What can we say about the current midsize pickup truck segment? First, GM has found that pickup owners of this dwindling, yet still existing segment are among the least satisfied customers in the industry. Dissatisfied in categories including quietness, styling/materials, front row, second row, and fuel economy, it seems that midsize owners have abandoned their beloved jack-of-all-trades, not big, but not small, pickups for fullsize pickups and small or midsize crossovers and cars. Second, it’s a segment from which manufactures have been pulling out of over the past few years. The demise of the Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, and Honda Ridgeline (which will come back) has left the segment dominated solely by the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.
Enter the 2015 GMC Canyon back into this dissatisfied, dwindling segment, under the premise that this pickup can satisfy its owners while redefining the stagnant, “up for grabs” midsize pickup truck segment that has tons of opportunity for growth. GMC hopes to provide a segment leading, best-in-class midsize truck in many areas including horsepower, payload (1,450 pounds), and maximum trailering rating (6,700 pounds).
Perhaps brave and ambitious in an era where other manufacturers have “killed” off midsize trucks for good, GMC will attack 2015 with its midsize Canyon exhibiting some of the noteworthy characteristics found on the redesigned fullsize Sierra and Heavy Duty Sierra. Some of these features include triple-sealed doors inlaid in the body sides, CornerStep, EZ Lift-and-Lower locking tailgate, fully boxed perimeter frame, Duralife brake rotors, and the interior’s instrument panel and central driver information center. A quiet, modern, technologically advanced midsize truck could give the remaining competition a run for its money.
Powering the redesigned GMC Canyon will be a standard 2.5L, 193 hp, 184 lbs/ft of torque I-4 engine, with an available 302 hp, 270 lbs/ft of torque 3.6L engine. These power ratings are still pending SAE certification. Both engines feature aluminum blocks, forged-steel crankshafts, dual-overhead camshafts and jet-spray piston cooling, in addition to direct injection and variable valve timing. Both engines will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that includes auto grade braking and a tow/haul mode. There will also be a six-speed manual transmission available for the 2.5L in base extended cab/2WD models. The tried-and-true G80 automatic locking rear differential will also be standard on the All Terrain package and available on SLE and SLT models. A segment-first feature, called AutoTrac automatic four-wheel drive, engages an electronically controlled transfer case to shift from 2WD to 4WD when the truck senses wheel slippage.
The GMC Canyon will be engulfed in segment-first active and passive safety technologies and connectivity on the inside. Available forward collision alert, lane departure warning, hill start assist and hill descent control and standard StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology, rear-vision camera system, and six air bags, including a head curtain side air bag, help keep occupants secure so they can focus on the comfort and connectivity that the interior offers. The instrument cluster features a 4.2-inch-diagonal color driver information screen to aid the available 8-inch color IntelliLink touch screen. Multiple USB ports make device charging easy, which comes in handy with the available OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.
The debate over GMC and Chevrolet – in this case the Canyon and Colorado - being the same trucks or different trucks rages on with the intensity of political discussions. No matter where you stand, it’s hard to deny that the front ends of GM’s new midsize trucks are indeed different from each other and also different from their half ton counterpart. It’s evident that when people talk about the looks of vehicles, they often talk about how the front end looks. It’s the first thing analyzed. If this weren’t true, then there wouldn’t be such consternation about the new Jeep Cherokee. You probably noticed the front end before the Tacoma-like swoop of the rear window or the funky body line. While the Colorado seems to take on an almost car-like front end, seemingly asserting its independence from the boxy, almost old-school front end of the redesigned Silverado, the Canyon seems to have much less product distinction with its “baby” Sierra look in the front. With its rectangular grill shape and headlight shape, it fits the look of the redesigned GMC trucks. Some may prefer that the midsize trucks look like miniature versions of the half tons, while others may like less crossover and more differentiation. It seems that in the case of the Canyon and Colorado, we get both options.
The success of the Canyon will depend on many factors, but of particular importance may be customers’ satisfaction with the overall appearance and price. If it’s too outrageously expensive, the likely option may still be a fullsize truck. Quite honestly, GMC will also have to work diligently on a threefold front to gain segment loyalty and brand loyalty, while reinventing the Canyon name to distinguish it from the previous generation.
Production of the 2015 GMC Canyon will start in Fall 2014 at GM’s Wentzville, Mo. assembly plant.