By on October 20, 2011

According to Automotive News [sub]‘s Product Editor Rick Kranz, GM execs “are debating” whether Chevrolet needs a subcompact crossover. Which is interesting, considering Buick’s next new vehicle after the Verano will likely be a subcompact crossover. But with GMC’s “Granite” moving to the Delta platform, and Buick doing a better job of differentiating itself (more on that soon, in an upcoming Verano review), that might work. Besides, the South American Chevrolet Agile (above) is based on the ancient 4200 platform which, as a “regional architecture,” is doomed to replacement with a Global Gamma-based vehicle. If you’re going to develop a global product, why not offer a version for the US market?

But then, you know it’s not that easy. There are plenty of reasons to not introduce a subcompact Chevy CUV. But for me this is the most important one: if it’s not going to be considerably more efficient than the Equinox (possibly with E-Assist), Granite or a possible Cruze Wagon, GM shouldn’t bother. Sonic isn’t the most efficient (or light) subcompact to begin with, and a CUV body will force compromises. And in an era of 40 MPG (hwy) compact sedans, it’s hard to see a subcompact CUV selling without competitive efficiency. But that’s just the beginning…

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28 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Should Chevy Get A Subcompact CUV?...”


  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Agile? Must be Italian.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.
      Uh, I think that says FRAGILE, dear.
      Oh, yeah.
      It’s a Major Award!
      Shucks, I wouldn’t know that. It looks like a lamp.
      What is a lamp, you nincompoop? It’s a Major Award. I won it!
      Damn, hell, you say won it?
      Yeah, mind power, mind power!
      – “Christmas Story”, 1983

      Yes to the market the “Agile” is supposed to be sold in
      No way to this cheap looking POS!
      This vehicle has more plastic in it than a Toys ‘R Us truck trailer!

  • avatar

    Chevy should not get a subcompact CUV.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Categorizing crossovers is tricky. The Equinox/Terrain are priced in the compact CUV realm, and fall in line for width with most compact CUVs, but are as long as many midsize CUVs. Being bigger than the other compacts is the best reason I can figure than the Equinox and Terrain sell so well.

    What would a subcompact crossover be? Are we talking about a vehicle like the Kia Soul or Nissan Juke? If so there is obviously some sales potential when you look at the Soul, but as far as I know the Juke isn’t lighting the world on fire, but that could be more due to it’s controversial looks.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      The Soul and the Juke have curb weights under 3,000 lbs and are better suited for a 1.6 liter engine than a 3,800 Equinox.

      The trade off is diminished interior room and a much smaller cargo space behind the rear seat – which could be problematic on a family vacation. It is not my cup of tea, but if you have one child, you fold down the left rear split seat for more luggage space.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        I think you missed his point. He was asking how small a subcompact CUV would be from Chevy, not that the Soul or Juke compete with Equinox.

        Also, most families will end up with 2 kids. Putting a seat down in the back isn’t an option.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    compared to a sub compact hatch back or sedan the raised suspension, higher seats and raised roof line this type of car wins in the practical area. Easier to load luggage, shopping, babies and generally easier to get in and out of are big pluses for some people. Not only all of that but this type of car comes with out the gas mileage negatives of a larger SUV.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    If gasoline prices climb to over $4 and stay there or reach $5 a gallon, then there be some demand for a smaller CUV.

    In North America at least, what started out as a compact utility segment for occasional jaunt on an unpaved road is no more.

    Today’s CRV or RAV4 are pushing the limit being called compact and most owners will never leave the tarmac.

    The Equinox and Terrain are the toadies of what started out as a CUV and as a family hauler they are fine – but the minivan class front overhangs makes both of them driveway scrapers.

    The Agile and Ford’s Ecosport are more compact and more suited to a 1.6 liter engine than the present North American vehicles which really need that 2.4 liter four pot or larger engine. The downside is a tighter fit inside, with less space behind the rear seat.

    Ford next Ecosport is already in the works.

    http://www.carnewschina.com/2011/09/22/ford-ecosport-suv-to-debut-at-2012-beijing-auto-show/

  • avatar
    86er

    Is that new Orlando a subcompact?

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      It weighs in at 3600 lbs. So, it will be slow even with a 1.8 liter four pot. The Canadians will be getting a 2.4 liter.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        This makes me wonder if people are a little skiddish about what they want. They want a relatively large car (3600 lbs), but they want it to go relatively quickly, and they want good gas mileage. Is this a case of mixed priorities, backwards priorities, or what? I’m honestly curious.

        FWIW, I drove my friend’s 2005 Tucson, with the 2.0l 138hp engine and didn’t find it too slow. It just takes a litte more planning that it appears those in the market are wanting to do.

        Not trying to start a fight, but am curious what the rest of the B&B think.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    The Agile is NOT a crossover. It looks like a crossover but it’s actually a subcompact hatchback with lots of space and high suspension, kinda like the Dacia Sandero. And it’s not going to be replaced until 2016 at best, although there are rumors of a new Gamma-based generation coming out in 2014 (not gonna happen, trust me). They’re likely going to keep this abomination around as long as people are going to buy it, since the 4200 platform is so old and is so cheap to make that even without economies of scale it is pure gold. Kinda like the Impala, don’t you think?

    GM Brazil is currently developing a subcompact crossover with the modified Gamma I architecture used in the Cobalt, which may or may not be the rumored global Aveo-based crossover. This will replace in South America the Meriva (a rebadged Opel from almost ten years ago).

  • avatar
    James2

    Why not an HHR Part Deux based on the Cruze?

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Chevy would be smart to get one but they’ll get a new Trailblazer instead.

  • avatar
    kincaid

    I have an aging Pontiac Vibe which suits my needs perfectly and gets really good fuel economy with lots of interior utility. GM does not make a replacement for this vehicle, so I will have to buy from another maker when I shop. I don’t want a truck or truck look alike with all of its extra weight and boxy, high profile aerodynamics. The Vibe/Matrix is just a couple inches taller than a sedan and the interior room increase is huge. Don’t need four wheel drive or third row seats either. Closest thing that GM makes is the Sonic which may be too small but is worth a look.

    • 0 avatar

      We recently bought a 2011 Kia Sportage AWD, so my FWD 2007 Vibe is now our second car. Although the Vibe’s utility is fantastic, over the coming 10 years, we’ll be heading from half time to full time in wintertime snow country. There are times where my wife and I will drive up separately, so AWD will become more important in our second vehicle (chaining up isn’t my idea of a good time).

      I’d look closely at a smaller CUV with AWD like this when it’s time to swap. I like the look of the Kia Forte 5-door now, but it’s not yet available with AWD (Can you please cram Dynamax into that platform? Are you listening Kia?).

      A competitor for the Suzuki SX4 (no dealers up there) is exactly what I’d be looking for.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Doesn’t Chevy already have the Captiva coming? Sure it will only be offered to fleets (for now?), but it’s easily the smallest CUV that GM has to offer this market. Considering how these types of buyers value space and height over anything else (including reality), I’m not sure anything smaller would really sell that well.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I saw my first Chevy Sonic on the road going home yesterday. Privately-owned, black, temp tags.

    Just put AWD under it and viola’, a compact SUV. What’s not to like? Call it done! Oh yeah – paint it red, too. (or yellow)

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    People who have become accustomed to driving SUV’s and CUV’s may not want to buy a car in the future. Small CUV’s may actually be quite appealing to some older folks who want to downsize but still want something that’s easy to get in and out of (and fits the CUV style of driving to which they’ve become accustomed).

    A small CUV of the same class as a Soul or Juke would seem to be a good risk, if you ask me.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Everyone loves SUVs/CUVs so this WILL happen, no doubt. Just don’t tell them they are driving a lifted wagon or a raised hatchback and all will be fine. Sales of the Soul are pretty good, if the Cube didn’t look like a cartoon I bet it would sell better as well. Scion xBs and Honda Elements are loved by their owners. With a boosted 4 (like the Puke… I mean Juke) and AWD you could have a nice little package.

    My parents use a first generation Rav4 for around town errands and its a good sized vehicle for such work – even a stop at Home Depot is possible with the rear seats folded down. Sure its slow and loud, but the MPG and height make mean its well suited for work in the ‘burbs. Its one of the few vehicles our frail grandmother can get into easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “Everyone loves SUVs/CUVs”

      I don’t love them, and won’t buy one if I have any choice at all in the matter. I never drive off-road, the efficiencies suck, and the image doesn’t work for me.

      The only things an SUV has that I value is towing capacity and a non-sedan body-shape, but I can get those with a minivan or a station wagon. I’d rather have the station wagon. Used minivans are a very good deal, though, if my wife would stop vetoing them…

      Also, I own a Ford Ranger (same platform as the older Explorer), and you won’t hear me saying “If only I had the lousy ride and handling of my pickup truck in a jacked-up station wagon with rollover problems, I’d buy one!” My truck has earned my respect for its durability, usefulness, and carrying capacity — but I don’t want a family car that’s anything like it. I want to trade my Ranger for a Harbor Freight folding trailer and a small wagon with a receiver hitch.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Cruze Wagon.

    I’ll take my Cruze Wagon with a diesel engine, an automatic/CVT transmission, a 1000lb trailer hitch, roofracks, all available child-safety features, and minimal infotainment/communications features[0].

    There are already enough CUVs out there. There aren’t any holes in the market. Every major manufacturer that I can think of are fielding competent entries.

    On the other hand, for those of us who like wagons (because our parents drove minivans, and having an SUV in the city is wasteful), there’s only one serious choice on the market now: the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen. But, it’s made by Volkswagen — if there’s a company that GM can beat on reliability, price, serviceability, customer service, dealer network, and even design — well, Volkswagen is that company.

    The Cruze wagon can even be almost tall enough to look like a CUV, though, but please no more than 64″ tall. It should also be about the same height off the ground as the existing Cruze sedan.

    [0] I have a Smartphone, so I don’t need to have navigation, MP3 player, or OnStar built in to my car, and I intend to keep my car a lot longer than I intend to keep my phone. I wouldn’t mind having a double-DIN opening above the vents so that I swap the factory radio for the gadget-of-the-month, though. GM’s tendency toward modular designs would serve me well here.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Huh, what I described sounds an awful lot like the Chevy Orlando that we won’t be getting here in the USA…

      Well, if they bring it here with a diesel or a hybrid powertrain, sign me up! And if they bring it here with a gasoline 4-banger, I’ll think hard about it.


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