Coming Crossover Shakeup at GMC
Acadia and Terrain both getting downsized
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"