Back in the days of wooden ships and iron men, automakers would create endless options sheets for shoppers. One could add a four-barrel carburetor, a shaker hood, wood trim for the exterior and a Landau roof to make one’s sedan special. Times have changed, and so have our tastes in vehicles.
These days most automakers offer their sedans in just a few trims and with very limited options neatly packaged. However, adding accessories is still a big part of one auto segment, the mid-size truck market.
Inexplicably, the big-3 truck makers abandoned the mid-size market a decade ago. While GM was away, Toyota created a huge market for itself selling Toyota Racing Development (TRD), components and trims for the mid-size Taco. According to Toyota, fully 40% of the Tacomas Toyota dealers sell head out the door with some level of TRD accessory upgrades.
Now that the new Colorado/Canyon has arrived, GM is jumping in with both feet to feed the need for speed, or the appearance of speed, its mid-size truck buyers have. Most of the Toyota TRD and Chevy Colorado accessories are targeted at some level of suspension and tire upgrades. Colorado’s Z71 trim adds an off-road suspension, automatic locking rear differential, transfer case shield, and tough-looking wheels shod with all-terrain tires.
Even with that list of upgrades to an already tough truck, the Colorado is not a match for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro series truck. The TRD Pro is a complete package designed for off-road pounding. The Tacoma TRD pro is so competent it has been winning off-road awards this year, well into the end of the model’s design cycle. Chevy wants those awards and has created a ZR2 concept to run with the TRD Pro.
Speed and off-road capability are the primary accessory goodies that get the press, but camping and outdoor accessories are also a huge part of the mid-size truck scene. At the annual SEMA show, Toyota’s Tacoma is a highlight with everything from custom seat covers to a roof-mounted tent complete with ladder.
Not to be outdone, GM has just launched a full line of gear racks for the Colorado. The Gear On line of accessories for the Colorado allows owners to customize their truck to fit their specific outdoor themes. Surfing, snowmobiling, camping, and kayaking are just a handful of the themes Chevy shows in its promotional wish-books and videos. Best of all, the racks and compartments are all modular and easy to swap in and out as the seasons change.
Everyone likes to make their ride special. The Mid-size pickup market is about to explode and with it, a huge market for performance and lifestyle accessories. The latest news from Toyota is that the TRD line will expand to the Camry sedan. Maybe things have come full circle.