Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking to the Street in the All-New GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado

GMC Canyon Crew Cab.
I'm not the kind of guy who gets all lathered up over pickup trucks. Sure, when you need a truck, you need a truck; but how often is that, really? For most of us, not very.

My recent week with a GMC Sierra 2500 4WD Crew Cab was a series of highs and lows. The greatest high was using its 765 lb-ft of torque to pull down my shed. The greatest low was needing to schedule myself to go to the gym before 11 a.m. to be able to get it parked before the lunch crowd showed up at the restaurant next door.

So, although I was curious about the all-new midsize GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado pickup trucks, I didn't exactly jump for joy when the invitation to the national media launch of both arrived in my mailbox. 

From L'Auberge's rooftop.
However, I arrived at the L'Auberge Resort in Del Mar, Calif., where Chevrolet and GMC hosted the event, an agnostic and left a believer.

This was my third or fourth stay at L'Auberge. Both quaint and laid back, it sits a block or so off the beach. It's not surprising that it's popular with carmakers as an anchor point for media product launches. 

More of an appetizer than a full-course Colorado/Canyon meal, the exposure was quick and casual. Most media arrived around lunch time of day one and were on planes heading home by 5 p.m. on day two. I had less time than that, arriving mid afternoon of the first day and departing the hotel for the John Wayne Airport at 9:00 the morning of day two. I was there long enough, though, to have dinner at the Prep Kitchen just a short walk from the hotel. 

Dinner at the Prep Kitchen.
After dinner, we adjourned to the hotel's Bleu Bar for after-dinner libations. High-end tequila was the spirit of the day. With both Clase Azul and Don Julio 1942 on the menu, making a choice proved too difficult for me; I had both. Put a gun to my head: I'd have to give the nod to Clase Azul as the better sipper. But it was close.

Despite my short duration on the ground, I had enough time to take both trucks for a spin.

The ride and drive routes – most were less than 30-minutes long; although, there was also one roughly an hour long on which I took the Colorado – were staged from the hotel's Surf Station near the beach.

Product honchos at GM are convinced there is a fairly large group of buyers for midsize trucks lurking just beneath the surface of the general new-car market. Because the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier are a bit outdated, yet the only game in town, GM leadership believes the bulk of midsize truck intenders have found a home mostly in crossovers. All it will take to lure these crossover owners back to the midsize-truck segment, say these guys, is a new, stylish, well-contented pickup. 

I'm here to tell you: GM has two.

The styling speaks for itself. No one seeing them for the first time will think “square” or “boxy.” “Sleek” may be off a little as an adjective, but it's close. Although they look stylish, they are trucks with the fully boxed frame that “truck” implies. They are also a bit larger than their “midsize” describer might indicate. GM will offer both as Extended Cab or Crew Cab. Neither will be available in the U.S. market with a regular cab.

Both come with either a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Although a six-speed manual can be ordered on selected Extended Cab versions, GM product planners expect most buyers will choose the six-speed automatic tranny. The V6 in the 2WD Crew Cab gets 26 mpg on the highway and can tow up to 7,000 lbs. Not too shabby.

Chevrolet Colorado.
I didn't get to try out a four-cylinder example of either truck, but the V6 pulls like a draft horse, sprints like a leopard, and is quiet as a church mouse. In fact, the entire driving experience is so smooth, civilized and quiet, it would have been easy for me to forget I wasn't driving a large sedan, like the Impala. 

Sure the Canyon is a bit more upmarket than the Colorado, but both have cabins that are carefully constructed with lots of soft-touch surfaces and loads of technology. A WiFi hot spot extending 50 feet around the truck, OnStar and MyLink/IntelliLink, plus all manner of safety technology are all either standard or offered as an option. Both also offer either a 5 ft. 2 in. or 6 ft. 2 in. cargo box each can be fitted with a lockable EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate. There are 13 tie-down locations with movable tie-down rings.

Base price of the Colorado is $20,995; while the Canyon starts at $21,880.

I was simply blown away by the driveability of these trucks. I could very easily live with one as a daily driver.

GM is probably on to something relaunching entries into the midsize arena. I think these trucks will do well.

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