• 2015,Chevrolet,Chevy,Colorado,midsize truck,fuel economy,mpg
  • 2015,GMC,Canyon,midsize truck,fuel economy,mpg

First Drive: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon

GM’s Return to the Midsize Truck Market

Two years ago General Motors abandoned the midsize pickup truck market from their Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models. But if anyone thought GM was completely walking away from this under-represented truck category, they would have been mistaken. GM was quietly working on the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon that hit US dealers in early October 2014.

First Drive from Clean Fleet Report offers a quick look at the two trucks with a more in-depth review to come.

Drivetrain

Both versions come with the same engine and transmission packages. The base 2.5L, Double Overhead Cam (DOHC) I-4 has 200 hp and 191 ft-lb of torque. The optional 3.6L V6 also is a DOHC and has 305 hp with 269 ft-lb of torque. Both engines run on unleaded regular, are cast aluminum and have continuously variable valve timing and high-pressure direct injection. In 2016 both trucks will add a 2.8L Duramax Turbo-Diesel option.

Transmission choices are an Eaton 6-speed manual for the I-4 and the Hydra-matic 6-speed automatic for both trucks, with 2WD and 4WD options. Fuel economy for the engine and transmission combinations in the 2WD models, runs to

2015,chevrolet,chevy,colorado,midsize pickup,mpg,fuel economy

Midsize-that’s a big little truck

the 18 city and 26 highway mpg. These are segment leading fuel economy numbers and the turbo-diesel, coming in 2016, should only solidify GM’s top dog status.

At these freeway economy numbers and the 21-gallon fuel tank, the Colorado and Canyon could get more than 500 miles of open road driving.

Driving Experience: On the Road

In five- to 10-mile drives during the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon national media introduction in September 2014, I had the chance to drive the 2WD I-4 and 4WD V6 versions of both trucks, in Crew Cab and Extended Cab configurations.

2015,Chevy,GMC,Chevrolet,GM, midsize pickups

The story is revealed underneath

Equipped with first-in-segment hydraulic body mounts, high-strength steel and full box frame, I found the trucks to be stable, accelerate smoothly and handle freeway onramps and corners with good control and little body roll. I even was able to haul two personal watercraft behind a Canyon, getting a feel of the towing capability, rated to 7,000 lbs. At times, in my few miles towing the trailer, I completely forgot it was there, including when stopping. The truck, trailer, brakes and suspension (front independent coil-over twin-tube shocks and a rear solid axle with multi-leaf springs and twin-tube shocks) were well-balanced, resulting in straight and true stops.

Regarding the brakes, General Motors has added first-in-segment standard four-wheel discs. This extra expense by GM delivered the earlier mentioned straight and true stops with excellent pedal feel. The disc brakes will certainly be an asset when bringing the Colorado and Canyon to safe stops when carrying or pulling a heavy load and something as precious and valuable as your family.

The Colorado and Canyon come with standard, first-in-segment, electric power steering or EPS. While EPS usually is not valued by driving enthusiasts for its lack of road feel, feedback and response or connection to the road, General Motors has engineered and programmed their EPS to give good road feel and has a nice feature of, after cranking a tight turn, the steering wheel naturally returning to its home position with little to no driver effort. This is much appreciated in parking maneuvers and tight radius turns.

The hydraulic engine mounts also added to the stability of the ride and contributed to the stuck-to-the-road feel.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are completely new vehicles and the designers went different directions for each truck. From a design standpoint, General Motors pulled the wheels out and gave them wide shoulders, resulting in a tough and planted look. But, at the same time, the trucks had to have a different character from each other.

2015,GMC,Canyon,midsize pickup,mpg,fuel economy

The tough but upscale look

The GMC Canyon will be marketed as a premium midsize truck that has a bolder look than the Colorado. The unique GMC front grill is recognizable with bright work, similar to its larger GMC sibling, the Sierra. The LED headlights are placed high in the grill and are a stacked, rectangular shape.

The Chevrolet Colorado front end is more athletic and sleeker than the GMC Canyon with a strong look to match its targeted buyer that is into active outdoor lifestyle activities such as bicycling, canoeing, surfing, scuba diving and camping. The Colorado grill is more swept and reserved, with wraparound headlights similar to wraparound sunglasses, and carries the Spirit of Camaro in it. Hence, it has a sportier look than the GMC Canyon.

Spray-in liner is an option (and a good idea) for both trucks, but the corner steps at the edges of the rear bumpers are standard, which are very handy when loading and unloading the bed.

Driving Experience: Interior

Based on the package you opt for there are different interior grades, but be assured that General Motors took interior design seriously. The base model Chevrolet Colorado interior, while not fancy, was clean, organized and functional. On my short drives, the seats were comfortable and offered good support. Stepping-up to the Colorado WT, LT and Z71 packages sees upgraded materials that offer a higher-end look, tone and feel.

The GMC Canyon is being marketed as the “Only Premium Midsize Pickup” which means that buyers can expect premium materials in all versions, a quiet and comfortable ride with features and technology that are segment leaders. Both

2015,Chevrolet,Colorado,interior,Chevy

From inside you’ll never know it’s a truck

trucks also benefit from acoustic engineering with triple sealed doors, fibrous wheelhouse liners and underbody insulation and panels to keep out road and wind noise.

Both trucks come standard with back-up cameras, GM’s MyLink infotainment system and the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot that can connect seven devices and has a 50-foot range. Because of a newly designed, more powerful antenna, the system is capable of video streaming even while the truck is in motion. The service is free for three months or three gigabytes of data and then the subscription cost is based on the duration ordered—one day, one month or annually, and the gigabytes desired.

Base models for each truck come with all the expected comfort and convenience features such as power outside mirrors, locking liftgate, tilt steering wheel, A/C, one touch up-and-down power windows, power door locks, steering wheel-mounted audio, telephone and cruise control and a 12V power port. The base cloth seats were comfortable and appeared to be durable to endure owners whether they are using the truck in the city or country.

Dash-mounted color screens come in either 4.2 or 8 inches based on which model is ordered, along with an optional Bose seven-speaker sound system.

Safety and Convenience

Both the 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado have six airbags, standard rearview camera, Stabilitrak stability control with trailer sway control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and an optional Driver Alert Package that includes forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

Pricing and Warranties

Base pricing for the Chevrolet Colorado. All prices include the $895 Freight Charge.

I-4 2WD Extended Cab                      $20,995

V6 2WD LT Crew Cab                         $27,985

V6 4WD Z71 Crew Cab                       $34,990

Base pricing for the GMC Canyon. All prices include the $925 Freight Charge.

2015, Chevrolet,GM,Colorado,Canyon

Waiting to hit the road

I-4 2WD Extended Cab                      $21,880

I-4 2WD SLE Extended Cab                $27,520

V6 4WD SLT Crew Cab                       $37,875

The 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado come with these warranties:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile  Bumper-To-Bumper
  • 2-year/Unlimited miles  Scheduled Service and Maintenance
  • 5-year/100,000-mile  Powertrain
  • 5-year/100,000-mile  Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation

Observations: 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado

It is not an easy decision to scrap an existing vehicle, leave the marketplace and then launch an all-new version when the segment hasn’t proven to be robust with sales. So when General Motors decided to retire the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado in 2012 and start over, they had to completely rethink what the 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado would look like and how they could become, on their debut, the segment leaders in different categories to get midsize truck buyer’s attention versus the only two competitors in this segment, the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

There are currently (September 2014) 12 million midsize trucks on the road in the U.S., mostly older models that could be due for replacement. This tantalizing statistic means General Motors has a built-in customer base for the Colorado and Canyon, plus they project purchase interest from small and midsize SUV and Crossover owners. And, when the turbo-diesel hits dealerships in late 2015 as a 2016 model, sales of the Colorado and Canyon will likely be even stronger as they will have no competition in the size category that offers a diesel engine.

If you are looking for something smaller, more maneuverable and fuel efficient than a full-size truck like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram, Nissan Titan or Toyota Tundra, and need the versatility of a pickup truck, then visiting your Chevrolet or GMC dealer is a must do.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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