GM rolled out its new mid-sized pickup, along with new compact van.

GM back in mid-size pickup market

Nov. 1, 2014
NTEA Truck Product Conference 2014 report

GENERAL Motors is back in the mid-size pickup truck market with the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

GM is marketing the pickups—discontinued in 2012—to those who require the utility of a pickup but don’t necessarily need the payload and towing capability of a full-size truck. They will compete with other mid-size offerings such as the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

“It’s all-new, rather than redesigned,” said Mike Jones, mid-truck product manager. “It’s the same name as the old product, but it’s really more akin, from an engineering point of view, to our full-size products. And it fills a big gap in the market. It’s been about two years without a mid-size domestic truck in this market. It’s engineered to deliver class-leading power, payload, and trailer ratings, and fuel economy as well.”

The reception has been favorable. On September 18, GM announced that dealers had ordered nearly 30,000 of the trucks, which far exceeded their expectations and led to the addition of 750 jobs and a third shift at the Wentzville Assembly Plant.

The GMC Canyon will initially be offered only with gasoline engines, with an optional Duramax 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine to be added in the 2016 model year. Standard is a 2.5L I-4 gasoline engine, with a 3.6L V-6 available as an option. The 2.5L engine cranks out an estimated 193 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, with the optional 3.6L liter V-6 generating 302 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque.

Both engines feature direct injection and variable valve timing to make the most of power and efficiency, with an aluminum block, forged-steel crankshaft, dual-overhead camshafts, and jet-spray piston cooling featured on both engines. The 2.5L engine model also incorporates a two-stage variable-displacement oil pump, for greater efficiency, as well as a balance shaft located in the oil pan, for greater refinement, the OEM noted.

All of the Canyon’s gasoline engine variants are matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that includes auto grade braking and a tow/haul mode. A six-speed manual transmission is also available with the 2.5L engine in base extended cab/two-wheel drive models.

The GMC Canyon will be offered in base, SLE and SLT models, with two-wheel and four-wheel drive options and what the OEM calls an “aggressively styled” all-terrain package for the SLE version. Three body configurations will also be offered for the Canyon: an extended cab model with a six-foot bed, a crew cab with a five-foot bed and a crew cab with a six-foot bed. With the tailgate down, the six-foot bed allows eight-foot-long items to be hauled within the vehicle.

AutoTrac automatic four-wheel drive, which employs an electronically controlled transfer case that allows the driver to shift from 2WD to 4WD, is another new option—allowing the driver to select four modes, 2WD, Auto, 4WD HI, or 4WD Lo. By selecting “Auto” mode, the transfer case will operate in 2WD and will automatically apply traction to the front wheels (4WD) when the vehicle senses wheel slippage.

Other features include:

  • An 8-inch-diagonal color touch screen and multiple USB ports combined with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity that includes a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Driver alert features such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and a standard rear-vision camera.
  • RemoteLink Key Fob Services to allow owners to lock and unlock their vehicle, flash the lights and honk the horn, and, on equipped models, even remotely start the engine using the RemoteLink smartphone app—a service that will be free for five years, with additional OnStar services and data plans will be available with a paid subscription.
  • Six air bags, including head curtain side air bags that can also reduce the risk of occupant ejection.
  • StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control, hill start assist and hill descent control.
  • An all-new aluminum hood to help keep overall mass down and improve the front-to-rear weight balance.
  • Active aero grille shutters, which close at certain highway speeds to enhance efficiency through improved aerodynamics.
  • EZ Lift-and-Lower locking tailgate that uses an internal torsion bar to make raising the tailgate easier with one hand, and a damper for more-controlled lowering

On the Colorado, a “work truck package” will be provided, including a “box delete” option so the pickup bed can be removed to provide for the installation of a wide assortment of service body styles.

Standard features on the Colorado extended-cab pickup include the same 200 hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing for strong midrange torque; a 6-speed manual transmission; power windows with express up for the driver; a rear-vision camera with dynamic guide lines; and a locking tailgate.

Available options include: a 305 hp 3.6L V-6 gasoline engine, also with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing; a 6-speed automatic transmission; 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot; Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning; along with the same “GearOn” accessory system available on the GMC Canyon.

Colorado customers also get a choice of two cab configurations, extended-cab and crew-cab. Crew-cab models can be equipped with either 5- or 6-ft boxes, with the extended-cab models spec’d automatically with the 6-ft box.

GM has dropped the Chevrolet Express 1500 and GMC Savana 1500, but some of those vehicles’ buyers are expected to switch to the 2015 Chevrolet City Express or move up to the 2500 series van.

Joe Langhauser, van product manager, said the City Express, with 122.7 cubic feet of cargo volume, is the small cargo van that suits a variety of businesses. Its unique structure and 48”-long load width between wheel housing can easily accommodate a standard pallet, PVC piping, a 6’ stepladder, and even a pre-hung interior door. The 40/60 split rear doors can be opened up to 180 degrees for easy loading and unloading, even if the van is parked on crowded streets. Maneuvering through tight bends and turns, the six floor-mounted D-rings can be used to keep cargo safe and secure.

The City Express comes with commercial work-ready features, including 20 integrated reinforced cargo-mounting points and six exterior roof rack mounting points. The City Express comes upfit-ready with weld nuts for attaching bins. The available modular packages include shelving, drawer units, hook bars, door kits, trade packages, and dividers so the City Express can be customized to suit specific needs.

The Chevrolet Express offers a lineup of Vortec V8 workhorses, including the Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8, the most powerful diesel in its class. Working in conjunction with StabiliTrak, the available Trailer Sway Control feature helps the vehicle stay on track even while hauling large cargo. The standard 6-speed heavy-duty transmission with Tow/Haul mode downshifts automatically to help slow the truck when the brakes are applied while descending long, steep grades.

The Express 3500 Cutaway van can be geared to fulfill a number of tasks with upfits such as utility/service, van body, ambulance/rescue, shuttle bus, or school bus. There are two engine options and three wheelbases, depending on the size of the job. Available options include the Vortec 4.8L V8 with 285 hp and 295 lb-ft torque in the 139” wheelbase or the 159” wheelbase. Or fit the Cutaway with the Vortec 6.0L V8 with 342 hp, 373 lb-ft torque and FlexFuel capability in the 177” wheelbase.

Renee Bryant, engineering group manager of upfitter integration, provided some new bulletins:

  • 115c: upfitter circuit provisions.
  • 116: Snowplow lamp activation.
  • 117: Improper engine block heater usage on Savannah and Express.
  • 118: upfitter configurable auxiliary circuits.
  • 119: radio telephone/mobile radio installation and troubleshooting guidelines.
  • 120: power take-off subsystem operating description and application guide.
  • 121: transport mode message/battery light flashing.

Bryant said the 2015 body builders manuals are now online. ♦

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.