GMC Needs a Subcompact Crossover; Brand Boss Says GMC 'Should Have Been First in the Segment'

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
gmc needs a subcompact crossover brand boss says gmc should have been first in the

Small crossovers are a natural fit for a brand that sells not a single passenger car, but GMC has been sorely lacking in smaller utility vehicles for much of its tenure.

The first-generation GMC Terrain, something of a tweener-sized utility vehicle, didn’t arrive until 2009. For its predecessor, General Motors decided to concentrate attention on its Pontiac brand, which resulted in the oft-forgotten Torrent.

But down another rung on the ladder sits subcompact utility vehicles. GMC brand boss Duncan Aldred says General Motors’ all-light-truck division “should have been first in the segment.” Instead, the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax generate 13,000 monthly U.S. sales, thereby controlling America’s subcompact crossover category.

GMC? On the sidelines, waiting for the next generation of GM subcompacts to spawn a crossover for the very brand that should have had one in the first place.

Nearly five years have passed since the Buick Encore arrived on U.S. shores. Shipped across the Rio Grande, the Chevrolet Trax landed at U.S. dealers nearly three years ago. Through the end of July 2017, over 455,000 copies of the Encore and Trax have been sold in the U.S.

While the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Subaru Crosstrek have all achieved greater U.S. sales volume this year, the fourth and fifth-ranked Encore and Trax own 29 percent market share in the subcompact segment. FCA, with 21 percent market share, is next-best.

But General Motors hasn’t allowed the most obvious brand in its quiver to swim in that pool. That should soon change.

“To me, there is more room for SUVs in the GMC stable,” Duncan Aldred tells Automotive News. “An obvious place for GMC to be if it expands is that small SUV segment.” Aldred says a smaller-than-Terrain utility vehicle that’s positioned below the $26,365 2018 Terrain would be the logical next step.

The 2017 Buick Encore is priced from $23,915; the Chevrolet Trax starts at $21,895.

Subcompact crossover sales grew 6 percent in the first seven months of 2017, year-over-year. Sales of the GMC lineup overall are up 2 percent to 310,587 units through July, with much of the boost coming from the midsize Acadia crossover, downsized and all-new for 2017. GMC’s pickup truck sales are down 9 percent, and the transition to a new generation of the Terrain produced a 15-percent decline in sales of the Terrain, currently GMC’s smallest utility vehicle.

[Photo Illustration: Matt Posky, General Motors; Image: General Motors]

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

Join the conversation
3 of 27 comments
  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Aug 28, 2017

    its way past time for a wrangler competitor. preferably japanese, like maybe something from suzuki? its only been 40 freaking years. probably also time for somebody to bring back something "avalanchey". the dreadnought class SUV is also sorely missing an entry too. people love their excursions. preferably with a straight 6 cummins! as for the naysayers- the miata filled a niche, and is still doing so. possibly too small for another player to come in. most of what ive mentioned above are also niches, and if someone can build them and market them correctly it might be worthwhile.

  • Ytiradp Ytiradp on Aug 29, 2017

    Everyone seems to forget there's still a segment that the Encore and Trax can't compete, which is where the Compass and Rogue Sport sit. There's also models like the Countryman that have carved out a niche for itself. GMC could just slide it's model into that space bigger and more spacious than the twins, with different powertrain options. GMC has hinted at a model that's unique to it's lineup, which could be based on a shortened version of the Terrain/Equinox platform, which allows them to speed up it's development. There's a lot of options in this space considering neither Chevy nor Buick offer a model that measures in the range of the premium/luxury subcompact segment that are 172-175 inches long or as wide as the something like the Evoque/E-Pace. They could also go the customization route since there isn't a model under GM banner that has that kind of market following. All speculation of course, so it'll be interesting to see what they do if they finally make something.

    • Missourigrinder Missourigrinder on Sep 18, 2017

      You should see the Cadillac XT4 hitting dealerships next year and I'm guessing that from what I have read GMC will share a badge with it the following year but currently un-named . If true I will have the pleasure building it . Very anxious myself to see what the future holds in the segment .

  • Analoggrotto Does it include a date with Mary Barra?
  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.