By trotting out their all-new Colorado/ Canyon mid-sizers this past fall, Chevrolet/ GMC assured City Folk at least 7/10ths of what Country Folk get in their half-ton pickups trucks.
WHAT: "Drive...He Said" sampled an all-new 2015 GMC Canyon during a late winter week. In mid-level SLE trim. For maximum urban trawling, equipped with a Crew cab and short box. Power is courtesy of a twin-cam gas 3.6L V6 with Direct Injection. Like the ones in the Cadillac ATS. Companion is a six-speed automatic slushbox, with shift-lever toggle mounted manumatic sequential gear selection. Which we never needed. Specified with an electronic, two-speed, shift-on-the-fly transfer case four-wheel drive. And Eaton mechanical locking rear differential.
WHAT (A) DIFFERENCE: A crewcab, shortbed configuration comparison between the new GMT 700 platform and the old GMT 355 (2004-2012) makes for a Canyon about 28"-inches longer, 4"-inches wider and a good 1"inch taller. It's a Red Delicious to a McIntosh apple comparison.
WHY: (a) CAFE (rising federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements); (b) pent-up urban demand for pickup truck utility where parking is limited; (c) bringing game to Toyota's "Taco" ma ;
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late fall 2014
WHERE: GMC is counting on urban/ suburban communities where parking is precious, the half-ton pickup truck is overkill, and there is likely already a Yukon in the household.
WHERE TO: equipped with fully automatic hill climb/ descent assist, the Canyon 4x4 All Terrain mounted 14"-inch snow mounds. Too bad the scrape-worthy lower front chin won't detach for Tacoma TRD "off-road" worthiness.
HOW BIG: Canyon's short cargo bed which is 27% more voluminous Tacoma's
HOW LITTLE: The 17.7'-foot long GMC Canyon will tuck into a 20'-foot long house garage. A 5.8'-feet overall height clears older parking garages. Even without dealer installed running boards, Canyon SLE's < 2'-foot step up into the cab implies an average male can slip right leg in and slide glutes sideways for entry.
HOW USEFUL: Uh oh. The rear backlight window is fixed. On our short-box tester, any electrical conduit > 5"-feet, 2"-inches will stick out the back of the bed with a red flag dangling. Rear bumper corner-steps and a damped liftgate are standard on SLE models. Canyon can tow up to 7,000 pounds.
Split rear seat bench cushions can be folded up. Under the left side, there's a deep storage cubby. Front door panels, especially the driver's, are loaded with storage nooks. There's more in and under the center stack and the center armrest. The glovebox looks to fit a lunch box.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Ballistic nylon covered front buckets are on the tight side. Adjustability is by way of four (4)-way power controls (optional on passenger's side), including lower lumbar. Cushion and back front seat heating can warm or broil.
Instrumentation graphics, including enhanced LCD data display are bright and informative. Toggle style switchgear and icons on the 8.8" touch navigation display are "Professional Grade" for gloved fingers. Contrasting red-stitching on the leather wrapped helm: CHECK. Soft touch trim: CHECK. Pebble grain trying to mask coarse hard black plastic elsewhere: CHECK.
Navigation 3D bird's eye graphics are stellar, though a split screen would have been nicer. IntelliLink telematics and included apps can be powered via an onboard 4G LTE mobile data service. The optional Bose audio actually doesn't "Blows."
HOW ROADWORTHY: The six-speed slushbox doesn't lurch forward or backward like the "Taco" does. Nor is there driveline whine. Interior isolation is "Hushed Grade." Disc brakes all around, with 4-pot calipers up front, make for easy congested traffic movements. Off-road springing and damping brings tautness and a bit of roll resistance, without excessive harshness.
If BMW were building off-road capable pickup trucks...Just Saying.
HOW FAR: How about Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan...AND BACK...on a tank full of regular unleaded? Our combined use tally: 17.5 miles per gallon.
HOW MUCH: It ain't even a Denali and our 2015 GMC Canyon 4WD SLE Crew Short Box nearly nipped $40,000! A more baubled SLT trim is one rung up. Can you live without the Z71 off-road suspension, power lumbar and heated front seats, auto climate control, 8" touch LCD navigation screen with IntelliLink apps and Bose audio system, subscription based OnStar telematics/ concierge and 4G LTE? We can.
WHAT'S MISSING: segment first Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning (available at extra cost), Blind Spot Warning
ANY COMPETITION: In principle, GMC is considered a step in the premium direction over any Chevy fraternal twin. There are a few more standard features in equivalent trims. The styling is more aggressive and chrome treatment is more generous.
Otherwise it's the segment's prince, the Toyota Tacoma, with a replacement coming out summer 2015. And the staid Nissan Frontier. The Honda Ridgeline? Naaw!
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