Since the demise of the Saturn VUE, GM’s smallest crossover became the Chevrolet Equinox. While many believe that the Equinox competes in the compact CUV space and goes against vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, and the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Chevy CUV actually competes in the larger mid-size class.
The main competition to the Equinox is made up of the Toyota Venza, the Toyota Highlander, Ford Edge, Hyundai Veracruz, Nissan Murano, and Honda Pilot. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following dimension chart and see for yourself:
The 2010 Equinox measures in at 187.8 inches in length (let’s call it 188 for the sake of sanity). That’s a full eight inches longer than the now-discontinued Saturn VUE, with which the Equinox shares its Theta platform (the VUE is 180.1 inches long). In that regard, I propose that GM add a CUV that would slot below the Equinox in size and in price. This new sub-Equinox crossover would truly go head-to-head with the RAV-4, CR-V, Nissan’s Rogue, and the Ford Escape. Here’s the segment in which it would compete:
My recommendation is to make Cadillac, Buick, and Chevy versions of this CUV. Here’s the market breakdown by brand:
- Chevy – the mainstream compact CUV that would take over buyers of the now-defunct Saturn VUE. Not much work would need to be done to bring this car to market, since the VUE is (was?) an excellent vehicle to begin with. Therefore, I think badge engineering is okay here. In fact, Canada will be getting the Saturn VUE with the bowtie Chevy badge as the Chevrolet Captiva in the next few months! As a side note, the Chevrolet Captiva is sold today outside of the North American market and is very similar to the Saturn Vue.
- Cadillac – the all-new Caddy SRX is a mid-size luxury CUV that competes with such vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz ML, Lexus RX, BMW X5, and the Infiniti FX. Both Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have a CUV that slots underneath those models – the GLK, Q5, and X3 (soon to be X1), respectively. Cadillac can be a player in this segment by introducing a CUV smaller than the SRX, based on the same Theta/Theta Premium platform. At about 180 inches long, it would make for very competent competition to the compact premium CUVs from Germany.
- Buick – we know that a small Buick CUV is coming, nicknamed by GM fans and media as the baby Enclave. It will most likely carry the Encore name and will ride on the Theta-Epsilon platform shared with the Caddy SRX. We also know that the Buick brand as a whole is being positioned to compete with pure-luxury brands such as Lexus. Therefore, Buick should first focus on bringing a larger CUV to market – one that would directly compete with the Lexus RX (and other mid-size luxury CUVs). Think of the baby Enclave as a Cadillac SRX with different styling and a focus on luxury with a softer ride. Once the baby Enclave is released, Buick can direct its efforts to bring a compact premium CUV that would slot underneath the baby Enclave and will most likely ride either on the Theta or Theta-Epsilon platform. In fact, it could even be a platform mate of the sub-SRX Caddy mentioned above.
What about a GMC version? Well, GMC already has the Theta-based Terrain and I’m not sure whether going smaller would fit the brand’s image and direction.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!