By on May 30, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

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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36 Comments on “Has General Motors Changed Its Mind About Tackling Jeep?...”

  • avatar

    General Motors has no direction under Barra this is no surprise.

    Herds of substandard crossovers doesn’t build brand cache. GM by far has the most boring lineup of the Big 3, without interesting products they seem to be headed on an unstoppable fall to the bottom.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh please, GM is far more profitable and streamlined under Barra. The misogyny of the B&B over her leadership has reached the level of pathetic.

      The biggest black mark in my book with her is Cadillac. Melody Lee and the move to NYC were both terrible decisions and she waited too long to shoot all of them in the head.

      GM is in far better shape than FCA and the stock is in far better shape than Ford. In addition, Ford is slashing things in Europe, not as strong in China, the most important car market in the world, and almost completely dependent on F-150 sales in North America.

      • 0 avatar

        @APaGttH, oh please, “GM is far more profitable and streamlined under Barra”. Maybe Buick is turning a miniscule profit, maybe GMC, everything else is cookie cutter SUVs and CUVs, I can’t remember when I’ve seen a Chevy car on the road. She shuttered her Maven ride sharing debacle, and is cutting a deal with Bechtel to build out charging stations (but neither company is going to put up any cash), because they are going to use all of those Maven data points to determine where to put charging stations (right), the stock is within $5 of its 5-year low, and so far their EV new entries include a Bolt hatchback driving around in camouflage and we see how those things are flying off the lots.

        Maybe compared to FCA, that’s a bounty of opportunity. Regarding F stock, I’ll take the 6% dividend and keep a sale order in place to dump as needed. However, I’ll give you the reality that F does a lot of stupid stuff (anybody want a rat-infested train station?), but there’s something to be said for focusing on the moneymaker F-Series.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Barra’s incompetence is best illustrated by the simply horrible marketing efforts undertaken during her tenure.

        Lampooning the “Real People, Not Actors” campaign has become great fun.

      • 0 avatar

        GM may be far more profitable per unit but it shows in their cars, exhibit A is the Malibu, a suicide inspiring POS. Doesn’t matter how much profit they’re making when they’re market share is slipping as it has been, they clearly have reached the point that development dollars for new platforms and new engines, and unique products have all but dried up. Taking the horrible designs meant for China and putting them into American cars shows just how far they have slid.

        FCA seems far more positioned to take on the future than GM, GMs still throwing development dollars into a trench that maintains 2-3% market share while FCA seems to be putting that money into developing new cars that attract a wider range of consumers than Chryco has had in Decades.
        Ford is smart to slash Europe, it’s shown to be a money pit; and along with the regulation and lower standards of living Europe as a whole is not worth the investment. Ford is an American company, placing emphasis on its home market should be priority one, the same applies to GM which has made no secret where its emphasis is at.

  • avatar

    OK, GM. Continue your theme of reviving names on vastly different vehicles and bring back the Jimmy name. And keep it a GMC exclusive product, give them an identity.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think putting GMC Jimmy badges on their next Chinese CUV is going to make a dent in Wrangler sales.

    • 0 avatar

      GM still owns the Hummer brand. That is really the only name in their stable that would fare well competing with Jeep and Bronco. Sell it on GMC lots, dont start a separate brand, dealer network, etc. Just call it the Hummer and sell it at GMC or Chevy dealers. Dont put GMC or Chevy badges on it.

    • 0 avatar

      OoOOh! Maybe they could import and rebadge some Suzuki Jimnys!

      They’d only have to change one letter…

  • avatar

    Somehow, they’ll screw it up. They always seem to manage that.

    • 0 avatar

      How tough would it have been to make the new Blazer an SUV based on the Canyonero ZR2 or Bison? GM’s entire HR department needs to be shown the door since they hired people who couldn’t figure that out.

  • avatar

    Even if they do a good job and are competitive against the Wrangler (spoiler alert: they won’t, it’ll be a compromised platform-share), GM never gives these unique models a chance to build a following. Wrangler’s success didn’t happen overnight; it’s decades of being true to a formula and continually improving. If GM’s past is any indication, they’ll grow tired of the segment in a few years, let the vehicle wither, and give up on it.

    For reference: cheap 2-seat commuter (Fiero), 2-seat premium Caddy (Allante, then XLR), 2-seat Buick (Reatta), 2 seat roadster (Sky/Solstice); all left to die and not renewed. (Now that I look at the list, they’re all 2-seaters, not sure why)

  • avatar

    GM interiors will ruin it anyways

  • avatar

    Recently divorced ladies want Jeeps, not Chevys.

    • 0 avatar

      @jtk, amen to that. My ex just got a Wrangler, my son was telling me about how rough it rode and how crappy the doors are, but I’m sure it will serve her well going to the mall. She used to have a Colorado…

      Chevy would have a high bar to cross to match Jeep. I saw on a news program earlier that the new Jeep pickups are reaching dealers now with “additional markup” running from $10 – $30k. Now that’s brand loyalty.

      • 0 avatar

        I never understood the Jeep “thing” in suburban settings – they are loud, rough, small, expensive and thirsty. I get the off roading appeal, not my cup of tea, but that is what a (used?) Wrangler is for.

        Similar to the Miata nobody can seem to crack the code for these niche vehicles that dominate their markets. If the new Ford Bronco provides some competition then GM better follow suit. The recipe doesn’t seem that hard but a true 4×4 off roader requires a unique chassis that likely can’t be shared with anything else but a small pickup. GM really doesn’t do one-off vehicles, everything gets a twin it seems.

        • 0 avatar

          In a suburban setting, a Jeep Wrangler has several things going for it — all of which are cosmetic.

          1) It’s a modernized classic. It’s charming and has an authenticity you can’t buy elsewhere. It is what it is.

          2) Jeeps are timeless, and never look out of date. If you drive a YJ, it’s because you like YJs — not because you’re too poor to afford a modern one. You can simultaneously opt out of the vehicular rat race while claiming “I drive want I want!”

          3) It implies you live for something other than Suburbia. Like maybe you GTFO and camp in the woods on weekends, or something.

          4) When you live in an air conditioned house, work in an air conditioned office, and drive an air conditioned car you can miss the change of seasons, which is ridiculous. If you get a less civilized vehicle, you’ll at least notice when spring turns to summer. I bought a motorcycle for this reason — but a Jeep Wrangler gets you the same experience while being safer and more useful. In other words, a little discomfort can bring some feeling of enlightenment — like an automotive Lent or Ramadan.

          None of this has to do with what the vehicle is actually good at. But these people’s money is just as green as the actual 4×4 guys’ money.

          • 0 avatar

            I also forgot to explicitly mention that the Wrangler is a 4-door convertible.

            That’s part of its appeal that is often overlooked.

            If I owned one, I’d replace the roof panels with glass window panels, because I like natural light.

            But I probably will never own one, because I like fuel efficiency and an independent front suspension. Archaic suspension setups are a Jeep thing, and I don’t understand.

  • avatar

    Funny this comes up as I was just pondering less than 2 days ago how absolutely idiotic it was to shut down Hummer.

    I won’t get into the politics and who forced what and if GM didn’t want to be subject to government political winds they should have avoided bankruptcy etc.

    But just from a current automotive market standpoint crossovers, SUVs, and Jeeps are HOT HOT HOT HOT. And GM had an extremely recognizable brand with Hummer. It had in short order built a very brawny tough reputation (products themselves maybe couldn’t live up to all that but I don’t see it any differently than Jeep makes Wrangler and Grand Cherokee and it rubs off on Compass and Renegade).

    GM could be KILLING IT right now if hummer still existed. And a Wrangler fighter would fit in perfectly. And it would actually have a perfect brand for a car like that. Because I agree a Chevy Wrangler or GMC Wrangler just simply doesn’t really fit.

    I don’t know how Ford gets away with everything seeming to be ok under the Ford name. Always wondered how this came to be that GM has all these brands and then you struggle sometimes to see where a vehicle fits. Meanwhile at Ford they seem to be able to toss everything under the Ford logo and it somehow works. Brand recognition or their history of the Ford name being anything from model Ts to thunderbirds to Broncos to Mustangs to Fairlanes etc. I don’t know.

    But anyway, GM honestly should resurrect Hummer.

    • 0 avatar

      This x100. They could have brought Hummer back 3 years ago and still been late. Something like the H3 pickup still has a relevance today. They don’t need to be exact wrangler copies – for instance not convertible necessary I think.

  • avatar

    Competition for the Wrangler would be great. GM already has a great competitor to the Gladiator in the Colorado ZR2 and ZR2 Bison. That is platform for a Wrangler fighter.

  • avatar

    how is it that you say GMC would be the natural place for a Jeep fighter???? No GMC has more crede than the Name Blazer(unfortunately GM messed that up)GMC is more luxo and Chevy is more………everything. Naturaly the Hummer brand is the best choice…..but GM messed that up too. No…..Chevy is the one to fight jEEP…………..GMC, What a joke

  • avatar

    Hummer already had an idea in the works – the HX concept was envisioned (like how I worked that in there?) as a Wrangler fighter, and would have launched as the H4. But then GM killed off Hummer.

  • avatar

    Bronco, Bronco Scout, Raptor, Ranger Raptor and an off road version of Explorer are Ford models either planned, approved, or already on the market targeting off road, outdoors lifestyle market that Jeep resonates with.

    GM will be late to the party if they do try to appeal to Jeep customers.

  • avatar

    Hummer should not come back under Barra, maybe if a car enthusiast was in charge, but with bean counters in charge as they are a Barra controlled Hummer would mean tons of crappy crossovers.

    HUMMER left with 2 (x2) products – both of which were fielded by AM General on AM Generals proving grounds. 3 Generations of BOF trucks where every single truck left the factory with full time 4WD with low range. 3 generations of trucks with steel bumpers that could take an impact without significant damage better than any SUV made today. Lockers standard/optional on every model made, Emphasis on ground clearance, approach, departure, and breakover angles. V8 Standard/available on every product line.

    GM would be lucky to get one of those things right on a Modern HUMMER. Don’t screw up what works and don’t crap on heritage. The Blazer name has already been trampled on – let’s leave it at that.

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