Ask The Best And Brightest: Should Chevy Get A Subcompact CUV?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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…

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Zackman Zackman on Oct 21, 2011

    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)

  • Philosophil Philosophil on Oct 21, 2011

    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.

  • JMII JMII on Oct 21, 2011

    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.

    • Luke42 Luke42 on Oct 21, 2011

      "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.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Oct 21, 2011

    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.

    • Luke42 Luke42 on Oct 21, 2011

      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.