Building on its long tradition of developing great trucks, General Motors offers a new crop of hard-working models that can carry large payloads and tow trailers –while reducing how much you pay at the pump to keep them going. Whether compact or full-size, GM is likely to have a nameplate to fit your needs. Pickup trucks from Chevy and its GMC sister brand share many elements, including engines and platforms, while differing in cabin materials and some technology features. Chevy is targeted to the mass market, while GMC aims for a slightly more exclusive customer base.
Compact Pickup Trucks
GM’s pair of compact pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon, share the same V6 engine, capable of towing 7,700 pounds. The Chevy Colorado is our Best Compact Pickup Truck for the Money, for two years running, and our No. 1-rated compact pickup truck. The GMC Canyon is our No. 3-ranked compact pickup.
Both trucks come standard with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 horsepower, Each offers an option for a 305-horsepower V6. The base model comes with a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive, while the V6 models have a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is available for both the Colorado and Canyon, as is an off-road suspension and hill-descent control.
Starting at about $21,000, the Colorado’s four trims come with several cab variations and a reasonably well-equipped suite of infotainment features. The base model has a six-speaker audio system, a 4.2-inch display screen, a USB port, and rearview camera. The WT Colorado, starting at $22,300, includes keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The LT trim adds satellite radio, an additional USB port, and Apple Car Play, as well as an 8-inch touchscreen display, for $25,800. The the more rugged upper-trim Z71, with unique styling and badging, starts at $28,400.
The Canyon’s base trim, the SL, is priced slightly higher, at about $22,000, but ratchets up in price with different cab, bed, and engine configurations. The next highest trim levels, called Canyon SLE. starts at $27,305. From there comes the Canyon’s top-of-the-line trim, the leather upholstery-clad SLT begins at $32,465 at more than $4,000 above its Colorado counterpart.
The trucks achieve decent fuel economy, 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for the Colorado, and 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for the Canyon. New for 2016, each nameplate also boasts a four-cylinder 181-horsepower 2.8-liter turbodiesel variant, which gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
The Colorado and Canyon’s crew cabs each comfortably fit four adults and come with an option to seat five. Each cargo bed has several features to load and stow equipment. The crew cab’s rear seats flip up and fold down to accommodate more cargo. A two-tier loading system splits the bed into two sections, and optional Lift-and-Lower tailgate can be raised and lowered with one hand.
Full-Size Pickup Trucks
If you’re looking for a larger ride, the brands make comparable full-size pickup trucks as well. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the second-bestselling vehicle in the U.S., is a dependable workhorse, while the GMC Sierra 1500, which runs several thousand dollars more, is better suited as a daily driver. (Each nameplate also comes in 2500HD and 3500HD variants.) Redesigned two years ago, they share many common attributes.
The Silverado is our third-ranked full-size pickup truck – and a finalist for our 2016 Best Full Size Truck for the Money – while the Sierra ranks one notch behind. Each truck comes standard with a 4.3-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Available 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines have an option for an eight-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower ranges from 285 to 420. Both trucks achieve a decent 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
Inside, the regular cab model seats three – and the double and crew cab models can fit six. The trucks’ quiet cabins come with supportive front seats, roomy back seats, and a user-friendly dashboard with buttons large enough to use while wearing work gloves.
Base models come standard with a four-speaker audio system, 4.2-inch display and USB port, though the Sierra comes with an extra USB port. Satellite radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot are available in both trucks. The Silverado is easier to customize to your individual needs because it comes in comes in several configurations and trims. Prices start at $27,195 and run into the mid-$50,000s when fully equipped.
Pricier than the Silverado, the Sierra comes in three trims in addition to the base Sierra model, starting at $37,815. The SLE, starting at $41,120, has an eight-inch color-touch radio with GM’s IntelliLink system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. Starting at $45,585, the SLT trim adds chrome bodyside moldings and a leather-appointed, heated front split-bench seat that memorizes the driver’s seat preferences. The highest trim, the Sierra Denali starts at $53,200 to include a range of features, including magnetic ride control, which adapts the suspension to road conditions.