Pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles in the U.S. While many drivers may gravitate toward a few best sellers that dominate the market, there are always other vehicles to consider. That's part of the motive behind Cars.com's annual Pickup Truck Challenge. The website conducts in-depth tests that evaluate all aspects of these rugged automobiles, and some of the winners could shed light on the top options for motorists.
One truck to rule them all
Cars.com recently released its winner of the 2015 Midsize Pickup Truck Challenge: the 2015 GMC Canyon SLT. It bested three other modern models, including the Chevrolet Colorado Z71, the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. All vehicles were tested in a variety of categories. Judges examined driving performance, ergonomics, technology and entertainment, visibility, value, and off-road capabilities, among others. After hundreds of miles of test drives on all types of terrain, as well as real shopper testimonials and thorough fuel economy tests, the Canyon was chosen as the winner.
"The GMC Canyon scored well throughout our tests, and offered a capable and luxurious ride and feel that clearly separated it from the rest of the pack," said Mark Williams, Cars.com's pickup truck expert. "We were especially impressed with its road manners and performance with a full load in the bed. What really sets the Canyon apart from its competitors are its looks and high-end materials, however that comes at a higher price tag than other trucks, like its sister-truck the Chevrolet Colorado."
One thing that's important to note is that the midsize truck segment has a lot of room to grow. Williams noted that the previous test in 2012 pitted seven models against each other, instead of the four from this year, and a few of the models haven't undergone a major update since then. However, PickupTrucks.com noted that the new 2016 Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline, which are both due out later this year, were excluded from the testing but may make a splash next year.
New features dominate the Canyon
Although the segment as a whole may be shrinking, the Canyon is only expanding its options to meet the needs of drivers. The Associated Press referenced the truck's 27 miles per gallon average fuel efficiency and 200-horsepower engine as two of its main perks. Plenty of safety features, such as a rearview camera, should help keep the risk of auto repair low.
The new technology isn't limited to the vehicles themselves. Technology Tell reported that today's drivers can use GMC's "Canyon Experience" website, which allows users to complete a virtual test drive of the truck. It even employs Google Street View so prospective buyers can see the truck handling their neighborhood or most frequented routes. GMC executives claim the service is designed for people who want to see just how some of the features of the truck will work with their unique lifestyles, according to the source.
"When they visit the site, customers also can choose different scenarios for their Canyon test drives - city, shore, mountains and rural. They can even 'park' a new Canyon close to their home to see how it looks, and share it socially," said Kenn Bakowski, the Canyon marketing manager."We set out to engage potential Canyon customers in a fun, creative way."
While the tool may not let them know how easy vehicle maintenance is or how it handles heavy traffic, it could provide valuable insight that eventually encourages drivers to get behind the wheel. If the truck performs as well as Cars.com experts claim, it should do more than enough to win over motorists.