them and brings a hardcore off-road attitude to the midsize pickup line.

I recently had an opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of a GMC Canyon AT4, and was left a bit conflicted by that time. The AT4 is more truck than I, or most anyone else, will ever need, and it offers several of the most desirable new tech and comfort features. On the other hand, it's not quite as premium inside as its brand name or price tag would suggest. That said, the AT4 is more than competitive in its segment, and is a direct shot at Ford, whose Ranger pickup truck is still not offered in a Raptor configuration in the United States.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition The GMC Canyon AT4 is more than competent off road. Photo courtesy of GMC

At nearly $40,000 before any options, it's hard to think of the Canyon AT4 as a bargain, but the price tag not out of line with the list price of its competitors. That money buys a truck that is surprisingly refined on the road, capable off-road, and comfortable enough for daily driving and family hauling.

The Canyon is offered with three engine choices, but the base four-cylinder isn't available in the AT4 variant. There's a four-cylinder diesel engine, but its price tag won't be easy to swallow for many buyers. The sweet spot is the 3.6-liter V6 that came in the test truck. With 308 horsepower on tap it helps make the Canyon AT4 one of the quickest trucks in its class. It comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and offers cylinder deactivation to save fuel on the highway.

One downfall of compact pickups is that off-road suspension and knobby tires can make them feel as if they're riding on stilts, especially at highway speeds. The AT4 is much more planted and stable than that and offers a comfortable ride that is far smoother than it has any business being. Broken pavement and rough roads present little challenge for the AT4's suspension system, and on the other side of the coin, it remains confidence-inspiring when the roads become curvy.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition Too many hard plastics dominate the interior of the truck for its price point. Photo courtesy of GMC

Inside, there's a mix of high-function but low-rent materials that includes more plastic than there should be at the AT4's price point. The tester came equipped with optional heated leather seats that felt premium and remained comfortable, even on longer drives, but the remainder of the cabin lacks the same upscale appeal. That said, it's a nice place to spend time, and with options it can be decked out with most of features that people really want in a truck.

The eight-inch touchscreen runs GMC's excellent and easy-to-use infotainment system, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The software is responsive, colorful, and offers an easy way to interact with the truck's functions without taking eyes off the road. True to General Motors' form, the AT4's tech can be upgraded in a number of ways, including a navigation system and a Bose premium audio system.

Though it's available with several advanced safety technologies, the Canyon falls victim to the issue that many pickups do: Spotty crash test results. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the 2021 Canyon and rated it Acceptable in both Small overlap front driver-side and Side crashworthiness. All other areas earned Good ratings, except for the headlights, which were rated Poor.

2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition The seats in the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 are comfortable. Photo courtesy of GMC

The Canyon AT4 is comfortable, capable, and wildly customizable, but it's got some heavy-hitting competition to contend with in its segment alone, not to mention vehicles in the full-size pickup category and upcoming models in the compact pick segment.

The Jeep Gladiator made a big splash when it arrived in 2019 by offering the same off-road-ready attitude and beefy styling as the Wrangler, while Ford continues to press forward with not-quite-a-Raptor-but-close Ranger models. Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is the Toyota Tacoma. Despite lacking some of the comfort and convenience options that the GMC offers, the Taco is one heck of a truck, and brings legendary reliability along with its backwoods street cred. It's hard to go wrong with any of those trucks, really, but for buyers dead set on buying American, the GMC Canyon is a solid choice.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.

This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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