2015 Chevy Colorado Review
GM re-invents the intermediate pickup segment.
DEL MAR, CA: You’d think by now the carmakers would have plumbed every niche there is, but GM thinks it has found one and biggie at that.
The 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are the first intermediate pickup trucks to come to market in almost a decade. On top of that, there currently are only two competitors, the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier that are basically unchanged in that time.
More to the point, GM sees the mid-size pair as part of its three-truck strategy of offering an intermediate, light duty full-size and heavy duty trio that cover the market from top to bottom also noting that Nissan and Toyota have so far avoided the heavy duty segment.
At the press preview of the two new trucks, both GMC and Chevy spokespersons claimed their research had found existing owners were ‘dissatisfied’ with their trucks due to dated interiors and noise plus lack of utility options.
On Colorado and Canyon, the innovative side step on the rear bumper is standard, as is the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate that glides down when opened instead of flopping with a bang.
The GearOn two-tier accessory system enables a wide range of bed storage options. For instance, bicycles or canoes can be raised up on a metal stand and secured to four permanent or 13 adjustable tie-down locations, leaving the area beneath free for tents, luggage or what have you.
Both trucks are offered in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations.
When it comes to payload, the Colorado can haul 721 kg (1,590 lb) and the Canyon 735 kg (1,620 lb). The reason for Canyon’s slightly better performance is due to the alloy wheels instead of the heavier steel wheels on the Colorado.
Tow ratings are impressive at 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) up to 3,175 kg (7,000 lb) with the Z82 trailering package.
On the technology front, both trucks offer OnStar 4G LTE connectivity including Wi-Fi access on the go through the OnStar Voice Command button. This will also allow connection for up to seven mobile devices and video streaming at 10 times faster than 3G and 100 times faster than 2G.
While they are mechanically the same, they differ in appearance, with the Canyon more dressed up with standard alloy wheels, flashy grille and lots of bright exterior trim.
GMC calls Canyon the first premium mid-size truck. Buyers get aluminum interior trim, soft-touch instrument panel and door pads, for example.
The base engine is a 2.5-litre DOHC direct injection inline four-cylinder with 200 hp and 191 lb/ft of torque.
Standard features include a six-speed manual transmission on the base car, power windows with express up for the driver, a rear-vision camera with dynamic guidelines and a locking tailgate.
Options include a 305 hp 3.6-litre direct injection DOHC V6, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.
Colorado customers can chose from two cab configurations, extended-cab and crew-cab. Crew-cab Colorados will offer a choice of five- or six-foot boxes; extended-cab models come with the six-foot box. There is no regular cab model.
All versions of Colorado and Canyon with the 3.6-litre are equipped with the automatic. The auto is optional on the 2.5-litre.
Starting price with the base Colorado manual is $19,900.
The Colorado LT crew cab with RWD and the five-foot box has a starting price of $27,150. The Colorado Z71 crew cab 4×4 with the five-foot box starts at $35,700.
Canyon pricing starts at $20,600 for the RWD. The SLE trim level, which I expect will be the volume model, begins at $28,800.
The 4WD Canyon SLT crew cab short box model starts at $38,850 and includes the 3.6-litre V6 engine with 305 hp, leather-appointed seating, automatic climate control, 18-inch polished cast-aluminum wheels, remote start and an automatic locking rear differential.
GM furnished a wide assortment of trim levels, affording journalists lots of comparison opportunities.
Starting out in a base Colorado with automatic, the engine was lusty but it felt harsh under hard acceleration onto the freeway.
Throughout, the big thing my co-driver and I noticed was how quiet they all were. A lot of this has to do with the fully boxed frame with shear-style and compression body mounts. Hydraulic engine mounts absorb vibration for smoother idle and virtually no engine shake.
The front suspension is a beefy coil over strut system with large diameter, hollow stabilizers bars and twin-tube shocks. At the rear, two-stage leaf springs and a Hotchkiss-style solid rear axle feature spring bushings that improve ride quality substantially.
The one that I liked most was the Colorado crew cab 3.6-litre RWD automatic, which was easily more powerful than the 2.5-litre. But it was the torque that made me think I could load the bed to the brim and still keep up to the flow of traffic on the highway.
Room in the back was more than sufficient for a full-figured person like myself, even with the front seat fully back.
Because these trucks are all about work and utility, we searched for a construction site in which to pose the Colorado for photos.
Asking permission from the job site foreman, he said he had a much-loved heavy-duty Silverado and I asked him to come out and take a look and he liked what he saw.
He was hesitant at first about letting us through the gate, but the Colorado did the trick.
If you were driving a Ford, I wouldn’t have let you in, he said with a wide grin.
But seeing the Silverado and Colorado side-by-side illustrated just how big these so-called mid-size trucks really are.
It’s not as wide as the Silverado, but it’s visually the same size as the last generation version.
Driving a fully loaded Canyon SLT was like being in a Cadillac with leather trim and stylish French stitching all living up to the ‘premium’ billing.
What GM has done with Colorado and Canyon is re-invent the intermediate pickup.
Next year it will expand the lineup to include a 2.8-litre diesel, which should turn the segment upside down.
But most important is these trucks aren’t built on the cheap.
It is, as a Chevrolet presenter said, a true game changer.