While GMC is synonymous with trucks, General Motors has also made it a pseudo-luxury brand in relation to Chevrolet. Customers who have cross-shopped the GMC’s Sierra against the Chevy Silverado already know this. Pricing differences may start off tight but the Sierra quickly runs away with things when High Country and Denali trims start coming into play. It’s a largely similar story with the two brands’ midsize Canyon and Colorado. Chevy’s entry is the more value-oriented truck and can be equipped to boast superior off-road capabilities.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 trounces the GMC Canyon AT4 when both are thrown squarely at Mother Nature. But this was by design, explaining why the latter model phased out the automaker’s “All Terrain” badging. GMC is supposed to be the brand you want to relax in and often yields slightly nicer interiors than its Chevy equivalent. Unfortunately, this has allowed pickups like the more-capable (and expensive) Colorado ZR2 Bison shame GM’s “truck brand” as delivering lesser ORVs. GMC is hoping to remedy the issue by offering the 2021 Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition — which adds some items that make it more of a contender whenever pavement is in short supply.
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gain arguably overdue refreshes for 2021, ensuring continued consumer traction amid boosted competition from rivals. The midsize pickup segment has grown, and not just in volume.
Joining the GM duo and perennially popular Toyota Tacoma last year was the Ford Ranger; meanwhile, Nissan’s long-awaited Frontier revamp lands for ’21.
Word is that the Canyon, which sees a new AT4 trim for the new model year, will don extra goodies by year’s end. Good news for a truck that’s increasingly playing second fiddle to its bowtie-wearing sibling.
Keeping its lucrative full-size pickup lines chugging along has proved a challenge for General Motors, what with workers in Indiana and Michigan shying away from factories due to COVID-19 testing, contraction of the illness itself, or fear of it.
The problem isn’t solely the domain of big truck and SUV plants. The automaker also has a problem with its midsize pickup plant in Missouri, but a solution is underway.
The upscale, off-road-minded version of the refreshed GMC Canyon can’t hold a candle to the midsize excess offered by the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, or even the ZR2 Bison variant of its Chevrolet Colorado twin, but General Motors’ truck division seems intent on giving customers a way to further boost their truck cred.
A package will reportedly offer a roster of things the stock Canyon AT4 leaves off.
The upper tier of GMC’s midsize Canyon line revealed their enlarged faces Monday, heralding a similar treatment on lesser trims. Like the recent Acadia crossover, the mid-cycle refresh arriving for the 2021 model year sees the Canyon grille gain significant height, joining a revamped bumper and headlamps that mimic the larger Sierra.
Canyon also ditches the former All Terrain trim in favor of a sexier off-road-themed moniker: AT4.
With the perennially popular Toyota Tacoma no spring chicken and the Nissan Frontier now older that the Dead Sea Scrolls, General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gained newfound — and far fresher — competition in 2019 from Ford’s returning Ranger.
There’s still life left in the current-gen models, which gain a (very) mild refresh for the 2021 model year, but GM is making sure the models don’t grow complacent. The automaker has now pledged $1.5 billion for a new generation of its midsize pickups. Good timing, too, as the Tacoma is expected to go all-new for 2023.
And that’s not the only thing GM needs to worry about.
Adventurous types looking for off-road fun from their local GM dealer already have the option of choosing the brawny Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and its butchier Bison variant, which leaves GM’s truck-only GMC brand as something as a spectator. GMC hasn’t gone whole-hog into the off-road midsizer niche, though it does offer its Canyon pickup in All Terrain trim. Cutaway front fenders are most definitely not included.
The same dynamic may exist after 2020, but the All Terrain will be gone, replaced with an AT4 trim that hopefully goes the extra mile in terms of off-the-beaten-track capability.
With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.)
According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year.
Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March?
Barring a blockbuster December, 2017’s light duty vehicle sales stand to dip below 2016’s record 17.55 million units. The National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts 17.1 million sales in the U.S. this calendar year, with 2018 sales falling to 16.7 million vehicles.
Bad news for automakers? Not if profits stay up. And nothing generates profits quite like large volumes of high-margin vehicles — pickup trucks, to be exact. While November 2017 was a relatively flat month for the industry, a closer look at the pickup segment shows America’s love affair with trucks is keeping the money taps flowing.
You want a pickup truck.
You want a small pickup truck.
Unfortunately, such a thing no longer exists, at least not north of the Rio Grande. You’ve migrated your desire to the “midsize” sector, a class in which the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and two General Motors candidates offer a quintet of possibilities.
Yet a major issue crops up when you begin comparison shopping and discover three full-size issues standing in the way: strong incentives on full-size pickups, full-size truck fuel efficiency comparable to midsize trucks, and full-size capability and interior volume far exceeding that of midsize pickups.
No wonder 85 percent of pickup buyers opt for a full-size truck. Still, 2016 was the best year ever for the Toyota Tacoma and the best year since 2001 for the Nissan Frontier. 2017 is on track to be the Honda Ridgeline’s best year since 2007. The Tacoma has a legendary reputation for toughness. The Frontier is the small-truck traditionalist’s pickup of choice. The Ridgeline is unusual in almost every way.
What unique attribute does GM’s duo manifest? This 2017 GMC Canyon SLE Crew Cab 4×4 has diesel. Diesel fuel in a diesel engine with diesel towing capacity, diesel fuel economy, and a diesel sound owners of decade-old Jetta TDIs will love.
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.
Yet virtually all of that growth — fully 90 percent — was fuelled not by midsize pickups but by the stalwarts: full-size trucks.
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.
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.
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