Equipment

GM Hopes New Canyon/Colorado Revives Midsize Pickups

January 14, 2014 - Products

By Tom Berg

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General Motors

General Motors’ 2015-model Canyon and Colorado pickups buck a trend away from midsize and compact pickups in North America, and the builder believes the trucks come at an ideal time since Ford and Chrysler dropped their Ranger and Dakota models here.

The restyled and repowered trucks, unveiled as the GMC Canyon at the Detroit auto show this week, will fill a need for buyers who still like the smaller and more agile pickups, said Roger McCormack, director of Buick and GMC marketing.

“They are looking for something that is easier to live with, to park and maybe at a lower purchase price,” he said. That echoes a common customer comment, “I like the size,” cited by Dodge execs when they showed off a revised 2005-model Dakota. But many loyal customers rejected its bulkier styling and switched to the constantly improving Ram full-size pickups.

But sales have remained steady at about 255,000 per year, with most Ranger and Dakota business grabbed by Toyota’s Tacoma and Nissan’s Frontier, GM execs said. They hope to regain some of those with their more modern models.

Styling of the GMC Canyon and the upcoming Chevy Colorado version resembles that of GM’s larger pickups. But the midsize models will be about a foot and a half shorter and 5 inches narrower.

There’ll be three body configurations: an extended cab with a 6-foot bed, a crew cab with a 5-foot bed, and a crew cab with a 6-foot bed. Eight-foot-long loads can be hauled in the 6-foot beds when their tailgates are down.

Tailgates are torsion-bar supported for smooth lowering and easy raising. Foot holds in bumper corners aid climbing into a bed. Tie-down points and cleats allow convenient securing of loads.

There’ll be two gasoline engines: a 2.5-liter inline-4 rated at 193 horsepower, and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower, each with an aluminum block, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. A 6-speed automatic transmission with automatic downgrade braking and tow-haul mode will come with the V-6 and most I-4s, while a 6-speed manual is available with base trim models.

A small turbodiesel will be offered in two years, GM execs said. As now, 2- and 4-wheel-drive systems will be offered.

Anticipating that the new midsize pickups will be popular among young people, the trucks’ electronic controls can be set by parents to control driving habits and radio use by their teenagers. For example, road speed and radio volume can be limited, and the radio muted if seat belts are not fastened.

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