By on August 28, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra All Terrain X - Image: GMCNews that suggests General Motors no-car GMC division is closing in on the launch of its own subcompact crossover to accompany the compact GMC Terrain coincided with revelations from GMC’s division manager regarding the future of a Jeep Wrangler rival from GMC.

There won’t be a Jeep Wrangler rival from GMC.

Ford’s Bronco is yet two years away, and the extent to which the next Bronco will directly challenge the #iconic Jeep Wrangler remains a complete unknown. Rumors differ.

But according to the global head of Buick and GMC Duncan Aldred, GMC has no intention of tangling with the Wrangler in the convertible, off-road, body-on-frame sector over which the Wrangler exerts total control.

“I don’t think it’s worth trying to take on Wrangler,” GMC’s Aldred tells Automotive News.

On the one hand, it’s not surprising that plans for the all-light-truck GMC brand to fight the Jeep Wrangler don’t exist. There’s been no concept from GMC since 2001’s Terracross or 2005’s Graphyte that hints at a desire to enter that space. In fact, the last non-pickup concept from GMC was 2010’s Granite, a mini MPV.

However, in a world gone crazy for utility vehicles, a U.S.-centric brand that majors on body-on-frame construction seems like the ideal fit for a rugged off-roader that could eat into the Wrangler’s slice of the SUV pie.2017 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock - Image: JeepThe problem? Other automakers try, and other automakers fail. The Nissan Xterra and Toyota FJ Cruiser were admittedly lacking the removable top portion of the equation, but both faded away as the Wrangler gained strength. 2015, you’ll recall, was the Wrangler’s best year of U.S. sales ever, and sales have only tailed off since because the next-gen Wrangler is quickly approaching. Jeep is still managing to produce nearly 17,000 U.S. Wrangler sales per month.

Toyota never managed to average more than 5,000 monthly FJ Cruiser sales. Nissan never averaged more than 7,400 Xterra sales per month. Annual FJ Cruiser sales plunged 79 percent from its 2006 peak in 2009. Xterra volume slid in 12 of 16 years.

You can see why GMC doesn’t think it’s even worth trying. GMC is not so full of hubris that it believes it can succeed where others have routinely failed. But in less direct opposition to the Wrangler, could GMC latch onto the next Chevrolet Blazer for a little 4Runner fighting fun?

In the meantime, the off-road answer at GMC resides in the Sierra lineup with the All Terrain X, currently a $3,405 package on the Sierra 1500.

[Images: General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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20 Comments on “GMC Knows to Leave Well Enough Alone, Has No Plan to Fight Jeep Wrangler With a Dedicated Off-Roader...”

  • avatar

    We’ll see how well the reborn Bronco sells. It might tempt some automakers like GM into the arena utilizing existing mid-size truck platforms.

    I did price out an “All Terrain” GMC Canyon on the build your own and it wasn’t too unreasonably priced, it’s no Wrangler Rubicon but not enough Rubicon owners use it that way anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Going to the two websites it is a little less than $4K to go from a V6 Canyon All Terrain with some trucky options (brake controller, bed liner, etc) to a V6 ZR2 (although I did forgo the bed mounted spare tire).

      The ZR2 does have lowered payload and tow ratings compared to the standard Canyorado, and $3K+ isn’t popcorn money, but I think if I had offroad plans and I was shopping GM, it would be ZR2 all the way.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah if I had to be total hard core off road. I guess my point was, for the majority of actual owners it’s all about image than capability. One of our central office folks has a lifted Wrangler Unlimited and if it’s been off-road it would be because her husband borrowed it to go hunting.

        FYI when I see a bed mounted spare I’m more likely to think “poseur” than anything else, unless I see battle scars from going off the trail.

        • 0 avatar

          “FYI when I see a bed mounted spare I’m more likely to think “poseur” than anything else”

          Well, you aren’t *wrong*, but it’s more ironic poseur over tryhard poseur.

          Which maybe makes it better I guess?

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t get all the “poser” talk. I kind of want a used Wrangler to drive around town when the weather is nice. There aren’t any other vehicles that let you take the doors off and throw the dogs in without worry of keeping the vehicle pristine. Am

            I a poser because I don’t go off roading? I’m not try to be confrontational, the above paragraph may read somewhat like I am.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree, not many people are taking new Wranglers anywhere near terrain that could scratch the paint, etc. So if you are GMC, why not take advantage of that knowledge and produce a Wrangler competitor that acknowledges that fact. Everyone loves a Wrangler. Why don’t more people buy them? Because they are not very practical. Make a practical version of a wrangler. Soft roading bones, open top poseur mobile…. but as long as it looks the part, people will buy it in droves.

  • avatar

    Here is what they should have done: Hummer should have been part of GMC – the GMC-H1, H2, H3 etc. When the market crashed no expense to shut down separate dealers, they could have kept one, low volume product. Then, when gas prices crashed, they should have taken the H1 design, reduced it by about 25%, freshened it up, kept it high-grade off road capabilty, and for the last 5 years they would have had a quality wrangler fighter.

  • avatar

    The removable top is the killer app, neck & neck with the brand heritage. Anyone can sell SUV Image, but Wranglers gives pavement warriors the chance to take off the doors and top. For almost half the US population, that can be done virtually year-round. Toyota and Nissan didn’t even attempt it, even though both (on paper) were very capable trucks.

    (side story: My retired uncle moved to rural Costa Rica a few years ago. On one of his early visits, he told a local he had a new FJ Cruiser he was thinking about bringing down. The guy just laughed, told him every American who brought their new truck down there had the trim and electronics rattled to pieces within months, assuming it wasn’t a target for theft first.

    He just followed the crowd and bought an old Samurai. Also a removable top, of course.)

  • avatar

    I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to be disappointed by a GMC attempt to compete with the Wrangler.

    Of course, in a perfect world, we would get this:

    – 2 door SUV based off a regular cab short bed frame
    – removable top
    – a name that doesn’t suck… call it the K-5.

    Since we’d never get something like that, I’m glad they didn’t bother. The world doesn’t need another car with big wheels and tires.

  • avatar

    I am deep in Wrangler country. The furthest offroad most of them go is

    1. the beach
    2. a road verge (by accident)

    That is truly the only SUV that sells largely on image. It’s so bad

    • 0 avatar

      And I want to thank them for buying so I can always find a used one to go bound through trails with.
      While the Wrangler sells many for the image, so do many other makes.
      The fact that a bone stock Wrangler will go further and into more places than any other make is a strong selling point to.
      It’s nice to know you can even if you don’t ever do it.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in Arizona, Wranglers are very popular. I have known many owners over the years, and honestly cannot think of a single one that didn’t at least occasionally take it off road. The posers here are the ones driving the lifted quad cab full size pickups.

      • 0 avatar

        Also an Arizona-dweller. Here ‘off-road’ usually means ‘fire road to get to the trail head’. Most cars can make it, if you’re careful, but a Wrangler does it with speed and style.

    • 0 avatar

      sportyaccordy, You’re deep in Wrangler Country and there are beaches?

  • avatar

    Hummer could have done it – they showed the HX concept in 2008, which might have become the H4.

  • avatar

    Don’t try to out Jeep the Wrangler.

    How about adding more off road capability to GMC? Body on frame SUV based on Canyon? GM already sells this as Holden Trailblazer in Australia. Why not offer this body on frame SUV as the Envoy at GMC. For an off road version equip it with the hardware from the ZR2 Colorado.

  • avatar

    Jimmy? Jimmy?? Jimmy!!!!

  • avatar

    I’ve been driving Jeeps for years, but this I know… If a company from China has success in purchasing Jeep, I will never buy a new Jeep…ever again. Jeep is American. Made in America. Period.

    • 0 avatar

      Many people make the same stalwart claim – then show their appreciation for low price above-all-else at Walmart. For every one of you, I believe there are many more who will buy a product based on the product itself and its inherent value, not patriotic flag waving (at least, I hope so).

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