By on August 16, 2018

This Chinese New Yorker is a long way from home. Photos snapped by TTAC reader MUSASHI66 show a GAC GS8 SUV sunning itself in an Aurora, Colorado parking lot. Wearing New York dealer plates, the SUV also carries a Motorola Radius two-way radio and front passenger seat-mounted laptop, which isn’t standard content in any SUV.

Of course, this isn’t just any SUV. It’s a utility vehicle made by an automaker that really, really wants to spread its wings in the United States.

China’s GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor Co.) sprung for a big display at this January’s Detroit auto show, eager to spur interest in the automaker’s diverse vehicle offerings. Your author spent some time relaxing in the La-Z-Boy-like rear seats of the GM8 MPV, the brand’s large minivan.

The model spied in Colorado, however, is the vehicle seen as the best candidate to forge inroads into the American market. An intermediate-sized, three-row SUV, the GS8 carries the “Trumpchi” moniker in its home country, with the nameplate’s chrome script residing in the oddly blank (in this case) raised rocker plate below the rear doors. We already know GAC voted down the idea of using that name in America, for obvious reasons.

This isn’t the first GS8 spotted traipsing through America. Other U.S. GS8s found their way to the internet over the past several months, and this one, like others, attempts to hide its identity with a piece of black tape placed over the center of the badge (fooling exactly no one).

GAC apparently wants its products on sale in America by the end of 2019, but the big question, yet unanswered, is whether the recent U.S.-China trade war impacted those plans in any way. There’s now a 25 percent tariff on Chinese-built vehicles — a tricky situation, given the main appeal of Chinese-built vehicles is perceived affordability. An email query sent to GAC Motor went unanswered.

Despite this, all signs point to go. Last month, GAC invested $4.4 million into an R&D facility in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and the hunt for an appropriate locale for its U.S. headquarters continues.

If you’re wondering what heart beats within this square-rigged beast, think of an American motor, then think a little smaller. Larger engines don’t get a free pass from the Chinese government, so a turbocharged 2.0-liter resides under the GS8’s hood. Power is modest for the vehicle’s size: 198 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.

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57 Comments on “Your Future Steed? Brawny Chinese SUV Spied Testing in Colorado...”


  • avatar

    The condition of the driver’s seat bolster at this stage tells me all I need to know about longevity of trim.

    The door arm rest might be falling apart as well.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      True but we also don’t know how many miles are on it. Extended durability testing for the North American market?

      IIRC a several years back Toyota strapped one of their engineers into the seat of their minivan and sent him driving around America logging many 1000 miles to see what changes they should make to the van to make it more American market friendly. The biggest thing I remember from reading the article about it was he came away with a strong preference for Wendy’s hamburgers… lol

      • 0 avatar

        I mean it couldn’t have done more than 50,000 miles. No excuse for that sort of issue.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          No excuse for preferring Wendy’s hamburgers, either.

          • 0 avatar

            Compared to BK, I’ll allow it.
            Compared to MCD, it kinda depends.

            In any event I’d rather have Chipotle.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            BK has the best tasting hamburgers within the realm of national chains of cheap low end fast food (excluding Five Guys and In-n-Out, Steak-n-Shake, etc), Wendys and McDonalds is strictly chicken sandwich turf for me, or mcDs breakfast on the road. I try to avoid all of them to begin with these days I suppose.

            Re: bolster wear. Nowhere as badly, but one of my Russian youtubers was showing off the beginnings of creasing on a one year old GX460 seat bolster, that and ample stone chips in the paint on the front of the truck.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Mmmmmm I can just taste the extra molybdenum and bleached corn meal.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Around here McD’s are the worst. They are more salt than meat. The local Five Guy’s burgers aren’t as good as the local bar and grills that we have nearby, but their fries are good.

            Whoppers are good (especially the double), Hardee’s sourdough jack replica is pretty good too. At Wendy’s I prefer the spicy chicken but the burgers are good. A&W has great root beer but the burgers are just so-so. DQ is OK also. I wish we had a Jack in the Box and Carl’s Jr close by. Del Taco too!

            Funny side story about BK. On vacation a couple years ago when the BK spicy chicken fries came out they advertised something to the effect that they would melt your mouth. Our youngest was 6 or 7 and decided we should try them. Well of course they aren’t really spicy and he immediately wanted to take them back to get a refund for false advertising.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      on the other hand, it doesn’t have amber lenses where the fog lights should be…

    • 0 avatar
      s_a_p

      I sent y’all pictures of the mid engined vette doing altitude testing in colorado in July. I guess that isnt as interesting?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      KIA is hoping and praying, and praying some more, that this company starts selling cars in the US. When compared to a Guangzhou, Kia quality looks more like a Toyota.
      (And Mitsubishi is kneeled next to Kia on the prayer rug, for the same reason.)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Wait, how is a foreign market vehicle -with foreign emissions- allowed to be driven in the US? Did anyone even consider ManBearPig?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      manufacturer owned prototype vehicles are allowed to operate on the road for a limited period under exemption, for testing purposes only. after that limited time period they must either be made compliant or taken out of service.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Aside from manufacturer cars, you would be amazed at how many Mexican plated cars drive around the southern portion of California.

      • 0 avatar
        Malforus

        Its almost like we have a land border with Mexico that would allow Mexico Domestic Market Cars and their drivers the legal ability to pass through our border and visit the US.

        Almost like there is some kind of agreement where a citizen of one nation can cross national borders in their private vehicle if they pass some kind of document check….

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        …any how many old cars from CA end up in Baja…and retain their CA license plates forever. (Yes, I have taken one down there myself)

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    If the price is right these will sell. They’ll choke the parking lots of Wal-Mart and Payday Loan places.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    A Gack Gestate with two liter turbo?

    Get the hell out, 4Runner. I’ve found a new love.

    And if I can’t get Trumpchi badges from the factory, I will pay someone to make them for me.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Let the burning begin

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Put a Dodge grille on the front and we have our new subprime rent-to-own sales champion.

    Sergio would have begged Xi Jinping to drop these off in US Dollar Store parking lots

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’m sure its better than the Journey, but not the Durango.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      FCA has plenty of cheap SUVs to sell. What do you think the Compass is for?

      • 0 avatar
        salmonmigration

        Not cheap enough! The Compass even has six whole speeds in its base automatic transmission. You can cross shop against a Kia and it’s actually fairly even.

        Instead of killing nameplates dead like GM does, FCA just cashes them out slow (see Maserati). With party assistance FCA would build a compact dodge crossover under $17k for the american moron market.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    Aside from nationalistic pride/orders of the government overlord, its hard to see the business basis for this, or any Chinese maker to enter the US. Chinese market is bigger, faster growing and in a global sense less competitive. It would cost hundreds of millions just to get started in the US and the current competitors are not going sit idly by letting anyone new get a foothold. Then there is the potential tariff issue.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      The Trumpchi GS8 lists for about $24000-38000 according to Wikipedia. I assume the profit margin at those prices is massive, though I doubt the locals pay anywhere near that. Since 3 row cross overs do command stupid prices in the US, it could be worth it for them if they manage to move volume in the 5 digits.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I started typing a post explaining why this wouldn’t work and it just spiraled into madness. There are so many reasons this is a terrible idea. Segment is already crowded and low profit for 2nd/3rd tier players. US auto market is positioned for a downturn. Perception will take decades to fix. Etc. etc. This reminds me of Cadillac “taking the fight to the Germans” right around the time the Germans started to cash out on luxury CR-Vs. What could they possibly be seeing that anyone with any kind of interest/insight into the US auto market doesn’t?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Adding to that, the Chinese don’t have a cost advantage over a NAFTA country like Mexico. Labour costs are comparable, then there’s the geography.

      The only way the North American market will tolerate these vehicles is at cut-rate prices, and they won’t have the cost structure to support them.

      This is pretty much why we’ve been hearing about the Chinese invasion for the better part of 15 years, but it hasn’t really materialized other than few global products made by established automakers.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it didn’t help that their first attempts to show their wares here (BYD and a couple of others at NAIAS) were laughable. I remember stopping by BYD’s booth and marveling at:

        – the paint didn’t have orange peel, it had grapefruit peel
        – the interior was styled, assembled, and creaked worse than a 1992 Grand Am
        – the body fits and finish were execrable. The window frames on the side doors had these weird cuts in the corners, as if they were cut out by hand using Dremels.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Well, at least it looks decent. Not soft and blob-like, as do most other CUVs of this size. Other than that, meh. Price it like vehicles two sizes down and I’m sure it’ll sell.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      You hit the nail on the head. If it isn’t so cheap as to be irresistible, it will be a failure.
      But China is an expert at undercutting prices, even selling garlic in Gilroy cheaper than the locals can produce it for.

    • 0 avatar

      Some bad copy of Ford or LR, cannot figure out which one.

      Hey if you steal Western design and technology – do it right. Make exact copy and same quality, do not not mess it up!

  • avatar
    Proud2BUnion

    My son and I flew to the Detroit Auto Show this past January.
    We were very interested to check out the GAC display, as to me this was a historic event. The interiors did in fact seem to be constructed from very poor quality materials. The dashes were covered with scratched and scuffs. We dragged our fingernails across the glove box door- and this left deep gouges! Very soft plastic!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Nice to China is still copying other vehicles, but they still screw it up, even this Land Cruiser copy cat looks like turd, the engine is hilarious as well.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Butt-ugly and junkie looking. Good luck trying to sell that here. Also, right now probably isn’t a good time to be driving Chinese built cars here, less fair minded types might decide to act aggressively toward your car

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    a garbage comment

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This looks better, and I’m not joking, than almost anything made by Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM), and the irony is that this has Chinese-sourced parts content that’s very similar as a % of, say, an Envision, Enclave or Encore.

    Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) better look out!

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Call me when I can get a genuine Land Wind from Great Wall. I’ve got some ladies to impress.

  • avatar
    MUSASHI66

    Woohoo, glad you used my photos :) . My coworker looked at me like I was a weirdo for getting excited about seeing this car.

    In all honesty, this CUV looked decent IRL – my first thought was not “what is this POS” at all. It felt more like a weird Infiniti or a new small Caddilac to me. It has this mini-QX56 feel about it.

    Still, I would not buy one of these anytime soon.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Escalade crossed with second gen Equinox. This isn’t a vehicle class I’d care to drive nor would I necessarily want a tiny turbo in something where appears Suburban sized.

    I’m still curious how well the Explorer does with the 2.3EB.

    Is GAC affiliated with an auto maker that’s established within the US? I wonder if they could start off supplying rental counters to see how well they hold up to abuse.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    One of the many hurdles facing this rig will be the sub 200 HP. It appears to be a fairly hefty rig and we plus sized Merican’s prefer an aggressive amount of HP to propel us from school to soccer practice.

    It will need to scratch 300 to be taken seriously, if it will ever be taken seriously. It would be really hard to be an early adopter of one of these. At least Yugos were stupid cheap, this thing even with cut rate prices will top 25k. That is a lot of cheese to find out it will only last 50k miles.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Plug ugly, but that doesn’t seem to stop most SUV buyers from pulling the trigger on a purchase.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    It could look like a million dollars and I would still rather take my chances in a higher quality car like a Yugo.

    That said, there are millions of people that don’t care about anything but the price and go for it.

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