2015 GMC Canyon

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Stay smallish – or go bigger?2015 GMC Canyon All Terrain SLE Extended Cab Short Bed Front Three Quarter in Cyber Grey

That was the question GM product planners had to ponder when considering which way to go with the Chevy Colorado and its GMC-badged cousin, the Canyon (subject of this review).

The previous Canyon/Colorado were still nominally almost-compact trucks … smaller than the Dodge Dakota (RIP), but not quite as small as a Ford Ranger (also RIP).

The all-new Canyon/Colorado edges  closer to Dakota-sized. That is, it is mid-sized now … officially.

There are no compact trucks on the market anymore.

I wonder whether GM made the right move, upsizing the Canyon/Colorado – me-tooing the also-now-mid-sized Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma pick-ups… rather than go smaller – back to compact – and enjoy the fruits of being the only game in town?'15 twins

On the other hand, the Canyon and Colorado are not merely larger. They are clearly superior. That’s not the press kit talking. That’s the facts talking. I’m just conveying them to you.

Have a look yourself and see what I mean.

WHAT IT IS

The Canyon – and its Chevy -badged twin, the Colorado – are GM’s mid-sized pick-up trucks. They are available in extended and crew cab bodystyles, with either of two engine choices (a four and a six) and either of two bed lengths (5 feet, 2 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches) and either 2WD or 4WD.

The GMC version is slightly fancier than its Chevy-badged sibling and starts at $20,995 for a 2WD SL with 2.5 liter four cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. A top-of-the-line SLT Crew Cab (four full size doors) with a 3.6 liter V-6, six-speed automatic and 4WD starts at $37,250. '15 Canyon interior 1   

WHAT’S NEW

The ’15 Canyon/Colorado are new designs from the wheels up. They are slightly larger than before, much more powerful – and noticeably more fuel-efficient, too.

WHAT’S GOOD

More room, more power, more capability (including class-best max tow rating).

4WD is available with the four cylinder engine.

Impressive array of technology (in-truck Wi-Fi, text messaging/Siri Eyes Free)

Modular cargo solutions (tiered/divided storage areas).

Meaty/rugged/oversized controls (easy to operate while wearing gloves; inherently sturdy/harder to break).

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

No regular cab offered.

No eight-foot bed available.

Manual transmission only available with four cylinder engine.

It’s maybe bigger (and longer) than you need.

UNDER THE HOODChevrolet Colorado 2.5L Four-Cylinder Engine

The Canyon (and Colorado) come standard with a 200 hp, 2.5 liter, direct-injected four paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. It’s a much stronger engine than the Nissan Frontier’s standard 2.5 liter, 152 hp four – which is probably why Nissan does not offer that 4WD with its four.

GM does.

This is a big plus, for buyers who don’t want to pay extra for a V-6, either up front or at the pump.

The Toyota Tacoma – the “twins” other main rival – does offer buyers the option of 4WD with the base four cylinder engine. But arguably should’t have. Like the Nissan four, it’s not packing much in the hp department. Just 159 hp – which, frankly, is marginal in the 2WD version of the Tacoma because this is not a small (nor light) truck – 4,220 lbs. – and the additional weight of a transfer case and heavy-duty 4WD suspension parts is just a touch too much. The four cylinder Tacoma is slow – and thirsty. Zero to 60 takes about 9.3 seconds  – and the truck’s gas mileage is just 21 city, 25 highway. That’s the 2WD version. The heavier 4WD equipped version treads close to the 10 second mark – the “bar” for subpar acceleration these days – and its mileage slips to 21 city, 24 highway.'15 Canyon 4x4

The four cylinder-powered Frontier is sluggish – and thirsty – too. But Nissan – wisely – didn’t make matters worse by tasking the already overmatched four with dragging the extra weight of a 4×4 transfer case around. The downside, of course, is that to get 4WD in the Nissan, you get “upsold” to the V-6.   

Interestingly, the Canyon is significantly lighter than the Tacoma – under 4,000 lbs. with 2WD and only 4,140 lbs. with 4WD.

A 2WD Tacoma extended cab has a curb weight of 4,220 lbs.   

The Nissan Frontier extended cab/2WD weighs 4,233 lbs.

Also: The Canyon’s four cylinder engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission (standard) while both the Nissan and the Toyota fours are paired with five-speed manuals. A six-speed automatic is optional in base trim Canyons and Colorados; standard in the higher trims.

Score, GM.

'15 Canyon V-6

Things appear lopsided – in the twins’ favor – when it comes to optional engines, too.

You can step up to a 3.6 liter, 305 hp V-6 in the twins, which sets a new bar for the segment – and not by a little bit. The next-closest (and it’s not even close) is the Frontier’s optional 4.0 liter V-6. Although it’s larger, its hp rating is lower.

A lot lower.

Just 261 hp. Which was top-of-the-pile last year, but a distant second this year. And coming in third – way back there – is the Tacoma’s optional (and also larger) 4.0 V-6, which produces a watery 236 hp. In case your counting, that’s 69 hp down from what you can order in the GM trucks.

A big difference.

The V-6 Canyon/Colorado can really haul the mail; 0-60 in 7.3 seconds for the 2WD version – quicker (by about half a second) than the Tacoma V-6 and the Frontier V-6. And the GM trucks boast a class-best max tow rating of 7,000 lbs. (vs. 6.500 for the Frontier and Tacoma).'15 Canyon tow 1

You might guess – reasonably – that there’d be a price to pay at the pump for the additional hp, performance and capability. But it turns out, the penalty at the pump comes standard with the competitions’ slower trucks equipped with their less powerful engines.

A V-6/2WD Canyon rates 18 city, 26 highway; with 4WD, it’s 17 city, 24 highway.

The V-6 Tacoma with 2WD rates 16 city, 21 highway and a suck-a-licious 15 city, 19 highway with 4WD. The Nissan rates 16 city, 22 highway with 2WD and 16 city, 21 highway with 4WD.

The pot goes to GM… again.

Some mention-worthies about the 3.6 liter V-6 (and also the four): Both engines are direct-injected and have relatively high compressions ratios (11.3:1 for the four and 11.5:1 for the V-6) which is one of the reasons why they out-power their rivals, which are older designs and not direct-injected and which have lower compressions ratios.'15 Canyon power graph

But despite their very high compression ratios, both the four and the six are optimized to burn regular – not high octane premium – unleaded.

So, you get the higher-performing engines – and better economy.

And lower per-gallon fuel costs, too.

Royal flush.           

ON THE ROAD

I own two compact pick-ups (older Nissan Frontiers) and – in comparison – the Canyon/Colorado is a handful. It is much stronger, with either engine – and with the V-6, it’s a missile. A 300-plus hp V-6 in a medium-size truck is not all that far removed from a 400 hp V-8 in a full-sized truck. And even the base four has a nearly 50 hp advantage (and the advantage of being lighter) than its four cylinder-powered rivals.'15 Canyon road 1

If it’s acceleration you crave, this truck will satisfy.   

There is simply no comparison – for the moment – in this segment. The other same-sized rucks are simply outclassed by the GM truck’s much bigger guns.

But they are all sizable trucks – and that’s why I used “handful” a few sentences above.

My Frontiers are one-step parkers (and backer-uppers). Easy to slot into – and out of – car-crowded places such as busy shopping center parking lots. The Canyon/Colorado – especially my test truck, which was the crew cab model with four full-size doors and the longest-available ( 6 foot, 2 inch) bed stretched 224.9 inches, end to end.

And that is a handful.

How big a handful?'15 Canyon road 3

Well, a Ford Ranger (RIP) was 189.4 inches, bumper to bumper. So my test truck was about three feet longer overall than the recently-retired Ranger, the last compact-sized truck sold on these shores.

The most “compact” version of the  GM trucks – the extended cab with short (5 ft. 2 inch) bed is 212.7 inches end to end.  Still about two feet longer than a true compact truck like the old Ranger (or my early 2000s Frontiers).

This has its advantages, of course – including a “big truck” feel (and ride) as well as a much more spacious interior (which I’ll get into more below).  Driving around in the Canyon, you feel like a road king – literally above it all (and secure in the knowledge you could go through it all). Having 305 hp underfoot (or even 200) is a treat, too. I love my little Frontiers dearly, but they are lacking in the get-up-and-go department, which would be ok if they were a lot easier on gas  – but the truth is, they’re not. The truth is, they’re worse – even with the four cylinder engine – than the GMs are with their sixes.

Ok, but how about the disadvantages?'15 Canyon road 2

I’ve mentioned the close-quarters maneuvering issue. The truck is long – and has a big rig turning circle in consequence of this: 41.3 feet.  About three feet more than a regular cab Ranger (37.7 feet).

It also has a long wheelbase: 128.3 inches for the extended cab with the short bed (the crew cab with long bed – which is really a medium-sized bed – rides on a 140.5 inch wheelbase). The Previous (2012) Canyon/Colorado’s wheelbase was several inches shorter (126 inches) and that truck felt nimbler in the curves  – if less planted on straights. It’s also wider than the other trucks it competes against: 74.3 inches vs. 72.8 for the Nissan and 72.2 for the Toyota.

Being slimmer and smaller and shorter, the Frontier and Tacoma feel closer to compact-sized in terms of the way they steer and respond – but the flip side of that (which redounds to the GM truck’s benefit) is that they also feel less substantial. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine you’re driving a 1500-sized truck when you’re driving a Canyon or Colorado Crew Cab.

You’ll never feel that way driving a Frontier or Tacoma.

AT THE CURB'15 Canyon curb 1

This is a good-looking truck with some rakish design aspects – such as what looks like (but actually isn’t) an unusually low – almost “chopped” – roofline, a trick achieved by using comparatively short side glass. The windshield is also slightly recessed at the bottom of the A pillars, which enhances the effect. The GMC version has a solid, blocky face with a huge three-bar grilled while the Chevy version has a Camaro-ish front clip. Both look great, in my opinion.

The rear bumper has foot-holds cut into it at either end, to make it easier to access the bed. The available EZ Lift and Lower tailgate system makes one-handed opening and closing a snap, too.

But what really helps, bed-wise (and what may be the most persuasive argument for buying a mid-sized truck rather than a full-size truck) is that steps built into the bumper are not really necessary for most people whereas in full-size trucks,  they are essential. Because the bed walls of full-size trucks have grown to cartoonish heights such that even a guy my size (at 6ft 3, I am taller than 90 percent of the population) feels like a 10-year-old boy when trying to access the bed.

No such issues in the Canyon/Colorado – or (to be fair) its mid-sized rivals.'15 Canyon interior 2

But, the beds themselves are on the smallish side.

Or rather, the shortish side.

The Canyon offers two possibilities: a 5 foot, 2 inch bed and a “long” 6 foot, 2 inch bed. The latter can be extended – kinda sorta – by dropping the tailgate and so arranged the truck can carry a bundle of 2x4x8s home from Lowes. But the tailgate has to be down – and that’s inherently less secure.

Apparently not enough demand exists for an eight foot bed – which would be feasible with a regular cab body.

For what its worth, Toyota no longer sells a regular cab version of the Tacoma, either. Ditto Nissan. If you want a regular cab, you can either buy a used Tacoma – or a new full-sized truck.'15 Canyon bed

There is – not surprisingly – a lot more interior space in the new, enlarged Canyon/Colorado than in the smaller previously 2012 Canyon/Colorado. Second row legroom in the extended cab version of the new truck is 28.6 inches (vs. a crippling 23.1 in the ’12 Canyon) and 35.8 with the crew cab. With either cab, front seat legroom is up to 45 inches – vs. 42.2 in the old twins.

Headroom is also generous: 41.4 inches (more by about an inch than in the Tacoma and Frontier) but you should be aware that second row room in extended cab versions is considerably less than in crew cab versions (36.7 inches and 38.3 inches, respectively) due to differing rooflines.

THE REST

The really big news (best Ed Sullivan voice) is the pending availability of a turbo-diesel V-6 sometime in mid-late 2015 (when the 2016s come out). Assuming Uncle doesn’t put the kibosh on that deal. Several manufacturers have had to hold back on diesel engines that had been scheduled for availability by now (e.g., the Sky-D diesel that was supposed to have been available in the 2014 Mazda3) because they couldn’t quite comply with Uncle’s emissions rigmarole. It’s not that these diesels are dirty; far from it. They standards are just insanely strict and very hard to meet without screwing up the things that make a diesel worth buying, like long-haul durability and low maintenance/operating costs.'15 Canyon 2.8 diesel

So, fingers crossed. A diesel engine in the twins would give them another major functional feature that no competitor offers. It’s also exactly what’s needed on the options roster for a truck.

Minor nits and grievances: The optional collision warning system – like every such system I have tested (which is a bunch of them) steps in too soon, hitting you with flashing red lights and accompanying buzzers if you haven’t hit the brakes half a football field before it thinks you ought to. Ok, that’s an exaggeration – but not entirely. Say a car up ahead is turning off. It has slowed down – but you know it’ll be gone by the time you get to where it is. So you don’t brake. The sensors and computers can sense an object up ahead, but – lacking interpretive powers – cannot  muse that the object is gonna be gone by the time you get there. It just senses imminent danger!, danger! Will Robinson!… and puts on a similar performance for your amusement.

Coolness: There are two (count ’em!) USB ports for the backseat passengers. Very considerate. In-truck Wi-Fi. Gesture recognition… in addition to voice recognition. Really.

Also: The optional 4WD system is smart enough to disengage 4WD if you’re not smart enough to do it yourself (as when driving on dry pavement). Two-tiered shelving capability for the bed (so you can hide stuff under the first shelf). And, how about “active aero” grille shutters that close (when the radiator doesn’t need the airflow to keep the engine cool) to cut aerodynamic drag and increase MPGs?'15 Canyon three quarter

The hood’s aluminum, too.     

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you don’t mind that it’s gotten bigger – and can live without the bigger bed you could get in a 1500/regular cab truck – the twins are not merely worth a look.

They’re the clear choice in this class.   

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46 COMMENTS

  1. Just thinking out loud here a little, but I wonder how much difference there is in size between, say, one of the modern “twins” and a Chevy pickup from 1980 or so.

    I grew up riding on the passenger end of a bench seat in a Chevy pickup with a long bed driving all over rural Arkansas and Mississippi doing actual work (or, rather, watching it done by my father, I was too young). Sitting three abreast, or even four, in a pinch, was a common thing. So was riding in the pickup bed with all the tools and materials for the job. An extended cab was a rare thing, and a crew cab? That was something like a unicorn.

    I’m very much a truck guy (and a car guy, but for different reasons), and I like the modern stuff as much as the next guy. Yet I don’t recall anyone being unable to actually get work done in these older vehicles. It also seems to me that, dimensionally, the new stuff is much bulkier and bigger on the outside yet not really roomier on the inside. Yes there’s the higher sides to the beds, which I agree is a pain in the rear, but even more so is the higher tailgate, which means lifting heavy items into the back is more difficult. The trucks seem to be much wider, and thus more difficult to maneuver in a parking lot or on a job site (say, when pulling around to the backyard of a job). The beds seem to have less usable space because of styling choices, and you can’t even sit on the wheel wheels in the beds any more.

    Interiors seem cramped compared to the titanic size of the outside of these vehicles. I suspect things like airbags, extra bracing in the doors, and all that electronic gadgetry that we love so much really takes up a lot of space between the skin and the interior surfaces.

    And all of this adds weight. I haven’t checked, but I bet that older pickups from 30+ years ago were lighter without all these extras.

    What I’m getting at is if the old trucks weren’t, perhaps, closer in actual dimensional measures to these “mid-size” trucks, at least in some respects, than to modern “full size” models that seem to get bigger and bigger every generation while not actually increasing in capability, aside from pissing rights to max towing capacity.

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to make a truly simple, solid axle pickup with the bare minimum of features (less to break), a simple but efficient NA engine that gives decent gas mileage and decent power (rugged, reliable, shade tree fixable), and sell a crapload of them to the actual work truck market at about $14k a pop.

  2. Stopped in at my local Chevy dealer to look at the Colorado. Nice truck, but way too big, and way too expensive. At $34,000 a copy, my paid for little 2005 Ford Ranger looks better every day.

  3. @ Eightsouthman,when the Nazis discovered sodium flouride worked great for mind altering(prozac) they started using it,it was perfect for the use(guess who produces a lot of sodium flouride-why,survey said!-Kaiser Aluminum) any way enough of that drivel,flouride is everywhere now,is it contributing to the weakening of the American mind?I dont know-but one thing I do know is a lot of the solutions we crave will not be addressed by conventional thinking.
    As Eric maintains,vehicles are simply to heavy to excel at anything,I would sooner be able to shed a thousand pounds from my Dodge Dakota(ew 4800#)then give it 50 more HP,mass takes gasoline to throw around,I remember in 1974 you could buy a fairly nice 2WD F-100 pickup for $2900,in 75 due to the increase in the price of steel the same truck was $3400,and ever since the sky is the limit.
    I dont think people as a whole will ever wakeup and start living within their means,this current crop of Gargantuan vehicles proves that,a fecid field for Clover seed-Kevin

  4. These sound like great trucks. I just can’t get past how expensive mid sized trucks are. For a couple grand more, you can get a full sized truck……unless you want small, it doesn’t make any sense. Especially since they aren’t actually small. These trucks are the same size as a first gen Tundra. It was considered full size in its day.

    • I agree, Ancap.

      They’re nice, but their bigness is (for me) exactly what I don’t want. Because I don’t need a large truck. In particular, I don’t need a four door truck (that’s all they sell) with a smallish bed. My regular cab compact truck with a long bed is just exactly right-sized for my needs – which is why I want a truck like that!

      • eric, I don’t just want a big pickup, I need one. Two months now and not a word on a used long bed x-cab or crewcab GM pickup. Looking for one online I found a link that went to GMC where you build a new one.

        I know MSRP and going out the door price isn’t the same but I hadn’t even gotten to configuring the interior and already had $60 in one. Take 10% off and that still leaves a nice house you could pickup in this part of the country. A common sight, almost exclusively in some towns: A fairly new mobile home with a couple trucks outside(no garage), each costing more than the house. An old house, not in pristine shape, often, not in even good shape, a couple-three pickups outside each costing 2-3 times what the house is worth.

        I just don’t see 6-8 years of $700 to $900 payments for a truck……and one I wouldn’t call a work truck either……..or any truck without 10 wheels and a sleeper. It would seem though that nearly everybody has a new pickup. I realize most have short beds, are two wheel drive but they’re still very expensive. Drive by used pickup lots here and it’s hard to find one that looks used. So do people just keep re-upping that same debt or lose them to the banker? It’s the damndest thing you ever saw. Vast lots of pickups everywhere. Cars and SUV’s are in other lots. I think everybody’s lost their minds.

        • Eight,

          What’s the mileage range and price your looking for?

          My dad has a 2007 classic body 4 door single rear wheel 1 ton duramax w/8 ft bed. It’s in good condition but has 200,000 miles on it. Needs a New tranny seal, but other than that its great. He just keeps adding trans fluid rather then fixing the Damn thing. He just bought a New duramax so he no longer really needs the old one.

          My brother has a 2000 GMC 3/4 ton 4 door long bed too. No tranny leak, but also 200,000 miles. He’s contemplating a new one too. Taxes may be an issue this year, so pickups are being considered. Puts me in a quandary since I hate unions. I drive a tundra double cab long bed. I could get a new one, but the interior and sheet metal are the only difference on the 15 tundra compared to my 2008. With my luck, I’ll get a new one, then Toyota will have an hd truck with a hino diesel for mid 2016 or something.

          • ancap, It’s a combination of mileage, age, etc. I can’t afford to buy one right out more than likely so we get the financiers and their fancy ways of figuring worth. Here’s what I want and fairly much need, one ton, single wheel(lots of times i could use a dually but I’m no longer a two pickup man)4WD(a must, farm in the shinery and that is a must), ext. cab or crew cab but not regular since I haul all sorts of parts, meters, tools, etc. plus Cholley Jack who doesn’t really care for single cabs. I’d rather have a Duramax for obvious reasons or maybe not obvious to all but to your family and me they are. 200K is not a big deal if they’ve been serviced regularly.

            I have been driving a 2001 gasoline crewcab long bed 4WD Chevy company truck some, bought with 155,000 on it at auction. Other than some idiot putting water in the windshield reservoir in the winter and ruining that, I don’t see any problems, esp. with the new Toyo AT tires on it. Someone here wanted a pickup just like this or close. it has no power windows or locks, rubber floor, a decent stereo, a/c(it’s Texas, you’d be beaten to hell after 2-300 mile trip in the summer) and leather seats. Gee, how those GM leather seats hold up and are comfy. The ’07 would be better for me since I know of some things worked out on the later Duramax’s such as injectors and it’s right before that damned exhaust regurgitation thing.

            What I’d really like, and won’t get, would be a ’93 with a diesel and everything I want. They had so much more room inside(no airbags). You could fit 3 big guys in the ext cab, 4 not as large and two in the front captain’s chairs really comfortably and a console big enough for a big girl or big dog, interchangeable for the most part. That truck had a much larger frame and lots of springs. A duramax in that and I’d be in hog heaven. Ask your dad what he’d take for his. Not that I want to but I could pull a tranny and replace the seal.

            Seats, let me take a moment. Last week I had to chase parts in a one ton dually Dodge with the typical seats. The thing killed me but it’s new and wasn’t nearly as bad as older ones. I picked up the 550 Dodge with the same seats, a 3 year old pickup and they’re worn plumb out just like the 1.5 year old Dodge the boss drives. All these Dodge’s seats such the big one, don’t last anytime and are never comfortable. I don’t recall such in a GM or Ford. Back in the 70’s I joked with a friend who drove a Ford if he ever found it with the seat stolen I’d take it for my Chevy. Back then, Ford’s seats laid back more and the Chevy was more upright. That changed in the 80’s thankfully since my ’82 was a pretty comfortable ride, esp for a diesel 3/4T 4WD with quad front shocks. It would eat up roads other trucks would literally wreck on. I loved that truck and my 93 also.

            Yeah, I could go for a 2007 Duramax if it’s 4WD. I recently turned down a nice, clean 2008 Duramax because of no 4WD….dammit.

            • It’s 4×4. I could take some pics and email them to you. It’s in pretty damn good shape other than minor scratches on the bed sides.
              Bench seat in front with the fold down console.

              I will ask him tomorrow what he’d want for it. If you’re interested after we talk price, I’ll email you some pics or something.

  5. Time will tell how reliable these trucks will be. And they are so damn expensive anymore to, especially when you load up this new truck. Fully loaded runs you 40K???? Good lord, imagine the stupid monthly payments! I am getting stubborn I guess, because my 2004 Ford Ranger 4×4 4.0L SOHC V6 works just fine. It gets me from point A to point B no problem, and without all the damn weight of the extra crap on these new trucks. I can only imagine what my truck would be like though with one of these new newfangled gussied up engines. If my Ranger had 300+ HP, holy crap! That thing would be a rocket! I do like the 4WD system on GM trucks though. It seems to work really well. I have coax my Ranger to leave 4WD when I want it to. It never seems to want too, without making a fuss.

    • Amen, Lance…

      I’m either poor – or extremely conservative with money. I shy away from being tied to $500 a month payments for a vehicle… for the next 5-6 years! Plus the government-mandated insurance. The taxes. The “fees” (other taxes). The maintenance/upkeep.

      No matter how nice, it’s just not worth it to me.

  6. Great write-up.

    I was considering buying one of these, but then the cost scared me away.

    I ended up buying and 04 Extended cab Frontier 2WD 2.4L 5-speed with 105,000 miles for cash. Runs great – though a bit anemic as you noted.

    Still – it has more than enough power to out-accelerate clover, who generally takes 1/2 mile to reach 37 mph.

    I can’t believe how much weight the “small” Nissans and Toyotas have gained in 10 years.

    The stuff I read says my 04 Frontier weighs 3200 lbs. Have they really gained 1/2 ton in ten years?

    I will have to weigh it the next time I’m at the landscape supply store to see if the 3200 lbs. is accurate.

    This weight gain is amazing.

    • Not just the weight Blake, but the ugly grille. Barely 200hp and it needs a grille that big?

      Yuk – and fake.

      It’s like stickin’ a beach ball down my budgie-smugglers and tryin’ to pass it off as “all me”. Pathetic.

      • Hi Rev,

        Some perspective: It wasn’t all that long ago that 200 hp was a respectable figure… for a V-8.

        If this 2.5 liter four were a V-8 of 5 liters’ displacement, it would be a 400 hp V-8.

    • Hi Blake,

      Thanks!

      And – yes – the current Frontier has gained a lot of weight. I own a ’98 and an ’02 Frontier – the compact-sized Frontiers. They are much smaller (and much lighter) than the current model.

      I wish someone still made a compact truck!

      • Eric – first, love your website, you have an incredible way of articulating the things that I think but could never put into words. Anyway, the Canyon sounds like a great truck, but my big concern, and I don’t know how or if you could address this in your columns, is durability and reliability. No matter how impressive the test drive, what’s this thing going to be 6 or 8 years down the road? I stopped buying American vehicles in the late 90’s. Every ford or Chevy truck I owned ( and I owned a lot, I get a new one every 2 – 3 years) had a major tranny, or 4wd, or engine problem or some other disaster, usually before 60k. Same with my wife’s cars – Cadillac, bad tranny @ 40k, Chrysler, engine blew @ 55k, etc. Since we switched to Toyotas and Hondas, we’ve had zero problems, and the resale value is a hell of a lot better too. Why should I ever consider buying a Chevy?

        • BTW, I know Canyon is GMC, but Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, same difference. Can’t see buying a truck that’s going to fall apart and be worthless before I rip the last coupon out of the payment book, even if it’s really impressive on the test drive!

  7. Well I like these new GMs-but its a shame I cant afford one,at anyrate they are finally trying-but its kinda like my Dakota,its not a whole lot harder by comparison to park the RD-690 Mack Trucks I usually drive(the reason being you just dont try to park a Mack in a real tight space)the 4dr Dakota just doesnt want to arc in the slot,is it because vehicles have became larger and longer and parking slots have stayed the same?Anyway GM seems to have finally realized,that under powered doesnt necessarily mean better fuel mileage.I’m actually scared to time my Dak 0-60 and believe me it likes the gas too.(learned my lesson this time)
    Think I’ll get rid of it and get a newish gas saver and get an old Ford or Chevy 4wd,to haul firewood on-but that brings me back to my original quandary,I wanted one vehicle to do it all-Kevin

  8. This sized truck is perfect for 90% of the people who say they “need” a truck.

    The present demand for “compact” sized trucks might be less than you think. Their market has been pre-empted by the hoard of CUVs available in almost every size. And these “almost full sized” trucks aren’t that much more expensive…or hard to drive.

    Finally, both Toyota and Nissan surely have brand new mid size models ready to go. They have just been cruising, until some competition showed up. The Taco is still selling very well.

    Chevy better enjoy this brief period of prominence while it can.

    • Hi Mike,

      All I can say is that people are hanging onto their compact-sized trucks and when they go up for sale, they command premium prices. I am in the midst of selling one of mine – a ’98 Frontier. I paid about $7,200 for it more than ten years ago. I am about to get $4,000 for it.

      I can tell you for sure – as the owner of two compact-sized trucks – that they are much easier to maneuver and park than these mid-sized pick-ups. And a regular cab with a six foot bed is much more useful for work than a crew cab with a five foot bed!

  9. As a former Ridgeline owner …

    It was interesting to listen to Anita Burke (Chief Engineer for the twins) talk about some of the design goals for the new truck. She talked about utility, but also about how easy to drive they were – comparing them to a crossover with a bed. And big emphasis on fuel economy, something the Ridgeline with it’s too-small V6 did only so-so well on.

    GM realizes that the vast majority of mid-size pickup owners aren’t out there with a gooseneck trailer hauling horses, but use them as daily drivers with occasional trips to Home Depot, and weekend trips out in the country. And that the most common use of the 4WD system is going to be on slippery roads, not the Yukon Trail. Unlike Honda, GM kept the full-size pickup look — check out the rear wheel arches – just like the big brother Silverado.

    One of things that GM didn’t do that Honda did, was a flat loading bed. On the Colorado/Canyon, you have to teeter your 4×8 sheets of plywood on the wheel arches. On the Honda, they sit flat. I didn’t expect GM to copy Honda’s in-bed trunk, as Honda probably has a patent on it. And it’s awesome, btw. GM also didn’t copy Honda’s 2-way tailgate, but they did install the dampeners, and that’s great too.

    I think they’ve got a hit on their hands, and it’ll get even better once the diesel arrives. Honda is working on a replacement for the Ridgeline, but they’re really playing catchup at this point. There’s a new Tacoma coming out about the same time — the current one is many years old and Toyota is also playing catchup in the mid-size market.

    • Agreed, Chip!

      The wheel arches in the bed thing is hard to surmount given the RWD-based /solid axle layout…. the Ridgeline had a definite advantage there…

    • Speaking of diesels, the new Canyon debuted in Thailand with the new 2.8 L Duramax. I’ve read on Duramax forums of the 2015 soon to be available with that same engine in the states. Why it isn’t yet is a mystery to me. Most people hauling boats, small trailers etc. would be fine with one. Tx is THE pickup state and I haven’t even seen one…..strange.

      • I know why, Eight… and I’ll give you one guess!

        Yup. The government.

        Getting a diesel engine across the transom into production is becoming a huge ordeal. Or at least, getting it into production and keeping the cost (and maintenance) reasonable.

  10. A question: What are the differences between the Chevy and the GMC brands here, other than price and hood badging? In other words, which brand should I buy?

    • Hi Bryce,

      GMC is positioned in between Chevy and Cadillac (as far as trucks/SUVs), so the GMC version is a bit nicer than the Chevy version in terms of trim and standard equipment. And priced a little higher, too.

      There are also some exterior cosmetic differences, such as different front-end treatments and so on.

      As far s which to buy: Since there’s little functional difference, it comes down to which you think looks better – and whether you prefer a touch more luxury (or a touch less).

        • Yup!

          But – to be fair to poor old Pontiac – before 1982, its cars had Pontiac-designed (and Pontiac-built) engines that were entirely their own and unlike what you’d get in a shared-platform Chevy or Buick or Oldsmobile.

          For example, my 1976 Trans Am has a Pontiac 455. The same year Camaro offered 305 and 350 Chevy V-8s. The difference was not merely size, either. The Pontiac V-8 is totally unique and no major parts interchange. This isn’t to say it’s better than the Chevy small block (or big block). Just different.

          Meaningfully so.

          • I remember when Pontiac dealers proudly wore their #3 buttons, after Chevy and Ford, but ahead of all Mopars and other ‘upgrade’ brands in sales volume. But all 5 cars, + the GMC trucks, were separate divisions then, just under 1 corporate structure. Those days are LONG gone.

          • Oldsmobile retained it’s engines right up to the corporate bitter end too. Actually beyond it because the olds 307 did live on a bit longer than the other division V8s.

              • Was the Olds’ version the only 307, or did Chevy have one too? Because I had a 76 Impala wagon with a 307, that had its good and bad points.

                • Depends on the era. There was a Chevy 307 but it didn’t live past 1973 best I can tell from web sources. It was of that era. In the 1980s GM’s 307 was the oldsmobile engine and they put it in a bunch of different cars in different divisions.

          • eric, I can’t say for certain the difference in GMC and Chevy now but in the past(and I know this to be true of 90’s models, even through ’05)GMC’s were a bit more robust than a Chevy. Try to put that Chevy rotor on a GMC, it’s not the same nor even the belt on the engine. The driveshaft may be a touch larger as are u-joints. The radiator is a touch larger too and even things like transmission coolers and oil coolers are not identical.

            I had a friend doing the hot-shot thing several years ago. He had a couple friends doing it too with a Ford and a Dodge. The guy with the Dodge had some transmission trouble, more than once. Dodge duly noted he’d been using it to make a commercial living with it and KO’d his warranty.

            This freaked out my buddy so he goes to the GMC dealership and asks if they are going to do the same to him if his transmission or anything else gave it up if he’d be in the same boat. The people told him definitely not. They said our mantra about being a professional truck means just that.

            I’ve worked on GMC’s that appeared to be identical to Chevy’s but not much in the drivetrain or braking system or even wheels were identical. Bigger everything on the GMC.

            • Hi Eight,

              I have no doubt that was true at one time but I am pretty sure it is no longer true today. GMC – like other GM divisions – is a marketing arm. GM powertrain does the engineering. I’d be very surprised to learn that the Canyon’s drivetrain components differ in any meaningful way from the Colorado’s.

              • eric, you’re probably right about these pickups but I wouldn’t doubt there’s still a difference in full size. Back in the sixties even a GMC had heavy leaf springs when Chevy had the infamous(but good riding) coil springs. I have a Heavy Half bed trailer from ’65(yep, they had heavy half’s then, 6 bolt wheels and a bigger rear-end). I’d much rather have the GMC bed but they were fairly rare back then.

                I notice it has a similar set-up to old big rigs before they could make a clutch fan work, the old ShutterStat. Back in the day, diesels all had direct drive cooling fans hence shutters like a Venetian blind on the outside of the grille. It worked pretty well by denying the fan the air to pull so it in effect reduced parasitic drag(and noise, a lot of noise) but rolling down the road with a big load and having it fully open would certainly wake you up, sorta like all of a sudden having the engine in the cab with you. Still, that’s a good idea but something else to go wrong too. BTW, shutterstats were very reliable.

                In answer to the Rev and his view of too big a grille, there ain’t no such thing when you make lots of power. More power, more heat and more need to get rid of it. Ford has always been infamous with too small radiator. Try working one in west Tx. and you rue the day somebody bought that truck cause the GM pickup would do just fine with it’s larger cooling system. I don’t think Ford ever had a decent cooling system until they started building diesels and they went tall with coolers instead of wide so there were lots of encounters with low things that resulted in ruined coolers, oil, a/c and radiator all taking the hit for things below bumper level. I think they finally got over that too. I’ve spent my whole life working pickups and not overheating is the deciding factor for many.
                That’s a problem with the Volvo I drive daily…..in just a little while. Adios and have a good day.

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