Edmunds' Karl Brauer: May the Best GM Win

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

You’ve got to wear some serious blinders to believe that New GM is in on course for that magic day when they de-nationalize themselves and return the U.S. taxpayer’s $52 billion (plus) “investment.” And Canada’s $10.5 billion, eh? In fact, Board Chairman Ed Whitacre just de-committed the company to a 2010 deadline for same. Still, GM and its camp followers have been in denial so long they’re in denial even when they’re telling the world they’re out of denial. Inside Line columnist Karl Brauer illustrates the conundrum: “Let me make one thing clear in the second sentence of this column. I am not saying GM has already pulled off a successful turnaround. But events of the last few weeks have established a momumental [sic] realization (at least for me): I think it’s possible GM might actually pull off a successful turnaround . . . And, as recently as four weeks ago, I commented that — despite GM’s latest rallying cry of ‘Let the best car win’ — I wasn’t convinced GM is offering the best cars on the market. I’m still not convinced GM offers the best cars available, but they do offer the widest range of really good cars I’ve seen from the company in my lifetime.” So what inspired Karl’s almost kinda maybe sorta don’t quote me on this ever faith that American’s nationalized automaker kinda maybe sorta might possibly potentially turnaround its miserable fortures? The new Medusa-class GMC Terrain, of course!

I’ve heard mixed reactions regarding the Terrain’s styling, but almost universal praise for everything else. Well, you can add my praise to the growing chorus . . .

Basically, I have to dig pretty deep to find anything wrong with the [carefully-prepared press example of the new GMC] Terrain. Sure, engine NVH is still a tad higher than I’d like, and the automatic transmission can occasionally get confused if I quickly change throttle input. But these really are nitpicks. The type I usually reserve for top models because all the major elements are nearly flawless.

In fact, from a demographic point-of-view I’m pretty well centered in the GMC Terrain’s gun sights as far as target buyers go. And guess what? I could absolutely see myself buying one instead of the competition. Does that statement surprise you? Me too.

Mixed reviews? Does Karl’s ability to skip over the fact that the Terrain is almost as ugly as—no, I’m not going to say it (it would only be deleted). Let’s try that again. Does Karl’s ability skip over the Terrain’s hideousness surprise you? Me neither. But I am surprised that Edmunds—the company that recently clashed with the White House on the cost effectiveness of the $3 billion Cash for Clunkers boondoggle—allows Karl to sully its good name with Crayola analysis.

. . . there’s plenty of hard data to suggest GM is making progress. Market share seems to have finally leveled off, and the destructive combination of bloated inventory and incentive spending no longer drives pricing or vehicle sales.

Is it too early to brand these latest efforts as a successful turnaround? No, it’s WAAAAAY too early. But some longstanding and fundamental issues appear to have finally been addressed. And, to be honest, these are issues I never thought the company would get right.

The most important one? A growing chunk of GM’s product is genuinely competitive. As far as I’m concerned nothing else matters. It’s also why I think GM may actually pull off a successful turnaround.

But that’s just one man’s opinion. What do you think?

Before you answer that question, check out this excerpt from GM’s most recent SEC 8-K filing.

This form 8-K corrects certain information contained in the original November 3, 200- press release. The following corrections were made:

– On page three under the heading “Buick key facts”, the phrase that Lucerne had highest sales month of 2009 with sales of 4,324 was deleted.

– On page three under the heading “GMC key facts”, Terrain total sales were up 63 percent and not 85 percent as originally disclosed. [Huh? The vehicle was just introduced]]

– On page three under the heading “GMC key facts”, total sales for new Buick and GMC models were up 20 percent and not 33 percent as originally disclosed.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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2 of 6 comments
  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Nov 12, 2009

    The Terrain is simply GMC's variant of the Pontiac Torrent/Chevy Equinox, yes? I haven't heard much good about those. As for the styling, it's an answer to a question. And the question was "What ever happened to the folks who designed the Pontiac Aztek?" Obviously they were hired by the GMC division. BTW, why is GMC even competing in the small/mid size CUV market? Seems to me every sale of a Terrain takes away a Torrent or Equinox sale, which more or less makes this vehicle a wash for GM.

  • Accs Accs on Nov 29, 2009

    Maybe its me... But what is the inherant purpose for this vehicle? They canned the TB and all of ITS copies.. Only to produce a larger vehicle based on the VUE?! I cant possibly have any positive feelings on a vehicle that shouldnt exist in the first place. Only positive feelings I have... the motor is a direct injection unit which must be damn amazing... I just "wish" they they could shove that motor into the old TB.. would have made the new one even more pointless than it already is.

  • 28-Cars-Later Seville - LS400Bhp 295 250Ft-tq 280 260Reliable No Yes
  • 28-Cars-Later No, and none of you should be either.
  • Arthur Dailey No.
  • Arthur Dailey My father had multiple Northstar equipped vehicles. He got one of the first Northstar equipped STS's in Canada and continually drove STS's on one year leases for nearly a decade. One of them did 'crap out' on him. It went into 'limp' mode and he drove it to the nearest GM dealer. The vehicle was about half way through its lease, and he was in cottage country (Muskoka). GM arranged to have it flatbedded back to Toronto. He rented a vehicle, drove it home and then took delivery of a new STS within about 4 days. There were no negotiations regarding repairs, etc. The vehicle was simply replaced. Overall he was pleased with the performance of these vehicles and their engines. We also found them a pleasant environment to be in, with more than enough power.
  • Bd2 If they let me and the boyz roll around naked in their dealership I'll buy a Chinese car.