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Coming Crossover Shakeup at GMC


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#1

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 07:34 PM

Coming Crossover Shakeup at GMC

Acadia and Terrain both getting downsized

GMC_9-4x.jpg


Conceptualization by Andrew Currie of Sector329Graphics.com



February 15th, 2011
Drew Dowdell - CheersandGears.com

If you like the GMC Acadia for it's full size SUV roominess, you better grab it now while it's still full size. A few weeks ago during ourreview of the 2011 GMC Acadia Denali, we wondered aloud in the review about the relevance of that top shelf GMC Crossover when there was an equally luxurious, yet more curvy Buick Enclave sitting in the same showroom. Apparently there were heads at General Motors wondering the same thing.

Our inside sources have told us that plans for a GMC Acadia on the next generation Lambda platform have been put on hold. The reasoning seems to be this: When the Lambda were first created, the Acadia shared it's body shell with the now discontinued Saturn Outlook. The Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave share the other body shell. Once the volume from the Outlook was lost, the Acadia suddenly became the most expensive of the remaining trio to produce.

The Acadia name, however, is not going away. GMC is much more focused on being more premium than Chevrolet lately. Plans from the inside of GM seem to be that the Acadia is going to move down a notch in size to and extended 3 row version of Theta-Epsilon platform used by the Cadillac SRX and the Saab 9-4x. Again, this has roots in the brand disposals that GM went through over the past 18 months. GM invested a lot of money in the 9-4x only to have it's hand forced into selling the entire Saab brand. Saab currently can't move the volume needed to keep the 9-4x viable on it's own, so enter GMC to pick up some of that slack. It is our hypothesis that any GMC Acadia built on the Theta-Epsilon platform will use the 9-4x body shell. This will help GMC recover the costs of developing it AND it will help it remain viable to GM's continuing partner Saab. Saab 9-4xes have been spotted running around the Milford Proving Grounds in the past few weeks. Since the 9-4x is mere minutes away from being release, we have our doubts that what is being tested is really a new 9-4x, but instead new tuning for the coming GMC Acadia. We've already sampled the 2011 Cadillac SRX Turbo and found it to be some of the best blend of fun and comfort in the luxury CUV segment, so GM clearly already has the recipe to make this a winning vehicle.

The rub here is that Theta-Epsilon also happens to be the same size as the already very successful GMC Terrain. So if the Acadia is taking over that size slot, what will happen to the massively successful Terrain? The Terrain moved 60,519 units for 2010 and is already aggressively clawing it's way up the sale chart in 2011. GM apparently feels (and probably correctly) that most of the volume at the price point the Terrain sits could be taken up by the even more successful Chevrolet Equinox. A Theta-Epsilon Acadia would likely have a base price near the very top end of where the Equinox reaches. We'd guess a base price for this new Acadia around $27,000 dollars. This would leave the value leader to Chevrolet where you get the most square feet for your dollar and allow GMC to tackle the more posh end of the spectrum, thus reducing overlap between the two brands.

So what happens to the Terrain? Well it's going to move down a notch in size also. The new Terrain will check in as a smaller CUV than the Equinox, but with more premium materials and performance. There is a new CUV platform coming that is based on the Gamma platform that underpins the new Chevrolet Sonic. We already know that a baby Buick Enclave is on its way and current rumours put it on that same platform, so clearly it's being built with premium intent.

Powertrains are anyone's guess at this point, but I see anything from a naturally aspirated 2.4 Direct Injected Ecotec to newly revised 2.0 Turbos and up to a possible 3.6 liter high feature V6 being offered.... with GM's new eAssist sprinkled in here and there just to spice things up a bit.

The only question I've yet to be able to answer is this: What happens to the size slot that the Acadia vacates. Even in 2010, the Acadia's 5th year on the market, they sold 68,295 of them, up a healthy 27% over 2009.. not exactly a market GMC should want to simply abandon. GM could mitigate volume loses by restructuring the Traverse and Enclave lineup, but I'm sure that would wait until the next generation of Lambda arrives.

We also hope that along with these changes, we'll see the hot GMC Granite concept come to fruition. Such a lineup would make a great Small-Medium-Large premium crossover lineup for GMC.

These changes at GMC are a strong indicator that GM is serious about greater differentiation between its brands. With the Acadia and Terrain coming down in size but going up in luxury, GMC is morphing into something more than a "Chevy with extra chrome"
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#2

regfootball

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 08:34 PM

the Enclave is the one that should be downsized, the Acadia should remain on Lambada. GM is being stupid again. As far as the Terrain, the next iteration of the Terrain will likely be downsized even though its a nice size right now.....at least in weight and pork.

Why can't we just get a long wheel base epsilon crossover?

Edited by regfootball, 15 February 2011 - 08:35 PM.

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#3

vonVeezelsnider

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 08:44 PM

the Enclave is the one that should be downsized, the Acadia should remain on Lambada. GM is being stupid again.


Buick doesn't sell a Yukon and Yukon XL that the Enclave encroaches upon and steals sales from. If Buick and GMC weren't under one roof I don't think the Acadia and Enclave would be as cross-shopped as they are now... but such is the reality of our times.
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#4

daves87rs

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 09:18 PM

It works for me. And will happen.
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#5

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 09:26 PM

There is some confusion about which platform the Terrain is going to. GMI is calling it "Theta III", however it's internal program code is D2__ and some other characters... which means it's on Global Delta 2. While we in the states may thing of the Cruze as being on Delta 2... it's actually Delta 1. The Cobalt was on basically a US only Delta .... 0.5 for lack of a better term.
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#6

balthazar

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 09:34 PM

I don't feel that the sales volume validates changing the Acadia size/platform to create more differences between it & the Enclave. I don't feel there's an identity issue here (Enclave <> Acadia) to begin with. There may be other reasons to change platforms, but differentiation isn't one of them IMO.
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#7

regfootball

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 01:26 AM

Buick is now sport injected, i fail to see how a 5000 pound barge fits the mold.

meanwhile, GMC has a long history of this type of vehicle, big and bulky.

no one fears any conflict between the yukon and acadia now.

this is GM tripping on its multibrand feet again.

of course if the enclave was downsized to an SRX sized vehicle plus third row then there would be issues with that also.

i suppose this means cadillac will get a third row lambda now, messing this up even more.

part of the issue that is being addressed here but not spoken about is how 3 row vehicles will take a big hit in the market with the economy still in the crapper and epa / econazis forcing smaller vehicles down our throats.

this isn't a problem if they just limit production of either the enclave or acadia. i would limit enclave production to something small and just make it more exclusive.
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#8

Dodgefan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 01:46 AM

Should be interesting to see what happens with the next Terrain, size wise.
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#9

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 05:09 AM

The 3 row Lambda for Cadillac is still very much on as of now.
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#10

ZL-1

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:01 AM

I don't feel that the sales volume validates changing the Acadia size/platform to create more differences between it & the Enclave. I don't feel there's an identity issue here (Enclave <> Acadia) to begin with. There may be other reasons to change platforms, but differentiation isn't one of them IMO.

I agree. Lambdas are, along with the current Epsilons, the best platform-sharing GM has ever produced.
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#11

balthazar

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:19 AM

I still have no issue with a 4th Lambda Cadillac- these ARE excellent examples of differentiated platform sharing.
The vast majority of consumers have no idea what platforms are under what vehicles anyway.
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#12

Carguy

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:45 AM

This makes my (LITTLE GRAY CELLS) work over time! Its a (MYSTERY) to me how the next Terrain is to be smaller then it is today! I see it as a (DETECTIVE) would causing problems with sales if it goes to small! Drop the Acadia but leave the Terrain sized as it is today! Let the Yukon be the larger SUV within the GMC lineup and be more premium then the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban models! :gmc:
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#13

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:53 AM

The Terrain will be more efficiently packaged on a lighter platform. Basically, they'll lose exterior size while maintaining as much interior size as possible.
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#14

balthazar

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:06 AM

>>"maintaining as much interior size as possible"<< = less interior size/space.
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#15

Cremazie

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:49 AM

^ Compared to Tiguan, Rav4, Escape, CRV, Tuscon and Sportage the Terrain is a barge. Cutting it down to the same size as the other compacts it competes with is a good thing!
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#16

GMTruckGuy74

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 03:33 PM

Hmm... I'm not sure how I feel about this right now.

The Acadia has been a good seller for GMC, bringing in a lot of female buyers that would have not considered GMC before (i.e. becasue of being all "trucks"); same with the Terrain, though I find most women I know to like the softer/car-like Equinox styling over the truckier/boxier Terrain styling. So smaller in this sense may bring in amore diverse group of buyers.

Also, while I'm not favorable of GM changing names, I think this would be a good time to change "Terrain" to something else. The reason? GMC's "All Terrain" off-road package, which could replace Z71 for GMC. I think GMC should offer a more rugged version of the Terrain, a'la Jeep Patriot (from the softer Compass model). But what would you call it? The GMC "All Terrain" Terrain? I like the mountain/stone naming structure GMC is using - Denali, Yukon, Sierra, Canyon, and even the proposed Granite. I'd suggest GMC continues with this "rock" naming structure for it's vehicles (Savana could remain, why change?) - Slate, Huron, Santana, Mica, Everest, Glacier, or bring back Sonoma and Rainier (though it was a Buick name, it was still featured on a truck). I'm still wondering if Mack Trucks will sue GM if they go with the Granite name (Mack's construction series trucks are called "Granite"). However, I do like that name and feel it would best be used on a capable on/off-road type of truck, not just a soft roader.

As long as GMC doesn't lose models I'm fine with this arrangement, and it could make better financial sense for the brand. I know many current Acadia owners may not be happy, but it depends on the outcome (like the Cadillac SRX - the previous wagon-esque version didn't sell as well as the current CUV version is). And given the fact that the Enclave sells under the same roof, though to a different customer, the dealerships will not lose out but gain a different product to sell. Again, I just hope the next Terrain doesn't wimp out and offers some truck-like performance (off-road capability, similar to the new Ford Explorer).

As far as the Cadillac Lambda, I have no problem with this if it replaces the current Escalade. It seems as if the EXT version will go away when the Chevy Avalanche does, and with the GMC Denali line-up why field two full-size luxury SUV entries? Put that R&D money into the Denali's and let Caddy have a more on-road product (Lambda).
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#17

smk4565

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 07:02 PM

I actually think they could phase GMC out all together, that is why they make Chevy trucks. But if GMC is to stay, it makes sense that they lose a Lambda and make a premium midsize to go between the Equinox and Cadillac, then make a compact SUV since GM doesn't have one right now.

What I don't like is Cadillac gets 2 front drive SUVs, sounds a lot like the MKX and MKT or the RDX and MDX. Front drive SUV based off a Chevy isn't exactly standard of the world, it reeks of Ford-Lincoln or Honda-Acura or Toyota-Lexus. And Lexus, Acura and Lincoln are brands in decline at the moment, and all three have low impact outside of the USA.
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#18

caddycruiser

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 09:18 AM

See, but here is an example of why GMC stayed around and didn't get cut. They're not massively different from other marques, but the GMC customer base and attraction to GMC branded vehicles vs. others is HUGE. People crave the word Denali like no other, and even below that, they love the styling, naming, etc. of the vehicles. The Equinox bores Terrain lovers. The Traverse and Enclave simply don't click in the same way the Acadia does for so many.

To some it's too many lines off the same ingredients, but the sales numbers don't lie. And the money it makes for GM pays for any differentiation costs & then some. The Acadia is day after day, year after year near or at the top, only knocked off by the even more mass market Traverse. There's a difference between them you can't deny, and especially Buick vs. GMC--near polar opposites in buyer's minds, and very few do more than test drive each. The swoopy lines, wood, etc. of the Enclave do not appeal to the crisper, more tech grade and luxurious Acadia.

It's an interesting news clippet...some "okay, but..." but I hope nothing is firm. Especially then when it comes to making the Acadia smaller and effectively replacing the Terrain that's now so recognized and a sales all star, you'd have one awkward "here, we combined...you get the smaller one...with the old bigger one's name". That doesn't work.

Edited by caddycruiser, 17 February 2011 - 09:25 AM.

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#19

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 09:36 AM

The new Acadia will be a 5 + 2 which the Terrain isn't. The Terrain is much larger than it's competition and will be moving to a lighter platform.
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#20

GMTruckGuy74

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:28 AM

Let's just hope it doesn't get too much smaller, in effect ruining the reputation that it's earning from its owners now. Many people who buy the Terrain look at the Equinox, so let's hope this plan doesn't alienate GMC sales and in turn balloon Chevy sales.

Also, does this mean that the Terrain will be a one-generation model only then?
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