Little Guys Go at it: 2007 Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon

GM's Small Pick-up Truck

Apr. 01, 2007 By Katrina Ramser

General Motors’ 2007 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon throw hats back into the smaller pickup truck ring with two new, bigger engines and a lot of chrome finish. Introduced in 2004 to replace the Chevy S-10 and the GMC Sonoma, these smaller vehicles have come a long way. But to compete in today’s truck market, you’ve got to make a big impact with a compact thing.

And every major vehicle maker seems to have a compact thing to compete with. We’ve plotted the Colorado and the Canyon against two of its main rivals, the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Tacoma, to see how they stack up against one another. Which compact truck would you buy, and why?

The 2007 Chevy Colorado has two newer and bigger engines. Photo © GMC
The GMC Canyon statistics goes head-to-head with the Tacoma and Ranger. Photo ©GMC.
Ford’s supreme offering when it comes to the Ranger lineup is the FX4
The Tacoma Access Cab Pre-Runner is a stylish off-road vehicle. Photo ©Toyota Motor Corp

Colorado/Canyon: 2 engines. 185-horsepower Vortec 2.9-liter DOHC I-4 and a 242-horsepower Vortec 3.7-liter DOHC I-5.
Ranger: 3 engines. 143-horsepower 2.3-liter DOHC I-4; a 4.0-liter SOHC V6; and a 148-horsepower 3.0-liter OHV V6.
Tacoma: 2 engines. 159-horsepower 2.7-liter DOHC I-4 and a 236-horsepower 4.0-liter DOHC V6.

RESULTS. The Colorado/Canyon’s four-cylinder grew from a 2.8-liter to a 2.9-liter and now generates more horsepower and torque than the Ranger’s 3.0-liter V6. The previous five-cylinder 3.5-liter expanded to 3.7-liters which beats out both the Tacoma’s V6’s and Dodge Dakota’s 3.7-liter V6. The results show the I-5 is as powerful as any V6, but not for towing. Towing capacity with the Ranger’s Class III hitch receiver under the 4.0-liter V6 is up to 6,000 lbs. For the Tacoma, the maximum tow rating with the V6 is 6,500 lbs. The best any Colorado can do is tow up to 4,000 lbs with the 3.7-liter I-5.

Colorado/Canyon: 18-city/24-highway
Ranger: 24-city/29-highway
Tacoma: 23-city/28-highway

RESULTS. We’re giving you the lowest common gas denominators here, which for the Colorado/Canyon is the 2.9-liter I-4 engine. Fuel economy with Tacoma’s 2.7-liter I-4 engine is an obvious huge plus. The Ranger’s 2.3-liter I-4 engine delivers this unbeatable EPA-estimated fuel economy. When comparing the Colorado/Canyon’s I-5 engine to the other’s V6s, it still isn’t much of a player in terms of offering any fuel-economy edges – you’re still looking at approximately 17-mpg city/20-mpg highway either way.

Colorado/Canyon: Z71 Suspension Package
Ranger: FX4 Off Road
Tacoma: TRD Offroad Package

RESULTS. The more powerful I-5 engine comes with the Colorado/Canyon Z71 Package and has front Torsen® bars, 28 mm front stabilizer bar, urethane jounce bumpers and automatic locking wheel differential. Upgrade the Ranger’s FX4 Off Road Package with the Level II Package and you receive a similar Torsen design with Blisten® gas-charged monotube shocks (the Tacoma off-road version has these very same shocks). Overall, all these off-road enhancing kits include the typical: sport seats, fog lamps, tow hooks, chrome grille, and color-keyed bumpers. So how do you choose? Put your trim and configuration choice before your off-road package choice. You might find limitations with certain bed and cab sizes or even the engine size simply due to the off-road package you chose.

Colorado/Canyon: 4 trim levels, 3 cab styles, 2WD or 4WD. 
Ranger: 6 trim levels, 3 cab styles, 2WD or 4WD.
Tacoma: 3 trim levels, 3 cab styles, 2WD or 4WD.

RESULTS. GMC claims the Colorado’s Extended Cab has more room than the Ranger SuperCab, and looking closely at Tacoma’s equivalent, the Access Cab, the Colorado/Canyon does have a slight edge in millimeters and often inches when it comes to head, leg, and shoulder room for a compact truck. The Ranger might have more trim options, but Tacoma is the flashiest, boasting 18 different model configurations including a very slick and fast X-Runner muscle car. Plus the Pre-Runner trim offers a two-wheel drivetrain but with four-wheel-drive suspension and the same raised styling – there is no competition for that.

Colorado/Canyon: $13,910-$23,810 (MSRP)
Ranger: $13,860-$24,315 (MSRP)
Tacoma: $14,180-$26,015 (MSPR)

RESULTS. Let’s talk real packages: If you select a Ranger XLT, the modest of trim upgrades, you’ll get a favorable base retail price of $16,830. The primo Ranger with the FX4 Level II is around $24,245 – a great deal for a top-notch equipment package. The no-frills Tacoma package would be a Regular Cab 4x4 at $18,025; one of the more expensive Tacoma configurations is the Double Cab Long Bed V6 4x4 with a top-of-the-line SR5 Package and is priced out at $31,054. A deluxe 4x4 Colorado would come with the 3LT trim, has the 3.7-liter, Crew Cab and short bed, the Z71 Suspension Package and trailer provisions – altogether you’re looking at $28,024. On an overall sales level, Colorado/Canyon U.S. sales peaked in 2005 at 163,204 units, surpassing the Ranger by nearly 35% but dropped to 27.5% this past year. But the Colorado/Canyon remains more than 3% behind Tacoma sales.

The Colorado/Canyon I-5 engine is pretty powerful, but it’s not going to tow like the Ranger’s or Tacoma’s V6s. The smaller Colorado/Canyon I-4 engine cannot compete with other model’s gas saving options. Granted, the Colorado/Canyon has the largest interior space. And the Ranger has a great price when you package it out. But the Tacoma can tow. The Tacoma can save gas. The Tacoma comes in a lot of flavors. The Tacoma can morph into a 2WD, still have 4WD suspension and the same raised styling, and be worth more money when you sell it down the line because it has a great reliability reputation. So you’ll pay a higher price for a Tacoma, because this decision is what has contributed to Toyota’s success: Making cars for less than it costs GM and selling them at a higher price than any other American manufacturer. A recent Newsweek article reported a $1,800 profit-per-car advantage over GM in the U.S. and after three years, a Toyota retains 52% of its value compared to 43% for a GMC or Chevy. The Tacoma is a win-win business situation for you and Toyota, just not for American auto manufactures. We might love the idea of American made, but we’re putting compact truck value on the import – the Tacoma. Newsletter
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