When I think of my family’s transportation options in Los Angeles, pickup trucks are not the first to come to mind. Sure, full-size trucks can be fine family haulers, but they seem too big for L.A.’s tight streets, and I’m too keen on creature comforts and technology to ever consider a smaller truck.
Related: 2015 GMC Canyon Video
That’s until I test-drove the 2015 GMC Canyon midsize pickup at a media event in Los Angeles. This truck really schooled me. It offers all the luxuries and upgrades I’m usually looking for in a crossover, but still provides all of a pickup’s utility without any sacrifices. Its manageable size and all the bells and whistles could really appeal to many families — including my own.
The redesigned Canyon joins its sibling, the Chevrolet Colorado, in revitalizing the midsize pickup truck segment. Both trucks are offered in extended- and crew-cab models, and both have a 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder or an optional 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. Buyers can choose between rear- and four-wheel drive, too.
With heated front seats, an 8-inch color touch-screen, an optional Bose seven-speaker sound system and one seriously smooth ride, I was impressed by the Canyon. My SLT trim with a crew cab was equipped with optional OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to seven devices and four USB ports to keep those devices charged (now that’s my idea of luxury!). The crew cab had ample room for two forward-facing child-safety seats, and with the truck’s taller height, getting the kids strapped in is easy on parents’ backs.
I find full-size trucks intimidating, but this midsize pickup was so easy to handle. I could envision weaving through crowded parking lots in suburbia just as easily as I was winding through the mountain roads on my test drive. A Canyon equipped with rear-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine gets an EPA-estimated 20/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined; with rear-wheel drive and the V-6, it gets 18/26/21 mpg.
When equipped with the V-6 engine and the available trailering package, the Canyon can tow up to 7,000 pounds. That got my husband and I dreaming about the weekend trips we could take with our bikes stowed in the Canyon’s bed and how we could finally buy the kayak we’ve always wanted. Sure, we could do this in a Toyota Tacoma or a Nissan Frontier, but the Canyon was the first truck to ever inspire this kind of conversation. Finally, there’s an upscale midsize pickup that appeals to both of us.
Of course, Toyota just announced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that a redesigned 2016 Tacoma will be arriving at dealerships this summer. The midsize pickup segment is getting exciting, and small families are among the many who will benefit.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears and Carrie Kim