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Founded in 1908, GMC manufactures cars and trucks in 35 different countries and sells them under the brands of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Saab, Vauxhall, and Wuling. In 2007 GM was the world's largest automaker as measured by global industry sales, being surpassed by Toyota in the first quarter of 2008. General Motors employs about 266,000 people around the world.
Once upon a time, one man rose from the realm of sales to helm Ford’s truck division. With his iron fist, he divided the F-150 range into several specialized units, reaping the rewards as his dominion over the light truck market expanded.
That man is Doug Scott, and this is the tale of how he came to be the Sovereign of Truck Mountain.
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For years General Motors fought a rearguard action, asserting that its relatively big cam-in-block engines were at least as good as the “high tech” DOHC mills offered by “the Japanese.” Led by the buff books, freethinking pistonheads knew better. More power from a smaller displacement engine clearly indicated higher intelligence. Honda, smartest of all, extracted 270 horsepower from a 3.0-liter V6. The 1990 Corvette made do with 245 horsepower from a 5.7-liter V8. Two decades later, GM finally developed a 3.0-liter V6 with an NSX-like output, and without the Acura’s pricey titanium innards or need for premium fuel. The new engine took the place of a previous-generation 3.6. My response after sampling the then-new V6 in the similarly new GMC Terrain: “Perhaps the 3.6 will at least find its way into a future Denali variant?” Three years later, the future has arrived.
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The Nissan NV may be an exciting newcomer, but the tried-and-true GM and Ford vans are the staple of the commercial market. Our own Mike Solowiow took exception with the 2007 Chevrolet Express passenger van as a passenger hauler back in 2008. Will the no-frills cargo hauler variant find favor with us here at TTAC? More importantly, can GM’s smorgasbord of configuration options dethrone Ford as the volume van seller during the upcoming T-Series transition?
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The last few years have been a struggle for a lot of folks. Financial meltdowns. Millions of bankruptcies. Massive unemployment. Our ‘global’ economy continues to experience a maelstrom of wealth destruction that seems to make nearly everyone guard their money.
It’s been hell for most…. but guess what? In spite of it all you are among the few who have thrived. In fact you are laughing all the way to your nearest dealership.
So get your something nice! Let’s say the budget is up to $65,000. What would you buy for yourself? Would it be a lightly used Lexus with all the trimmings? A new BMW 5-Series? Maybe one of those VW Touaregs with the diesel engine and all the luxury trappings of a neo-Audi.
In my neck of the woods where the suburbs meets the ex-urbs, this question has only one suitable answer… a truck.
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With its minivans and conventional midsize SUVs discontinued, GM relies heavily on its large “Lambda” crossovers—the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave—to serve the family market. With over 230,000 sold in 2010, they’re easily the best sellers* in the segment. In comparison, Ford shifted only 34,000 Flexes. But, now in their fifth model year, the Lambdas are getting old. With cash short leading up to the bankruptcy, what might be done on the cheap to maintain buyer interest? The winning answer: a new Denali variant of the GMC Acadia.
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Styling changes at GM seem to either come either in questionable radical leaps like the Pontiac Aztec, or creep glacially by, and GM’s 2500HD trucks definitely fit into the latter category. Despite being fully redesigned in 2007 as a 2008 model year truck and gaining a “full mid-cycle refresh” for the 2010 model year, the 2500HD is undeniably a GM truck. That means you get basic slab sides, a large square maw and the same sort of styling creases in the sheet metal that everything else from GM wears.
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Many people have questioned why General Motors needs so many brands. Why have both Chevrolet and GMC selling essentially the same vehicles? With the new GMC Terrain, we might just have an answer. Or not.
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Review: GMC Terrain Car Review Rating
Let's get something out of the way right now: the Yukon Hybrid is over-priced. Our tester stickered at $56k. At that price point, GM's gas – electric SUV competes against BMW's enlarged X5, Audi's Q7 carcoon and Lexus' golf club friendly RX 400h (to name a few). Hybrid or no, the GMC Yukon's not exactly what you'd call an upmarket machine. If The General had taken the hit and offered the Yukon Hybrid for the same price or less than its gasoline equivalent, it would be a far more compelling proposition. But they didn't. So let's press on.
2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4×4 Review Car Review Rating
SUVs are evil. Evil I tell you! They represent all that’s bad about America: greed, sloth, gluttony, selfishness, arrogance and environmental indifference. They gargle gas, warm the planet and knock poor little hybrids into next week. More importantly, SUVs cost a fortune to feed and depreciate like packet of condoms. So what’s an SUV-intensive manufacturer like GM to do? Why make an SUV that doesn’t do all that hard-core SUV stuff, spiffy-it-up a bit, and sell it to all the people who love SUVs but hate SUVs. Ladies and gentlemen, the GMC Acadia.
2008 GMC Acadia Review Car Review Rating
You gotta love a truck division started by a guy named Max Grabowski. Hi! I'm Max Grabowski. I make trucks. What could be more American than that? Fast forward one hundred and six years and I’m face-to-face to face with a GMC SUV named after a diplomat with dubious powers. Go figure. And riddle me this Batman: why in the name of modern science is this four-wheeled Neanderthal still for sale at the tail end of the double-o's?
GMC Envoy SLE Review Car Review Rating
Enzo Ferrari used to sell his customers an engine and throw in the car for free. While Ferrari still reserves the right to sell whatever it wants to whomever it wants without worrying about what anyone else may want, Maranello's mad machines are now at least as dynamically cohesive and ergonomically sound as your average John Deere lawn mower (if infinitely less practical). In fact, the Italian automaker has passed the mantle of "engine first engineering" to GMC. More specifically, to the Sierra 1500HD pickup truck.
Our test Sierra was powered by GM's sublime Vortec 6000. Granted, new millennia power freaks will not find the 6.0-liter engine's 300hp output overly impressive– especially when the horses in question are harnessed to a vehicle weighing 4800 lbs. And yes, GMC slots some bigger, badder units into the Sierra; including a 6.6-liter DURAMAX turbo-diesel with enough torque to pull the Queen Mary into dry dock (640ft.-lbs.). But the Vortec 6000 is a flawless and loveable lump, a V8 from The Old School.
I find the average pickup truck’s buckboard ride and apple cart handling a constant source of wonder. If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they put the lunar rover’s suspension on a pickup truck? Yes, I know: if you want to carry heavy things, coil/leaf suspension is your only option. But why would anyone who doesn’t schlep stuff for a living actually choose to drive a pickup?