Just when we thought mid-size pickup trucks were almost dead and gone, GM pulls two rabbits out of the hat by reintroducing the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. And while the challenge of packaging as much big truck capability as possible into a smaller, more affordable, and more fuel efficient package hasn’t gotten any easier, we’re glad to see that GM is still in the game!
The last couple of years have been difficult ones if you were in the market for a brand-new, American built, compact-to-mid-size pickup truck; as Ford, GM, and Chrysler had all abandoned the segment. Well, 2015 sees a return by one of the big-3 with an all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Now clearly a middleweight, the new Colorado gets a fairly sporty yet still rugged look with little to no resemblance to the full-size Silverado.
GM put a lot of emphasis on aerodynamics, adding active grille shutters, a tailgate spoiler, and a low hanging front air dam which is removable if you actually use your truck for the serious stuff.
The Canyon looks a bit different and more upscale than Colorado, with the bigger and bolder GMC grille, exclusive headlights with LEDs, and more squared-off fenders.
Both are Extended or Crew Cabs only, with bed lengths of 5-feet 2-inches and 6-feet 2-inches with about 44 inches between the wheel wells.
Convenience features borrowed from the full-sizers include a useful CornerStep rear bumper, EZ lift-and-lower tailgate, and 2-tier bed with 4 permanent and 13 movable tie-down positions.
Interior materials are much nicer than rivals. The dash is a good cross between car style and truck usefulness with deeply hooded gauges and big knobs and switches. Most trims include an 8-inch touch screen and all have a standard backup camera. While there’s no CD player there are multiple USB ports and 4G Lite Wi-Fi. Navi and advanced safety features are available.
Standard power is a 2.5-liter I4 with 200-horsepwer and 191 lb-ft. of torque. A 3.6-liter V6 is optional, boasting 305-horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque. You’ll have to wait until next year for a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel. Both 6-speed automatic and 6-speed manual transmissions are available.
Obviously you’ll want that V6 if you’re looking for the most big truck capability, as it will tow up to 7,000-pounds.
Both engines have adequate power for light duty and recreational work, though, we found the 6-speed auto a bit of a gear hunter, especially in hilly terrain.
On the flat terrain of our test track, we were able to get a GMC Canyon Crew Cab SLT V6 4X4 to 60 in 8.0-seconds, and to the end of the ¼-mile in 16.2–seconds at 85 miles-per-hour.
Things feel a little more workman-like here. There’s good low end torque and strong pulling power. Super smooth shifts were an unexpected bonus.
Colorado/Canyon suspension consists of traditional coil on shock independent up front, and leaf spring live axle in back. The frame is fully boxed, with a design very similar to big brother Sierra/Silverado.
Turning radius is surprisingly tight, and the slow electric power steering has a very natural feel to it. The longer-lasting Duralife rotors are highly effective as it took our GMC Canyon only a short 111-feet to stop from 60.
Now GM knows the Canyon and Colorado will appeal more to the personal use crowd than workaholics, so they made them extra quiet. Ride quality; however is still firm enough to let you know that they’re capable trucks. Still, on both counts, they’re miles ahead of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.
Nothing too exotic about the 4-wheel-drive system… high and low ranges, electronic transfer case; with an optional automatic locking rear diff.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings range from 20-City, 27-Highway, and 22-Combined for an I4 2-wheel-drive, to 17-City, 24-Highway, and 20-Combined for 4-wheel-drive V6s. With regular grade gas, our V6 4X4 managed a good 21.5 in mixed driving.
Still, at best, the Energy Impact Score is average at 15.0-barrels of annual oil consumption with 6.5-tons of CO2 released.
Prices for the Chevy Colorado start at $20,995 for an Extended Cab 4X2; slightly better equipped GMC Canyons, will start a bit higher. Top of the line Colorado LTZs begin at $28,505.
Like most good ideas, a smaller, more fuel efficient, easier to park pickup truck seems like a simple one. But GM is the only domestic builder that sees a business case for doing it. We say, it’s about time! The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have revived a segment that was in desperate need of new blood. Even though a new Tacoma and Frontier are rumored, we still wonder how long Ford and Chrysler will continue to sit this one out. We shall see…
Engine: 2.5 liter I4/ 3.6 liter V6
Horsepower: 200/ 305
Torque: 191 lb-ft./ 269 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.0 seconds (GMC Canyon)
1/4 mile: 16.2 seconds @ 85 mph (GMC Canyon)
EPA: 17 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.5 tons/yr