Project GMC Canyon: Introduction and Icon Stage V Suspension

by Isaac Sandoval


I can't tell you how long I've dreamed of owning a mid-size pickup with a small diesel engine and 4WD. Living in Southern California, we are surrounded by plenty of great desert trails to explore. Another wonderful thing about living in Southern California is that our fuel taxes are high AF! Seriously, the taxes on fuel just went up again and there is just no way I could justify having one of our two family vehicles be a complete gas guzzler. Enter the new 2.8 liter Duramax 4-cylinder diesel engine. This thing is a real gem when it comes to efficiency. The GMC Canyon Diesel is the highest rated MPG truck on the market. Period. My personal best fuel mileage when the truck was stock was achieved on a trip to Buttonwillow Raceway from Temecula. I was able to achieve more than 35 MPG going normal freeway speeds.

This truck has really delivered everything I expected from a stock truck so far, but the factory suspension system just wasn't cutting it. With 8.3 Inches of ground clearance in the front and the rear, and a serious forward rake, the truck needs more than a little bit of a lift and some more travel to get the traction needed to climb over off-road obstacles. 

Before we get started, be sure to watch our installation video below! Then, read the article for all the in-depth details.


Icon Stage V Suspension system for the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado is constructed with quality in mind. The Shocks are machined from 6061 aluminum and feature CAD coatings for corrosion resistance. The upper control arms are made from 1029 DOM tubing. The Delta Joint features zinc plating and a carburized pin.

We reached out to Icon Vehicle Dynamics, and they sent us over their Stage V Suspension kit for the truck. This is a really impressive suspension system that will allow us to get the lift we are after while also improving front suspension geometry via added caster and increased travel from the tubular upper control arms. The Icon Stage V suspension also features 2.5" bodied shock absorbers with remote reservoirs that have adjustable compression- thanks to the Icon CDCV (Compression Dynamic Control Valve). Having that adjustability in a vehicle that will be traversing vastly different driving conditions is an absolute must. 


It really doesn't get much more impressive than this when it comes to bolt in suspension performance for trucks. These Icon Shocks feature specifically tuned valves for the GMC Canyon. The 2.5" threaded shock bodies allow the vehicle ride height to be adjusted from 1.75" of lift to 3" of lift up front. The shock components are machined from super strong 6061 aluminum and will definitely stand up to the abusive off-road terrain. The springs are linear rate springs engineered by Icon and manufactured by Eibach. The shock also features spherical bearings at the top and bottom, with the bottom also including misalignment spacers to locate the shock in the correct position. 


The external reservoirs on the front will help to deliver more consistent damping, thanks to the added fluid capacity and additional cooling surface area. The CDCV located on the external reservoir is for adjusting compression force. With 10 levels of adjustment, you can really dial in the compression qualities to the driving conditions. Icon states that the position 4 on the CDCV is equal to what the non-adjustable 2.5 series shock valving would be out of the box. We would recommend this a starting point for your suspension. 



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Wednesday, February 28, 2018 2:13 AM
Oh wow! When I initially looked into the new 2.8 liter Duramax engine it only seemed to be offered in the Chevy Colorado and not its GMC sibling. I've been trying to sell my dad on one to replace his decrepit Honda Pilot, but he's an old man now and my mom's Audi A6 has spoiled him with luxurious creature comforts. He wasn't really interested in the Chevy with it's less-than-amazing interior.

When did the 2.8 diesel become available in the GMC? Was this a new development fore the 2018 model year?

Those Icon parts are damn impressive. Very nice to see that they included provisions for some proper grease zerks in those snazzy Delta Joints. In a world of non-serviceable, throw-away parts it is incredibly refreshing to see Icon go the extra mile here. A little bit of molybdenum disulfide goes a looooong way to ensuring outstanding service life.

Really cool build overall. Though, as a tire mechanic I gotta bust your balls for your choice in rolling stock. I know Method makes some legit off-road racing wheels, but what's with the lame, fake "bolts" on the lame, fake "beadlock" rim? That's the exact same crap I see on Chinese wheels from the likes of KMC and their scum-of-the-Earth ilk.

I know that type of style is ubiquitous in after-market truck wheels, but come on. This is MotoIQ! You guys are supposed to be the chief anti-rice masters of the universe! I don't care that it's a truck, that's a fake styling feature meant to make it look like it has some badass motorsport hardware that it doesn't really. Rice is rice!
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 8:08 AM
Let us know how reliable the overall truck is as well.(including TSBs). My main concern is the new fangled torque converter thingee. I want the GMC but until the new technology is proven I can risk the purchase just yet.
Thursday, March 01, 2018 5:40 AM
I really liked the Canyon when I was truck shopping a year ago, though I ultimately went with a Tacoma TRD. I was shopping for V6s and I though the Canyon's was way better, as was the 10-speed auto (Toyota's 6-speed sucks something fierce). I also thought the ride in the GMC was way better. I went with the Tacoma because I preferred the interior and Toyota's supplier discount was way better than GM's. I've been pleased with my Tacoma, but the GMC is a damn fine truck. Also, Hitachi makes a lot of parts for GM right now. I'm 99% sure you transmission controller, DISI rail, airflow meter, and maybe your transfer case controller are all made at my plant.
Thursday, March 01, 2018 12:05 PM
Were there specific options or a configuration that made you pick this instead of the Colorado ZR2 that comes with the baller spool valve shocks? Seems preferable to buy the factory hot rod that will retain more value over building it yourself, if the option is there. Just curious. Interested to see the rumored USA Ranger Raptor. These trucks like the Raptor, ZR2, Ram Power Wagon seem pretty cool. Nowhere to enjoy this kind of vehicle in the midwest though so I'll live vicariously through posts here :D

Actually I'm surprised there isn't a street performance variant out there yet a la the SVT Lightning. If you need to tow a track car and want something that's not a clunky boring truck to daily drive on pavement, the only real options are SUVs like the Cayenne.
Thursday, March 01, 2018 12:21 PM
What wheels are those?
Monday, March 12, 2018 1:11 PM
@cartechs, the wheels are Made by Method Wheels. They are the Grid model in titanium finish. It is really stout wheel and definitely a looker. I could have gone without the fake beadlock, but it does look pretty sick. For some reason most aftermarket offroad wheels have fake beadlocks.

@turtl631, the ZR2 is definitely an amazing car. I honestly just don't like the look of the ZR2 and the GMC looks like a nicer truck to me. I did give it a serious thought, but then what would there be to upgrade? The ZR2 is pretty much dialed out of the gate and where is the fun in that?

Hopefully, we will have another installment on this project soon.
Thursday, April 26, 2018 7:29 PM
Did you raise up the front coilovers at all or just left them at the preset from icon? which they say on their site they are set to the recommended height.
Love how it looks, seeing this project with these wheels I think sold me on doing the same setup.
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