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GM Set to Unveil Two CUV Makeovers at NAIAS

Detroit maker hopes to gain momentum in growing ute market.

by on Dec.15, 2016

The next-generation Chevy Traverse will be bigger when it debuts at the North American International Auto Show next month.

The overall U.S. motor vehicle market is expected to slow in 2017 after three consecutive years of record sales. The exception is the utility-vehicle segment which continues to eat away at sales of sedans and other passenger cars.

So, it’s no surprise that automakers have been flooding the market with new and updated models. General Motors is expected to continue that trend when the North American International Auto Show in Detroit holds its media preview early next month, reports indicating it will reveal at least two revamped crossover-utility vehicle models: complete makeovers of both the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Terrain.

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The two models are expected to move in different directions when it comes to size, the Chevy growing, the GMC shrinking.

The Chevy Traverse has been sharing platforms with the GMC Acadia but is now expected to have a longer wheelbase than the GMC model, adopting a new architecture dubbed C1 inside GM. Among other vehicles, that also serves as the underpinnings for the new Cadillac XT5.

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Word is that Chevy will add a new V-6 to deliver the necessary power for the longer three-row update.

The next-gen GMC Terrain will show off a sleeker new look when it its the show floor in Detroit.

As for the GMC Terrain, spy photos that have been posted in recent months reveal a sleeker, more modern design that picks up on the look of the GMC Acadia made over for 2017. It also is expected to shrink slightly in size, as did the previously updated Chevrolet Equinox which shares the same platform as Terrain. That architecture, in turn, is also shared with the Chevrolet Cruze passenger car line.

This will mark the first significant update for the two models since 2009, just as GM was getting ready to go into bankruptcy. Going eight years without a makeover is a long time in today’s market. Key competitors, from Ford to Toyota, are generally updating their more important products – especially those in the growing but competitive ute market – every five or six years now.

But GM was forced to delay some product plans due to the near-fatal financial hit it faced during the Great Recessions. Some product programs were scrubbed entirely, others – such as the seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette – just barely survived but were pushed back a year or more.

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That has been especially problematic in the utility-vehicle segment, the Wall Street Journal quoting GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens acknowledging the company now has “the oldest crossover lineup in the industry.”

It is also absent in several key ute segment, notably in the booming compact luxury niche. The Cadillac brand hopes to add as many as three more crossover models to its line-up by the end of the decade, brand President Johan de Nysschen recently told TheDetroitBureau.com.

But in the near-term, GM is hoping to shore up its presence in more mainstream segments with updates like the Chevy Equinox remade for the 2016 model-year, as well as the Traverse and Terrain models that will be unveiled in Detroit.

Despite being one of the oldest models in the GM line-up, the Chevy model was able to ride the boom in U.S. ute sales, posting a 5.9% increase in sales last month – though Traverse numbers are down 4.0% for the full calendar year.

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The GMC Terrain hasn’t fared nearly as well. It was down 30.9% last month and is off 21.4% for the full year-to-date.

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