DETROIT (AP) — GM has reimagined its small pickup truck to cater to outdoorsy folks who haul smelly wet dogs and kayaks. In other words, Subaru buyers.
The new Chevrolet Colorado, unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, has little in common with the old version, which was noisy with a cheap-looking hard plastic interior that didn’t appeal to many buyers.
The 2015 model weighs 900 pounds less and is 16 inches shorter than its brawny cousin, the full-size Chevy Silverado. And it’s equipped with bike racks and other accessories that GM hopes will lure Subaru customers — relatively affluent people that GM calls “lifestyle” buyers.
To do so, GM knows it must make in-roads in California, Colorado, New York and other places where such buyers are abundant.
Subaru’s sales, led by the Forester small SUV, have grown more than 61 percent in the past two years. Subaru doesn’t sell a pickup, but its all-wheel-drive hatchbacks are popular with people who spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly on the coasts.
GM wants to replicate that success with a U.S. brand.
“If there was a brand, a domestic brand, that could fill that space and really provide those types of things, we thought Chevy was a good place to do it,” said Alan Batey, global Chevrolet chief, at a preview of the Colorado last week in Detroit where he spoke while standing beneath giant posters of people surfing, skiing and bicycling.
The Colorado, and its GMC sister, the Canyon, also will be aimed at another market: workers who need trucks, but not as big as the Silverado or the GMC Sierra. The smaller trucks, Batey said, do more than look good.
“We didn’t want to just create a really pretty truck that’s accessorized but can’t do anything,” he said.
In the late 1990s, the small-truck market in the U.S. was over a million vehicles, but as automakers like Ford and GM pulled out, it dwindled to less than 300,000 annually.
GM stopped making the old Colorado last year. In the past four years, sales never topped 39,000 nationwide.
The new version is due out next fall. It takes aim at the Toyota Tacoma, the most popular small truck in the U.S. with sales of over 141,000 in 2012.