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Exclusive: We review the 2023 GMC Canyon lights at night


During our recent first look at GMC’s new midsize truck, we had the exclusive chance to test out the headlights, cabin lights and the bed cargo light. So, how good are the 2023 GMC Canyon lights at night?

Headlight controls are digital

If you haven’t heard the news, the headlight control knob is gone on both the 2023 Chevy Colorado and the Canyon. Instead, in a polarizing move, GMC has moved the controls to the infotainment screen.

There are two ways to assess the headlight controls with either a quick access menu found along the top of the screen or through the vehicle controls menu system. The vehicle menu lighting section is how you access various features like the bed cargo light, heads-up display, auto high beams, etc.

How are the 2023 GMC Canyon lights?

For this nighttime review, we had access to the 2023 GMC Canyon Denali, and it is worth noting not all trims have the same lighting features.

The Canyon Denali has LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and fog lamps, while the rear taillights are the same as other trims. The headlights shine brightly, and the brights not only illuminate higher, they also project wider light to both sides. These lights should be good enough for every driving situation.

The interior of the cabin is illuminated nicely with a soft yellow light shining on the front and rear seats as well as in the footwells. This allows you to see every surface, including the floor. This is especially handy if you drop something on the floor at night or want to make sure your not stepping on something when you enter the cabin. Often, footwell lighting isn’t found on lower trims like our 2022 Toyota Tundra Limited.

Until we drove the Canyon at night, we hadn’t noticed there were no LED lights built into the bed. Instead, the GMC Canyon relies on the chisel lamp above the rear window to illuminate the bed. Initially, we dropped the tailgate expecting lights to turn on automatically for the bed. They didn’t. To be fair, however, it could just be a setting we are missing.

Standing in the dark with the tailgate down, we realized the light switch must be in the menu system, which means truck must be on or in accessory mode to access the bed lighting. With the screen on, it was a few button pushes to get to the right menu system and click the icon to turn on the cargo lamp.

Back outside, the bed is well lit from the chisel cargo lamp projecting light downwards. This could leave some owners wanting more because if you have taller cargo at the front of the bed, the lighting would be blocked leaving the rear of the bed in the dark.

One last thing of note is the yellow marker lights on the fenders. Typically, these lights are for HD trucks, which are wider than 80 inches per Federal law. For the GMC Canyon, it’s a styling feature only.

The bottom line

Lighting is often overlooked when shopping for a vehicle, yet poor lighting can be an issue for owners, and it can be a safety concern. The safety concern has prompted the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now lowering vehicles rating due to poor lighting. So, yeah, it’s pretty important. So, be sure to watch the video below on the 2023 GMC Canyon lights as well as visiting the manufacturer website and looking at other reviews to round out your research.

Editor’s note: The full first-look review will be posted on May 8, 2023 when the embargo on driving impressions has lifted. 

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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