With the anticipated return of General Motors to the small truck market this year, there were some concerns that its vehicles — the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon — wouldn’t offer the kind of differential from the Silverado or Sierra that consumers were hoping for. While the compact pickup segment was once defined by affordable, small, no-frills trucks, today’s offerings often come solidly equipped, and are arguably barely any smaller than the current full-size offerings.
A loaded Toyota Tacoma, currently the most popular truck in the segment (and one of the only two remaining), can MSRP for nearly $40,000, despite it’s relatively modest $18,125 starting price. That’s well into midsize truck territory, and is consistent with the upmarket trend seen throughout the pickup industry.
General Motors, though, has made it a point to differentiate the forthcoming Canyon and Colorado from its larger siblings. In its press release dated Tuesday, GM announced that the prices for the trucks will come in between $8,000 and $10,000 less than the comparable Silverado or Sierra. Like the Tacoma, however, the trucks can easily make it into the mid- to high-$30,000 range after higher trims and options are added.
The Colorado will start at $20,995 for the extended-cab pickup, ever so gently undercutting the $21,500 asking price for the access cab Tacoma after shipping. The Colorado LT crew cab with 2WD and the 5-foot box has a starting price of $27,985 after shipping, and the Colorado Z71 crew cab 4×4 with the 5-foot box starts at $34,990. The Canyon, meanwhile, starts at $21,880 and peaks at the $37,875 SLT 4WD trim. Both come standard with a 2.5 liter inline-four, producing 200 horsepower.
Buyers who spring for the 4WD setup will see the A 3.6-liter V6 — which produces 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque — but many are likely holding their breath for the 2.8 liter four-cylinder diesel that’s slated to join the lineup next year. On the extended cab models, buyers also have the option of springing for a larger six-foot box.
But here’s where the Colorado and Canyon really count. The base Canyon costs about $9,300 less than a comparable double-cab Sierra and about $5,200 less than the cheapest Sierra available, which is the regular cab work truck with a V6, Automotive News points out. Similarly, the Colorado LT crew cab with two-wheel drive, the standard 2.5-liter engine and a short box has a starting price of $27,985 which is about $9,200 less than a comparably equipped Silverado V6 crew cab, and about $6,800 less than the comparable V6 double-cab Silverado model, the site added.
AutoPacific product analyst Dave Sullivan told Auto News that the trucks are “priced to offer a lot more content” when contrasted against comparably priced Silverado and Sierra models. Last year, the smaller truck market moved just 227,111 units, well off the 1 million that it reached at its peak in 2000. The Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, and the previous generations of the Colorado and Canyon were all phased out, leaving the Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier as to sole survivors.
Since its peak nearly 15 years ago, the lines between what constitutes a small, midsize, or full-size truck have been blurred excessively. What were the midsize trucks are now the smallest available, and former larger trucks — like the Sierra, Silverado, F-150, Tundra, Titan, and 1500 — are now the middle ground between vehicles like the Tacoma and the heavy duty rigs produced by the Detroit Three.
The pricing ladder has been similarly dissolved into a rather unclassified mass, but with GM’s new $5,000-$10,000 distinction, there’s a new line in the sand for companies to live up to. Now, full-size trucks — or midsize, or whatever — are approaching luxury car prices, and feature luxury car amenities: a range-topping Sierra Denali can run nearly $70,000 before the day is out.
This, in turn, has opened up the lower end of the market, where Toyota and Nissan have had little to no competition. The Tacoma owns 68 percent of the entry-level truck market, and the Frontier accounts for the remaining 32. Argubaly, vehicles that undercut these trucks in price is exactly what the segment needs to re-energize and boost competition to bring the inflated prices back down.
We would even submit that the new offerings from GM don’t go far enough. The small truck segment isn’t one for those looking for 12-way power heated seats, infotainment systems, LEDs up the wazoo, a fancy transmission, or Bluetooth. This is a segment where simplicity is key — a five-speed manual, diesel engine, no frills, and a price between $18,000 and $20,000? Where do we sign?