By on August 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Image: Stephen Elmer and Anthony Delacruz.

If you have dreams of racing in Baja, but lack a race team’s budget, it’s a good time to be in the market for a pickup truck. That is thanks to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, two midsize off-road focused pickups with a special emphasis on high-speed desert running.

The Ford Raptor, now considered the granddaddy to both of these two young trucks, started this push into credible high-speed off-road packages from the factory, and both Chevy and Toyota have applied the treatment to their midsize pickups, each with something unique to offer would-be racers. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors evidently hopes you like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon the way they are.

The midsize truck twins, which arrived in second-generation form nearly three years ago, won’t be replaced for another five years.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2

In the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, we’re introduced to the vicious raptors — a breed of dinosaurs who tear, smash, and maul their way through the storyline (and more than a few characters). By the time we see them in the most recent installment of the series, Chris Pratt has managed to tame them to a certain degree, creating creatures that obey a few commands but will still rip his face off if given the opportunity.

Chevrolet had a 2017 F-150 Raptor on hand at its launch of the Colorado ZR2. Hammering its loud pedal, the beast ripped across the hot Colorado asphalt, its psychotic twin-turbo exhaust note sounding like Marilyn Manson screaming obscenities into a vacuum cleaner hose. Backing off to 7/10ths, it struck me that the Raptor and ZR2 bear more than a passing resemblance to those fictional silver-screen scoundrels.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Image: Toyota

Nearly two and a half years since General Motors increased the number of offerings in the midsize pickup truck sector by two-thirds, and nine months since Honda revitalized its unique Ridgeline offering, we’re once again in need of new midsize pickup truck nameplates.

America’s pickup truck category began 2017 with a bang, growing by more than 7 percent and easily outpacing an industry that declined by more than 1 percent in the first one-sixth of 2017.

Yet virtually all of that growth — fully 90 percent — was fuelled not by midsize pickups but by the stalwarts: full-size trucks.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2017

2016 Nissan Frontier

Some people have one mid-life crisis; I’ve had a series of them, rearing their ugly heads in widely disparate manners, off and on over the past 20 years. In fact, I’m now having midlife crises that are repeats of previous crises.

Example: After a fairly successful knee surgery last month, I decided to buy some new BMX bikes and go riding again, the same way I did back in 2001 or thereabouts. Last time, my partners in this ill-advised venture were a bunch of Bolivian pro BMX racers whose constant orbits around my house combined with the glossy presence of a CL55 AMG and an Audi S8 in my driveway to convince my neighbors that I was involved with the cartels. This time, my main homeboy is my seven-year-old son, newly mounted-up on a watermelon-green Sunday Primer 16 skatepark bike.

The last time I got this serious about riding, I bought a Nissan Frontier. This time I’ve thought long and hard about doing something similar. True, I have a very nice Tahoe Z71 as part of the dowry from my recent marriage, but driving anything as profoundly elephantine as a Tahoe depresses the hell out of me. What to do?

(Read More…)

By on October 18, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax

General Motors has a hit on its hands with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups, but the Renaissance Center braintrust seems to feel the automaker’s growing slice of the segment’s rising market share should grow faster, and sooner.

According to uncovered documents, GM appears ready to diversify its midsize pickup offerings for those who feel a full-size pickup is just too much, but still want piles of choice. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2016

2016 GMC Canyon 2WD SL, Image: General Motors

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

For years, there’s been a chorus cry from the internet: “Buyers can’t get a simple pickup truck anymore!” Well into the ‘90s, customers could waltz into many a dealer and drive off in a Spartan, four-cylinder, stick shift, rear-wheel-drive pickup with the footprint of a Twinkie.

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71, Image: General Motors

Sales of midsize trucks are heating up, and General Motors doesn’t want its slice of the pie to grow stale.

Changes are coming to the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado by way a host of powertrain updates aimed at squeezing better performance and fuel economy out of its volume model. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2016

2017 Honda RidgelineMidsize pickup truck sales shot up 29 percent in the United States in July 2016, enough to drive the sub-sector’s share of the overall pickup category up three points to 17 percent.

Indeed, without the gains produced by the midsize truck sector, overall U.S. pickup truck volume would have flatlined in July on declining sales of the two top-selling truck lines, Ford’s F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado. Moreover, without the midsize truck sector’s additional 8,973 July sales, total U.S. new vehicle sales volume would have risen by less than one-tenth of one percent.

Instead, because of a dramatic increase in sales of the second-generation Honda Ridgeline in its first month of availability, another huge uptick in Nissan Frontier sales, and continued growth from GM’s Colorado/Canyon duo, pickup truck sales grew four percent and the American auto industry reported nearly 10,000 extra sales in July 2016, year-over-year. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

Isuzu D-Max

Update: Automotive News is reporting General Motors is now focusing “on the higher end of the market while the Japanese firm sticks to selling vehicles for everyday commercial purposes,” strongly hinting that GM is the one that broke off the collaboration. We’ve added detail below.

After announcing a new bromance with Mazda just over a week ago, Isuzu is calling it quits with its old beau General Motors.

(Or maybe GM caught Isuzu cheating behind its back. Who knows? The relationship dynamics at play between automakers are difficult to flesh out.)

Regardless, midsize trucks — badged as both Isuzus and Chevrolets — will be no more in the Land of Smiles. The duo, which has a truck plant each in Thailand, will decouple their R&D efforts as they move toward engineering new global midsize pickups.

(Read More…)

By on June 10, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Express 2500 Cargo Van

To keep up with demand for its midsize pickups, General Motors signed a deal to have Navistar International Corp. take on the task of assembling its commercial vans.

The agreement, released yesterday, will see Navistar assemble the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana in a Springfield, Ohio plant starting early next year. Booting the vans out of GM’s Wentzville, Missouri plant frees up capacity to build more Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2015

b4k

In Part One of this minitruckin’ history, we covered how the Big 3 provided their dealers with “captive import” minitrucks from Mazda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi during the Seventies. By 1975 or thereabouts, both GM and Ford were convinced that the small-pickup market was not a fad and began digging their own products out of the parts bin.

The Chevrolet S-10/GMC S-15 was a sort of truck version of the A-body (later G-body) intermediate. While it’s not dimensionally identical to the older sedans, it’s possible to swap much of the running gear between those two vehicles, particularly ahead of the firewall. The Ford Ranger arrived a few months after the S-10, a few inches smaller in most dimensions and looking remarkably ungainly compared to its sleek GM competitor. Those of you who followed the minitrucking hobby in the Nineties will recall that the Ranger was conspicuous by its absence; “domestic” minitruckers were almost exclusively loyal to the S-10/S-15. Part of that was due to the Twin-I-Beam’s reluctance to accept a lowering kit and/or airbags, but much of it was the Ranger’s hokey, hick-ish appearance compared to the S-10.

So what did that mean for the captive import trucks?

(Read More…)

By on July 23, 2015

 

Left: Updated Tacoma Resistor, Right: Colorado Resistor

Left: Updated Tacoma Resistor, Right: Colorado Resistor

The fire-risk blower motor resistor harness has been recalled in the Hummer H3 and owners will start receiving repairs once parts become available. Owners of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky should be able to use the updated parts as well but will have to pay out of pocket as General Motors has not recalled them at this time. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon also use a similar design and pose a similar fire risk but are slightly different than the recalled part due to having one less blower speed.

Hummer owners will most likely wait a few months minimum for the updated parts to get to their dealers to perform their free recall repairs. Colorado and Canyon owners may be waiting much longer — if they are recalled at all. The only silver lining for the Colorado and Canyon is that they use a similar resistor to the Toyota Tacoma and share a connector. The Tacoma also suffered from blower motor resistor issues and received updated parts along with a Technical Service Bulletin in 2011.

(Read More…)

By on May 31, 2015

USA midsize truck market share chart October 2013 April 2015

Midsize pickups have increased their share of the overall pickup truck category by around four percentage points since GM launched the second-generation Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

Compared with a period when the twins weren’t on sale, the volume sent the direction of midsize pickups jumped 50% over the first four months of 2015. That gain of 39,000 units wasn’t simply down to the GM twins, either, as the class-leading Toyota Tacoma is growing faster than the overall pickup truck category. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2015

2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 1

The Chevrolet Colorado is a good little truck, certainly sturdy enough, leading me to believe that it is a capable enabler of various human endeavors that involve catapulting, hurtling, or generally straining one’s body across hill, dale, snow-capped extremity and Ace Hardware parking lot alike.

But its obvious novelty—one that so enraptured a certain publication’s staff to bestow it a pair of calipers that will hardly strain the Colorado’s 1500lb-plus payload—lies in its rejection of the idea that every pickup truck must be the approximate size of a Normandy landing craft.

(Read More…)

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