In production since 1995, the Toyota Tacoma is a legendary example of Toyota's 50-years of truck heritage in North America. Meanwhile, just a few short years ago in 2014, the GMC Canyon began production for the US market. In this head to head comparison, we will compare the two trucks in terms of performance, safety, and reliability to determine one clear winner.
Drivers looking to explore off-road will appreciate the two available off-roading trims of the Tacoma: the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro56. Canyon does not offer a TRD Pro equivalent for the 2019 year, but the Canyon All-Terrain does offer some comparable off-roading features which will be detailed in the following sections.
Looking at the prices of these two trucks, the 2019 GMC Canyon base MSRP is lower than that of the 2019 Toyota Tacoma12, however, Canyon's price climbs very quickly. Tacoma also takes your money further, as demonstrated by winning the Kelley Blue Book® 2019 5-Year Cost to Own Award: Best Mid-Size Pickup Truck57. Plus, Toyota was named the 2018 Best Resale Value Brand according to Kelley Blue Book®41.
In addition, standard Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P)24 is a huge advantage for Tacoma over Canyon's extra-cost safety features.
To decide an overall winner in this head to head competition, let's take a closer look at the reliability, safety, and performance features of the 2019 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2019 GMC Canyon.
Tacoma starts off strong in the performance category by offering a manual transmission option on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road, TRD Sport, and TRD Pro grades. GMC does not offer a manual transmission option on any model of the 2019 Canyon.
Adding on to this, Tacoma TRD Off-Road and Pro models with automatic transmission come with available Multi-Terrain Select (5 modes), Crawl Control65, and Hill Start Assist Control (HAC). While Canyon All-Terrain does not have Crawl Control or Hill Start Assist Control, it does include a Hill Descent Control feature which is similar but is for downhill driver assistance only. Tacoma drivers also get Vehicle Stability Control as part of the Star Safety System® standard on the 2019 Tacoma, which is comparable to Canyon’s standard StabiliTrak® electronic stability control system with traction control.
Drivers who love to explore where the blacktop ends will be impressed by Tacoma's off-roading capabilities56. Tacoma offers two off-roading trims: the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro which come standard with an electronically controlled locking rear differential. Canyon does offer an All-Terrain grade which offers off-roading capability. The All-Terrain grade does have off-roading features, including an available off-road suspension package with an underbody transfer case shield.
However, Tacoma's TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims turn Tacoma into an off-road machine56. The TRD Pro trim features a quarter-inch thick aluminum skid plate, TRD-tuned FOX® Internal Bypass shocks and an aggressively-styled exterior.
The Tacoma TRD Pro trim comes standard with 16-in. TRD Pro black alloy wheels with P265/70R16 All-Terrain tires, while the 2019 Canyon All Terrain grade comes standard with 17-in. dark argent metallic cast-aluminum wheels.
GMC Canyon does not offer a TRD Pro equivalent trim, but instead offers a more luxury-feeling top of the line Denali trim. With this, Canyon offers higher-end comfort items that are not available on Tacoma such as ventilated seating.
Lastly, in keeping with the off-road durable feel, Tacoma boasts a greater ground clearance of 9.4 inches vs. Canyon's 8.2 inches of ground clearance.
Toyota Tacoma's standard Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P)24 is a major advantage over the safety features available on every 2019 Canyon.
Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)2322 is designed to help to mitigate potential collisions by using an in-vehicle camera and radar to help detect a preceding vehicle and, under certain daytime conditions, a pedestrian. If the system determines that the possibility of a frontal collision with a vehicle or a pedestrian is likely, an audio and visual alert is given. If the driver then applies the brakes, the system may provide additional braking force using Brake Assist (BA)28. If at this time the driver does not apply the brakes, the system may automatically apply the brakes, reducing the speed of the vehicle to help mitigate the impact or avoid the collision altogether.
Lane Departure Alert62 with Sway Warning System (SWS)53 is designed to use an in-vehicle camera to detect lane departure when traveling on relatively straight roads with clear lane markings. The system's current operating status is indicated through colored lane marking illustrations on the vehicle's Multi-Information Display (MID). If LDA determines that the vehicle is starting to unintentionally deviate from its visibly marked lane, the system alerts the driver with an audio and visual alert.
Automatic High Beams (AHB)18. This feature uses an in-vehicle camera to detect headlights or taillights ahead of your vehicle. The function then toggles between high or low beam lights to help ensure that you have an appropriate amount of light ahead of your vehicle.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)19. DRCC helps to maintain a preset distance between your car and the car ahead. DRCC can automatically slow your vehicle to maintain the preset distance and then detect when the vehicle ahead of you is no longer in your lane. It will then resume your vehicle’s speed.
In comparison, the 2019 Canyon SLT offers just two similar features: Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert, but these come at an additional cost of $400 with the Driver Alert package.
In addition to the safety features that come standard with Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P)24, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Limited trims also come standard with a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert3334. Canyon does not have an equivalent safety feature. Also missing on the Canyon are standard knee airbags, which are a standard feature of the 2019 Toyota Tacoma.
Truck drivers who like to go off-road need to know that their vehicle of choice is reliable. Drivers can be assured that the 2019 Tacoma scores high for reliability. According to the 2019 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) rating, Toyota tied for the second-most reliable brand based on problems per 100 vehicles out of the last three years of vehicle ownership.
For the Tacoma, in 2018 it was the J.D. Power and Associates Dependability award winner for mid-size trucks. In 2019, it had the second-highest dependability rating for Overall, Mechanical, and Features and Controls for mid-size trucks, beating out the GMC Canyon which was rated 3rd overall.
Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P)24 and ToyotaCare come standard with every 2019 Tacoma. With ToyotaCare, all leases and purchases of new Toyota vehicles receive 24-hour Roadside Assistance for two years/unlimited miles plus a no-cost factory scheduled maintenance plan for 2 years or 25,000-miles, whichever comes first 1138. GMC includes 24/7 roadside assistance for 5 years and 60,000 miles, but factory scheduled maintenance plans cost extra.
Both trucks in this head to head comparison offer reliable towing capabilities. An available 3.5-liter V6 engine on the Tacoma includes a standard Tow Package which features a towing hitch receiver with 4/7-pin connectors and standard Trailer-Sway Control61. This package allows Tacoma to tow up to 6,700 lbs on 4X2 trims. Tow Package is not available on 4-CYL Tacomas. In comparison, when the 2WD Crew Cab Canyon is equipped with available Duramax 2.8L I-4 diesel engine, it can tow up to 7,700 lbs. However, this upgrade will cost Canyon owners an extra $3,730. Short box Canyons with the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine can tow up to 7,000 lbs.
Considering Tacoma's longstanding history for reliability, it should not come as a surprise that it won Kelley Blue Book®’s 2019 5-Year Cost to Own Award: Best Mid-Size Pickup Truck57. While 2019 Canyon prices may start out lower, they surpass the prices of Tacoma very quickly once Crew Cab and other add-ons are included12. Plus, all V6 Tacomas beat Canyon in fuel economy numbers for city driving at an epa-estimated 18 MPG. GMC Canyon 4X4 3.6L V6s come in at an epa-estimated 17 MPG for city driving57. In addition, Toyota was the Best Resale Value Brand in 2018 according to Kelley Blue Book®41.
In terms of off-roading capabilities, Tacoma offers off-road specific trims TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro56. In comparison, Canyon offers only one All-Terrain trim for off-roading. Canyon takes a more indulgent route with the Denali trim which focuses on luxury features such as ventilated seats, rather than adventure.
Plus, both Toyota Safety Sense® P (TSS-P)24 and ToyotaCare come standard with every 2019 Tacoma. TSS-P offers a suite of advanced active safety features designed to help everyone stay safe while on and off the road. Canyon SLT has only two features similar to those that come with TSS-P, though they come at an additional cost of $400 with GMC's Driver Alert package. With ToyotaCare, all leases and purchases of new Toyota vehicles receive 24-hour Roadside Assistance for two years/unlimited miles plus a no-cost factory scheduled maintenance plan for 2 years or 25,000-miles, whichever comes first1138.
Through carefully looking at the safety, reliability, and performance features of these two trucks it becomes clear why we think the 2019 Toyota Tacoma is the clear winner.