Has General Motors Changed Its Mind About Tackling Jeep?
In the middle part of this decade, as sales of the Jeep Wrangler (and the Jeep brand itself) rose into the stratosphere, speculation cropped up that General Motors would not let its rival dominate the off-road SUV market unchallenged. The company offered hints that it might field something of its own.
A GM SUV with serious trail-rated chops is still talked about today, even after GMC brand boss Duncan Aldred, speaking in 2017, said, “I don’t think it’s worth trying to take on Wrangler.” Even after the reborn Chevrolet Blazer turned out to be an Acadia-based crossover. Blame Ford’s upcoming Bronco and the Wrangler’s continued popularity for the continued speculation.
Now, the internet is once again abuzz after photos revealed two Wranglers at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds.
Spy shots published by GM Authority show two Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds, festooned with sensors, making their way around GM’s test course. Clearly, the automaker is benchmarking Jeep’s perennially popular off-roader, but to what end?
Fans of The General no doubt hope this is all a lead-up to a new vehicle designed to take on the Wrangler in the dedicated off-road space. Know your competition, and all that. And it may indeed be, though GM has made no mention of a new model aimed squarely at the Wrangler or Bronco.
GMC would be the natural home of any such Wrangler fighter. While the automaker has kept the “Granite” trademark in the company fold for some time, the name, first used on a very unmasculine 2010 concept vehicle, is widely expected to land on a sub-Terrain crossover in the near future. Hardly a Jeep-fighter, unless we’re talking Renegade.
However, a platform introduction coming early next decade may give the company an opportunity to grant these enthusiasts’ wishes. Part of its plan to reduce complexity and lower expenses, GM expects to move all of its body-on-frame vehicles onto the VSS-T platform — a piece of architecture that would come in varying sizes. It’s possible a new SUV could emerge from the effort.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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