GMC introduced an interesting concept at Colorado’s Overland Expo Mountain West 2021 this week and the timing couldn’t have been better. While North America has always appreciated off-road vehicles, there’s been an overnight explosion in the number of people considering 4×4 adventuring as a hobby. Troubled times have encouraged individuals to embrace the kind of cars that can tackle any terrain while doubling as a mobile campsite, and the Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Off-Road Concept certainly seems capable.
Although the hypothetical production model probably has a better chance of becoming canvases for online influences than carrying anybody through a genuine disaster. This is something GMC likewise appears hip to, as the whole point of the concept SUV is to show what can be done with the Canyon, a little creativity, and a wad of cash reserved for aftermarket accessories.
While the pickup starts at $28,000, the OVRLANDX Off-Road Concept defaults to the 3.6-liter V6 that’s standard on the AT4 variant (MSRP $40,195, including destination). Considering the base model is still pretty large for a “midsize” pickup and comes with an anemic 2.5-liter, the decision to go with the 308-hp V6 makes sense. Ditto for sticking with the AT4, which is effectively a budget version of the off-road-friendly Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. However, the torque-rich 2.8-liter Duramax diesel (181 hp/368 lb-ft of torque) would have been a similarly good fit, if not better for overlanders interested in maximizing their fuel economy and towing proficiency.
“We wanted to showcase GMC Canyon with this concept and punctuate GMC’s commitment to premium, off-road capable vehicles. Consumer reaction to this concept’s design will help us further serve the growing market of buyers leading authentic outdoor lifestyles,” said Buick and GMC Global Vice President Duncan Aldred upon the concept’s introduction.
But what kind of items does one require if you’re interested in leading an “authentic outdoor lifestyle?”
According to GMC, a factory-lifted, extra-wide, off-road chassis with enhanced underbody coverage is the place to start. Then they add rocker panel protectors, cast-iron control arms, Multimatic DSSV dampers, and upgraded front bumper with a winch, some integrated recovery points, electronic locking differentials, wheel flares, a swivel mount for the full-size spare tire you’ll be needing, and guylines to protect your windshield from branch attacks.
Minus the tree protection, which doesn’t look as though it would stop anything more serious than a twig, the resulting package seems like a competent off-road vehicle and the AT4 was already a solid place to start. GMC said the OVRLANDX Off-Road Concept yields a 27.7-degree approach angle and a full 10 inches of ground clearance thanks to the 33-inch BFGoodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain tires on 17-inch AEV Crestone wheels. It’s also supposed to be able to make it through over 32 inches of standing water thanks to its custom snorkel intake.
It sounds pretty good. But remember this isn’t a real product, just a vehicle the manufacturer hopes you’ll try to recreate with your own GMC Canyon. And the brand had plenty of recommendations for roof-mounted tents, solar panels, places to affix jerry cans or traction boards, and just about every other item one might want when camping in or driving through an untamed environment.
If you’re wondering why the Caynon and not something larger, like the Sierra, it’s all down to the demographics. The smaller of the two pickups is helping GMC rake in new customers, specifically younger adults who are the most inclined to build their truck up into an end-times 4×4. This Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Off-Road Concept is simply a template for them to use in a bid to procure more sales and it certainly seems to have done its job.
It’s not going to get everyone, particularly those who are seeking longer-term solutions to vehicular living or a tiny home on wheels. But it’s bound to get the creative juices flowing for someone interested in driving to remote destinations without relying on the surrounding infrastructure more than absolutely necessary — perhaps netting the Caynon a few more sales in the process.
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