Seat Time: Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon

September 29th, 2014 at 11:26am

2015-Canyon-Colorado

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

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Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: General Motors
Make: Chevrolet, GMC
Model: Colorado, Canyon
Type: Mid-size pickup
Competitors: Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier
Price: Colorado: Base $20,995, AWD Z71: $34,990; Canyon: Base $21,880, AWD SLT: $37,875
Made in: Wentzville, Missouri
Drivetrain: 2.5 L I-4; 3.6 L V-6; 6-speed manual or automatic
EPA Ratings: 2.5 L 2WD: 22 mpg combined; 3.6 V6: 21 mpg combined. AWD= -1 mpg

Final Impression:

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71GM’s new mid-size trucks could well revitalize the mid-size segment in the US market. Long abandoned by Ford, Ram, Mazda, VW and Mitsubishi, today only Toyota and Nissan continue to sell smaller pick-ups. But Toyota and Nissan have not updated the Tacoma or Frontier in nearly a decade, and that’s left them very vulnerable to GM’s brand spanking new models.

The Canyon and Colorado have little in common with the “global” pick-up that GM sells outside of the US and Canada. In fact, they have little in common with anything else. These are pretty much clean sheet designs, and it really shows. They are as up to date as can be, and demonstrate that GM didn’t try to break into this segment on a shoe string. In fact, they may be too good. They could easily end up cannibalizing some portion of GM’s full-size pickups. More on that later.

2015 GMC Canyon All Terrain Interior

First let’s get to the best part, driving them. The driver’s door shuts with a chunk, enclosing you in a quiet cabin. As you roll down the road, you’ll immediately notice how smooth the ride is, how little the chassis vibrates, how well it steers and especially how confident the brakes feel. Back to back test drives between the GM trucks and the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier make these comparisons all the more poignant. The Japanese brands have a lot of catching up to do.

That’s especially true with the 4-cylinder engine. GM’s 2.5 is noticeably quieter and smoother and has a lot more guts. Amazingly, the V-6 delivers 5 more highway miles per gallon than the Tacoma’s V-6. That’s the kind of number that will get Toyota loyalists to start reconsidering their next purchase.

There’s a 2.8 liter diesel that will arrive in a year and depending on where it’s priced, it could be a game changer for the segment. Remember, amongst heavy-duty pick-ups, diesel owners are the most loyal in the business. Offering a diesel will give these mid-sizers instant truck cred with the hard-core crowd.

2015 GMC Canyon All Terrain SLE Extended Cab Short Bed Rear Thre

I didn’t get a lot of off-road testing, but the little I did was impressive enough. The 4×4 versions scrabble up and down steep hills comfortably. Like many other vehicles that can travel off road, they also offer hill descent control. But I’ve never experienced hill descent in Reverse! With the cruise control on! Yep, you can get up to 20 miles an hour with the cruise set in hill descent.

Inside, these trucks offer all the latest electronic connectivity and safety features that their competitors do not: forward collision warning, blind spot detection, back up camera, touch screen infotainment center and plenty of ports. And as GM is doing with all its vehicles, 4GLTE technology can turn these trucks into Wi-Fi hotspots that can connect 7 devices simultaneously, and still take OnStar phone calls without interrupting the signal. That’s perfect for any job site or taking the kids on a trip.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

GM calls these mid-size trucks but you’ll be surprised how big they are. The biggest crew cab version can stretch out to a 140-inch wheelbase with a 6’2” box. With the V-6 the top payload rating is 1,590 pounds and 7,000 pounds of towing. Yowza, that’s awfully close to most full-size trucks. And therein lies a danger. More than a few GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado owners are going to seriously consider downsizing, especially considering they can save anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 for a comparably equipped truck that gets better fuel economy.

GM says, “No worries.” It believes these new trucks are going to significantly grow the mid-size segment, not cannibalize its big ones. We’ll see if that’s what actually happens. My guess is that if GM can grow its total pick-up sales by 125,000 units or more it will declare victory. And if it does, how long can Ford and Ram afford to sit on the sidelines?


One Comment to “Seat Time: Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon”

  1. chris orchard Says:

    Very impressive! I bought a Toyota Tundra back in 2001 mostly because it was a little smaller and less unwieldy than the other “full size” offerings. I don’t know how the dimensions to the early Tundra compare, but this looks like a great replacement for it. I’ll bet that it will be cross-shopped by not only other mid-sizes trucks, and some full-size truck buyers that don’t need to “super-size” with each new pick up refresh, but mid-sized CUV buyers (that might like a little more cargo area), and family car buyers that would love a crew cab in their price range. I bet sales of locking tonneaus and truck caps will boom!