Crossovers are undoubtedly the hottest vehicle segment right now, with sales up 18.5-percent in 2015 across the entire U.S. market. Every automaker is focusing R&D efforts on developing multiple product lines of crossovers, including General Motors. As indicated in the company’s reveal of a shrunken 2017 GMC Acadia, which serves as a bellwether of GM’s revamped crossover strategy.
For several years now GM has been focused and paying lip service to the notion that it must simplify its global product portfolio. The root of this strategy resides in the fact that the company is reducing the number of global platforms, which is subsequently leading it to reposition some crossovers and create a few new ones.
GM’s crossover upheaval begins with the Lambda crossovers, the company’s enormous 200-inch crossovers. Having launched with the 2007 GMC Acadia, the Lambda’s are ancient by today’s standards. They’ve sold well, however the Lambda platform is basically a one-off that shares nothing with the rest of the GM product stable. It’s also not a global architecture, which is why the company has exported the Buick Enclave from Michigan to China.
As we’ve seen with the 2017 Acadia, Lambda is not getting a direct replacement. Instead, GM is taking a two-prong approach to filling the void of the triumphant Lambdas. The strategy encompasses a smaller architecture based on the company’s Epsilon global midsize car platform that will also offer a stretch version.
Coming in at around 194-inches, the new Acadia demonstrates the smaller of the two indirect Lambda replacements. This size class is intended to fill a gap that has existed in the GM crossover portfolio in recent years between the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain and the Lambda products. The company has lacked that sweet-spot size in which a third row seat is available for those that want it, but isn’t forced upon all buyers.
Though the success of the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse cannot be underestimated and GM knows this. Buyers that seek the mega-space of these two products can take solace in knowing that their replacements will be on a stretch version of the C1xx platform, which should keep them reasonably close to their current size. The new Enclave and Traverse are expected in late 2017. Cadillac, too, is getting an extended C1 crossover with the rumored name of XT7, but not until a couple of years after the first two.
While the top-end of the GM crossover stable is covered with both C1xx variants, the middle portion will transition over time as well. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain will both migrate to a crossover variant of GM’s global D2xx architecture that underpins the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze and Opel Astra. This transition is expected to cause both to shrink just a bit, which is not surprising as the current ones are anomalies in the segment in terms of their “tween” size.
Both the all-new Equinox and Terrain are expected to arrive in summer of 2017. The transition to D2xx will, in theory, allow both to be sold globally, however there is no firm word on whether or not that will happen.
Rounding out the crossover strategy is a lineup that’s already on the market: the sub-compact crossovers. The current Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax are intended to be based on GM’s global Gamma sub-compact architecture (though I’ve been told the current one’s are one-off’s). Both of these are expected to continue to reside on the Gamma platform going forward with replacements not on the horizon until 2019 or later. A Cadillac crossover based on this architecture is also expected in a similar time frame.
So, a quick recap:
- Sub-compact: Buick Encore,Cadillac XT1, Chevrolet Trax
- Compact: Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain
- Midsize: Chevrolet Trailblazer (global), Cadillac XT5, GMC Acadia
- Large: Buick Enclave, Cadillac XT7, Chevrolet Traverse
Given the popularity of crossovers and sinking gas prices, it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if GM ends up adding even more vehicles to the portfolio. Nonetheless, the company is currently attempting to reposition their crossover stable and they’re about halfway through the process at the moment.