LOS ANGELES -- Chevrolet's redesigned Colorado makes its debut at the auto show here this week amid plenty of anticipation -- and no small amount of skepticism.
Hasn't the market already returned its verdict on smaller pickups? There' a reason, the pundits say, that sales have withered to one-quarter of their peak more than a decade ago: Buyers can get what they need from full-sized trucks.
But General Motors believes that it was automakers -- not customers -- who turned their back on the segment by letting their small trucks languish over the past decade.
In a rare divergence in truck strategy among Detroit 3 rivals, GM is betting that it can revive the segment -- and take on the market-leading Toyota Tacoma -- with its 2015 mid-sized Colorado that debuts here Wednesday. The GMC Canyon should bow at the Detroit auto show in January.
Here are three things that the Colorado must have to make GM's wager a winner:
Price overlap with full-sized trucks is the most oft-cited reason for the demise of smaller pickups. Chevy needs a consistent price gap, of at least $5,000 trim-level-to-trim-level, between Colorado and Silverado.
Smaller pickups have never offered great fuel savings relative to bigger trucks. Even the Tacoma's estimated highway fuel economy rating on its base 2.7-liter four-cylinder is only 25 mpg. A highway fuel economy rating of 30 mpg would be a sexy, marketable number that offers a meaningful spread from the Silverado.
Sporty sheet metal
By the time the Detroit 3 phased out their small pickups in recent years, the Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, Colorado and GMC Canyon all had already grown stale from years of underinvestment. Tacoma is long-in-the-tooth, too.
GM needs a head-turner.