Which would you rather have, one of Chevy’s ultra-rugged off-road racing replica Colorado ZR2 pickup trucks with its standard V6 or with its optional diesel? We tested both, using just its default rear-drive…
Which would you rather have, one of Chevy’s ultra-rugged off-road racing replica Colorado ZR2 pickup trucks with its standard V6 or with its optional diesel? We tested both, using just its default rear-drive 4×2 mode on pavement, across some fast-paced gravel roads in 4WD high, and lastly with its 4WD-low gear-set engaged in the dirt and sloshing through some thick winter mud with a bunch of hip-wader-high puddles thrown into the mix.
The diesel-powered version was actually last year’s truck that we decided to cover in one review now that our V6 gasoline-fueled model arrived, allowing us to tell you about all the changes Chevy has made to this 4×4 beast as part of its 2019 model year changeover. Of course, this is a niche vehicle that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the updates affect the majority of Colorado and GMC Canyon models, so it won’t matter whether you’re choosing one of the General’s mid-size pickups for work or for play.
Along with its off-road prowess the 2019 Colorado is better for everyday use too, thanks to a new larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen in all trims except for the base WT (Work Truck) that still does pretty well with a new 7.0-inch main display. The larger of the two boasts beautiful HD graphics and even an HD backup camera, which we’ll make sure to comment on in our upcoming road test review.
Our ZR2 tester even includes a wireless smartphone charger, this feature standard with Z71 trim and above, while all trims include a new smaller Type-C USB port next to the conventional USB-A connection. These are located on the front centre console, next to an auxiliary input jack and an available SD card reader. Additionally, a second microphone mounted closer to the front passenger improves Bluetooth hands-free voice quality, while we really like the ZR2’s heatable steering wheel rim, this now standard on all trims above the LT.
I won’t bore you with all the ZR2’s comfort and convenience features, which are readily available on Chevy’s retail website or at CarCostCanada where I sourced all the 2019 Colorado’s pricing information including trims, packages and standalone options, not to mention money-saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing, but suffice to say it’s very well equipped for just $46,100 plus freight and fees, albeit more focused on off-road prowess than pampering one’s backside.
Like the 2017 and 2018 Colorado ZR2, this new one gets a substantial boost in ride height and therefore ground clearance that’s up by 50 mm (2.0 inches), while any negatives to high-speed handling are offset by a 90-mm (3.5-inch) increase in front and rear track, new stiffer cast-iron lower front control arms, and special 8- by 17-inch alloy wheels cushioned by 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac off-road rubber. Handling off the beaten path, particularly improving suspension articulation is a new 1.0-inch-diameter solid anti-roll bar replacing the usual 1.5-inch hollow one, while leaving the best for last are special Multimatic shocks designed for cushioning the otherwise jarring impacts of rocks, roots and other obstacles you might find along an ungraded back road or trail.
Easier to see are skid plates below and tubular rocker extensions at each side, both designed to protect vulnerable components and bodywork, but the ZR2 is even more noticeable to passersby thanks to its all-business matte black grille and even beefier black hood dome that serve no purpose but looking good, rugged black bumpers that get chopped down a couple of notches to improve approach and departure angles, and muscular black fender flares that make way for those meaty tires just noted.
Between the front wheel wells of this $495 optional Kinetic Blue Metallic painted truck is the standard 3.6-litre V6 that’s good for 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, the latter from 4,000 rpm, driving the rear axle or both via part-time four-wheel drive and an efficient eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination gets a claimed 15.0 L/100km city, 13.0 highway and 14.1 combined fuel economy rating, thanks in part to cylinder deactivation under light loads.
The Deepwood Green Metallic coloured truck (it looks grey), the optional colour discontinued for 2019, mates GM’s wonderful 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel four-cylinder, good for 181 horsepower and a best-in-class 369 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm, to a less advanced yet still very capable and arguably more robust six-speed automatic gearbox, which come together for a much thriftier 12.5 L/100km city, 10.7 highway and 11.7 combined rating, which might not be enough fuel economy gains to justify its considerable $4,090 upgrade unless you happen to put a lot of distance between trade-ins, or require the diesel’s much improved efficiency to travel deeper into the woods than gasoline-powered truck owners dare tread.
So how does this tall, dark (re lack of chrome) and (arguably) handsome cross between the no-trails-barred Jeep Gladiator and off-road race replica Ford F-150 Raptor drive around town, down the highway and into the wild green yonder? Again, we’ll give you a complete buildup and rundown in our upcoming road test review, plus more in-depth details about its Multimatic shocks, suspension upgrades, interior upgrades, etcetera. Until then, enjoy our sizeable photo gallery…
Thanks to General Motors, the mid-size pickup truck market is once again starting to heat up. Toyota was hardly contested in this market for far too long, but GM reintroduced its Chevrolet Colorado and…
Thanks to General Motors, the mid-size pickup truck market is once again starting to heat up. Toyota was hardly contested in this market for far too long, but GM reintroduced its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins in 2015 and has steadily been gaining back market share ever since.
In fact, after just a year of availability the two trucks combined for 12,652 sales, and by so doing snuck right past the Tacoma’s 12,618. That gap widened in 2017 with 14,320 GM mid-size truck deliveries and just 12,454 for Toyota, while as of September 30 this year the General managed to sell 12,702 Colorados and Canyons compared to Toyota’s tally of 10,703 Tacomas, so as long as the final quarter of 2018 follows suit it should be another banner year for these two domestic pickups.
Just in case you forgot (as most people did), Honda and Nissan sell trucks in this segment too. Still, despite an impressive second-generation Ridgeline the motorcycle company that initially started out selling a pickup truck was only able to lure in 3,169 new buyers over the same nine months of 2018, while Nissan, one of the originators of the compact pickup category, could only rally 3,071 of its faithful troops around its Frontier.
Nissan hasn’t redesigned its Frontier pickup in so long it should be facing child abandonment charges, but the segment’s previous shabby chic offering, Ford’s Ranger, will soon be with us again, albeit much larger, thoroughly modernized and no doubt capable of taking on the top three. What’s more, FCA, the parent company of the Dodge brand that gave up on the Dakota, finally showed the new Wrangler-based Gladiator in production trim at the LA auto show, so this warming small truck market might soon be boiling over.
Again, we can thank GM for sticking its neck out with the Colorado and Canyon, because if it weren’t for these two the others wouldn’t have had verified proof that mid-size trucks were still worth investing in, only that buyers were waiting for some decent product to arrive.
Decent is an understatement with respect to the Colorado and Canyon, mind you. Just look at this GMC Canyon in its 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain setup. I think its design is fabulous, and I always enjoy spending time behind the wheel, especially when its class-exclusive turbo-diesel four-cylinder powerplant is powering all four wheels. Honestly, this is the type of engine Toyota should be putting into its Tacoma, not to mention Ford and Nissan whenever replacements to their pickups arrive.
I spend a lot of time in and around Metro Manila, Philippines, my second home (Antipolo City to be exact), and have witnessed all the diesel trucks on offer. The Ford Ranger mentioned earlier is easily one of the best looking pickups there or anywhere, also diesel powered, whereas the Asian-spec Navara is the truck Nissan should’ve imported to North America along with its fuel-efficient turbo-diesel powerplant. The Philippine-market Toyota pickup is dubbed Hilux and diesel-powered as well, while Chevy also sells a diesel-powered Colorado in the Philippines, although the rebadged Isuzu D-Max isn’t even close to North America’s Colorado.
Duramax Diesel power is the first reason I’d recommend our Canadian-spec Canyon or Colorado to truck buyers here, even over the Tacoma. Some Canadians might pretend that fuel economy isn’t as big an issue now as it was before the oil crash, but a quick study of our current economic situation will show that it’s even more important to find economical transportation now than it was then, especially in a smaller, less-expensive pickup class that’s likely being purchased for financial reasons first and foremost.
Only this past summer regular 97 octane rose to more than $1.60 per litre in my part of the country, and even our current $1.30 to $1.40 per litre range isn’t exactly cheap. In fact, our new low is considerably higher than just before the bottom fell out of big oil. What’s more, the majority of Canadians should be well aware how these low oil prices hit our collective Canadian gross domestic product (GDP) bottom line, not to mention the wallets of many Canadians’ personally, plenty which come from parts of the country where pickup trucks are a larger percentage of the market, such as Alberta, so it’s probably not a good time to be loose and easy with our fuel budgets.
As for where the Canyon and Colorado fit within the overall scheme of things, let’s face the fact that most truck buyers would rather own a full-size Sierra or Silverado than anything mid-size. Bigger trucks deliver more space, comfort, performance and functionality, albeit at a higher price. This need to target entry-level pickup buyers is exactly why the smaller Colorado and Canyon exist, but before I go on let’s make sure we’re both perfectly clear about why these two trucks are succeeding in a market segment where others have failed miserably: they’re sensational.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but as noted a moment ago I happen to think both trucks look great. I’m a bit more partial to the Canyon than the Colorado, unless the latter is upgraded to new ZR2 off-road race truck spec. Interestingly, styling matters at least as much amongst pickup truck owners as sports car zealots, buyers in this most utile of auto sectors wooed by rugged designs that appear like they could trek across seemingly impassable terrain as if they were domesticated equivalents of an M1A2 Abrams tank, or in the case of this smaller pickup something along the lines of the now-discontinued M551 Sheridan.
Adding an oil-burning variant only ups their go-anywhere character, the 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel under my 2018 Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain tester’s sculpted hood capable of a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm, not to mention a very efficient 12.1 L/100km in the city, 8.3 on the highway and 10.4 combined when configured for 4WD, or an even more impressive 10.8 city, 8.0 highway and 9.6 combined with RWD. By the way, it makes 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm too, but that number isn’t quite as important in pickup truck circles, where useable towing twist is king for some and the ability to delve deeper into the wilderness on a single tank of fuel reigns supreme for others.
The Canyon’s tow rating ranges from 2,449 to 2,812 kg kilos (5,400 to 6,200 lbs), while diesel models are equipped with an exhaust brake and an integrated trailer brake controller. Additionally, SLE trim gets trailering assist guidelines added to the otherwise standard backup camera, plus a Tow/Haul mode that raises transmission upshift points for more power when needed, and also raises downshift points so you can use the engine for compression braking. What’s more, an optional Trailering Package adds an automatic locking rear differential, a 50.8-mm receiver hitch, four- and seven-pin connectors, a seven-wire harness with independent fused trailering circuits, a seven-way sealed connector to hook up parking lamps, backup lamps, right and left turn signals, an electric brake lead, a battery and a ground.
All of that aforementioned torque sounds like it should make for blistering performance off the line, and while the diesel-powered Canyon 4×4 initially jumps forward with enthusiasm it’s not capable of spine tingling acceleration after that. Still, it’s hardly embarrassing on a highway onramp, moves fast enough to get you into trouble in the city or on the highway if you’re not paying attention, and is more than capable of passing motorhomes and big highway trucks when required. The diesel’s standard six-speed automatic downshifts quickly and is plenty smooth as well, but it could use with another gear or two on its way up to higher speeds.
When off-road, shifting into 4WD high or low is as easy as possible, only taking the twist of a rotating knob next to the driver’s left knee. It’s a fully automated system, not forcing you to get out and lock the hubs, of course, but also not requiring a secondary lever to engage its low gear set, while crawling over rough terrain is this little truck’s forte.
As you might expect by looking at its beefy suspension, my tester’s ride was firm when rock crawling as well as when bouncing down inner-city lanes, but it was hardly punishing. A larger truck like the Sierra offers more compliance due to its heavier weight, but certainly this smaller 4×4 was pleasant enough. Likewise, handling and high-speed stability is good for the class, with the Canyon fully capable when the road starts to wind and an enjoyable highway cruiser, but once again the larger Sierra delivers more in this respect.
The Canyon’s leisurely pace makes it all the easier to enjoy its impressive cabin, and it really is quantum leap above anything GM offered in this class before, and even a step above most competitors. SLE trim offers a mix of premium-level soft-touch surfaces and harder plastics, the latter common in pickup trucks, while the softer detailing includes an upscale padded leatherette with red stitching covering the left and right sides of the dash top as well as much of the instrument panel, whereas the lower dash and door panels are made from the more durable hard stuff.
Ahead of the driver, a digital and analogue gauge cluster features a fairly large 4.2-inch full-colour TFT multi-information display at centre that’s filled with useful features and superb graphics, while over on the centre stack is GMC’s new IntelliLink infotainment interface, which has become one of the best in the mainstream volume sector. It’s upgraded to the Canyon’s larger 8.0-inch touchscreen in SLE trim, and is easy to operate thanks to nice big ovoid Apple iPhone-style candy drop buttons in various bright colours and the ability to use tablet-style tap, pinch and swipe finger gestures.
This test truck didn’t include optional navigation with detailed mapping, but GMC includes the very useful OnStar turn-by-turn route guidance system, while the SLE’s infotainment interface was also loaded up with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity (although these are even included on the base model’s now larger 7.0-inch infotainment display this year), a decent audio system featuring satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming (a Bose system is optional), text messaging, and of course plenty of car settings. Some buttons below the touchscreen allow quick access to radio, media and audio functions, plus the home screen, while a nicely sorted single-zone automatic climate control interface is set up in the old school button and knob style just below.
On that note, switchgear for GM’s excellent heatable seats can be found just under the HVAC system on a separate interface, these being especially good because they allow the ability to heat both lower and backrest cushions separately, or just the backrest alone, while just above these is a row of toggle switches for trailering, turning off the stability control, the bed light, hill descent control, and the hazard lights.
A traditional lever gets used for shifting gears, with a plus/minus rocker switch on the knob for rowing through the cogs manually with your thumb. This means no paddle shifters are included, which is the case for most pickup trucks, but the steering wheel is nevertheless a nice sporty design with leather around the rim and more red stitching, while the switchgear on each spoke is very nice with rubberized buttons. The column is tilt and telescopic as well, whereas the seats are powered with fore/aft, up/down, and two-way powered lumbar support adjustments. Only the backrest needs manual actuation, which didn’t make one difference to me over my weeklong test.
The upgraded upholstery features both smooth and textured leatherette around the edges with a comfortable cloth in the centre, plus “ALL TERRAIN” combined with a mountain graphic stamped on the backrests. Considering SLE is hardly top of the line, it’s all pretty impressive.
The rear bench seat gets the same styling high-level treatment, and the outboard positions are quite comfortable other than having somewhat upright backrests due to space limitations. When the driver’s seat was set for my five-foot-eight frame I had about five inches available ahead of my knees when seated behind, so limousine-like wouldn’t be the term I’d use to describe the Canyon Crew Cab’s roominess, but most should still find it spacious enough, especially for this class.
The rear seatback can also be flattened for a handy load surface, or alternatively you can pull up the lower bench for stowing taller cargo you might want to keep out of the bed behind to protect from weather or theft, while lifting the seat also allows access to things stored underneath. I only wish GM had split the seat 60/40 for more passenger/cargo flexibility, but it’s hardly a deal-killer.
A deal-maker, and perhaps a pickup truck game-changer that I absolutely must highlight, is the CornerStep-infused rear bumper, an intelligent design that adds handy toe cutouts to the corners of the back bumper to ease smaller statured and/or maturing folk up onto the cargo bed with more grace and less potential bodily harm, the latter especially relevant when wet weather transforms the otherwise tiny rounded nubs at each corner of every competitive truck’s rear bumper into a slippery accident waiting to happen. I love these, and really appreciated how easy this makes it for climbing onto the bed when the tailgate is lowered.
Now that I’m talking features I’m realizing that I’ve neglected to go into detail regarding my tester’s standard kit, so over and above the equipment I’ve already mentioned my diesel-powered Canyon 4WD Crew Cab SLE All Terrain was nicely outfitted with 17-inch alloys, a Z71 off-road suspension, skid plates, body-colour bumpers, side steps, remote start, four USB ports, OnStar 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, a sliding rear window, a tow package, and more for an as-tested price of $47,988 plus freight and fees. Of note, the base Canyon starts at just $23,310, but you can spend considerably more than my tester’s nicely equipped tally for a fully loaded version, especially if venturing into top-line Denali trim (to see all 2018 GMC Canyon trims, packages and options, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, visit CarCostCanada now).
There’s a lot more I could say, but maybe it’s best to leave something special for you to personally discover. The Canyon is an impressive truck, and totally worthy of all the attention it’s getting from its ever increasing fan base. I recommend the turbo-diesel, but the base Canyon comes with what on paper seems like a reasonably strong 200 horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder and six-speed automatic combo, while upper trims can be had with a formidable 308 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 mated to an advanced eight-speed automatic. I’ve tested the latter and really enjoyed the extra power and smooth shifting gearbox, but in the end you’ll need to figure out which powertrain, transmission, driveline setup, body style and trim level you need for yourself, because GMC offers myriad options. This ability to fully personalize your ride really sets the Canyon, and its Colorado sibling apart from any rival, its three distinct engine options at the heart and core of this philosophy. More really is better, and GMC offers the most. Enough said.
Drive a 2018 Infiniti QX80 and you’ll quickly be comparing it in kind to full-size SUV competitors from Land Rover, Lexus, and even Mercedes-Benz, and a little research into its origins will immediately…
Drive a 2018 Infiniti QX80 and you’ll quickly be comparing it in kind to full-size SUV competitors from Land Rover, Lexus, and even Mercedes-Benz, and a little research into its origins will immediately tell you why.
The QX80, like the Nissan Armada that shares its platform architecture, is based on the legendary Nissan Patrol, a rugged, go-anywhere SUV nameplate that’s as old and well respected in global off-road circles as Land Rover’s Defender, Range Rover and others, Toyota’s Land Cruiser that forms the basis for the Lexus LX, and Mercedes’ G-Class, or Gelandewagen. All have decades-long ties to militaries worldwide, not to mention relief organizations, policing, businesses requiring wilderness travel, etcetera, and that on- and off-road prowess can immediately be felt by driver and passengers. The QX80 is a solid, well-built vehicle first and foremost, and an impressively finished luxury SUV after that, which is all the more reason to be amazed at its highly competitive pricing.
As sourced on CarCostCanada.com, the handsomely refreshed 2018 Infiniti QX80 is now available for just $77,350 plus freight and fees, which means you can get into a well-equipped, impressively finished base model for $32,250 less than the 2018 Lexus LX 570, $35,650 less than the Land Rover Range Rover, and $51,550 less than the base Mercedes-Benz G 550. What’s more, the QX80 is $9,190 more affordable than the 2018 Cadillac Escalade while representing a $10,300 savings over the new 2018 Lincoln Navigator, which will have you questioning whether Infiniti priced its full-size SUV too low after comparing them all directly.
To the ultimately wealthy such pricing trivialities won’t make one bit of difference, but value matters to smart luxury SUV shoppers trying to maximize the most from their hard-earned income. To that end the QX80 won’t disappoint, starting with a comprehensive refresh for the 2018 model year that includes a redesigned grille, front fascia, hood, fenders, fender vents, and rear bumper, while its LED headlamps, LED taillights, LED fog lamps and side indicators have been dramatically revised as well. Infiniti has rounded out the new exterior design with new 20- and 22-inch alloy wheels, while new exterior colours include Moonstone White, Mineral Black and Champagne Quartz.
Moving inside, the 2018 QX80 receives a newly refined cabin with a contrast-stitched wrapped upper instrument panel and a new shift knob across the line, plus a new stitched and leather-wrapped steering wheel hub/horn pad and diamond-patterned quilting for the upgraded door trim and seat inserts when opting for the Technology Package.
That Technology Package, at $8,150, also includes a new Infiniti-first Smart Rear View Mirror that doubles as a wide-angle rearview camera, while the infotainment system is now Infiniti’s InTouch Single Display design.
Additional Technology Package equipment includes the 22-inch wheels noted earlier, which are 18-spoke forged aluminum alloys shod with 275/50R22 H-rated all-season performance tires, plus Hydraulic Body Motion Control to enhance handling further, Active Trace Control brake vectoring that improves at-the-limit stability, safety and performance, Infiniti’s Eco Pedal that presses back on the driver’s right foot to promote less aggressive driving (which can be turned off), chrome mirror caps, an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) with auto recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier and a Grape Polyphenol Filter, Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights, and front seat pre-crash seatbelts.
The Technology Package also includes a host of advanced driving assistance systems such as Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), and Backup Collision Intervention (BCI).
Even with the Technology Package included, the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s increased $85,500 price rings in lower than all of the aforementioned competitors, while a new no-cost optional colour treatment includes Saddle Brown with Charcoal Burl Trim, plus the QX80’s Wheat motif has been updated from low contrast to high contrast. Likewise the Graphite grey interior gets updates too.
Surprisingly the rear entertainment system, with its dual 8.0-inch displays, two pairs of wireless headphones, remote control, aux inputs and more, comes standard, as does the Bose Cabin Surround audio system with digital 5.1 decoding, Bose Centerpoint 2 signal processing, 15 speakers and more, while the list of standard in-car electronics not already mentioned also includes satellite radio, streaming Bluetooth audio, multiple USB charging ports, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), Infiniti InTouch Navigation, Infiniti InTouch Services, Infiniti Connection telematics, voice recognition, NavTraffic with real-time traffic info, and more.
Additional standard features include skid plates, body-colour running boards, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, aluminum kick plates, power-folding, auto-dimming, heatable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, courtesy lamps and reverse tilt down, a heated leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a powered steering column, auto on/off LED headlights with high beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, an analog clock, a HomeLink garage door opener, tri-zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and steering column, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support, and an eight-way powered front passenger’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support.
Those seats are covered in semi-aniline leather upholstery, plus heated and climate-controlled up front, while the second-row captain’s chairs are heated (seven-passenger only) and feature tip-up easy entry for the third row, with standard 60/40-split power-folding and reclining third row seats also added to the standard feature set, plus a powered rear liftgate, a stainless steel rear bumper protector, an integrated Class IV tow hitch and seven-pin wiring harness with cover, tire pressure monitoring, Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, all the usual active and passive safety systems, and more. Lastly, an eight-passenger QX80 can be had for the same price.
The QX80’s 5.6-litre V8 is also standard, making 400 horsepower plus 413 lb-ft of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission powering all four wheels via Infiniti All-Mode 4WD with Snow and Tow Modes.
“The 2018 QX80 commands a heightened flagship presence within the Infiniti portfolio,” said Adam Paterson, managing director, Infiniti Canada. “The updated model provides upscale luxury for all passengers, as well as a suite of advanced technologies that elevate confidence and control on any road.”
It’s no wonder QX80 sales have experienced a major upswing lately, with this updated 2018 model having its strongest sales ever in March, 2018, with 147 units sold and a year-over-year gain of 113.0 percent. The QX80 has shown strength through all three months of this year’s first quarter too, with sales growth up a solid 66.4 percent.
Clearly, Canadians have responded well to the 2018 Infiniti QX80’s sharp new styling updated, plentiful interior refinements, and incredible value proposition.
Just how competitive are GM’s new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup trucks on the Canadian market? Toyota’s longtime best-selling Tacoma is still ahead, but so far this year we’re…
Just how competitive are GM’s new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup trucks on the Canadian market? Toyota’s longtime best-selling Tacoma is still ahead, but so far this year we’re talking about a sales lead of the finest of margins possible.
Are you sitting down? The Tacoma is just one single solitary truck more popular than the GM twins, with Toyota’s small truck sales at 5,041 units from January 1 to May 31, 2017, and Chevrolet/GMC’s twosome at 5,040 deliveries during the same five months. What are the chances of this? And how much did missing the sales lead by just two trucks hurt at GM Canada’s Oshawa HQ?
Then again, GM Canada can be plenty happy about providing a mid-size truck that’s so impressive they’ve managed to gain an incredible amount of ground against the once totally dominant Toyota since arriving back on the scene in 2014. In fact, the two GM trucks managed to outsell the Tacoma last year with 12,652 sales compared to 12,618, which is again very close.
Their U.S. counterparts haven’t been so successful due to the GMC variant dragging its heels against the much more popular Chevy, the former brand’s year-to-date sales just 12,372 units compared to the bowtie brand’s 40,670, which combined equal 53,042 units compared to the Toyota USA’s 78,153 Tacomas. Likewise, last year’s total sales were 108,725 units for the Colorado and 37,449 for the Canyon resulting in total combined deliveries of 146,174, which sounds great until compared to the Tacoma’s 191,631 sales.
On a per capita basis it’s quite clear Canadians are much bigger mid-size GM pickup truck fans than our friends to the south—so much for the heartbeat of America.
Having recently driven every new 2017 truck on the market, except for the GMC version (I’ve got one booked for later this month, but it’s mostly the same if you hadn’t already figured that out) and the Nissan Frontier (it’s way too old to consider calling new despite being dubbed with the 2017 model year, although it had its strongest 12 months of sales in more than a decade last year), I can understand why the GM trucks are selling so well. They’ve got styling, performance, efficiency, interior design and execution, infotainment excellence, and those brilliant rear bumper corner steps going for them. And I haven’t even driven the recently added 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel yet (hopefully that’ll be in the upcoming Canyon).
Behind my 2017 Chevy Colorado Z71 Crew Cab 4WD tester’s smiling grille is GM’s 3.6-litre DOHC, direct-injection V6 with a variable intake manifold and variable valve timing making 308 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is three horsepower and six lb-ft of torque more than last year. Suffice to say it moves along quickly enough, but it’s also quite efficient due in part to cylinder deactivation that temporarily cuts fuel to three of its cylinders when coasting or otherwise not required, and auto start/stop that shuts the engine off entirely when it would otherwise be idling, both new to this V6.
Fuel economy remains the same at 13.6 L/100km city, 9.9 highway and 11.9 combined, which is par for the course (the Tacoma 4X4 Double Cab V6 with a similar configuration is good for an estimated 13.1 L/100km city, 10.5 highway and an identical 11.9 combined, despite just 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque), although that segment-exclusive four-cylinder turbo-diesel mentioned earlier, which puts out 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, gets a claimed 12.0 L/100km city, 8.2 highway and 10.3 combined.
My tester’s advanced mode-selectable eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability has much to do with its efficiency, this having the most forward speeds of any pickup truck in the class, plus when the Trailering Package is added it now includes a standard trailer brake controller (previously only available with the diesel), helping it achieve up to 3,175 kilos (7,000 lbs) of trailering weight as tested, whereas the diesel 4×4 can pull up to 3,447 kg (7,600 lbs).
Also notable, GM’s AutoTrac automatic four-wheel drive system is now standard fare with the V6, the old system requiring users to manually select 2WD, 4WD Hi or 4WD Lo.
Strangely, of all the potential variations of cab size (there are three), bed length (there are two), engines (there are three), transmissions (there are two), drivelines (two again), and trim levels (there are many), all of the Colorados loaned to me over the past three years have been almost identical in configuration. The first two Z71 Crew Cab Short Box V6 4WD models were even the same Red Hot colour, while this latest 2017 model is trimmed out nearly the same once again other than its new for 2017 Cajun Red Tintcoat paintjob, although even that’s another shade of red (Graphite grey is also new for 2017, while Laser Blue and Orange Burst were late additions to the 2016 model).
Even their interiors have been the same, with carbon copy black and grey, leatherette and cloth upholstery. They’ve all been very nice, but how about some variety GM? I’d like to try a base truck with the 2.5-litre four, or for that matter the diesel I’ve been going on and on about. The new ZR2, Chevy’s mid-size answer to Ford’s off-road racing replica Raptor, would be a wonderful change. That model with the diesel might be just about perfect.
The diesel was new last year, by the way, with this latest 2017 model having some additions of its own. These include the aforementioned nudge upward in V6 performance, plus a new larger 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen incorporating an updated Chevrolet MyLink interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available with the base WT (Work Truck) and standard in mid-range LT trim.
My tester received the same impressive 8.0-inch Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system as last year’s version, complete with the previously mentioned features in the 7.0-inch system as well as Bluetooth streaming audio, voice activation, satellite radio, four USB ports, and more.
If you’re wondering what you get for the upgrade to Z71 trim, the features list includes an automatic locking rear diff, hill descent control, an upgraded twin-tube shock infused off-road suspension, a transfer case shield, 17-inch Dark Argent metallic cast aluminum alloys on 255/65 all-terrain tires, a full-size 16-inch spare, projector style headlights, fog lamps, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, single-zone auto climate control, a powered front passenger seat, powered lumbar support for both front seats, heatable front seats, a sliding rear window, an EZ-Lift and Lower tailgate, and more.
The Z71 gets most everything from LT trim too, including the two-speed AutoTrac transfer case noted earlier, body-colour side mirror housings, door handles and rear bumper, remote entry, a tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, chrome interior door handles, an overhead console, illuminated vanity mirrors, a colour multi-information display, cruise control, the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and more.
Lastly, some notable items that get pulled up to Z71 trim from the base WT (when equipped with the Crew Cab, Short Box, and 4WD) include the V6, eight-speed, four-wheel discs with ABW, traction control and StabiliTrak stability control, front recovery hooks, black beltline mouldings, a cargo box light, GM’s exclusive (and brilliant) CornerStep rear bumper, powered door locks, a locking tailgate, colour-keyed carpeting, carpeted floor mats front and rear, powered windows, front bucket seats, a powered driver’s seat, a split-folding rear bench seat, a floor-mounted centre console, air conditioning, a backup camera, a six-speaker audio system, tire pressure monitoring, all the expected airbags front and rear, and more.
That 2017 Colorado Z71 Crew Cab Short Box 4WD starts at $38,545 plus freight and fees, but was outfitted with yet more gear as-tested including the Cajun paint at $595, upgraded cargo area lamps at $310, and four cargo tie-down rings at $125, pushing the total price up to $39,575.
How do I like it? Have I experienced any problems so far? What would I change? Does it deserve its success? I’ll answer these questions and more in an upcoming review. Until then I recommend you come back for more…