Saturday, February 6, 2010

2012 GMC Granite Review and Prices

A GMC for the under-30s? Yup, the Granite Concept signals a "professional-grade" compact to rival the Scion xB, Kia Soul, and other youth-oriented vehicles. It's a calculated risk, but a necessary one.

What We Know About the 2012 GMC Granite

Automakers have no money to waste in today's brutally competitive market. So when you see a concept vehicle like the GMC Granite, it's a pretty safe bet that something very much like it will be heading for showrooms. Indeed, many concepts are little more than thinly disguised previews of a production model that's already finished and ready to launch.

Still, you might wonder how can we be so sure about the Granite. It is, after all, the smallest vehicle ever to wear the GMC label, and thus seemingly at odds with the brand's "professional-truck" macho mojo. But that's the point. General Motors is down to just four brands after its historic 2009 bankruptcy, and narrowly focused GMC (Buick and Cadillac, too) must do more for sales and profits than ever before. That implies new products and out-of-the-box thinking to counter reduced demand for GMC's traditional large SUVs as buyers keep flocking to car-based compact and midsize crossovers. That's why GMC introduced the large-midsize Acadia two years ago and added the smaller midsize Terrain for 2010. Tightening federal fuel-economy standards and fast-growing interest in low-emission vehicles are other reasons why the brand is showing a softer side nowadays.

A compact crossover seems the next logical step, hence the Granite. Its mission is simple: Expand the brand's customer base. As product marketing director Lisa Hutchinson put it in a press release, the Concept "Granite was conceived as a new type of vehicle from GMC - one that could stretch people's idea of what a GMC can be. We call it an 'urban activity vehicle' and our goal was redefining what the GMC name could mean to a new generation of customers..." That sounds pretty serious, and though GM hasn't yet confirmed a production model, we'd be surprised if the 2012 GMC Granite isn't a done deal already.

Experience suggests the production 2012 GMC Granite will look much like the boxy concept, with a similar pug nose, big grille, dropped front fenders, cut-off tail, a modestly raked profile, and brushed- or satin-finish trim to replace chrome accents in keeping with the urbo-industrial design theme. Bodysides are an interesting mix of concave and convex surfaces, punctuated by a big "hockey stick" and other edgy lines, plus bulging wheel arches and prominent lower sills. We rather like this styling with its "baby bulldog" air, especially as it doesn't betray the Granite's compact size, more of which in a moment.