The 2015 GMC Canyon promises a useful solution for buyers who need fuel-efficient truck utility without the full-size commitment.
Fuel-efficient engines, more manageable size, affordable alternative to full-size trucks.
Unlike its predecessor, unlikely to offer a V8 option.
The 2015 GMC Canyon is an all-new model.
General Motors re-enters the midsize pickup segment with the 2015 GMC Canyon and its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Colorado. GM ended its midsize pickup production last year, ceding the field to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier (Ford ended U.S. production of its Ranger midsize pickup in 2011). Even before their end however, the Canyon and Colorado were saddled with inefficient powertrains and subpar interiors and never seriously contested the Tacoma's supremacy in the segment.
GMC hopes to start with a blank slate for its new midsize. More importantly, GM hopes to position the new model as more of a workhorse truck, in contrast to the "lifestyle" and "sport" designs it has planned for the Chevy model. Early photos of a Canyon prototype reveal a midsize body bigger than the previous generation. With a large bisected grille and thick, chunky outlines, the new model appears under its camouflage wrap like a compressed version of the redesigned Sierra full-size pickup.
That's not a bad thing, especially if the Canyon ends up carrying power similar to that of the bigger truck, namely a new 4.3-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. A GM executive has already said that the small and big trucks won't share powertrains, however. That leaves the most likely candidates as the 3.6-liter V6 found in the Terrain, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder from the Chevy Malibu, or perhaps a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder for a model focused mainly on fuel economy. A diesel shouldn't be ruled out at some point, either.
Whatever the engine and transmission options, the 2015 GMC Canyon will need to offer towing ability anywhere from 3,500 to 6,500 pounds (for V6 models) to compete with the Frontier and Tacoma. A four-wheel-drive option is also a must, and the Canyon will need to do better than the 25 mpg highway of its predecessor.
Interior upgrades shouldn't be too difficult; even incremental gains in materials quality would mark a vast improvement over the last model. We expect the Canyon to offer cabin quality on par with Chevy's Cruze compact sedan, along with the latest GMC IntelliLink infotainment interface and smartphone integration, two elements that would give it an edge over the Frontier's relatively plain interior.
The 2015 GMC Canyon begins production next year and should arrive by fall. By then, a redesigned Toyota Tacoma should be imminent, and a new Frontier not far behind. The only other real alternative in this group is the Honda Ridgeline, although it faces an uncertain future and its carlike frame lacks the sturdiness that most truck buyers want. Check back for a full review of the new Canyon, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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