Much of what the United States stands for in 21st century culture is size, power and extravagance. The American car industry is no different, with highways across the land of freedom choc-a-bloc with steel goliaths that make Europe’s rather more modest superminis and city cars pale in comparison. In Britain, for instance, a pickup is something you would more associate with a late night bar-crawl than a heavy duty hauler.
However, across the pond the pickup market is quite literally big business, with sales hitting 2.2 million in 2013. One of the many manufactures fighting for a slice of this very lucrative pie is GMC and at this year’s Detroit motor show the US firm unveiled the 2015 Canyon as their latest challenger for the pickup arena.
This all new midsize truck slots in just below the full-size GMC Sierra and Ford’s enduringly popular F-Series. Though more aesthetically akin to its bigger brother, under the skin the new Canyon is essentially a mechanical clone of the new Chevrolet Colorado which debuted in winter 2013.
Available with an initial choice of two powertrains, GMC say the new Canyon will boast a segment-topping 193bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the standard 2.5 litre inline-four, whilst the meatier 3.6 litre V6 will pump out an estimated 302bhp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Those not satisfied with the grunt of petrol power will have to wait until 2016 when the Duramax 2.8 litre turbodiesel arrives.
Power comes hand in hand with practicality as far as pickups are concerned, and the Canyon is no exception. Featuring a more-than-generous seized payload of 1,450 pounds (657 kg), the 2015 edition caters for all needs with the option of base, all-terrain SLE and SLT models, each offered with 2WD and 4WD. All variants come with six-speed automatic transmission and for those punters who suddenly come over all European, a six-speed manual gearbox is also available with the 2.5 litre 2WD model.
The styling is what really sets the 2015 Canyon apart from the Chevrolet Colorado, its closest cousin under the GMC umbrella. The design scheme introduced on the latest generation GMC Sierra is closely mirrored, albeit in a more petite package, on the Canyon. Not that anything about this truck can really be labelled ‘petite’. Bold front-end styling is designed to forcibly grab the attention, with the triple chunky chromo bars featuring prominently on the grill and flared bumpers framing the front fascia. 17-inch painted aluminium wheels are as standard and covered by all-terrain tires.
Inside the cab, you will find that the Canyon is more computer literate than expected. Together with an instrument panel from the Sierra, it boasts OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and several safety features such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and a rear-vision camera. Where 20 years ago a sledge hammer and crowbar would have been stowed, the new Canyon’s centre console now includes storage space for a tablet. Add this to the RemoteLink smartphone app, which allows users to honk the horn and even remotely start the engine from afar, plus a Big Brother-style configurable IntelliLink system that lets parents keep tabs on unruly teen drivers by limiting speed and muting the radio, and the 2015 Canyon certainly shrugs off those old utilitarian pickup stereotypes.
Development of the all new Canyon will continue until production begins in autumn 2014. GMC will be hoping they have come up with the perfect formula in what has to be one of the most cut-throat markets of all in the USA.