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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hurricane Ike: An Argument for Small Trucks, and Shreveport
Commentary by Ming
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So, after having lived through Hurricane Ike, I have a different take on the GM Colorado and Canyon "small" trucks.

I think more vehicles like these, not less, are a potential direction for growth for GM. While I still like the idea of "car-based pickups", the advantages of clearance and durability of real trucks was not lost on me in this weather crisis.

Power is still down in much of the city of Houston on day 5, working gasoline stands are still scarce, and roadsides and driveways are littered with debris, with downed trees everywhere. Neighbors are loading up pickups and helping neighbors, and families are pitching in to assist even their most distant relatives impacted by the storm. And while for now flood waters are receding, the day after the storm, out where I live in the country northwest of Houston, I saw water covering roads in places I've never seen it rise before.

So while the pickup is the dominant vehicle on Houston roads after the storm, working hard and living up to its reputation, fuel economy is a huge concern. If you're guzzling at 14 miles to the gallon on the way to help your buddy and every stoplight has turned into a 4-way stop, traffic snarls are common, or you're waiting in line for hours for food, gas or ice, having a 4-cylinder engine in your pickup is a blessing like never before.

I've always rooted for the GMT-355, but have had problems with the lack of incentives and advertising over the years. I never got the sense that GM was rooting for the Colorado and Canyon along with me. Among other things they must not make much money on them, because they are in no apparent hurry to sell them.

After all, this was the extent of the push they gave it at launch (before the "abandon" phase set in):

A far cry from the rugged cowboys and "This is our country" non-stop advertising theme of the big pickups, no?

See the guy looking out the window, 16 seconds in? That was my reaction to this ad.

But what good is a monster V8 in a full-size truck when gasoline lines are up to 4 hours long, if you can find an open gas station at all, and when you do it's close to $4 a gallon?

A co-worker of mine evacuated Houston before the storm and drove a beater 4-banger Civic to Dallas and left his truck garaged. Hardly efficient or cheap to own and maintain two vehicles when one would do the job.

A tough and durable, true (but not oversized) truck with good fuel economy and a powerful 4-cylinder engine is exactly the kind of vehicle that many Houstonians and other Gulf Coast residents could rely on in a time of gas shortages, flood waters and debris-strewn roads.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Colorado and Canyon are perfect vehicles as they are. I guess I'm just arguing against the nameplates and these sorts of vehicles getting the axe at GM in the years ahead. They could certainly use a refresh.

GM is going all out on compact cars with the Cruze, so why not go a little further with some effort spent on the Colorado/Canyon twins? Could a renewed focus on marketing and selling small trucks as an appealing and sensible choice really hurt GM?

Right now, with Ike fresh on my mind, if I had to buy a vehicle it would be a GMC Canyon Crew Cab 4-cylinder 2WD model. After all, I want to be able to carry some people in a pinch. Why GMC? I guess I just like the look of the grille better, but that's a personal taste thing.

The pricing is right, and is something I doubt a Lambda with a Ridgeline style box on the back could match, MSRP-wise. A 2009 GMC Canyon Crew Cab 2WD VL-3 has an invoice of $21,000. With my GM card earnings, and any incentives, that could potentially be a good buy. Potentially. GM is far too eager to hawk full-sizers at fire sale prices that drop down into Colorado/Canyon territory.

The fuel economy, while it could certainly be better, is 18/24. An Acadia is close on its heels in this department, but an Acadia also costs at least $10,000 more to buy. And I wouldn't feel right taking a $34,000, pretty Acadia out into the grime and debris of a storm where a Canyon would be right at home.

The capability is where it needs to be for a truck of its size, and I would not need to fear taking it off the side of the road or into shallow floodwaters, because it's no "faux by four" cute ute.

Four doors - something the Ford Ranger lacked, last time I checked, and for a reasonable price. The 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 2WD has an invoice of over $25,000 and can only be had with a V8!

The fuel economy penalty for the 4WD models along with the lack of good incentives makes the 2009 GMC Canyon (or Colorado) Crew Cab 4WD SLT a tougher sell, even with the added power of the I-5. From what I've heard and test driven, the 4-cyl. crew cab is well-powered and capable for most pickup duty.

Maybe GM will finally unveil what GM do Brasil has been working on, supposedly, regarding the future of GM small trucks. But until they do, I'd say that Shreveport and the product they sell that doesn't carry the HUMMER badge deserve more attention from GM.

And being timely, here's an article that is relevant to this discussion:

Shreveport, Lousiana Plant Looks to Future
By Bobbie J. Clark
September 16, 2008
www.ShreveportTimes.com

For the past 27 years, Shreveport has played an integral role in where the company stands today. While it has been one of the area's largest employers and a strong contributor to the community, the plant's future has never been cloudier.

The local assembly plant, established in 1981, has produced a number of vehicles through the years. The current lineup includes the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Hummer H3 and, most recently, the Hummer H3T.

"I am very proud of the GM Shreveport Plant's accomplishments, such as the expansion of the new plant and the launch of the HUMMER H3 and now the launch of the HUMMER H3T," Acting Plant Manager Michael Pearton said in an e-mail. "Both vehicles have won awards among various auto groups such as the Texas Auto Writers Association and Four Wheeler Magazine to name a few."

"At the Shreveport plant, we are focused on engaging the skills and talents of all the employees to be the best we can be, delivering high quality vehicles while aggressively looking for better ways to do everything," he said. "What is in our control as a plant is to collectively drive to improve all business results such as safety, quality and people."

Mr. Bremer, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, said GM has been a tremendous asset to the community and a valuable corporate partner to nonprofit groups.

The second shift at the Shreveport plant will be cut Sept. 29, affecting 798 employees, including 715 hourly and 83 salaried. Just last year, the GM plant employed 2,159 people — 1,965 hourly and 194 salaried. Bill Visnic, senior editor for Edmunds AutoObserver, said the outlook for the Shreveport plant is uncertain, especially if it continues to pump out trucks and SUVs.

"There has been a little bit of a notable uptick in the demand for midsize pickups, like the Colorado and Canyon," he said. "There is the possibility that rather than buying full-size pickups, people may be downsizing to midsize trucks."

SOURCE / Full Article
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
And Houston is hardly the worst place to have a V8 pickup...when you really need a pickup.

They are turning these folks away today -- some came back from Dallas, Austin and San Antonio...for nothing but stress and wasted gasoline:

Chance to 'look and leave' at Galveston causes 10-mile jam
By TERRI LANGFORD, ROMA KHANNA and JENNIFER LATSON
Houston Chronicle
Sept. 17, 2008, 5:33AM

GALVESTON — A decision to allow local residents back for the day gave evacuees an up-close view of a city in ruin Tuesday, but it created such a problem that officials dropped the idea indefinitely.

The reason given for allowing the daylong return was to keep a promise to evacuees that they would be permitted to go home, even temporarily, as soon as possible after Hurricane Ike had passed. A terse announcement reversing the decision offered no explanation, though it may have arisen from logistical problems and deteriorating sanitary conditions on the island.

Traffic stacked up on southbound Interstate 45 as thousands who live on the island tried to go back for a few hours to inspect their property and retrieve possessions. Because motorists had to go through a checkpoint and show proof of residence, the backup grew and grew until vehicles were finally turned back.

When city officials first announced the look-and-leave policy, road crews were clearing boats and debris from the causeway, limiting traffic to one lane. Returning residents, many of whom heard the announcement on their car radios and headed immediately for home, were backed up for approximately 10 miles. One man said crossing the bridge from ****inson took two hours.

Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough said there was a lively exchange among officials before they agreed to the return.

"The people who leave, generally these are responsible people," Yarbrough said. "They think: 'I followed the rules.' "

The idea was not to penalize people for doing as they were asked, he said. And keeping them away from their property any longer could pose an even bigger issue down the road.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6006236.html

 

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There IS a market for a 4-cylinder compact pickup - like the low mileage 2002 S-10 4 cylinder, 5-speed, that I just purchased this summer. Flexible, decent ride and handling, and very good gas mileage.

I would purchase a brand new version of my truck if one was available (almost bought a new Ranger but couldn't, in the end, cross over to Ford).

The current Colorado/Canyon are too expensive and not very attractive. Come on GM, bring back the S-10.
 

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Soon all the pieces will be in place - local agreement, Louisiana millions, loan guarantee billions, cost savings from national agreement. If GM can do to the mid-size truck what it's done with the Malibu in the mid-size car market it will be a winner.
 

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Ming, I agree with you for the most part. I live up in Huffman, and they are predicting October before our power is back on. The whole south/southeast region was blasted by Ike. I work with a guy that had 5' of water in his house. My aunt and uncle had 8' of water in theirs. Ive lived here my whole life and have never seen anything like it. Its tough when you live near the coast, and year after year, you hope a strong hurricane goes the "other" way, but just like with Ike, we were bound to get hit sooner or later.

Back to your article. My 95 chevy half ton 350 short bed gets 16 mpg to and from work, but im fortunate that theres a shell gas station on highway 90 open 24 hours, and theres maybe 2-3 cars filling up every morning at 3am. Im really cramped with this truck, but Ive been able to get by for quite a while with it. Within the next couple of months, my plan is to purchase a used cobalt for my trek to and from work, and a duramax c/c 4x4 for the workloads. I do like the idea of more colorado/small pickups with 4cyl 5spd packages, but not car base p/u's. Whats your opinion on the pontiac G8 p/u? Would you like it more without the v8?
 

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I am a big supporter of the Colorado/Canyon and the plant in Shreveport. My main problem with the lineup of trucks is the fuel economy is not that great. I would replace my 2001 S-10 if I could get a truck that got significantly better gas mileage. My commute is 120 miles round trip and I get about 20mpg in mine (4.3 V-6). If I could get a crew cab v-6 that got more like 25 mpg I would be all over it.
 

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I always like reading a Ming editorial. Glad to see you made it through!

Still... The mileage/cost numbers don't really add up for the Canyon. If you have a 16/22mpg full size, the 18/24mpg mid size doesn't look that good - and then they aren't really less expensive - either to make OR buy.

You still need the same number of parts - many will be exactly the same as the larger vehicle - some peices will be samller but a full size fender only costs a tiny amount more than a mid-size fender.

This has always been the rub with small cars - it's why GM simply ignored the small car market up 'till the 50's.

The only really profitable 'small' car has been the F-cars - they were selling huge numbers in the latter '70's - but then they could be loaded up with options (helloooo profit margin).
 

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I am a big supporter of the Colorado/Canyon and the plant in Shreveport. My main problem with the lineup of trucks is the fuel economy is not that great. I would replace my 2001 S-10 if I could get a truck that got significantly better gas mileage. My commute is 120 miles round trip and I get about 20mpg in mine (4.3 V-6). If I could get a crew cab v-6 that got more like 25 mpg I would be all over it.
If you plan on keeping it, there are some good mods that will boost your gas mileage. I had a 2002 Blazer that was getting like 15mpg. When I added a K&N ramcharger system, cat back, underdrive pulleys - and especially a shift program designed to shift EARLIER and not kickdown so eagerly, I got some really notable gas mileage gains - went up to about 18mpg - and this is all city driving - no highway cruising at all (and with a lead foot too).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Whats your opinion on the pontiac G8 p/u? Would you like it more without the v8?
I'd normally love it, even with the V8, but with gas prices where they are, even the 3.6L V6 is not a gas sipper, and since I live in a flood prone area, the clearance would still be an issue.

I have a 2004 Safari AWD that is good for now, but it's a gas pig and we avoid driving it much. When I trade it in I'd like a vehicle similar to a crew cab Canyon / Colorado I4.

I always like reading a Ming editorial. Glad to see you made it through!

Still... The mileage/cost numbers don't really add up for the Canyon. If you have a 16/22mpg full size, the 18/24mpg mid size doesn't look that good - and then they aren't really less expensive - either to make OR buy.
First, thanks! And a pre-emptive thanks to others. It was sure scary with all of the 70-foot pines around.

I took on the "full size is better" angle in my commentary. While it may be true in some cases, I don't think it's true for crew cabs (and that's all I'm interested in).

2009 GMC Canyon Crew Cab 2WD VL-3 Invoice $21,000 - I4 (18/24)
2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 2WD Invoice $25,000 - V8 (Not 16/22!) --- It's not listed yet where I've looked - is it 14/19 for the base V8 engine?

14/19 at $25,000
vs.
18/24 at $21,000

Even if it's 15/20, that's still a good difference. 3-4 more miles per gallon, though I'll I guess it really depends on whether or not you NEED the capability of a Sierra. If not, you'll save on the sticker and on gas, unless of course GM is having another one of its infamous fire sales on the big trucks.
 

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I am not a truck guy. They just seem too big, too tippy, and too thirsty for my tastes. However, Ming, your commentary was very intelligent and turned me onto trucks like nobody could before. Instead I hear about towing power or stump-pulling power...which doesn't really matter to me, personally. Not everyone needs to tow a huge-arsed trailer. But, that's all I hear about in reviews and from marketing. It's coloured my view of trucks. I know these smaller, more effecient trucks are out there, but I don't know jack about how capable they are.

Ever conider a job at GM marketing?
 

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The only thing that kept me from getting a Colorado/Canyon was the interior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I am not a truck guy. They just seem too big, too tippy, and too thirsty for my tastes. However, Ming, your commentary was very intelligent and turned me onto trucks like nobody could before.

Ever conider a job at GM marketing?
Haha - well, since I just can't bring myself to spin positive on cars like the Montana SV6 and 3400-powered Torrent as "Pontiac's Commitment to Total Performance", I doubt I'd make a very good GM marketing guy.

I'd also likely get frustrated by the peanuts they'd throw me to advertise the vehicles that haven't been designated as Bread & Butter "Big Dogs" by the white hairs at the top.

If I could make an advertisement for the Colorado / Canyon, instead of climbing mountains, I'd have them driving around in emergency situations, heavy traffic disaster backups (like in the Galveston article above) and flood zones. That sort of thing.

Fuel Efficiency and Truck Durability. That would be my tagline. Of course, that would go against GM's mantra that their big trucks are "fuel efficient".

But then the GMT-355 would need to live up to that tagline. Quality would need to be rock solid and a 4-cylinder truck diesel from GM do Brasil's S-10 diesel couldn't hurt! At the very least, instead of bumping up displacement and horsepower for the I-4 and I-5 (assuming GM keeps them around), I'd be looking at something like the Cruze's solution, with a smaller displacement 4 and turbocharging.

The only thing that kept me from getting a Colorado/Canyon was the interior.
After a recent look at one, the only thing that bugged me about the interior was the ancient head unit / radio, and some tiny but visible gaps - and rough edged gaps at that in the plastic. Otherwise it was extremely liveable. But then I drive a GM-DAT built Suzuki Forenza wagon most of the time. ;)



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I can't tell you how many times people have told me they wish GM still made the little S-10. This is even before gas went up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Dirt cheap and with a 2.2L OHV I4 that got 28 or 29 MPG (by the standards then, I think?)

No doubt the S-10 would have filled a niche well.
 

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Wow that Colorado ad was alone to run off any potential hetero buyer. Way to go, GM, shoot yourself in the foot again. Funny ad, but detrimental.

Two factors will bring buyers back to compact trucks: fuel prices (even if they stabilise, gas ain't coming back down to $2) and affordability. The days of living beyond our means are over, and many families will have to forego that new Silverado LTZ simply because they can't afford it. But such a customer will still want a truck, and if GM has a right-sized, right-priced, attractive model to offer them, they can do like they did years ago with the S-10 and wipe the floor with the competition.

Everyone's aware of the Colorado's many flaws: strange engines, absurdly cheap (even for a truck) interior, mediocre MPG, questionable styling, and price tags set by accountants living in the next decade.

I believe if GM "S10-ized" the Colorado, they'd have a winner. And much improvement can be made just from digging into GM's (and perhaps Isuzu's) parts bins! The Canyon twin would have to be ditched.

First, get rid of that awful styling. Keep the cab intact, but endow it with stylish new front sheetmetal and redesign the bed. Maybe even tie the styling in with new Chevy cars like the Malibu or Cruze.

Secondly, fix the cheap interior. Fit the new D-Max dashboard; hell buy them from Isuzu to save tooling costs to a supplier.

Thirdly, drop those terrible, rough "Atlas" lumps and drop the Malibu's 2.4 as base engine, with the 3.5/3.9 as a "value priced" V6 option, and the 3.6 optional or the more expensive models. Make Diesels available. Who knows, Diesels may catch on soon...

Lastly, offer a comprehensive model palette to appeal to any and every buyer, from Napa parts runnermobile to junior Sierra SLT. Here's a possible lineup:

Workmate: Black bumpers and trim. Rubber floors/vinyl bench seat. Optional upgrade pack featuring a/c, rugged cloth seat, carpeting, fully trimmed interior.
- 2.2 Regular Cab
- 2.4 Regular Cab

Workmax: Workmate but optional 3.9 for customers needing to haul or tow. Same trim as Workmate.
- 2.4 Regular Cab LWB
- 3.9 Regular Cab LWB
- Diesel Regular Cab LWB

Club: More car-like suspension. Color-keyed bumpers and fully-trimmed interior. Option packages to add things like cruise, power windows, remote start, alloys, etc. that today's customers are accustomed to.
- 2.2 Extended Cab
- 2.4 Extended Cab
- 2.4 Crew Cab
- 3.9 Extended Cab
- 3.9 Crew Cab

Canyon: Rugged "outdoorsy" model. Lots of rugged black trim. Beefy steel wheels with optional sporty alloy units. Club interior level and option packages.
- 2.4 Regular Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 2.4 Extended Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 2.4 Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 3.9 Regular Cab 4WD
- 3.9 Regular Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 3.9 Regular Cab 4WD
- 3.9 Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 3.9 Crew Cab 4WD
- Diesel Regular Cab 2WD raised suspension
- Diesel Regular Cab 4WD
- Diesel Extended Cab 2WD raised suspension
- Diesel Extended Cab 4WD
- Diesel Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- Diesel Crew Cab 4WD

Supreme: Luxury model. Chrome exterior accents and luxury interior. Junior Silverado LTZ!
- 3.6 Extended Cab 2WD
- 3.6 Extended Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 3.6 Extended Cab 4WD
- 3.6 Crew Cab 2WD
- 3.6 Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 3.6 Crew Cab 4WD
- 5.3 Crew Cab 2WD
- 5.3 Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- 5.3 Crew Cab 4WD
- Diesel Crew Cab 2WD
- Diesel Crew Cab 2WD raised suspension
- Diesel Crew Cab 4WD

RS: Lowered suspension. Color-keyed everything. Sports bumper with extra lights. Basic, but attractive interior. Club option packages. Essentially a "Workman" with "SS" appearance package.
-2.2 Regular Cab
-2.4 Regular Cab
-2.4 Extended Cab
-3.9 Regular Cab
-3.9 Extended Cab

SS: Sports model. All body styles. Lowered suspension. RS bumper/color-coded everything. Premium sports interior.
-2.4 Turbo Regular Cab
-2.4 Turbo Extended Cab
-2.4 Turbo Crew Cab
-5.3 Regular Cab
-5.3 Extended Cab
-5.3 Crew Cab
 

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So it took Ike for you to see that these little trucks are great little things?

I always thought that the I4s and a small 2.8L Diesel in these trucks is the way to go. Gas is $1.41L here and the new Colorado sells for $25000.
 

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THERE IS NO VALUE IN TURNING THE NEXT GENERATION OF COLORADO BACK INTO THE S10.

I may be the only person using the internet today who has driven both the S10 and the Colorado (okay, Canyon) with regularity (it seems like it anyway), and I can say on no uncertain terms that the S10's I have driven were GARBAGE.

Apply the new-GM quality treatment to the next iteration of the Colorado and we'll have a winner on our hands. Think for a moment that the S10 is the answer to GM's small truck woes and we'll concretely be a decade behind the competition.
 

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I had a ZR2 S-10 Extended Cab and loved it. I now have a 4WD Colorado Crew Cab Z71and I have to barter my wife to get to drive it. I had this vehicle in the Midwestern Floods in the June in a disaster area. The performance, Road Clearence, tight turning radius, fuel effiecency and overal size of the vehicle worked extremly well in these conditions. It climbs manuevours and clears many opsticles other larger trucks simply can not perform. My Colorado has done it!

Quality excellent, Gas milage Ok (for a truck), Interior mehhh, Useablity outstanding.

Fix the interior, keep the truck nimble and small and Shreveport will be back to full shift employment.
 
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