GMC Could Be GM's Special-Vehicle Lab

2015 GMC Lineup II

There's been plenty of speculation about what direction GMC might take in the future. In fact, it's even been suggested GMC might resurrect an old Hummer concept the Hummer HX from 2008 to compete with the popular Jeep Wrangler, which sold more than 175,000 vehicles last year.

It seems unlikely that GMC, as a brand, could know much about serious four-wheel-drive vehicles. In fact, many have criticized GMC as a brand without much direction apart from the Chevrolet clones it offers. However, that could change if GMC wants to explore new directions, and it could have right people already in place.

The current lead GMC designer, Carl Zipfel, worked at Hummer and was the creator of the very Hummer-like GMC Terradyne. If properly done, we believe that GMC could take more of this kind of creativity and become a more serious, capability-first heavy-metal laboratory for GM, allowing Chevy to continue to be the safer mainstream brand and Cadillac the luxury high-tech outlet. But GM would need to be smart about it.

It wasn't that long ago that GM tried to simply modify an existing previous-gen Colorado/Canyon pickup truck platform to make the Hummer H3T and H3T Alpha. The result was a heavy, bulky midsize pickup with poor visibility. It wasn't long after the H3T introduction that the entire Hummer brand was killed. But what about something based on an all-new, current platform — maybe even a short wheelbase but still with four doors — with a more serious off-road independent front suspension/independent rear suspension chassis? We wonder if it could incorporate some of the 4x4 strategies we saw on the Chevy Colorado ZR2 at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Although interesting concepts like the Terradyne and Granite Compact Pickup concept could hold the keys to GMC's expanding brand definition, much of that success will be determined by how willing GM is to let designers like Zipfel explore and experiment with the brand's elasticity. We're hopeful when we see things like the GMC All Terrrain, which was designed to straddle the off-road capability fence between the high-speed Ford Raptor and rock-conquering Ram Power Wagon, as well as smaller projects like the unibody Granite from 2010.

Officially, GMC says it'll continue to follow the course they've set. And given how successful it's been, that's a difficult strategy to argue with; their top-level Denali brand is a popular and profitable trim package across their pickup, crossover, and SUV lineup. In fact, if Denali were a dedicated vehicle brand, it would have outsold the combined total of luxury brands Land Rover, Jaguar, and Porsche for 2014. According to a recent press release, GMC wants to continue to leverage their momentum (which often means looking for new segments) and build the brand. 

With all that said, does it seem likely GMC could expand its design and engineering territory to include a Wrangler fighter, a serious full-size off-road-biased pickup or even a lightweight subcompact pickup? It seems like GMC has the ability and creativity, but what's holding the brand back is how much risk it's willing and able to take. By all means, keep the money makers flowing into the pipeline, but there are some opportunities here that GMC is uniquely positioned to explore. If profits continue in the direction they're headed, we hope to see GMC get the green light it needs.

Manufacturer images


2000 GMC Terradyne_06 II

20011 gmc-sierra-all-terrain-hd II

Hummer-hx-2008 exterior-13 II

2010 GMC Granite CPU II

Gmc-sierra-all-terrain-hd 2 II





The direction GMC heads in would be interesting.

I has to produce a product it isn't already selling in the CUV/SUV/Pickup segments. The Canyon is an example of good product placement.

A Wrangler competitor is a good option, yet it will come with it's own issue relating to CAFE. The Wrangler has limited competition and the Wrangler package is very well developed and has massive brand recognition.

The global Colorado comes in a BOF SUV package here in Australia alongside it's sister the Izuzu MU-X based on the D Max. These are similar in concept to the Tacoma-Surf in the US.

Both share the mechanicals, front end suspension, etc with their respective pickups.

Pretty much anything else will most likely be short to medium term niche vehicles. I don't see a Hummer style vehicle producing the goods for GMC.

If GMC did build a BOF SUV based on the Canyon how much existing competition is there? Will it be competing with itself?

Maybe it could take the tooling from the Holden Commodore ute. Make smaller performance orientated utes.

There is a hole there, and as a niche product it would be long lasting, maybe similar to the Wrangler. GMC already has an export market here in Australia to offset costs.

Australia would gladly accept a V8 GMC ute based on the Commodore.

GMC needs its own vehicle. Everyone of their models are rebadged Chevy's. If my memory serves me right, the last time gas was $2/gal the Hummer lineup was extremely popular and profitable. Perhaps GMC could relaunch a new H1 or H2 as a model name? Medium to large SUV and/or SUT with excellent off road capabilities? GMC Hummer anyone?

@Big Al
excuse me sir, but the Wrangler and its previous incarnations are tightly in that gap between barn queen and a steaming turd. Recent Wranglers finally have an engine and drivetrain they don't have to apologize for but overall they stink and are overpriced & unreliable.


The Hummer was a giant money pit for GM, especially the H3. The H2 was a glorified SUV grocery getter, but none of them made money. When they weren't taking up space on the dealer lots they were ruining GM's already weak reputation for build quality.

Hell will freeze over before they revisit that theme again.

Heck they might even revive the Pontiac Fiero.

I wouldn't mind a new Jimmy. Two doors, solid axles, removable roof, stick with a granny first, etc. I had one back in the 70's and it's probably my favorite vehicle of all one's I've ever owned. Shame it rusted away to nothing.

When I used to think of GMC , this image came up,. What happened? Where did the full truck range go?

@papa jim,
I don't disagree with your sentiment regarding the "steaming turd".

But even with that view the Jeep Wrangler has maintained a strong following.

Jeep is possibly the best brand name that FCA has, it's has global reach. Go somewhere and say I own an Ram and they probably think you are from New Zealand and own Velcro gloves. Sorry Robert, couldn't resist;)

I do think GMC has to find a hole somewhere to fill. Or as is the case with the Canyon create a vehicle that surpasses the competition by a country mile.

That's why I think a GMC ute would be the best bet. The US has most of whats needed in drivetrain and even the front suspension from the Comaro. The 3.6 V6 and V8s.

What would you buy if you are after a performance pickup.

Why would you buy a 98mph Tremor when you could go out and buy a 160mph ute that will fit a trail bike on the back.

It would be another lifestyle vehicle, but a two seater.

While it is true that the JK was pretty bad for a few year, a lot actually, esp pre 3.6 and even early 3,6's have head tick issue, my 14 Wrangler has been perfect other the known not perfect paint but I knew that going in, mine is pretty good even in the paint dept.

Having said all that, its still the only game in town for upgrades, going topless and I can go places a Raptor owner only dreams of going.

You need to fail in order to succeed.
You don't know you're making a mistake until you fail.
GM almost lost it all about 4 or 5 years ago.
Now they are motivated
They needed a kick in the butt!

Now anything GM makes will compete with any other vehicle in the world.
The Colorado-Canyon is a prime example of being creative and MAKING A TRUCK THAT THE CONSUMER WANTS !

Ford takes the new F-150 and shoves a turbo and aluminum down your throat that you didn't want and you guys that own one can't fake it and pretend forever that you love it cause we know you're lying !

I've never seen one of them UTE's in person. I'd sure like to see one make it over here tho. They look like a hoot to drive.

GMC Granite Compact Pickup looks slick, could be affordable and with the extending bed; fairly useful, and have an extraordinary power-train. Could conceivably be morphed into a crew cab as well.

Colorado is still too high up and narrow, with big truck pretense... giving it the loaf of bread styling.

Please we don't need another 6,400 lbs Hummer. Way too many F250 monsters out there now, with one guy in them and never any loads.

Best quote: "Commuting to work in a 4x4 pickup is like cutting your lawn with a chainsaw."

I would love to see a sport truck come from GMC with a supercharged 5.3 or 6.2. Big four wheelers are cool, but how many people need that for a daily driver. But everyone can use more horse power to get across town or pass on the freeway.

Here is a Holden Drift Ute

@Elkhunter wrong video
Now a holden drift ute

Not having a good day , try this video

UTE is an awesome screamer and more like a sporty car but hardly an off road capable 4wheeler ,,

I like that Teradyne and the third from top jeep like rig..

If GM wants to compete against Jeepers and such it should put portal axles like H1 had into their trucks,plus lockers front and rear

What would you buy if you are after a performance pickup.
Why would you buy a 98mph Tremor when you could go out and buy a 160mph ute that will fit a trail bike on the back.

It would be another lifestyle vehicle, but a two seater.

Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Feb 7, 2015 3:48:29 PM

Love the UTE but don't see it being financial feasible as it's very limited use,,also GM could easily make something like that by simply dropping the suspension on their trucks,
all it takes is lowered spindles and relocate the rear axle above springs,like so

well generic motors should have plenty of money for R & D on these type know the 11 billion we all chipped in to keep their sorry butt afloat

On the other hand Utes have a split personality, this is a Ford Falcon FPV Ute

@Chevrolet builds better way to see the USA,
Considering most US pickups are empty with one driver, a ute would fulfill most pickup duties. The link above by Robert shows what a 1 ton ute can do, more than you realised.

Your comment on costs is a little over the top, they will be cheaper than a V8 full size single cab. An Australian V8 Commodore ute is around $38 000 (recommended retail).

That makes it around $30 000USD. That's one made in Australia. The US with it's low wages can make them cheaper.

GM couldn't make anything out of a full size to compete with the "ute" for muscle car and handling.

The full size just weighs too much to be a true performance vehicle. I do know Top Gear drove a Maloo ute around it's track and it was quicker than a Rouche Mustang.

A performance ute will compete in all areas for performance vehicles. They will not sell in huge quantities, but they would surely put GMC in a position similar to Chev with a Corvette.

GMC could also export to quite a few nations (countries that is with a FTA, the chicken tax will stop some exports).

South Africa, Australia, NZ, UK are just the main ones I could think of.

The 2015 Silverado is the best bargain out there!
You can get a Silverado 4x4 crew LT with the 5.3V8 for $36K
A similar equipped 2015 F-150 is $42K
The Silverado V8 actually gets better MPG than the F-150 V6 EB !

you're taking a big risk buying the new F-150 plus it costs more and it gets worse gas mileage

the Silverado can do the same thing in hauling and towing the F-150 does

you get 2 extra years powertrain warranty on the Silverado


its a no-brainer !

I'd really like to see Ford/GM resurrect the Ranchero/El Camino Names and bring them UTEs out here. Thanks for the videos R.R.

They are used a lot, by local Councils to do tree lopping etc. The FPV Ford Falcon was pretty., reasonable off road as well

GMC--Should offer the Canyon in a total off road package similar to the Colorado off road concept and the Toyota off road packages on the Tacoma. Then GMC should make the Granite concept reality with a few tweaks.

Jeff S

Give it time cause there are endless possibilities out there to easy modify the Colorado-Canyon.
The 3.6 car based engine already has serious bolt-on performance parts out there for the taking!
The suspension upgrades will be easy anybody can do and oversize tires are already avavable.
Lets not forget about a custom exhaust and wheel well lip moldings you can buy for it today.

The Colorado-Canyon will be a hit! It will be popular! Everybody is going to want one!
Its going to or it is already everybodys dream truck!
GM has a winner !

anybody that test drives the Tacoma AFTER they test drive the Colorado-Canyon will leave a big turd on the seat of the Tacoma

@Tom#3--Agree, the new Colorado/Canyon are light years ahead of the Tacoma and the Frontier. There will be a lot of after market products available for these twins. The V-6 engine appears to be a real winner.

Full disclosure; I have owned GMC trucks since 1977 when I ordered my first Jimmy from the factory. ($7,600)

The Terridine piqued my interest when I saw it the first time.
I've had some experience with drawer repair and I'm not convinced of any real world success with the sliding bed. One gravel rock can put the whole concept out of business. Rear end fender benders will require a whole new bed. Being electric makes it even worse. Looks good on paper though.

Kinda' like the bumper step. They did away with it shortly after it appeared on the Avalanche. I am all for functionality, but it looks hideous unless the bumper is painted black.
I will never buy a painted bumper on a truck.

I need some advice.

My local Chevy dealer has a high country crew cab on his lot with the 6.2 but its a 2014 with the 6 Speed.

55,800+ and the offer is looking like if I trade (2k additional money off to trade anything 1999 or newer)

41,340 is the offer with potential another 500-1000 Autoshow money, so possibly 40,340 with my GM Card 3K.

Does that sound like a good deal, it has the cool brown leather, sunroof, nav, ect, basically fully loaded.

Al - Do yourself a favor and look historically how "UTES" have done in the USA. There is a reason they don't make them here anymore. They were niche vehicles that failed to maintain sales. They would likely do even worse now. The majority of non fleet and non commercial pickups are sold as extended or crew cabs. There's no market for a light duty car with a paick up truck bed. Ask Subaru how well the Baja went or to a lesser degree check in on Honda Ridgeline sales. Both car based. Both supposedly offered what people here are clamoring for. Both were sales duds despite being pretty good vehicles.

FWIW the main reason for 100k and/or 10 year warranties is to lure customers back after they perceive a product to be of inferior build quality. Go look at what manufacturers have done it. Hyundai and KIA did it to bring in buyers who thoguht them to be cheap and undependable. Chrysler did it when they made junk under Daimler

When was the last US built ute?

SUVs and CUVs have never really done will until recently. Even pickups used to sell a lot better.

4 cylinder cars used to never do well.

Times change, but if you read and comprehended my comment you would have realised I stated "They will not sell in huge quantities, but they would surely put GMC in a position similar to Chev with a Corvette".

The US could export some as well to reduce some of the costs.

Once upon a time horses sold really well.

Wranglers for all their faults fill niche that is a big money maker for FCA. Hummer tried to build a brand from the top down not the other way and when they figured out where they went wrong GM went down the tubes and the government dragged its feet over its sale until the buyer pulled out.

The Hummer HX was a neat concept and I think could have brought more than a few Wrangler sales over the GM fold. Personally I say go for it.

Greatest Machine Created!!!

Suv's use to sell really well and they are increasing there market share by leaps and bounds after they drastically lost it when the economy crashed. Can't see car pickups, Utes making a cost worthy investment in the U.S. market.

Mr Obvious- that's an excellent price on the 2014 high country crew cab 6.2. For some unexplained reason 2014 6.2's with 6 spds seem to be faster than 2105 with 8 spd. Also there is an additional up charge for the 8 sp.

Only disappointment is the 98 mph governor that kicks in about the end of the quarter mile. Use synthetic oil and change it about the 50% life and you should not have to replace any lifters.

The Wrangler is the 10th best selling "SUV" in the US.

Around 11 600 where sold in January. I have heard many discuss the mid size market as challenging, I do think the niche that the Wrangler fills would be more challenging for GMC to gain a foot hold.

I think there are two types who buy a Wrangler. The people who want to 4x4 in places that would put a Raptor to shame and the hairdresser set.

The hairdresser set are the ones who buy because they think they look cool in one.

I have spoken to few in Australia who have bought a Wrangler and they say never again. They think they suck for longer distance trips and aren't that family friendly and relatively heavy on fuel.

But if you live in a place with nearby access for off roading or the beach and you only drive shortish distances a Wrangler would suit.

Different markets have different needs.They still meet many needs here, Ford Transit Connect type of vehicles have a very small niche here.SUV's are about 35%, Pickups and Utes 16%
What does not exist in the US market are Cab chassis Utes, European Cab Chassis Vans with Pickup bodies,Japanese, Korean Vans, European and Japanese MDT and HDT Trucks, whole Commercial ranges from VW, and PSA

Al - Back in the late 50's to late 80's we had the El Camino and Ranchero. Coupes with pickup truck beds. No one wants coupes or 2 seaters here that aren't sportscars anymore. Are you seriously comparing a Corvette to a car with a pickup truck bed??? The Corvette debuted before the UTES we had here and is still highly desired after they long since departed.

SUV's used to dominate here prior to gas prices exploding. The CUV boom happened when the small and mid sized SUV's became non sellers.

Your Jeep Wrangler sales figure is irrelevant regarding it's success. The success of the Wrangler is due to it survivng requiring minimal updates over the years and that keeps design costs down. It will never be a volume seller as it is a vehicle that puts off road function as a priority over mileage, cargo and people hauling. It doesn't claim to be luxurious or overly techie like the Hummer brand and FJ Cruiser went after. You can get a Wranger cheap and the mods are endless no matter what the model year.

This is for Big Al from OZ: My friend a agree with a lot of your ideas you bring to Pickuptruck talk ,but this is one time, i have to disagree with you, First of all when they are talking about competing with Jeep Wrangler, they are not talking about a car based Vehicle, they are talking about body on frame truck type chassis. You are the only one, that keeps bringing up the Car based Ute.

"Are you seriously comparing a Corvette to a car with a pickup truck bed??? The Corvette debuted before the UTES we had here and is still highly desired after they long since departed."

Big Al from Oz would not want a Corvette, in the part of Australia
He inhabits, but a Holden Maloo would be almost or faster than a basic Corvette, not far off in the handling and can carry a Sports Motorcycle. Not a bad Rally car either

@louis o
Agree with you. The Jeep Wrangler is very much a niche vehicle, here more an urban based vehicle for rock crawling, a modified Hilux can pretty well keep up with it. Utes are primarily an urban and dirt\some Off Road work,

Holden Ute as Rally car and the Top Gear episode where it beats a Aston Martin DBR9 around their test track

@ Big Al from Oz ,

The Wrangler wasn't made for long distance travel , as it isn't a smoothest riding vehicle this is the reason Jeep brand as a whole has a low score on consumer also brings down Grand Cherokee ect..

It isn't reliability its the rougher ride..If you want a smooth ride get a Grand Cherokee ,the Wrangler is a beast off road,driving to/from work not far I would guess ,depends what you are looking for and hitting the trails on the weekend..

The 3.6 brings performance and gas mileage up...

Globally may be Jeep is the most recognised brand FCA has..I would say Dodge is right up there maybe more so than Jeep... as Viper ,Challenger,Charger,RAM trucks new and old are pretty well known around the globe..Even decades ago they sold them in China/India/Europe/Latin America/Mexico...not sure,but they are well known..

Did you know Jeep may not have been so popular because the 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee was going to be called a CHRYSLER !

It may have made Chrysler division to have a lot of suvs ,that would have been a whole lot different for Chrysler .. Jeep would have Wrangler type serious off roaders..

Go for it GMC,see what you can do !

@Louis o,
Thanks for the compliment.

I see GMC as the "Buick" of General Motors pickups and SUV/CUV vehicles.

I don't consider a Jeep to fit into that category. Maybe Chev could build one.

What could GMC possibly make, a vehicle similar to the FJ Cruiser? That's very similar to the Taco.

That's why I went down the path of a ute. It could be a true performance pickup. Light, easy to build and the US manufactures Comaros and many components could be used. Even the ute chassis is based on a car ie, Commodore/Camaro.

It would definitely be a niche vehicle, but so would a Jeep competitor. An Aussie style ute is something that isn't available in the US market.

A V6 ute would be as quick as a V8 or EcoBoost full size and get good FE as well, better than a V6 Canyon.

A V8 ute would be a muscle car like a V8 Comaro/Mustang that can carry a quad or motorbike on the back or tow a medium size load.

When has GM ever stepped out side thier comfort Zone???? Never... if they had a brain anywhere up top, we wouldnt even be discussing this, becuase the All Terrain HD wouuld have allready ben prowling the streets, 1/2 tons, Tahoes/Suburbans (and thier Twins) would have had the 4.5L Duramax... I'm a GM fan... or used to be up until i bought my 2014 Shakarado.... They need to get thier act together quick... they are loosing support daily...

GM has stepped out of their comfort zones....repeatably. Usually resulting in bad decisions.

If they make a hardcore off road UTE they need to make it with mostly off the shelf parts, because they do not have R&D cash to burn. So a ZR2 based SUV is possible, but outside of that, I just don't see it happening.

The early Blazer was really a decent purpose-built off-road vehicle that did manage to compete with the Jeep CJs reasonably well simply because of their larger size and ability to out-Jeep the Jeep factory stock. Yes, the Blazer had a somewhat longer wheelbase but it ran on larger tires with a bigger engine so that it could power through places the stock CJ couldn't go while still offering a short enough wheelbase to handle some of the tight maneuvering the smaller CJ performed regularly. Today's big 4x4 pickups lack that maneuverability and have grown so large that they can't handle some of the tight quarters that even today's larger Wrangler manages easily.

As such, a new Jimmy-/S-10-sized Blazer throwing back to the early Blazer concept with removable roof, etc. could truly compete with a modern Wrangler. Jeep has proven that the market for such vehicles is valid, so a direct competitor to the Jeep could well have a market waiting for it.

Big AL i too agree that the GMC is the Buck of pickup, I believe GM has said the same. the GMC is suppose to be Luxury brand of the GM trucks. For a Jeep wrangler competitor it should be the Chevy, they have already proved they can do it, with the Colorado ZR2. So i thank you and i are on the same page!

@Vulpine Imagine an S10 based SUV with a 4.3 current generation v6 and a six speed !!!

I like the All-Terrain HD. Makes me think of the kind of truck the Fall Guy would drive. The Granite could be cool, as a sport truck, based on the Canyon. The Hummer HX, that would be an awesome Jeep fighter.

GMC should offer a true off road package on the Canyon similar to the Colorado concept and to the off road package of the Tacoma. Also GMC could offer a Denali trim on the Canyon with heated and cooled seats. The Granite would be a nice sized compact truck. GMC should not bother with an ute or a Jeep Wrangler competitor and just offer more on the Canyon to differentiate it more from the Colorado. The Granite would be like a truck version of the Buick Encore and could give GMC a distinctly different product than Chevrolet. Make the Granite nicer with power windows, power driver's seats, backup camera, cruise control, and a 6 speed manual and price it at a starting price of 18k and offer upgrades such as remote start, power passenger seat, and a moon roof. Most of the components could be shared from the Colorado/Canyon such as the electric motors to power the seats and the windows. Use the turbo 4 that is offered in the Cruze.

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