GMC, General Motor's traditionally commercially-oriented truck brand, is moving beyond its historic role as the vinyl seats, hose-it-out floor provider of bare-bones work trucks. Since the late '90s, the brand has becoming increasingly associated with upscale, luxurious trucks and SUVs. The coming decade will likely represent an even bigger change for the brand, as it adds more compact crossovers and urban-oriented "lifestyle" vehicles.
Granite: Case in point lies with GMC's smallest offering ever. The beloved Granite show car is allegedly set to enter production, after the concept received much praise from critics and consumers alike. The rear-hinged rear passenger doors were reportedly a hurdle towards making the design a reality, but Automotive News now says the final production vehicle will include the so-called Dutch doors -- at least on the passenger side. Since the vehicle borrows liberally from the Delta II platform (which also underpins the likes of the Chevy Cruze and Buick Verano), a number of four-cylinder options -- including turbocharged 1.4 and 2.0-liter variants -- are possibilities. No word on if the sweet trucklet variant shown last year in Hollywod has also been greenlit, but we doubt that's the case.
Terrain: By our count, the compact Terrain is the lone GMC crossover/ SUV model to avoid the Denali treatment. That won't be the case come next year, as an upscale Terrain Acadia model is expected to join the portfolio for the 2013 model year. Talk of a hybrid powertrain -- possibly a scaled-down form of GM's two-mode hybrid system, but perhaps more likely the company's E-Assist mild hybrid system for cost purposes.
Acadia: Since GM doesn't plan on overhauling its Lambda platform until 2015, at the earliest, don't expect GMC's large crossover to change much in the meantime. An Acadia Denali model was added for the 2011 model year, and there's talk that a cosmetic refresh for 2013 could revamp both front and rear fascias, the interior, and replace the direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 with a direct-injection 3.0-liter V-6.
Sierra 1500: Here's where things get tricky. Yes, fuel economy is increasingly a concern both for customers and automakers (hey, you try dealing with CAFê regulations) alike, but the full-size Sierra pickup remains one of GMC's most popular offerings. Year to date, the brand has sold more 67,000 examples -- handily outselling the thrifty, popular Terrain by 20,000 units. It's hard to simply ignore such a sizable volume, even in light of increasing fuel prices and challenging federal mandates.
As a result, expect the next-gen Sierra to be a leaner, meaner machine. Previous reports suggested GM was looking to strip as much unnecessary weight from the next-gen C/K platform as possible. We've heard GM hopes to shave at least 500 pounds per pickup truck by 2016, all while retaining the content and safety features mandated by buyers and NHTSA alike. We wouldn't be surprised if the new trucks use more aluminum, magnesium, and other lithe alloys going forward.
Powertrain will also likely grow more efficient. GM's next-generation V-8, which will feature direct fuel injection, E85 capability, and a reported "advanced combustion design" -- and potentially cam-in-cam timing -- will likely be one staple. Other reports suggest other six-cylinder offerings are under consideration, including a turbocharged variant. Automotive News also suggests an eight-speed automatic -- perhaps the very one scheduled to be built in Toledo, Ohio -- may also be available to help eke every last bit of efficiency from the truck. An evolved version of GM's 2-Mode system -- reportedly a 4-Mode design -- is also expected to be offered.
Regardless, don't expect these revisions to happen overnight. GM has already announced it's spending money to upgrade its Flint, Michigan, plant to build the trucks, but executives have previously indicated the company won't rush the line to market. As it stands, expect the next-gen Sierra to debut in late 2013 as a 2014 model.
Sierra 2500/3500: Since GM extensively reworked what's beneath the skin of its heavy-duty pickups for the 2011 model year, so now it's time for a cosmetic reboot to match. An overhaul is expected to arrive in either model year 2014 or 2015. We're also told a successor to the popular Duramax 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V-8 should arrive around 2015 or so.
Yukon (XL): As GM's full-size pickups go, so go its full-size utilities. Expect these beasts to remain truck-based, and not (as previous speculation suggested) be replaced by large crossovers. Design, powertrain, and launch timing should almost mirror (or perhaps trail) the light-duty Sierra. Expect the short-wheelbase Yukon model to also receive GM's next-generation hybrid system.
Canyon: Officially, GMC's aging compact pickup dies next year, when production ends at the Shreveport, Louisiana, facility in late 2012. What -- if anything -- follows remains to be seen. GM hasn't officially confirmed a new small pickup for the U.S., but has hinted at the fact that the next-generation Chevrolet Colorado -- previewed by several concepts shown elsewhere around the world -- could be sold in North America in the future. Whether or not there's a case for GMC to have a version is anyone's guess.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)