DETROIT -- Soon, Chevrolet and GMC will gain a coveted marketing claim: Best fuel economy of any pickup.
General Motors invited reporters this week to drive a Chevy Colorado and a GMC Canyon equipped with 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Duramax diesel engines. The trucks go on sale this fall.
The GM engineers on hand were confident that the trucks' highway fuel-economy rating will clear 30 mpg -- possibly with a few mpg to spare. (Chief engineer Anita Burke said she got a 37.7 mpg average on a recent road trip in a pre-production Canyon).
Any rating with a "3" in front of it would edge the 29 mpg that bolsters Ram's claim of "best fuel economy of any full-size pickup."
"But wait!" the marketing folks at Ram will surely say. "Those are midsize pickups!"
True. But never underestimate a marketer's ability to massage a message.
A "best fuel economy of any pickup" claim would be defensible for the diesel Colorado and Canyon. Plenty of truck buyers will know that those are smaller pickups. But many won't.
The auto industry cares about segments more than consumers do. For a wide swath of truck buyers, a diesel pickup with 181 hp and a whopping 369 pounds-feet of torque will be more than enough to tow a couple Jet Skis to the lake. (GM hasn't yet disclosed towing or payload ratings).
For its part, Ram attaches its "best fuel economy" boast on all manner of Ram ads, even though the EcoDiesel accounts for only about 20 percent of overall Ram production.
Kenn Bakowski, the Canyon's marketing manager, left little doubt about whether GM would leverage a 30-plus rating to play the marketing-claim game.
"If we get the number," Bakowski said, "that will be the message."