FIRST DRIVES: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado + GMC Canyon
Talk about a comeback.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 30th, 2014
The Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon have been out of the midsize pickup market for a couple years now. In that time ... well, to be honest, nothing has changed. The Tacoma and Frontier are still being sold, despite coming to market the same year your author graduated high school. And, hey, that's about it. You'd think that it would make sense for an automaker to release a midsize pickup that addresses all the concerns with the current midsize market. It would be a hit (even if, heaven forbid, it were fantastically mediocre), and whatever automaker did this would likely be able to build that Scrooge McDuck-style swimming pool filled with money.
Oh, wait, that's exactly what GM did with the new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Except for the mediocre part; in our opinion, General Motors nailed this one, and it's going to take a lot of scrambling from Toyota and Nissan to catch up.
If you'd like to read more about the specific changes that GM is highlighting with its new trucks, head over to our feature. Otherwise, read on to see why GM's got itself a pair of winners.
Most midsize trucks — or hell, most trucks in general — tend to have very Spartan interiors, devoid of comfortable yet tough-to-maintain materials. After all, if you're working with your truck, you're probably going to get it dirty, and unless you're buying a range-topping King Ranch or Denali, you're going to need it to be easy to clean. However, the biggest problem is that these "easy" interiors tend to be, well, boring. Flat, vast expanses of plastic and that's about it, right?
Wrong. The Canyon and the Colorado do a great job at adding a premium feel to a segment largely occupied by tired, dated interiors. The layered look of the dashboard, especially around the top and sides, is on point for a segment that wants for something interesting to look at. The Canyon has more of a premium feel than the Colorado, but both are leagues above the Tacoma and the Frontier.
There is also plenty of legroom, even in the rear of the double-cab configuration. If you're going to be using this to drive your family around, opt for a proper four-door setup and you won't have any complaints from the young'uns (don't hold us to that, kids always find something to complain about).
Once again, the Tacoma and the Frontier just look tired. You'd be tired, too, if you'd been paraded around dealerships for an entire decade. That's why it's nice to see some fresh faces in this crowd, and boy howdy, these faces are fresh. Both the Colorado and the Canyon pick up multiple visual cues from their bigger brothers (the Silverado and the Sierra, respectively), with the GMC having the more familiar face of the pair. From the headlights to the grille, the front ends of these trucks ooze muscularity, something that should resonate well with buyers in this segment.
From the subtle fender bulges to the seriously chunky and solid-feeling door handles, this feels and looks like a standard pickup truck on a three-fourths scale.
On the Road
GM made sure to reiterate to the media that there was a heavy focus on reducing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). But the PR folks wouldn't have needed to say a thing, because after just two minutes in both the Canyon and Colorado, it's appallingly easy to notice just how soft and quiet these two trucks are. Bumps aren't always met with a shimmy and a shake, but the connection between body and frame isn't so soft that you feel like you're floating on the open sea. There's a good deal of communication coming from the frame, but only the important parts are sent up to the cabin.
It almost feels like you're driving a unibody vehicle — which is good for GM, because it believes that many of its future midsize-truck customers will be coming back to the segment from crossovers and sedans.
As for the creature comforts inside the cabin, Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system is, as always, good. Not great, but good; it's snappy, it's laid out sensibly, and it even incorporates familiar smartphone-style gestures like pinching to zoom. Couple MyLink with Siri Eyes Free and distraction disappears.
Don't get too caught up with the Colorado and Canyon's best-in-class payload and towing numbers; remember, GM isn't aiming to get standard pickup-truck buyers to downsize. Instead, this is a truck for a different person, most likely an urbanite, who wants a smaller truck that can be used in much the same way that a crossover or a family sedan would be used. Yes, you can take your Ski-Doos to the beach for a weekend of blasting over the water, but the Colorado and Canyon are equally at home driving around the suburbs without a single passenger or piece of cargo.
Sure, it's not perfect — the brake pedal requires plenty of effort, and the transmission is occasionally slow to find the right gear or provide a downshift — but it's still a marked improvement over the currently available pair of midsize trucks. The midsize truck market is a wildebeest corpse on the Serengeti, and, luckily for them, the Canyon and Colorado are the only two carrion birds in town.
Specs & Prices
Engine: 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four; 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V-6
Transmission: Six-speed manual (2WD only); Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-or-four-wheel drive
2.5-liter I-4: 200 horsepower / 191 lb-ft
3.6-liter V-6: 305 horsepower / 269 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg):
2.5-liter I-4: 19 city / 26 highway (2WD, manual); 20 city / 27 highway (2WD, automatic); 19 city / 25 highway (4WD)
3.6-liter V-6: 18 city / 26 highway (2WD); 17 city / 24 highway (4WD)
Base Price: $20,995 (Colorado); $26,725 (Canyon)
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, click here: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado.