The $40,000 Midsize Pickup Is Here to Stay

3 2015 GMC Canyon front II

By Tim Esterdahl

Years ago a midsize pickup truck was a $10,000-$15,000 compact, bare-bones truck with better-than-full-size-pickup fuel economy. Fast-forward to now and a midsize truck is anything but compact and bare bones. Case in point: We recently tested a 2015 GMC Canyon SLE with the All-Terrain Package that priced out at $38,915 (all prices include destination). Spending that much on a midsize truck certainly gives some people pause. Yet it is here, and people are buying it in fairly large numbers.

Tony Ricciardella was ready to part ways with his 2005 Subaru Baja. After calling a few dealers 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, he found an extended-cab 2015 GMC Canyon SLE with the All-Terrain Package. Although the price gave him pause, the retired armed forces vet took the truck home.

"I didn't want to pay that much, but everything has gotten more expensive these days," Ricciardella said. "I drove a new Datsun pickup off the lot for $10,000. Those trucks simply don't exist anymore."

GMC Is Not Alone

It would be easy to suggest the price is high because GM is marketing the GMC as more premium than the Chevrolet Colorado, and so the Canyon costs more. Yet a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4x2 short-bed crew cab starts at $30,425 without a single option. But prices can shoot up quickly on these midsize pickups by adding cleverly targeted options specifically designed and packaged to be easy add-ons.

While many of these options and accessories aren't for everyone, dealers and manufacturers are pushing them. That's obvious from the growth of accessory displays at auto shows. Two years ago Mopar (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' accessory maker) had its largest display ever at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. This year, the same thing happened. During the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota showcased a wall of accessories behind the new 2016 Tacoma. The truck hasn't been built yet and already Toyota has produced accessories for it.

For most automakers, the trend toward getting customers to think in terms of monthly payments helps increase post-sale purchases. A good salesman can make the argument that a well-equipped truck is only a few dollars more a month than a compromise choice. Why wouldn't you choose the fully outfitted pickup? It's that type of thinking that helps drive average transaction prices even higher as more features and accessories make it into manufacturer catalogs.

What Does $40,000+ Get You?

It's not surprising that truck prices have climbed dramatically in recent years, but it seems to be getting harder to find an inexpensive, bare-bones work truck. Sure, they exist, but the fully loaded ones seem to get all the attention, and we wanted to know why. What then, does the nearly $40,000 GMC Canyon All-Terrain come with?

40000 Canyon_silver

First, GMC starts its SLE trim level with the Convenience Package. The SLE trim is the midlevel model that starts at $27,520 in an extended-cab, two-wheel-drive setup. It adds 17-inch wheels, an automatic locking rear differential, front fog lamps, an 8-inch touch-screen and a leather-wrapped steering wheel along with a host of other items on top of the base truck. The $500 Convenience Package adds remote keyless entry, cruise control, rear-window defogger and a variety of other items.

Adding the All-Terrain Package costs anywhere from $1,190 to $1,750 on top of that price due to either two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive setups. The two-wheel drive is the $1,750 price since many standard features on the 4x4s, like the locking rear differential and front recovery hooks, need to be added. This package also adds a variety of new equipment like an off-road suspension, 17-inch Dark Argent Metallic wheels, hill descent control, Jet Black/Cobalt Red cloth heated front seats and a four-way passenger front seat.

Clicking around on the GMC website to build a base SLE Canyon extended cab 4x2 rings up at $27,520, which is a far cry from $40,000. How do we get to the $40,000? Easy.

Truckmakers tell us the most popular cab configuration is a crew cab. Also, the 4x4 is an incredibly popular option for most buyers. Adding in both of these popular features puts us at $35,235 with a long box. Add in taxes, license fees and dealer costs, and it quickly pushes us to almost $40,000.

Our test truck isn't the most expensive 2015 GMC Canyon you can buy. The SLE trim level adds the leather-appointed trim interior with heated seats, larger 18-inch wheels, remote vehicle start and other goodies. Adding a few items like four-wheel drive, the trailer package, a bedliner and navigation puts us well more than $40,000. And never forget the "destination" charge, usually at or around $1,000.

Our test-model GMC provided lots of features and options, and it's one of GMC's biggest sellers. It's easy to see why: With a plush interior, cushy driving experience and an auto four-wheel-drive system, what more could a consumer want?

Prices Won't Drop Soon

Traditional truck enthusiasts simply shake their heads regarding the way prices have soared. They contend the prices are absurd and that they will drop sooner or later. Aren't midsize trucks, after all, supposed to be the economical choice for pickup buyers? The data and automakers disagree.

According to early ordering data, says GMC spokesman Brian Goebel, 22 percent of all Canyons ordered by dealerships have the All-Terrain Package.

Toyota is seeing the same thing. When it unveiled the 2016 Tacoma at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, representatives said they were working on a new TRD Pro model since, "it has been selling really well." The crew-cab Tacoma TRD Pro starts at $37,520.

Nissan has yet to release any information about its next-generation Frontier, but we can bet it will also offer all-new features and technology options, likely pushing prices higher as well.

How high will the prices go? Likely much higher as customers demand more features and accessories.

"I wish the All-Terrain had a leather interior, and I wish the heated mirrors were an option," Ricciardella said. "I wasn't really concerned with the price point. I pretty much got what I wanted."

That leads us to ask: Could a $45,000 midsize Canyon Denali be very far away?

Manufacturer's image; photo by Tim Esterdahl


TE Canyon $40K 3 II



"That leads us to ask: Could a $45,000 midsize Canyon Denali be very far away?"

It's already here, Tim, and in a SLT...

2015 canyon Crew Cab, Long Box SLT 4WD
Price $44,955* or
Finance estimate
Lease estimate $429 per month
for 48 months
Ultra-Low-Mileage Lease for Well-Qualified Lessees. $4,246 due at signing (after all offers). No security deposit required. Mileage charge of $0.25 per mile over 40,000 miles. Lease Details

wow. well, I guess I'm getting up there (49). Paid $11,000 for my 1987 Toyota SR5 4x4 with canopy. Sure seems to me that as the mid size trucks are making comeback, they should keep prices down. I think makers do a good job of offering trucks with certain options (I think). Ram offers the Express with the CrewCab and the Hemi, and uses lower quality seats and fabrics and glove boxes and dashes, I think that is great idea, then anyone who wants more can splurge for Big Horn or Laramie $50,000 truck (or more!). I'm pretty sure the market is still driving the offerings....right? cheers!

What a $40k truck? What is it made of gold?

This story compares the price of the (strong dollar) 1980s with today's trucks in the not that strong decade, although the green paper is trying to make a comeback.

Mid size trucks are facing an uphill ride. The advantages that made them so attractive in the 1980s simply don't exist anymore. Regular readers at this site have discussed it a lot.

Nobody builds a new mid size truck today that offers the economy or the utility of the trucks from thirty years ago. If you can find a low miles, solid late model Ranger or Tacoma and budget a few dollars to things like paint and seat covers, you're way ahead.

Unless you don't care about the price, that is, like the guy in the story.

Well that's what happens when things you NEED like 4 wheel anti lock disc brakes, traction control, crumple zones, safety cages, airbags, hands free phone... get added in by the general populace and become mandated by the government...

Then there is all the stuff the average idiot NEEDS like a sunroof (cant remember where the sky is), 4x4 for 2 or 3 days a year, wheels that are way larger than needed (but look good), leather, heated seats, cooled seats, heated stearing wheel, steps, wi fi, power that will make you feel good a stop light against a well equipped mid sized sedan, room for at least 3 friends (midsized trucks are for friends since the owners tend to be really young or old full sizes are for families), automatic climate/headlight/wipers, remote starting, leds on everything, automatic transmission (never learned how to drive a real tranny and don't want to) all adding cost and weight (which hurts mileage and then gets everyone wanting a diesel option which costs MORE money to buy and more per gallon to feed)...

Trucks used to be simple. Because back then cars and trucks were nearly the same... Before you scream herassy calm down. Cars used to be HUGE body on frame monsters with big V8s. They could pull, and they could haul (whatever wasn't messy that would fit) as well as most trucks. Then came gas prices and cars shrank. Trucks still had the body on frame and so if you had hauling or towing you got a truck. If you didn't... well you didn't and borrowed one once in a while. Trucks became status symbols with their own culture and its just grown from there to the delight of the manufacuturers. Size, weight, power, features, capabilities and price all soared. A F150 today on paper out tows and out hauls a V8 gas Super Duty of 05. The 45K pretender play truck is here because the 55K full size truck is here. Yea we all got our "features" we "NEED"... but at the end of the day they do add weight and cost and its just another example of something that has been "and another thinged" to death and still going... We are back to that point where to justify a full size truck you NEED to have serious work to be done. Otherwise you are either priced out or have money to burn. For all those pretenders that "need" a truck to get the Christmas tree home once a year without learning how to tie knots there are 40K pretend trucks for you all.

Where does it end? Who knows... With Nissan introducting a 5/8 ton Titan with diesel power, a whole bunch of people clamoring for half ton diesels or diesel pretend trucks that perform like gas (and that's the catch) but get great mileage its just insane. Ram got the eco diesel concept right (going small and not trying to be a beast). The small trucks of the world get good mileage not because they are diesel but because they are small diesels with 150ish HP on stripped down trucks not being raced from light to light. Ford is right reducing displacement and if you treat your EB softly you can get great mileage. Its resisting the temptation to make it act like 6.2 V8 at every light and hill that seems to be the hard part.

Back when small trucks were light and cheap they made more sense.

Someone said something about a Datsun for 10K? I can remember buying a new International Scout II Terra pickup, loaded at the time with the 345 V-8 4x4, Torque Flyte automatic, Detroit lockers front and rear/4:10 gears, AC, and everything I could special ordered back them for the total sum of, get this $9,990!!!!!! in 1978! the truck was about the same size as the new GM mid-size trucks, but was a beast! it could out drag in the dirt any other 4x4 truck out there at the time stock from the factory! But they were notorious for rusting! and I had the truck Z-Barted the day I bought it, and it was still full of rot within 8=10 years! of course I drove it on the beach daily in the summer, and over salted N.E. roads in the winter, and the chassis were Bullitt proof! but the bodies were awful! It was black with a white removable roof, and had a unibody 6' bed, with a reg type cab, I was able to buy a cap for it that sealed to the roof of the cab, and took the rear window out and made it into a bean bag filled travel mobile! Or in the summer was able to take both tops off and drive around in a convertible truck! International actually made a convertible top for that model, and called it the Sunrider! which kinda looked like a conv. reg cab, with a fast back roof to the tailgate!.

Wow that is a lot of money for a mid size truck! I can see why Ford does not want to compete on the midsize level. You can get a full size F-150 Lariat for about the same price. And if a customer is willing to buy used you are saving even more and get even more truck. I bought a 2013 F-150 Platinum with 20k Miles with a six year warranty and maintenance for $30k

I got my Canyon SLT Crew Cab with the short bed optioned out to about $40,000. Did I need all that, no. Did I want all that and could afford it, yes. I love the truck and have been getting so many compliments everywhere I go. The Sierra is just too big for what I need, and I'm so glad I went with the Canyon. Vehicles nowadays are better and last much longer than they did 30 years ago, so get what you want, take care of it, and stop complaining. When I was younger, it was rare to see cars and trucks with over a hundred thousand miles on them, and if they did, they looked it. Sure I would have liked to spend five or ten thousand less, but over ten plus years of ownership it's meaningless if you really like your vehicle.

Add 4 or 5k for the diesel option for the 2016 my,and your at 50k.That for me is beyond comprehension.

This story perpetuates the legend that small trucks sell based on price and mpg. That was why they sold in the 70's but no more.

People just want a smaller truck and want the same features available in larger trucks and are willing to pay for it.

How hard is that for people to comprehend?

All this and more; your choice basic white paint or black paint for only $3,000 more. Way to go GM

If people would quit paying stupid prices for trucks then the price would come down. Its that simple . if ur dumb enough to pay that then so be it.

I agree that this is a lot of hype:
1. With inflation, the price of every vehicle has gone up.
2. Prices of full-size half-ton trucks are even higher- 50k all day for the trucks that the media sees.
3. It's not that much cheaper to build a smaller truck- they have all the same parts, just a little less metal, plastic and glass in them. Otherwise, all the parts have the same manufacturing and assembly costs involved. In the Gm trucks, how much do you think 600# of steel, 50# of plastic & rubber, and 25# of glass really cost?
4. Trucks last way longer than they used to. My first truck was an 8 year old Chevrolet S10- needed a motor and trans and was otherwise rusty and clamped out.

And this is exactly why FCA won't replace/re-introduce the Dakota. What's the point of having a 7/8ths Ram at the same price and mpg as the 1500?

IMO this is kind of a non-story. If you take out the nav, premium bose, and chunk the side assist steps you're left with a $36K truck and I'm sure they are offering at least 1500 cash back. That would put it around 35K. Sounds like a lot but, consider my wife's Equinox LTZ with FWD and four cylinder stickered for 35K it really doesn't look that bad. Granted the Equinox has nav and leather but the we would have went for this truck over the Equinox without question.

My brother in law just bought a Ram 1500 sport for $42K, why would anyone by a midsize??? Truck prices are getting out of control, how long until people are getting 10 year loans so they can afford the monthly payments???

Nick- great comments.
The global Colorado was Brazilian engineered and IIRC most of the testing occurred in Thailand. I suspect that a USA version was also planned since new products tend to have a 5-6 year R&D cycle i.e. from initial idea to rolling off the line.

GM did get hit with a very poor product roll out for the Sierra and Silverado. Some pundits said it was GM's poorest launch ever.
I do not think anyone would of predicted an oil price crash. Fuel prices have traditionally have had an effect on small trucks versus larger ones. That would mean small truck sales should crash but we have seen the opposite happen.

The billion dollar question is "who is buying Colorado/Canyon?
Tacoma and Frontier sales have improved so it is safe to say that they have not been hurt by the GM twins.
Big Al floated the theory that they are poaching V6 1/2 ton buyers BUT as you pointed out, GM isn't bragging about conquest sales. Big Al also thinks that the aluminum F150 is a flop and that may be a source BUT again, no bragging from GM on conquest sales.
I suspect that they are attracting buyers that normally would buy a SUV or CUV. GM has a huge stable of those vehicles so I'm inclined to say that most buyers are chosing a smaller GM pickup over a GM SUV/CUV.

what else are you guys going to spend your money on?
If a new truck excites you BUY IT !
you could be dead tomorrow, enjoy it today!

speaking for myself I love that buying experience in the dealer showroom, to me car salesmen are like today's cowboys, rough and tough guys that never hold back, not afraid to speak their minds, never insulted no matter what a customer says.
Think of it you have to be thick skinned, a tough guy to be a car-truck salesman.
Who else can lie and cheat without a guilty conscience?
I mean it would take a tough guy to rip off a poor old lady or a young stupid girl without feeling guilty about it. Could YOU do that?

When are you all going to get it through your thick heads that the midsize market is very limited. There is only so many people that want one. Most manufactures have dropped out of the midsize market because it just does not pay off financially for them.

once the production gets up to speed and there,are more trucks available and it always does,the prices will come down no doubt..

Time will come when there will be glut of small trucks..

I wouldn't pay that much even for a big size truck,as the basic one starts somewhere around 20K$..

I paid $55,000 for a 3 bedroom house on 2.5 acres with a 30'x40' two story barn (bordered by state forest land). I think I will continue to drive trucks that are actually worth what I pay for them. I would not want to be saddled with a payment for any truck that has heated/cooled seats, 8" touch screen, backup camera, sunroof, leather anything, or an air dam 6 inches off the ground. I work my trucks- reliability trumps convenience every time.

It's interesting to read some of the comments.

I do think many on this site to justify investing in a full size pickup are using the McDonalds supersize me attitude.

Just because a vehicle is bigger doesn't translate into better.

Toxicsludge has already made an assumption that the diesel Colorado will cost $5k more. This is a fallacy. Don't use the V6 VM Ram as a guide. Diesel engine prices vary significantly. The price of a 4 cylinder Colorado will be not much different than a the cost difference in a diesel car of a couple of grand or so.

It do find it entertaining to pre Berlin Wall attitude here regarding 1/2 ton pickups. Pickups are no longer a work truck in the US. Many try and state how these are "trucks" when in fact they are car and SUV alternatives.

I do see a much larger midsize market in the US. Using size alone to determine what someone will buy is quite naïve. Like cars the price of future pickups will not be based on size and cubic inches of the engine.

Tim also negated to state the difference in the Colorado Canyon in comparison to the older mid sizers, even the Taco.

This size vehicle will find homes in many driveways as SUVs, like 75% of 1/2 ton pickups.

Look at the SUV/CUV market are they all large vehicles? No. The pickup market will gradually head down that path.

The manufacturers want to retain the highly profitable full size pickups as the lay the golden eggs.

Full size pickups are great and so is the new midsizers like the Colorado which more than fulfills 75% of what the consumer wants.

The comments using FE as well is another fallacy. A midsizer in real life will use less fuel, even though EPA figures suggest otherwise. It's simple physics, it's called mass.

You will see I'm correct.

Oh, before anyone distorts my comment, I'm not stating that midsize will become the dominant pickup in the US. I'm stating that the midsizer still has some way to go.

I have noticed in the US you pay for features that we get automatically. We don't have packages when buying a pickup. A base model will generally have what the highend model has with all of the electronics and off road features.

The US manufacturers will profit from midsizers and all pickups.

How much will a similarly equipped fullsize cost to the high end GMC Canyon. I'd bet over $55k. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

BD - ask Tom#3. He sounds like he could cover the first option you mentioned.

This discussion is funny... BD the Power wagon MSRP starts out at $56 k... The article is commenting on MSRP's for new vehicles, not discounted and rebated prices. For the interested there are discounts offered on the colorado and canyon, and a decently optioned crew cab, V6 with 4 wod can be had in the lower $30s.... When you compare this to a decently optioned 1/2 ton you are talking mid to upper $40s. So the midsizes do offer a break when comparing similiar options, and if you are looking for a smaller, more maneuverable rig then it is a good option. As for rebates, shop around and you can get the price down on any truck...

Ram's website says the Power Wagon Tradesman starts out at $43,960. I was making a simple price comparison that had nothing to do with options and extras and everything to do with capability, which real truck owners care about, however the lesson here is that all the bells and whistles can add an additional 50% or more to the price tag on your new rig. More if you include engine and drivetrain upgrades.

40k is a good sum for this truck but then a Honda CRV fully loaded is well over 30k. Few things are cheap anymore unless it is computers or calculators. Papa Jim does have a valid argument about the value of the dollar and unemployment but then it still appears people are willing to spend the money. Most take loans to buy vehicles and 5 or 7 year loans are becoming the norm. Also many lease now and get a more expensive vehicle than they would if they bought. I am not recommending extended loans or leasing but both seem to be heavily promoted and used to sell more expensive and well optioned vehicles. I do have reservations about the prudence of long term financing for many. I like the base model of Colorado and for a little over 20k it is a decent truck for the price, but you would probably have to order one since there are few Colorados/Canyons on the lots and most are crew cabs fully loaded.

BD I stand corrected... When I first looked I didn't build from a tradesman, but instead choose the power wagon and it showed 56k... Seems weird for the website to give different answers depending on how you navigate.

When you add the options the price off all vehicles climb crazy, although with enough shopping around, and maybe a little traveling you can get a reasonable price. True car website is interesting to check prices in a 500 mile range. You sure can find the large volume dealers.

@ Big Al: Actually I said "4 or 5k",which was just a guess,that's all.However I do believe it will be at the very least,in the 3k range.That is still a substantial upcharge for a small diesel.And it happens to be a damn fine engine too,I had one.

@ Bat: "same same",I speak that language,numba one ;}>

Can you go down to a chevy dealership in Australia and buy a brand new silverado? Can you go down to the dealership and buy a new cummins ram 3500??? Can you go down and buy a brand new ford raptor, or maybe a f450, or an ecoboost f150???

I think the rest of the world is scared to let full size us built trucks in there countries as it would take away there 7/8 truck market such as the global ranger and such.

After rebates I got my 2009 ram hemi slt 4x4 for a little over $25,000. Now you can hardly buy a USED full size 4x4 truck with 50,000 miles for that price. That's why it has been so hard for me to purchase a new truck. I don't want to pay 10,000 more than I did for my last one.

@BAFO - Why doesn't your parliament allow more that 200 (or so) fullsize pickups into OZ a year?

You've got 3 or 4 decent midsize pickups and the rest of your so called "choices" are absolute junk. And many of those buying your top 3 or 4 pickups are just making the best of a severely limited and protected OZ pickup market.

Is the price of the new mid-sized GM trucks expensive? Sure, but compare the price of the new trucks to those stupid station wagon crossovers cars, and the price is about the same. Most of the crossover SUV's with any options are well over $30K. The Toyota Highlander base is $29,665K. Toyota Venza base price is $29,065. GMC Acadia base is $33,975. Instead of the bed of the truck, you have a small carpeted area behind the back seat. Why would one of these new trucks with all the standard bells and whistles be much less than many of the crossover SUV's, CUV's, or whatever else you want to call these station wagons?

They need a Colorado Denali or equivalent. I don't like the mini Sierra look of the Canyon any more than I'd like a mini Silverado which I find unattractive. The Colorado is a seriously attractive truck. Why it isn't available with a high end interior trim is beyond comprehension. And not that high country crap either. Something along the Denali interior line inside the Colorado would get my money in a heartbeat. Who cares about the price of a truck? Resale for American trucks is like resale for japanese cars. It remains high whether justified or not. You're going to spend 35k for about anything new these days, might as well spend 40k and be happy.

I just saw a Denali trimmed Canyon in dark grey today. Nice looking truck but I do prefer the looks of the Colorado.

Produce a link to show your claim.

Read the article in my article in the newer Taco production article.

Its a beautiful truck but they have missed the mark when it comes to the engine!. They should have opt for the 4.3L engine instead of the 3.6L that should stay in a car. Trucks need torque not HP. What was GM thinking? 3.6L has 305 HP and 269 ftlbs. v's 4.3L 285HP and 305 ftlbs.

@ DThiel: Yep,your 100% right,and I'm still wondering why GM went with the pos 3.6.Makes no sense to me at all.

Umm... Well it's better than finding that out the hard way. Picked up a 2014 platinum crew 4x4 last Aug brand new for 42k after rebates. Midsize used to be a value...

The 40,000 midsize needs to go away... it completely defeats the purpose to getting a truck in that size. Especially when you can get so much more truck for the very same money with a full-size.

a few points:

1: all of these trucks still have base models available in the low 20s, so if you want a cheap, barebones truck, you still have that option.

2: 40,000 midsizes don't defeat the purpose of a midsize. You seem to be under the incorrect assumption that midsize truck owners would prefer a larger truck if they could afford it, while many of us specifically want a smaller truck, but can also afford the extra amenities that used to only be available in the larger trucks.

I want a semi-luxurious, versatile vehicle that I can parallel park in the city. A $35,000 F150 does not satisfy my needs, while a $35,000 Tacoma does.

You don't even need to go to the distant past with "back in my day..." Stories to talk about how ridiculous things have gotten. I remember vividly in 1997 my parents had graduated college and started new careers so they picked up a consumer reports guide to 1997 vehicles. At the time I was going to start driving soon so I read that thing cover to cover with dreams of what my first car would be. The cheapest of economy cars may have been about $9000, with most in the 10-13k range. A basic 2wd s-10 or ranger could be had for $12900, which the s10 is what my dad brought home. You can still order a no frills Sonic for around $13k, so a steady increase but not that much more, really. But if you're a truck guy and want a new pickup, well you get to find out that you might not be able to afford one because all the manufacturers are letting "truck guys" who never use their trucks and want it to feel like a limo determine what makes it to dealer lots for sale.

Realizing its not a huge deal, but why do they not put heated and cooled front leather seat options in midsize trucks? I'm in canada so its hot in the summer an cooled seats are awesome an prevent me from getting a sweaty back on those long drives and obviously heated leather for winter is must for leather seats

I recently bought a brand new 2017 stripped down Ford F-150 Supercab for $26400.
Not everyone is irresponsible with money like the idiots who bought houses they couldn't afford back in the 2000s.

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