General Motors is obviously in a betting mood. Indeed, they've gone downright contrarian.
To be more specific, The General is certain there's a market for mid-sized pickup trucks, not at all convinced as its direct competitors -- Ford and Ram -- are that everyone who buys a small truck is actually just a full-sized customer who can't afford the real deal.
Outwardly it's a big gamble; the small trucks that were once a million-vehicle segment barely account for a quarter of that now. But, according to Jeffrey Luke, executive chief engineer for GM's full-sized and mid-size trucks, the long-defunct S10 had -- indeed still has -- a sizable band of loyalists, casual truckers and even some work-a-day business folk for whom a full-sized truck is simply, well, too full-sized. Ditto for Ford's once highly regarded Ranger and the more recently departed Dakota.
So what was once a thriving segment has been left to the Japanese, with only Toyota -- with its Tacoma -- making a serious effort at modernizing the small pickup.
So The General's seemingly high-stakes wager may not prove so risky. After all, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are the first all-new design from a domestic manufacturer in almost a decade.
Much of the grunt work in establishing the design's bona fides will fall to the new Canyon. Although smaller than the Sierra -- about 300 millimetres shorter, 200 mm lower and over 100 mm narrower -- it will still tow 7,200 pounds (3,272 kilograms) in its top-of-the-line 3.6L V6 guise, enough to accommodate at least a modest fifth wheel.
By pursuing its unique "three-truck strategy" -- the mid-sized Canyon/Colorado, light-duty Sierra/Silverado and the various heavy-duty offerings -- GM is differentiating itself from its domestic competition and, according to Luke, the company has studied the reasons for the segment's decline and addressed them all in the new Canyon.
"It is every bit as capable," says the global chief engineer. "But just smaller and easier to drive."
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013