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  • By Zane Merva

    Executive Editor, GM-Trucks.com



    Let’s be blunt. The state of the midsize pickup market has been pretty sad lately. Until a week ago, only the decade old Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier remained available for buyers to choose from. Have you been inside one of them lately? A general lack of features, refinement, technology, and comfort peg each as behind the times. There’s no wonder this segment of truck has floundered in the US over recent years as customers fled to crossovers.


    Thankfully General Motors is shaking things up by reintroducing the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Reinvented, these trucks are bigger, more powerful, and have more features. We’re fresh from our first stint behind the wheel and here’s what we think.








A new start

Last offered in 2012, the Colorado and Canyon were honorable replacements for the old but respected S-10 and Sonoma. Developed by Isuzu and adapted by General Motors, the first Colorado and Canyon never represented the integrated product that the Chevrolet and GMC lineup deserved.






The 2015 models are the exact opposite. Developed entirely in-house, the company has been able to engineer two new pickups that mirror the features and packaging of their larger, full-size family members. Now buyers can choose full-size or mid-size without giving up features, options, or comfort. Like many automakers, GM is not linking the size of the vehicle to how comfortable and feature rich it can be.






That means that the new Colorado and Canyon can now be equipped with features you could not previously find in the last generation. The same Chevy MyLink or GMC Intellilink systems from the Silverado and Sierra are available, with the same large 8-inch screens and same optional navigation. Heated seats, hill-descent, Bose sound system, and a tow-haul mode have also migrated from the full-size models.


The 2015 Colorado and Canyon can be purchased with one of two engines. Each has it’s purpose and strong suits.





2.5L I4 - 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque

The base engine, a four-cylinder, is on the roster for customers who need fuel economy over all else. Power is adequate but if you’re planning on any amount of towing or hauling, you’re going to be better off with the V6.


With that said, fuel economy is excellent and a two-wheel-drive truck with the 2.5L is rated up to 27MPG on the highway. A four-cylinder, extended cab, two-wheel-drive base truck is offering a significant value to someone who wants a small, affordable, versatile and comfortable vehicle.





3.6L V6 - 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque

The optional 3.6L V6 is the same engine you’ll find in other GM models like the Camaro. It’s been recalibrated and specifically tuned for use in a truck. Low end torque is improved and the entire engine RPM range feels beefy and powerful.


With the optional frame mounted hitch and a 3.6L V6, the Colorado/Canyon can tow up to 7,000lbs. Considering most full-size truck owners tow on average under 5,000lbs, a 305-horsepower mid-size will accomplish a lot more than you might think.






Two cab sizes

Aside from two engine choices, buyers can also pick between extended cab and crew-cab models. Short and long bed options are also available. No regular cab is offered (yet) but the seats in an extended cab can be deleted if a customer desires.






Behind the wheel

This new pair of pickups understandably share the same driving experience. Aside from the outside looks and interior appointments, the engine, suspension, and chassis tuning is exactly the same.






After a few hours behind the wheel of a few different examples, two things really stand out as major and noticeable improvements over the past generation of Colorado and Canyon.


First, the pair now drive far more like a crossover than a truck. A fully boxed frame means less wiggles and shakes, along with a planted feel. Properly tuned steering provides for a lot of confidence that the truck will end up where you intend on the road. These are every-single-day comfortable vehicles.


Second, the trucks are surprisingly maneuverable. From super tight u-turns, squeezing through small back city streets, to tight off-road trails; the Colorado will fit in all sorts of places the Silverado never could.






A few shortcomings

For all that the 2015 Colorado and Canyon do right, we still found a few things we didn’t like.


For example, the interior is bland and boring. GMC models get a soft touch dash to make up for it but the Colorado is left with a rather cheap looking plastic.









We’re a little confused with the styling direction taken by the two brands. We’re excited that the two pickups look very little alike but while the Canyon is a carbon-copy of the larger Sierra, the Colorado looks nothing like the Silverado.






Final Thoughts

GM argues that many midsize pickup buyers have been disenfranchised by the lack of options over the past decade. They are confident that by offering models in this segment that have the refinement and features of other modern vehicles, they can lure back customers from the crossover and suv segment.


With the competition in such rough shape, that argument holds a lot of water. However, a redesigned Tacoma can’t be that far off and it will take time to see if the Colorado and Canyon can establish themselves as the new leaders in this segment. It will be hard to declare these trucks an overnight success but the cards are stacked in their favor.


There is no doubt these are the most feature rich midsize pickups ever built. It’s exciting that customers can finally choose a pickup’s size and features independently of one another. That's not something any other automaker offers.

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