With the 2011 Chevrolet Orlando compact crossover already in the product pipeline, General Motors is clearly planning a spin-off for the GMC truck division.
The new GMC crossover cruises into the 2010 Detroit Auto Show in the form of the GMC Granite concept, which GM bills as an "urban-industrial"-style wagon for young professionals--in the hazy marketing-speak of its official press release.
The Granite combines cues from all over the GMC lineup--and at first glance, it's also a mashup of those family traits as well as some from successful wagons like the 2010 Kia Soul and the original Scion xB. GM designer Dave Lyon equates the shape with an urban loft, and for sure, there's a distinct modernist feel--not to mention a dramatic pause between the Granite's tall headlamps and truckish grille, and its abruptly vertical rear end. The high-tech styling theme carries over to the Granite's LED displays for the audio, climate and navigation function; they're surrounded by warm sueded material and a dash faced with cream-colored plastic, in a dash style that's a strong reminder of the simpler GMC truck interiors of the past.
The strongest link between the concept and the production-ready Chevrolet Orlando? The Granite's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, which makes 138 hp in other applications. It's teamed up with a six-speed automatic shifted by rotation, not through shift gates--think Jaguar XF. The concept rides on large 20-inch wheels.
GM says, in fact, that if the Granite goes into production, it would be the brand's smallest vehicle ever. At a backgrounder held at GM's styling studios last summer, the Granite concept was presented as a clear link to the large seven-passenger Acadia crossover and the five-passenger 2010 Terrain crossover. It's two feet shorter than the Terrain, with a 103.6-inch wheelbase, and is 70.3 inches wide and 60.5 inches tall.
To accommodate passengers and their things, the Granite's rear doors are rear-hinged like those on the Honda Element. Those doors aren't likely for a production version of the Granite, but they do convey the openness of the concept's interior design. They also show off the Granite's flexible interior, which has ample cargo room and flip-folding seats that move out of the way for mountain bikes and other weekend gear. Unlike the Element's flip-fold rear seats, the Granite's right-side seats fold toward the center to create a long storage area.
For entertainment, the Granite's red-backlit LED display controls personal electronics, and the center console has ports to recharge and link devices like iPhones and Blackberrys--along with a slot sized to store a laptop computer.
GMC is one of the four brands on which GM has hinged its future. With fuel economy rules changing and buyers moving away from large SUVs, there's almost certain to be a place in the GMC lineup for a vehicle sized like the Granite. As of yet, GM hasn't confirmed that addition, or given any timeline for a small new crossover for its truck brand.
GMC also is showing the 2011 GMC Acadia Denali in Detroit this week. It's a high-luxe version of the large GMC family wagon.
There's more from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show today; we'll be back with photo galleries from the show floor, including the Granite and the new Acadia Denali.