In a world where it seems everyone is building Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras—boosting already-formidable Duramax engines to their full extent and lifting them ever skyward—it becomes a refreshing change of pace to see someone take the road less traveled and opt to instead take advantage of General Motors’ latest development, the four-cylinder diesel engine in the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.
“Everyone was doing the Sierra and full-size trucks,” says owner Keith Kroll, founder of Offroad LED Bars (aka OLB) in San Antonio, Texas. He chose to build a Canyon because he “wanted to prove that a four-cylinder mid-size truck could look amazing, tow most loads, and still get 35 miles per gallon.”
New for 2016, the four-cylinder 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel is the engine General Motors has been placing in the redesigned Canyon SLE and SLT Crew Cab models. According to GM, the 2.8L is the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced while providing an SAE-certified 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and all the while delivering greater highway fuel economy than the Canyon’s gas engines. With the trailering package and a 3.72 rear axle ratio, Kroll’s four-wheel-drive Canyon can pull 7,600 pounds legally.
Kroll ordered the truck new from the factory in June 2016 with the explicit intention of doing a build for publicity at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. “I had already ordered most of the parts before I even ordered the truck,” he recalls. “So we definitely had a plan.” The color scheme was thought out well in advance too, but then changed at the very last minute. Originally, the truck was supposed to remain black with the underpinnings and accessories coated green. “The Avery metallic wrap was rather a last-minute addition,” Kroll admits. “I love the lime green, so making the suspension Shocker Yellow was always the idea. But at the last minute, I saw four renderings of Sierras going to SEMA that all were black and green, and I didn’t want them to outshine the Canyon.”
Though the engine was left mostly stock, an efficient method to tap into the powerplant’s hidden stable of horses is through a turbo upgrade. Kroll turned to Screamin’ Diesel Performance (SDP) in Port Angeles, Washington, for their newest setup for the 2.8L Duramax engine. The compound turbo kit includes a Borg Warner S300SX-E atmospheric turbo, all the necessary plumbing powder-coated to the customer’s needs, all the exhaust plumbing Cerakote Glacier coated and heat-wrapped, as well as all the bolts, nuts, gaskets, and clamps—everything needed to completely install the kit.
The results? According to the dyno runs in SDP’s shop, the turbo kit upgrade nearly doubled the horsepower rating of the Canyon over stock (though they realize that anything over the 260 horsepower mark at the rear wheels may affect the engine’s longevity and they suggest keeping things under control).
Exhaust gases were forced through an upgraded Diamond Eye Performance aluminum exhaust and muffler kit and a custom-made diesel particulate filter delete option. Customized engine tuning was provided by PPEI Custom Tuning.
Locked and Lifted
To increase the ground clearance and add a much-appreciated cool factor to any truck, specifically a rarely-done Canyon, Kroll visited the crew at Bulletproof Suspensions in Mentone, California, for a 6 to 8-inch lift kit. The Bulletproof kit is a one-piece cage with fabricated spindles, aluminum sway bar links, differential drop downs and uniball A-arms. It features custom fabricated lift blocks and U-bolts, impact bars, bump-stop brackets and new stainless steel braided brake lines for the front brakes.
For Kroll’s truck, they elected to use Option 5, which includes all of the upgrades offered by Bulletproof Suspensions: Atlas leaf springs, Bulletproof 2.0 reservoir shocks, Bulletproof 2.5 coil-over springs, and upgraded rear traction bars. The six-inch Atlas leaf springs from Atlas Suspension are a progressive pack, meaning that the manufacturer uses several (as many as 12) thin, flexible leaves to provide a specific result, in this case, lift and durability. Most all of the suspension parts were coated with the eye-catching Shocker Yellow paint scheme.
As important as it is to make the truck go, when it comes to stopping, having quality brakes—especially when the rolling stock has been enlarged as it has—is paramount to a safe ride. The stopping duties for Kroll’s truck were sourced through R1 Concepts in Cerritos, California. They’re known as one of the leading manufacturers of award-winning braking systems, namely high-performance cross-drilled brake rotors and ferro-carbon and ceramic pads found on today’s quickest race cars, but they also offer packages for cars dating back to 1930.
Wheels & Tires
The truck wouldn’t get very far without the rubber on the road and the wheels to hold it to the hubs. Following the lime green theme that Kroll was so enamored with, Shocker Yellow was applied by Prismatic Powders to the wheels on all four corners. They are manufactured by Grid Off-road in Anaheim, California. The GF-4 style is a two-piece wheel, 22×15 inches at all four corners.
Wrapped around the wheels is a set of Interco M16 tires, noted for their subtle military design of having chevrons and 5.56-caliber bullets embossed around the sidewalls. Adding to the overall impressive stance of the truck, the tires size comes in at 37×13.5×22. Keeping with the military theme, there’s a complete set of .50 Cal lug nuts from V&V Concept in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
As previously mentioned, the black and green concept was scrapped in favor of a silver vinyl wrap that not only drastically altered the color but gave it a completely new look. The work was done by the competent hands at Texas Vehicle Wrap in San Antonio using Avery’s brushed silver vinyl. This achieved two things: One, it changed the vehicle enough to be able to stand apart from the other black and green trucks that appeared at SEMA in 2016; and two, it allowed the working bits of this truck—which were all coated in Shocker Yellow— to pop, forcing more attention on the truck’s underside. The sponsor’s decals were provided by the Vinyl Decal Shop on Long Island in New York.
Up front, the stock bumper was replaced with the A2L model of low-profile bumpers from Bodyguard Truck Accessories with polished chrome skid plate and light mounting surrounds. The rear bumper comes from the A2 Series, featuring 11-gauge bolt-on step pads, LED light mounting points, corner steps and stainless steel button head bolts. It is compatible with the Canyon’s factory hitch and offers access to the original spare tire plug hole.
Bumpers fore and aft were both made from 10-gauge plate steel with 3/16-inch frame mounts, 3/4-inch shackle mounts, and cutouts for light bars and fog lights. They were powder-coated black. The nose of the Canyon was also upgraded with a grille from Royalty Core. The RC3DSX Innovative Grille is made with polished gloss black frame, satin black 5.0 super mesh diamond crimp pattern, and polished T-304 raised elements on the corners and center emblem.
Lights & Accessories
The light kits are top-of-the-line gear straight from the shelves of Kroll’s business, Offroad LED Bars. The front bumper has integrated into the design, a double-row 30-inch LED light bar, which is flanked on either side by a pair of 3-inch LED cubes. Flush in the rear bumper are another pair of the 3-inch LED cubes, while a roof-mounted rack and roll bar (custom constructed by Addition Offroad in San Antonio) incorporates six eight LED floodlights and two 40-inch double-stacked LED bars on the front and back.
Speaking of lights, when the sun goes down, the underside of the truck is illuminated with 16 rock lights emitting a green hue to match the overall color scheme. As well, the green rock lights are carried over in the bed for an added touch. All of the lights are controlled via an sPOD Special Edition eight-circuit system with a touchscreen interface.
Making it slightly easier to access the cab, a pair of Lund nerf bars were added. The Terrain HX Extreme steps are three inches thick and constructed from 3mm heavy-duty steel tubing. The four-inch drop hoop steps as well as the main bars themselves are finished with a black Rhino Lining protective coating.
In the bed, cargo and gear can be accessed much easier by the addition of Cargo Glides CG1000, a sturdy steel-framed telescoping platform that can slide out of the bed 75 percent of its overall length, all the while holding up to 1,000 pounds of payload.
NEW FOR 2016, THE FOUR-CYLINDER 2.8-LITER DURAMAX TURBODIESEL IS THE ENGINE GENERAL MOTORS HAS BEEN PLACING IN THE REDESIGNED CANYON SLE AND SLT CREW CAB MODELS.
Adding a soundtrack to all of this awesome is a pair of Shaft Air Horns mounted above the bed in the rear window crossed like a pair of bandoliers on an outlaw. The 33-inch Tug Horn is powder-coated matte black and provided by Horn Blasters in Zephyrhills, Florida.
The original black coloring of the interior from the factory remained but Kroll wanted an extra touch of class and detail that would mesh with his overall plans. The seats were shipped off the Roadwire Automotive Leather Interiors in Austin, Texas, where they were subjected to a full reskinning, consisting of smooth leather with suede inserts and contrasting green stitching. The center console also received a sheath of suede.
One hundred percent of the truck’s build was planned and executed by the capable hands of the Addiction Offroad crew in San Antonio. Chris Payne managed the day-to-day details of the build, while Addiction Offroad’s Pete Alongi built the truck from the ground up. “He personally delivered the truck to SEMA and then to my driveway when the show was over,” Kroll says. “He is an amazing person with mad skills.” Although Keith Kroll has had plenty of seat time in this rig and is quite enjoying himself, the immediate plans are to “show the hell out of it” this season. Up next? Perhaps an H1 Duramax, he says, if everything falls into place. DW