What We're Up To: 2015 Midsize Pickup Challenge

IMG_1156b II

There's been plenty to talk about lately in the midsize pickup truck market. With the addition of the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma getting ready to debut next year and a new Honda Ridgeline on the horizon, we're likely to see the segment grow for several years to come. That means more sales and more attention, which could lead to old players returning to the midsize game, and possibly some brand-new players looking to cash in as well. That's why we thought it was time to take a look at the segment to see where it stands.

We'll be collecting test data on current midsize pickups for the next few days in the Phoenix area, so you can expect a full report to follow in April. For this contest, we ordered all the 4x4 V-6 players so that we can figure out which one leads the pack. We'll measure each pickup on different surfaces and from every angle, and use as much text and video as we need to tell the full story.

We also have a four-cylinder base Colorado and Canyon extended cab for testing purposes, as well. Of course, these 4x2 work trucks won't compete with our V-6 4x4s, but we think you'll appreciate seeing how they perform. We'll be offering up all that data later too. More to come.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams


IMG_1173a II



If you are testing 4x4s, you had better as heck test them off-road in 4x4. Not like the stupid MT test where the Colorado won for being more "car like", where they didn't take them off-road because, "well, most people don't"...

Looking forward to these tests. I need a truck to hauling my camper but for the rest of the year I need a daily driver. A lot of the times you hear that these midsize trucks have the power to pull 6000 lbs but will the suspension take the tounge weight of a 5000 lb trailer? In a recent test the Colorado was having a hard time with 4500 lbs.

Toy Crusher most people use the 4x4 for snow or muddy roads. The percentage of people who off road a mid size truck is probably about 2 percent so why bother testing something that most will never use the truck for?

don't haul that much weight with that little truck, heck my 3 half tons towing 6K lb camper all had issues(tranny, brakes,and rear ends), but that's my own experience maybe I'm just unlucky, or these trucks really aren't made to do that(quoting a GM engineer)

Jimmy, if you don't intend to test 4x4 capability, then 2wd models should be used.

It's like testing sports cars in inner city traffic instead of a race track. Just because 98% of people never use them as they were designed, should that criteria be entirely ignored???

Why bother?
The Nissan Frontier should have upgraded to the 7 speed automatic three/four years ago. Nissan should have the ZF 8 speed about now.
The Toyota Tacoma should have upgraded to the 6 speed automatic four/five years ago. The new '16 should have a proven Aisin 8 speed.
The GM small pickups should have upgraded from the antique 4L60 automatic to the 6 speed automatic five/six years ago, and the Atlas inline family of engine should have had variable intake valve timing-for actual torque. The current [new] one should have the 8 speed automatic, and should be working on getting the 10 speed ASAP.
Ford/Chrysler are no where to be found. The Honda Ridgeline was marginal from day one.

So, is the GMC Canyon the only 'midsize' pickup with an Auto setting for the transfer case? That is the only pickup that someone should even consider buying.

I have 4x4s because I live in the Northeast and have to go to work in the snow. I could careless how they do off road.

@Interstate Trucker

They sort of already did that when they included a Colorado in their recent V6 truck comparison. After seeing how the Colorado compares to the Nissan and Toyota, you should be able to extrapolate the data.

That said, I know a few people interested in Colorados, it will be nice to see how they perform in a thorough test.

@interstate trucker-while there are those for whom a 1500 ext. cab with v6 might work, in some cases a full size just doesn't match up to peoples' needs. It might be as simple as being able to fit the truck through a regular garage door opening, or into a tight parking spot in the parkade at work. Ford, being without its new Ranger (in North America) and thus having nothing to attract and retain its former Ranger owners, will be trying its best to offer the full size as an alterntative. But to get the amenitties in a full size 1500 ext, that many people want and can afford to get in a midsize, may put Ford's strategy at a real disadvantage.

I believe that car guys should stick with cars and truck guys do the real testing when it comes to trucks.

Testing trucks should be done for what a truck is intended to do: tow, haul and go off-road. Take them through mud, sand and snow.

IMHO: car guys don't know how to drive through snow or mud or even off road. Leave the truck testing to real truck drivers

I hope the first picture is not what your testing, if so its not real fair to test 4 versions of the same truck (colorado/canyon). Using the trd pro is like using a raptor against other half tons, its too specialized for the "offroad market". How about a trd sport or regular frontier as these will have favorable spring and shock tuning for daily driving. Also since when is "more car like" a good character of a truck?

You really should get the extended/quab/supercab versions of the full size trucks with their entry level V6's in this comparison as well. Those trucks serve as an alternative to these midsize trucks for a large chunk of buyers.

Posted by: Interstate Trucker | Mar 13, 2015 9:52:49 AM

Not really, if you pay attention to GM's ad campaign for these trucks "You Know you want a truck!" its obvious they are primarily targeting people who have never owned a truck before and probably wouldnt be in the market for one except for having more premium options than your typical Tacoma or Frontier. That's not to say those arent good trucks but they are definitely very truck'y by comparison, and not likely something that is going to lure hords of buyers out of a premium trim SUV/Crossover. Sure some people may be cross shopping fullsize half tons with midsize V6's, but if I had to guess it would be probably less than 25% of the target market from GM's standpoint.

With all of this talk about garages and parking, maybe we should stop this shootout.

Just test a bunch of trucks entering and exiting various garages or parking.

What do you think?


Here's an idea:

Parallel park challenge:
F-150 with a 360 cam and self park assist vs a Colorado or any other truck.

Go to it.

I have a 2014 Ram 2500 6.4 for the oil patch. When I need it's capability and the 3000lbs payload, I need it. But, 75% of the time I could get away with Canyon/Colorado crew cab short bed. As long as that the truck can haul 1000lbs+/- of stuff on a daily basis along with my 210lb body I can do my job. It would be much cheaper to own and run the midsize.

Instead of the 2007 Cherokee SRT I store during the winter (winter is long in northern Canada) it's tempting to swap it for the Canyon and add my commercial insurance to it and have the choice of running either truck for whatever the situation suits me. A Canyon would also make a much cheaper alternative as a grocery getter around town when I'm home. The SRT, as fun as it is, does eat a lot of fuel.

Oil patch money or not I'd rather run myself efficiently. There's no question GM's midsize is likely a great alternative to a SUV or fullsize truck in many circumstances.

If they test the Tacoma TRD Pro I hope they have a standard Tacoma for comparison. The 1/2 ton shootout showed the folly of having a more offroad oriented truck among more street biased 4x4's.

I do agree that some offroad testing should be done. There also needs to be winter testing.

I'd like to see all of the trucks using the exact same brand and model of tire to make results more relevant.
You can't do an apples to apples comparison of brake distance, 1/4 mile, slalom etc. on 3 different brands/models of tires.

I hope they are all similarly equipped. The TRD off road Tacoma vs the Z71 off road GM. Don't use the TRD Pro because GM, Nissan don't have a similar equipped trucks.

Also your article is incorrect the 2016 Tacoma will be available this fall, not next year.

Lastly I'm very interest in a Dyno test between the Tacoma 4.0 vs the GM 3.6. I'm very interested how low rpm torque figures compare. Would love to see the 2016 3.5 liter Tacom engine Dyno'd when it arrives as well.

Oh gee !
If a turbo iz soooo wonderful then WHY don't ANY of these trucks use a turbo?
Look at the ecobooze its the same size engine in a Honda Accord !
So that turbo can pull around a 6000 lb truck?

knock knock!

Be interesting to see the results of 10 year old technology of the Tacoma compares to the new GM twins.

doesn't matter to me who wins cause I'm buying a Colorado

one of the BIGGEST reasons I like the Colorado is because IT DOESN'T HAVE A TURBO !

you just watch!
you just wait and see the monthly sales numbers the Colorado is going to RULE ! ..........and your precious ecobooze is going down !

mark my words
its a sure thing
you can take that to the bank

I await the comparisons with "baited" breath (fishing twist). I too need a multi-purpose truck. For the real world truck abilities I actually need, I am trying to choose between a big-engine Midsize and something like a regular cab Ram V6 Pentastar, which all cost about the same with the limited options I need and all have similar "paper" performance. My fear is the advertised max abilities of each are "paper only," and may not be suitable at the levels I will actually use. Most comparisons are done with a fully loaded bed or trailer, or empty. How about increasing the bed weight or trailer weight 1000 lbs at a time and give impressions and performance at each. I can deal with weakness if my truck will only see a weight a couple of times in its whole life. However, if a truck starts to feel "squirrely" (technical term for a perceived feeling of reaching an unsafe limit) or the MPG drops precipitously loaded at certain weight, that information would very valuable to me. Also, the old V8/V6/full/mid boundaries are getting very blurry. I think all trucks should go up the 1k increasing load tests, thus allowing apples-to-apples comparison at needed abilities rather than cylinders or min/max load.

I agree.

Maybe the manufacturers should make AWD versions of pickups. I do know VW has AWD Amaroks. The can be used in light off road situations, which is more than most ever use their pickups for.

Maybe, if Honda can make an appealing AWD, it would suit many. I do think the previous Ridgeline was butt ugly.

Sorry, the above post of mine should have been addressed to toycrusher.

If you want to tow with the Colorado I would wait for the diesel. It should be a better tow vehicle than the V6.

The V6 would probably have the power, but the diesel will tow with much better FE and not flog the engine.

The 2.8 diesels are supposed to able to deliver 500Nm of torque. I do think the 6L80 is used in our Colorados and I do know the Colorado's sister pickup the Izuzu Dmax uses an Aisin.

I do think it is very relevant to have, as you termed it, "car" testers evaluating pickups.

Pickups that are used for work could be reviewed by a more atuned user of commercial vehicles. But, then that would remove most 1/2 ton and midsizers from testing.

Remember, 75% of pickups sold are just daily drivers and do little more than go shopping, take the kids to school, visit the inlaws interstate and go to Lowes/Home Depot to collect a few bags of mulch.

This macho image of the US pickup only has meaning to the minority. These midsizers are a good example of a pickup that will be a SUV/car replacement vehicle in most cases.

After reading your comment, it appears it's down to what you want for a pickup.

If you want a larger cabin, then the Ram would be your best choice.

If you want similar or even more load and just as good tow in most cases then the Colorado.

I would think in a real life situation and not using EPA figures the Colorado V6 would marginally have better FE than the Ram, especially if you are driving day to day in traffic in an urban environment.

I do think that they should do a shootout comparing all of the trucks available with normally aspirated V6 engines. That is where any cross-shopping will occur.

I'd also like to see a test between the Ram Ecodiesel and the Colorado Duramax. Keep the prices closely matched as you can't compare a full bling no cargo capacity air ride Ram Shlonghorn to a Z71 Colorado.

I do agree with D that PUTC should add a garage and parking spot challenge because that is all people seem to talk about in the mid-size segment. I say that with all due respect.

Is the Colorado easier to park in the average garage? Is the TRD Pro easier to parallel park in the city than a F-150 King Ranch? Lets find out.

@Lou you are SO right about the tires. What a difference rubber makes. Aspect ratio, width, rubber compounds.

back in 2008 or so the base Silverado came with a really lame OEM tire and caused GM customers and dealers a lot of grief.

during that same time most of the Fords I was seeing had Michelins. Hmmm.

Use one tire brand in the mfg recommended size and inflation for all the tests to get that apples/apples comparison for steering, braking, ride, cornering, quietness, etc. Can't be that hard.

Anyone remember the mid-80s Toyota 4x4 22R Turbo? I had an 85 22R non-turbo 5spd that got 26mpg hwy but with only 110hp. A friend of mine had the turbo engine and loved it.

I do agree that the comparisons should all be shod with the same tyres.

The problem encountered will be profile, width, etc. These all affect FE and overall tyre performance.

I also believe if the vehicle are in the same comparison they should all have identical loads in the bed or trailers towed.

This would mean the lowest payload and tow weights are used.

My list:

Maneuverability/steering responsiveness/turning radius
4x4 agility
Interior space/feel
Braking (including w/trailer)
Kid friendliness


You should invite some us guys that post messages all the time to take part in testing these trucks.
Take me for an example when I brag all the time how I do more extreme off-roading than other guys do, how fearless I am. I am going to prove that to everyone that I can do a tougher test, plus I am so good looking and skinny.
Look at the advertisements ! They don't use fat and ugly people to sell new trucks!
Its a waste, a waste! you don't have a guy like me with my talent and my good looks testing these trucks!
I expect to be generously constipated with 5 star hotel accominations.

I see the point of putting on the same tire for this comparison but on the same token, most people go buy something and just drive it stock, so they are not getting that Now if they did a test with the stock tires then go to a tire that all used would be good to see how tires affect certain performance aspects of a truck!

@Syclone Rob,
I can see the reason for using the same tyres. But, also I do see the manufacturers' view that the vehicle is given a specific tyre.

I do believe that the test loads should be identical.

Many who comment on PUTC tend to believe if a number has a greater value the vehicle must be better. You see this with load and tow, 0-60 times, etc. The "Best in Class" syndrome appears to be very American and Canadian.

Even the term "Best in Class" is misleading.

Why not just drive the vehicles around for a month as normal and see which one is the easiest to live with.

Then work out the best value vehicle from there, using pricing, real life FE tested over a prolonged period, etc. It's great to state that on vehicle can tow X amount and the other less.

But how good is X that has the larger tow rating? Does the other test vehicle perform better as a tow vehicle?

Number don't express much other than reinforce what the promoters want to bleat about their favourite brand.

"doesn't matter to me who wins cause I'm buying a Colorado
one of the BIGGEST reasons I like the Colorado is because IT DOESN'T HAVE A TURBO !" -- Posted by: Tom#3 | Mar 13, 2015 3:04:16 PM

On the other hand, one of the biggest reasons I DON'T like the Colorado (or the Canyon) is that it's simply too big! Then again...

The Tacoma doesn't offer enough legroom even in their double-cab/crew-cab versions...
The Frontier's instrument panel is both distracting and relatively uninformative...
The current Ridgeline is a combination of too big with very distracting instrumentation.

That pretty much eliminates all the current crop of so-called Mid-sized trucks for my purposes. Sure, I like the LOOKS of the Colorado, but I'm highly unlikely to buy one unless I just absolutely need to replace my Jeep before something better comes out.

@Tom#3 - as if......... but that would prove once and for all that you are full of it.
I can easily lay out a 392 km loop that would be run as one loop in one direction than run it backwards. That route incorporates multiple 6-7% grades and rough gravel roads.
Actually - can't do the test now as 1/2 the route is currently a snowmobile trail.

@Tom#3 continues on. You have never answered any of my questions.........

What kind of rear diff is in your 2013?
How does it behave in mud and snow?
How does traction/stability control work in mud/snow?
What tires are on your truck?
How many miles on your truck?

@Tom3: "I expect to be generously constipated with 5 star hotel accominations."

I snorted my iced tea on that one! The sarcasm of that one line just made the whole comment! Thank you!


Don't wait any longer. Build your own. Buy a 1990s Chevy S10 or Ford Ranger. Get a new bench seat and dash. Spray some degreaser on the engine and hose it off.

Now, drive it enough to decide if you want to keep in long enough to put new brakes and tires on it.

Voila! Your new compact truck for a fraction of the price of a new truck (no turbo) and something that will last a long time.

Nobody is seriously talking about bringing back the compact trucks of the 1980s/1990s. Seriously.

@papajim: "Nobody is seriously talking about bringing back the compact trucks of the 1980s/1990s. Seriously."

It seems at least one brand is reasonably serious--at least according to PUTC and TTAC.

Thanks@Big Al from Oz for your comments. I currently have s Dakota and like the size. The Colorado is very nice looking and for towing I think the diesel would be the way to go. I am hoping the price of the diesel isn't that much more than a V6. I also wish that the Colorado had a front bench option.

@Roadwhale, actually I'm serious.

If I was going to buy a compact work truck right now I'd give serious consideration to buying and refurbing an S10 4.3 V6 auto, or a Ranger 4cylinder stick.

The S10 Isuzu engine was kind of lame and the 4.0 Ford V6 was a turkey. the Ford 3.0 did not win any drag races but my brother's has been trouble free for 10 years.

The Ford auto trans was buggy (electronics?) and the Chevy stick shifts are usually 4 cylinders. My S10 4.3 auto was a stud that died in a crash, or I'd still be driving it.

the things that die on these trucks are seating and dash. Neither costs much to replace.

Buy a 3000.00 S10 and put 2.000 into in in refurbing and you have a hell of a truck. Ditto the 4cylinder Ranger. They love you long time.

@papaJim - I do agree that the 4.0 Ford Ranger engine was a poor one. I had a used Ranger for a few years. It was okay on fuel but not much better than my 5.4 F150 maybe 22 mph US highway. Once you got over 60 mph its mpg dropped like a stone. It was a standard 5 speed. I was never impressed with the power either.
The Safari I had with 4.3 was more powerful but wasn't any better on fuel. Actually worse. I was lucky if i ever hit 20 mpg but the Safari was a huge box on wheels.

@Lou, I was being more general in my comments.

FE is still important but I was thinking about the drive-a-bility and general smoothness, etc.

My 4.3 was easy to service, and hardly ever used a quart of oil between changes; and apart from a slightly lumpy idle was very strong and smooth for it's size. Lasted almost 200k miles in city and suburb driving in the tropics (a/c on constantly)

Apart from the six cylinder sound it felt like a V8.

U should include resale value. All trucks are eventually sold or traded in.

so does the 2017 raptor fall into the 4X4 v6 catagory?

The comments to this entry are closed.