LOS ANGELES—General Motors is taking a big gamble on a small segment, launching an all-new versions of its midsize pickup entries at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Discontinued in North America in 2012 due to weak sales, GM is hoping its redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups can regain a foothold in a segment still dominated by Toyota.
Designed with the adventurous in mind, the automaker is promoting the Canyon and Colorado as the saviour of the that has seen sales fall sharply as buyers move up to the incentive-laiden full-size segment.
“We designed the Colorado to be the most versatile and most capable in its segment, bar none,” Jeff Luke, executive engineer with GM Trucks, said in a statement.
“Not everyone needs full-size capability, but they still deserve the strength and true-truck attributes that come in larger models. The Colorado delivers capability with confidence—and a fun-to-drive spirit that complements active lifestyles.”
A tall order for a pair of pickups meant to compete with the tested and true Tacoma from Toyota, and Nissan’s Frontier.
Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for GM to make a dent in the niche sub-sector is the exits of Chrysler and Ford, which both withdrew from their entries in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The good news for GM is its design team did a few things right.
Gone are the cheap plastic design cues that made the Colorado and sister Canyon look more affable than aggressive, replaced with taller shoulder lines and a bold stance that demand some attention.
Where they fall short, at least in the first model year, is under the hood, where the midsize offerings are powered by a meager 2.5-litre four-cylinder as standard equipment.
It’s only the optional 3.6L V6 or the 2.8L turbodiesel due out in year two of production that make true truck sense.
The 2.5L four-banger is estimated at 193-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.6L engine is estimated at 302-horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.
Power numbers aren’t available for the pending diesel option, though numbers published by the automaker at the powerplant’s global launch in 2011 peg it at 180-horsepower and 346 lb.-ft. of torque.
A six-speed automatic transmission is mated to the gas powerplants.
Despite the standard shortcomings under the hood, the available five- and six-foot bed lengths leave plenty of room for hauling for work or play.
And that’s just where the cargo utility begins.
The pickups come with standard CornerStep rear bumpers to make getting in and out of the bed a breeze, as well as two-tier loading that allows the bed to be split into upper and lower sections.
An EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate is optional, making it maneuverable with one hand, as is a spray-in bedliner.
On the inside the Colorado and Canyon get all the creature comforts one would expect from a modern passenger vehicle, including an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and available navigation.
With the launch slated for next fall, GM says work will continue on refining the trucks until production begins in 2014.