Will GM's New Trucks Hit The Target?
By: Alex Law Posted: 09-15-03 22:10
© 2003 PickupTruck.com

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ESSEX JUNCTION, VERMONT: Imagining a cartoon character about to have lunch will help you visualize exactly how General Motors views the opportunity its new entries have in the mid-size pickup truck market.
You know the character -- the guy who's staring at his meal so hard his eyeballs are bugged out, while his salivating 12-inch tongue licks his lips just before he eats someone else's lunch. Yeah, that guy.
This may be a little less subtle than GM will say for the record, but it captures the unofficial spirit of what they think is going to happen with the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon.

GM's timing is certainly good -- it's been a while since any of the companies in the compact and mid-size pickup markets made any significant changes to their product, and there's not much expected for the next 18 months of so.

The official version of GM's intent with these trucks was put forward by John Smith, the company's vice-president of marketing and sales. He promised that Colorado and Canyon would ''grow a family tree of distinct products from flexible vehicle architectures, create new industry benchmarks in the segment, and sustain GM's truck leadership.''

Smith said that these two new (only one percent of the company's smaller trucks survived the remake) model are ''great examples of our truck leadership position -- while competitors are scaling back production and shutting midsize plants, we're going to be aggressive.''
In the automotive marketing world, the word ''aggressive'' is usually a euphemism for low prices, but that is not what seems to be the case with Colorado and Canyon, since a model-by-model price comparison shows that prices have actually gone up.

The MSRP on the least expensive S-10 -- the 2WD regular cab Fleetside model -- was $15,355, while the least expensive Colorado with the same configuration is $16,200. Both figures include a $635 destination charge, by the way.

At the other end of the Colorado price scale, the 4WD Crew Cab model lists for $26,995, up from $24,995 for a similar package in the 2003 S-10.

GMC has followed a similar pricing strategy with Canyon, with the least expensive version -- the SL two-wheel-drive Regular Cab -- going for $16,530, up from a lowest price for the Sonoma of $15,355.
The full ticket Canyon 4WD Crew Cab is $27,725, up from the Sonoma model's $25,255.

The general-managers of Chevrolet and GMC, Brent Dewar and Lynn Myer's, respectively, had no trouble explaining the rise in prices.
Myer's noted that ''Canyon has superior power, exceptional ride and handling, and provides outstanding room, passenger comfort and cargo-carrying capabilities.'' In short, a lot more truck for a little more money.
Dewar made the point that as well as being bigger and better than the S-10, the Colorado had more models to appeal to more people. ''It's the largest lineup of mid-size pickups,'' he pointed out, ''with three unique suspensions and nine separate models. That includes the new two-wheel-drive Crew Cab, something that was missing from our S-10 lineup, and the Z-71, a rugged, high-stance pickup that buyers can now get in either 2- or 4-wheel-drive.''

Dewar said he thought that the rear-drive versions of the Crew Cab and Z71 would give ''Chevrolet real growth opportunities in the southern states and coastal markets,'' where 4WD isn't as appealing as it is in the middle of the country.

All in all, says Dewar, ''if a customer needs a midsize pickup, there's a Colorado to meet their needs.''

Thanks to the joy of options, it is of course possible to spend more for either a Colorado or a Canyon.

If you take the big ticket Canyon 4WD Z71 Crew Cab and add every option possible, including OnStar and XM Radio, the sticker comes to $32,190.

Both brands have lumped together the most popular options into the Power Convenience Group and the Comfort Convenience Group.
For $500 on either brand, the Power Convenience Group gives the customer power windows, mirrors and locks, and remote keyless entry.
For $395, the Comfort Convenience Group offers a tilt steering wheel and cruise control for $395.

Important stand-alone options on Colorado and Canyon include side-curtain airbags (which were recently shown by NHTSA to be a genuine aid in saving lives) starting at $195, XM Satellite Radio (which delivers ad-free music packages) for $325, OnStar for $695, trailer hitch and wiring for $255, and traction control for two-wheel-drive models with the G80 locking differential for $295.

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