The Sell: The pick-up for the SUV and crossover set
The Test: These two midsize siblings from GMC and Chevy ($30,055; 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy) deliver a crossover-like ride and feature set that puts them at the head of the small truck class. Check it: their 305-hp, 3.6-liter V6 clocked a respectable 27.5 miles per gallon on the freeways north of San Diego. And thanks to noise-reduction tech, the interior is quiet without the rattles we’d expect from a pick-up. From the driver’s seat forward we forgot we were driving a truck.
They’re also more family-friendly than most full-sized trucks, with lower entry for shorter drivers and kids. The hydraulic lift-gate drops slowly down and can be lifted back up with one finger. General Motors worked with Thule on an exclusive crossbar rack system that fits neatly along the top of the truck bed to create storage for bikes, boats, and SUPs. The truck can also turn into a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot in case you really, really need to upload your latest GoPro adventure from the field.
Canyon and Colorado drive smaller than they are, with the handling manners of a high-end SUV. That premium feel includes heated front seats, an automatic-locking rear differential (the stuff of gnarly off-roading Jeeps and Land Rovers), and air shutters in the grill that close at highway speeds to bump up the wind-tunnel-tested aerodynamics. It’s the most impressive midsize pickup available right now.
And, looking ahead to 2016, the Chevy will offer a 2.8-liter diesel engine that should push highway fuel economy well into the 30-plus mpg range.
What’s Missing? While these new trucks are smaller than their full-size brethren, they’re not as small and nimble as small-truck offerings from Nissan and Toyota, something we noticed when executing a three-point turn on a narrow street at the beach.
The Verdict: For those who yearn for a pick-up but need the real-world practicality and fuel-economy of crossover, your ride has arrived.