GMC: Moving From the Middle?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

GMC’s an interesting brand. Free of cars from the outset (Sprint/Cabalero notwithstanding), General Motors’ truck brand seems well positioned to turn America’s unquenchable thirst for trucks and utility vehicles into big, big bucks.

For the most part, it has, yet glaring shafts of white space remain in the brand’s lineup. Time for a little rearranging?

Automotive Newsproduct pipeline provides a potential window into an automaker’s future, condensing down-low scuttlebutt, corporate whispers, and all other info into a likely product plan. The outlet recently focused on GM, and one thing stood out.

Does everyone recall the Acadia? The former full-size(ish) crossover that went midsize, even as the nameplates that once kept it company remained on the big side of the spectrum? Looks like it’s not staying put.

Refreshed in a questionable manner (in this writer’s opinion) for 2020, the downsized Acadia first came onto the scene in the middle of 2016, positioned above the soon-to-be-downsized (for MY2018) Terrain. GM soon added the Chevrolet Blazer as a two-row midsize option. While the two CUVs share a platform, the Acadia offers seating for up to 7.

That left the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse as the topmost rung of the GM crossover ladder. However, AN claims the Acadia’s trajectory will be boomerang-like, with the model returning to its former home in the near future.

Expected to see a redesign in 2024, the Acadia “will move to a larger platform to become the size of a Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave, as it was in the previous generation,” the outlet wrote. At the bottom of GMC’s product range, a long-awaited subcompact crossover (Granite?) is believed to arrive in about a year.

While the move would stand to make GMC more money on both the high and low end of the lineup, helped along by a new Yukon for ’21, it would also leave the brand with a sizable gap in the middle. Is that space GMC needs to occupy? Depends who you ask.

The Acadia reached new sales heights in 2017, selling more than 111,000 units in the U.S., though the subsequent two years saw sales fall to basically what they were in the two years preceding the model’s size change. The larger Traverse has only seen its fortunes rise over the past half-decade, with the model posting more than 147,000 sales last year. Maybe the Acadia name would be better served affixed to a larger vehicle.

Someone prone to conspiracy theories would suggest that the hollowing out of the middle of GMC’s lineup is all about creating space for an off-road-focused SUV, but there’s no evidence that this is the case. For all we know, the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler will remain the only two contenders in the ring.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Ytiradp Ytiradp on Jul 27, 2020

    Very curious when reading this that GMC will finally get a subcompact model for 2022, but will it be something better than the Encore GX? I feel like GMCs version should use the D2XU platform to make it wider and longer than the other subcompacts from GM. GMC should aim the "Granite" squarely at the Countryman with style and customization as the core of the model. The 2.0T should be the smallest engine for any GMC model with the 2.7T as the upgrade. These models are "professional grade" and should have more features akin to Cadillac than Chevy with totally unique interiors. Hopefully GM has been listening to all the critics on their latest products and push the boundaries more.

  • Avnut Avnut on Jul 27, 2020

    I thought GMC made work trucks, not luxury vehicles. Isn't their tagline, "We are professional grade".

    • See 1 previous
    • Luke42 Luke42 on Jul 28, 2020

      They mostly sell luxury trucks. Actual commercial vehicles are purchased on a dollar-and-cents basis, and GMC carries a price premium. I picked up a decade-old GMC Sierra recently to act as a family towbeast, and the "luxury truck" / "professional grade" contradiction actually makes sense in an old-school GM sort of way. If managers are "supposed" to drive Buicks in GM's alternate universe, the boss on a construction site is "supposed" to drive a GMC truck. It works surprisingly well in terms of branding and customer experience. In real life, I got a used truck off of a semi-retired guy, and the truck happens to be a pretty comfortable place to spend time and has the capabilities I was looking for. I have no affinity for the brand -- but I see the fantasy that GM is trying to push, and why it can wring a little extra cash out of some truck buyers.

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