NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

GM’s light pickups don’t excite buyers

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The market is weak for ‘WNY’s truck’

GM’s light pickups don’t excite buyers

By Fred O. Williams NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER

Updated: 08/12/07 6:55 AM

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Sales of the Chevrolet Colorado are running 7 percent below last year’s.

It rolls off the assembly line in Shreveport, La., but GM’s Colorado/Canyon pickup truck could wear a badge saying “Made in Western New York.”

The compact truck probably has more parts from the Buffalo area — a center of parts production — than any other General Motors Corp. vehicle. Sold under Chevrolet and GMC brands, its entry-level version has a motor, rear axle, radiator, A/C condenser and other parts from Tonawanda, Lockport and Buffalo.

The bad news is, the hometown product is having a rough ride.

“The category itself is seeing declining sales,” General Motors spokesman John McDonald said of small pickups. Cut-rate deals on full-size trucks have eroded the compact truck market he said.

“The segment is hurting, but that particular vehicle is hurting,” said Jim Hossack of AutoPacific, a Los Angeles industry consultant.

Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon sales totaled a mere 52,511 units in the first half, according to figures tracked by Automotive News, down 7 percent from a year ago.

GM’s small truck edges out Ford’s Ranger, but is perennially behind Toyota’s compact Tacoma, Hossack said. The Toyota sold 92,000 units in the first half, up 7 percent.

Co-designed by Isuzu and introduced in 2004, the Colorado/Canyon gets a tepid reception from reviewers as well as buyers. Its seats and interior trim are frequent targets.

“They have the wrong powertrain and the wrong package,” Hossack said. Truck buyers want a six- or eight-cylinder engine option, he said, not the five-banger available as an alternative to the Tonawandamade four.

The weak sales are contributing to hard times for at least one area GM supplier.

American Axle and Manufacturing makes the truck’s rear axle assembly at its Buffalo plant on East Delavan Avenue. The company plans to close the plant by spring, affecting about 700 jobs. Sister plants in Michigan and Mexico can make up Buffalo’s output, company officials have said.

Luckily, the vehicle’s unpopularity isn’t much of a blow to other area suppliers. Delphi Corp.’s factory in Lockport makes radiators for most GM vehicles, including its more popular full-size trucks. With an output of more than 3 million radiators a year plus other parts, Lockport doesn’t rely heavily on the compact truck.

Likewise, the truck’s motor is a relatively small product for GM’s Tonawanda engine plant. The plant made 191,000 four- and five-cylinder engines, both of which go to the truck, in 2006, less than 20 percent of its total volume.

Production of in-line five-cylinder motors — an option on the Colorado/Canyon — has shifted to Flint, Mich., freeing up space at Tonawanda for new products. The local plant still makes the 2.9 liter motor that’s standard equipment.

“Certainly the volume potential of some of the products Tonawanda has on the horizon — such as the high output diesel — are much more viable than the Colorado/ Canyon,” GM Powertrain spokeswoman Sharon Basel said. The full-size pickup that the diesel will go into as an option is GM’s biggest seller.

Buffalo’s unglamorous parts factories don’t get much credit, but they contribute substantially to many cars and trucks that are cruising the highways. About 10,000 people work in local auto components plants.

Ford recently unveiled a giant image of its popular Ford Edge at its metal stamping plant in Hamburg, where the steel shell of the crossover vehicle is made.

But it’s unlikely that GM buyers are similarly aware of the Colorado/Canyon’s local origins.

“I don’t know that content is all that obvious to a lot of folks,” said Pete Small, sales director at West Herr Auto Group.

It’s not entirely GM’s fault that the truck isn’t more popular, he said. A shift in the market has seen many buyers defect to roomy, all-wheel crossovers like the Edge — and GM’s own Saturn Outlook — hurting the small-truck segment across the board.

Meanwhile, deals on full-size trucks have become good enough to make the compact truck’s sticker of $14,510 to $19,100 look like not much of a bargain.

However, Small said, GM’s lackluster lease package doesn’t help sales. “It’s up to the manufacturer to put the right program on,” he said.

The Colorado/Canyon gets 20 to 26 miles per gallon in the entry-level version, and 17 to 23 mpg with the larger motor.

GM wouldn’t comment on when a redesigned version will hit the streets, but for next year, not much changes. The ’08 model is largely a carry-over from the existing version, the automaker says.

fwilliams@buffnews.com

source:

http://www.buffalonews.com/145/story/139353.html

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I would have purchased one by now if they would have restyled them and fixed the cheap inteiror.

At this point I am unwilling to to let go my 97 Sonoma for a truck I dislike.

The 5 cylinder is great and more powerfull than my 4.3 and I could live fine with it, the ride is good and the larger cab is fine.

The interior reminds me of a 1983 Camaro in feel and look, the cheap plastic is the poorest GM has ever used, the styling is not the best they could have done and needs cleaned up. Too many weird angles and odd details.

My next vehicle will be a car if they do not make some changes soon, I also have no use for as SUV or a larger truck and all i want is a smaller truck. I would even be fine with w El Camino.

My Sonoma may be 10 years old but is still in good running order and rust has been held to a minimum. It will find use as my winter vehicle and I will be fine driving my car daily 3/4 of the year.

If GM wants my money fix this flawed truck.

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The Colorado is one of the worst vehicles I have ever driven. We had one at work, and while it was the cheap 4cyl work truck model, it was just terrible. The door handles are attached by two screws which would come out rather easily, making it hard to close the door (no door handle). The engine was loud, coarse, extremely unrefined, and on top of that it was slower than hell even with the pedal on the floor. In addition to that, the truck ran rather rough under idle and sounded like it wanted to die (with only 20k miles) and the air conditioner would not work except of level 4 (which blasted the hell out of you -- you either had to be hot or freezing).

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I agree on all points. It has got long in the tooth, I don't know why GM continually lets models go way, way too long without significant updates or changes. The new engine should fix some of these problems, just fix the interior too while your at it GM. I have not had the chance to drive one of these yet, but the Z71 is lacking for me. I have a 02 ZR2 with over 100k on it and I plan on keeping it for a while. I love the look of my truck and the new one lost that look for me. There is a huge following of ZR2 owners still, and I think they need to recapture that.

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The graphite interior this year helped a lot. The gas mileage is great, better for the Canadian market, I suspect. Yeah, the interior could have been jazzed up more. It doesn't help that in this market Ford is giving away the Rangers - about $6k less than a comparably equipped Colorado. Okay, okay, the Ranger is 30 years old and the back seats are only good for the in-laws you don't like, but still -$6k or more cheaper! I hate to say this, but based solely on looks I prefer the old S-10, but the Colorado does ride a little better and the gas mileage is better.

All in all, an okay truck, but based on looks alone I would take a Dakota any day.

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Everything from the competition outclasses this...hell I'd even take the Ranger because you can always find cheap parts for it.

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Why not just get a Silverado and save petrol.

Or just a Toyota Tundra or Dodge Ram with a HEMI, which are far superior to the Silverado/Sierra in just about every possible way. Or in the case of the Colorado/Canyon, get a Tacoma, or if you really must go domestic (and if the interior is no longer crap), Dodge Dakota. Nissan Frontier is decent too, but the rest of the class sucks.

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Or just a Toyota Tundra or Dodge Ram with a HEMI, which are far superior to the Silverado/Sierra in just about every possible way. Or in the case of the Colorado/Canyon, get a Tacoma, or if you really must go domestic (and if the interior is no longer crap), Dodge Dakota. Nissan Frontier is decent too, but the rest of the class sucks.

Well the current Ram isn't as refined as the new Silverado, and the interior design isn't as nice...although the quality is good.

The Tundra already has reliability issues. Plus it ain't pretty

As for the midsize trucks, the Tacoma has poor chassis tuning, the Dakota has lousy interior and the suspension tuning seems to be a downgrade from the old model...but way m,ore power is nice. The Frontier is probably the best all-round in class.

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I would say go with a Tacoma or Dakota for a midsize truck. The Colorado sucks they couldn't even give it a I6 from the TB.

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The undue criticism of the 355's is unwarranted.

Positives

Great paint job. No orange peel.

Engine - DOHC aluminum VVT. Tire chirps 3rd? You bet.

Great fuel economy 24-25 mpg in mixed driving.

Features - auto headlights, oil change interval warning, CD/mp3 with aux jack and door mounted bass and treble speakers

100K maintenance interval for coolant, serpentine belt and spark plugs.

Side impact air bags - great safety rating.

AC standard, not an extra cost add-on.

Killer suspension and handling. This truck was made for the off-road.

Things to work on.

No padding in door arm rest - extremely uncomfortable. Single worst aspect of truck imo.

Panel gaps - The new Silverado is light years ahead of this vehicle.

Turn signal sound - you will never ever forget to leave your blinkers on (safety measure?).

Cheap interior. The passenger air bag isn't formed into the dash, it sticks over the dash. The steering wheel is monotone grey including the embossed Chevy emblem. Heck, if they just made the cover charcoal and the wheel grey (or vice-versa) it would look 1000% better. I only have the LS trim, but some of the uplevel models we looked at when buying didn't seem much better.

The seat fabrics are somewhat mundane as well.

If even 10% of the Silverado interior could be used in this truck, it would be a huge improvement.

Overall

The 355s have room for improvement but don't deserve the heaping criticisms leveled against them.

I have yet to hear anyone cramp on the H3 in the way these get beat on.

These are solid trucks.

Hopefully, with just a bit of incremental improvement, GM can turn these into Mini-Silverados (in the very best sense of the word), with great fuel economy, a great interior and classic Chevrolet styling.

Edited by plane
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The undue criticism of the 355's is unwarranted.

Positives

Great paint job. No orange peel.

Interesting, I recall a review from auto123.com that said it was aweful....it was early production but that doesn't mean the new ones are better. Just look at the Cobalt.

For instance, while the GM spokesman who gave me the keys made sure to mention that its poor paint quality was due to early production, it was just so ruddy awful that I couldn't get past it. It would be an insult to oranges to call it orange peel. I made a point of showing it to everyone I knew, all of which, after trying to contain their laughter, stared in utter dismay. It's so bad that it's humorous.

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Honestly, it's hard to see the orange peel versus the gravel reflections.

I'll take your word for it.

I couldn't be happier with the paint job on my Coly.

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Honestly, it's hard to see the orange peel versus the gravel reflections.

I'll take your word for it.

I couldn't be happier with the paint job on my Coly.

I can see it :P

I see a lot of GM vehicles that have orange peel...my rental is one of them...it also makes me wonder how good the finish is...when it rains the water doesn't bead off of the car at all...it's like washing a car that no longer has any clear coat.

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I can see it :P

I see a lot of GM vehicles that have orange peel...my rental is one of them...it also makes me wonder how good the finish is...when it rains the water doesn't bead off of the car at all...it's like washing a car that no longer has any clear coat.

No, no, no, no, no, this is not about orange peel on Chrysler products.

I mean everybody knows the cab-forward Intrepid was the last decent Chrysler sedan and everything has been downhill since then.

:P

Here's a quick garage shot of my unwashed truck. All shiny and clean, it's a mirror-like reflection.

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No, no, no, no, no, this is not about orange peel on Chrysler products.

I mean everybody knows the cab-forward Intrepid was the last decent Chrysler sedan and everything has been downhill since then.

:P

Here's a quick garage shot of my unwashed truck. All shiny and clean, it's a mirror-like reflection.

Posted Image

That's a lot better than the Cobalt!

Yes everyone knows and that's why no one has bought an LX I mean, who wants a V6 or V8 powered RWD car anyway? :P

Edited by Dodgefan
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...

Yes everyone knows and that's why no one has bought an LX I mean, who wants a V6 or V8 powered RWD car anyway? :P

touché

:P

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Orange peel is entirely normal for a factory paint job. They're not showcars, people, even Lexus, Mercedes and BMW have some degree of orange peel.
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no offense to those that have the truck...

but its a lot less refined then the silverado, it costs about the same or at least it did on the gmt800's... its very weak powered, rough ride, very stiff steering... its feels like a brand new truck from 10-20 years ago... its not well designed... its not fuel efficent, although at one time it was claiming the most fuel efficent crew cab in the industry the silverado is right on its heels...

it has had a decent image, but could use more love it or hate it styling, and it needs to differenciate it self from the gmc... none of this same body work...

but this vehicle never sold as well as the s-10 i think...

a truck that size should be about the same price as a cobalt or so to sell well...

a compact truck is simpler then a compact car...

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Orange peel is entirely normal for a factory paint job. They're not showcars, people, even Lexus, Mercedes and BMW have some degree of orange peel.

and... even... Toyota has orange peel...

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no offense to those that have the truck...

but its a lot less refined then the silverado, it costs about the same or at least it did on the gmt800's... its very weak powered, rough ride, very stiff steering... its feels like a brand new truck from 10-20 years ago... its not well designed... its not fuel efficent, although at one time it was claiming the most fuel efficent crew cab in the industry the silverado is right on its heels...

it has had a decent image, but could use more love it or hate it styling, and it needs to differenciate it self from the gmc... none of this same body work...

but this vehicle never sold as well as the s-10 i think...

a truck that size should be about the same price as a cobalt or so to sell well...

a compact truck is simpler then a compact car...

Coming from someone who actually sells Chevys day in and day out, you are dead on. The overall feel and presence are of a new truck...from maybe 1987.

I've actually always thought the engine choices were interesting, even if not what people were used to, but I also could see why that was a constant complaint regardless. And beyond that, it's just the overall feel and look of EVERYTHING that makes it seem so old, so subpar, and so godawful rinky-dink cheap that makes them so bad. The Colorado and Canyon to me, at least, and my interactions with them, give off the impression of being some kind of poorly made Chinese import of a small domestic truck...kind of covering some bases, but just being pointless in the end.

And there's just so MUCH to fix, it would essentially need a full-on redesign, and not just a refresh.

1) More solidly built and with year 2000+ levels of finish quality and materials inside and out.

2) An interior that's very truck appropriate, but also that still exudes quality...think new Silverado, but even beyond that in terms of style perhaps.

3) Keep the inline powertrains as is, essentially, and the 5.3L addition should continue to be a huge help. That said, however, it really stinks they just don't have a proper V6/I6 that's very punchy, strong, and refined, that isn't much less economical than the 4 or 5 and has enough power to make the V8 just overkill. Kind of like Nissan and Toyota's 4.0L's.

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no offense to those that have the truck...

but its a lot less refined then the silverado, it costs about the same or at least it did on the gmt800's... its very weak powered, rough ride, very stiff steering... its feels like a brand new truck from 10-20 years ago... its not well designed... its not fuel efficent, although at one time it was claiming the most fuel efficent crew cab in the industry the silverado is right on its heels...

it has had a decent image, but could use more love it or hate it styling, and it needs to differenciate it self from the gmc... none of this same body work...

but this vehicle never sold as well as the s-10 i think...

a truck that size should be about the same price as a cobalt or so to sell well...

a compact truck is simpler then a compact car...

Exactly, the main problem with the twins is that GM allowed Isuzu to help design the truck. It started off on the wrong foot and went down hill from there. However there are people who love the Colorado & Canyon twins, I'm just not one of them. To me GM could have done so much better with these trucks.

http://www.coloradofans.com/

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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