Trucks are supposed to big, right? This is Texas and we like rolling around in trucks where we have to use a ladder to step inside. Large enough to have a bed that can fit an actual king-size bed. Side mirrors that rival the size of a chicken-fried steak.
But Texans – and residents of the other 49 – now have new options in truck size from GM. Two of its brands have rolled out vehicles in the mid-size range that are squarely gunning for the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier and a soon-to-be-released model from Honda.
I spent some time in Del Mar, California, a seaside community just north of San Diego, putting the 2015 GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado through paces in traffic, hills, parking and, yes, a beautiful sunset.
These trucks come in a wide variety of configurations but the basics are upfront for the GMC and Chevy models. A four-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive and an extended cab with rear-hinged doors are standard features. Options include a V-6, crew cab and four-wheel drive.
While the inside of each vehicle are identical in most features (save for the nice upgrades in the Canyon), the aesthetics on the outside stand out with nods from each brand. The Colorado’s nose and front end is classic Chevy with a sportier design, hard-molded matte black plastic and lots of color. GMC styling can be seen immediately on the Canyon with the larger, bolder nose; metal grill and wide headlights.
The technology in the trucks makes driving and comfort easy on everyone. The driver information center in between the speedometer and tachometer is controlled by some clever switches and buttons on the turn-signal stalk. Buyers who opt for the Canyon SLT or Chevy Z71 trims equipped with the navigation system get color and even more information. GM also offers full Wi-Fi hotspot capability with its OnStar 4G LTE offering that will allow up to seven different devices to connect simultaneously.
Setting up the hotspot can be as simple as using your voice and the connection speed was as fast as driving in the speed lane. I can imagine my kids enjoying trips a bit more by burying their heads in their portable devices streaming music, watching YouTube and giving me directions of the nearest bathroom via their own GPS.
A standout interior feature in the extended-cab and crew-cab versions is the storage space – seemingly every inch is useful. From the door pockets and small cutout in all the doors to the extra space underneath all the seats, little interior space was wasted.
All Canyon and Colorado models come with six air bags, a locking tailgate that hydraulically lowers slowly and a backup camera. I tested some models with lane departure and collision warning systems, text-messaging alerts (so much for my Samsung smartwatch) and a feature for iPhones that allow Siri to control some features.
I hereby declare the mid-size truck category war to be reignited. The GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado are the first out of the gate and have a head start over the new Toyota and Honda versions. It’s a great start and I would be happy to ride off into the sunset with one of them.