Opinion: For GM, Today Is A Distinct Period Of Transition17
It may not be readily apparent, but General Motors is undergoing a significant transition — all over the world. Because of this, and whether it’s apparent or not The General is in a state of flux, whether by choice or by force. Here are the top areas that are undergoing a transformation:
Chevy Goes Global
With the exception of the Oceania geographic market, where Holden reigns supreme, Chevrolet is finally becoming the mainstream global brand it always should have been. And with this newfound global availability, Chevy vehicles are also becoming globalized. No longer is GM offering two (or even three) completely unrelated offerings in different countries, as it did with the Cobalt and Lacetti or Malibu and Tosca/Epica, among others. Simply put, products designed for the global market are better in every way — and the fact that GM’s focus is on Chevy around the world couldn’t come at a better time, especially as Ford makes a very strong push for a global lineup.
Ironically, it’s possible that the Saturn and Pontiac brands needed to have been discontinued, and Opel/Vauxhall almost sold off, in order for GM to realize the inherent value of at least one global brand. Ford (again?) seems to know all about it.
Chevy Still Filling In Gaps
Even though Chevy is globalizing its lineup, it still has several holes in its lineup. In North America, for instance, one can’t purchase a compact hatch (Cruze hatch) or a compact coupe (130R or 140S, anyone?). And the crossover lineup is missing a compact offering, which may be coming, but could be a size too small. Note that all of Chevy’s other competitors are already offering vehicles in these segments. At least Chevy’s got high-quality, competitive vehicles in the high-volume segments, including sub-compact, compact, and mid-sized sedans; but a full-line automaker should offer a full line of vehicles, shouldn’t it?
Cadillac Repositions As Red-Blooded Performance
As Chevy explores its newfound global presence, Cadillac has nearly completed its transformation from a brand known for making the best “couches on wheels” to a red-blooded performance luxury marque whose products rival the best from Germany. The transformation isn’t complete just yet, though, but will be before the end of the decade — with the most important and voluminous segments taking priority over the more niche areas (full-sized rear-wheel drive flagship, for instance).
The only area of concern for The Wreath and Crest brand is globalization: currently, more than 90 percent of the brand’s sales come from North America. Europe and China are the brand’s next frontiers.
GMC Seeks Differentiation
The GMC brand, which for years mysteriously sold rebadged Chevy trucks and SUVs, seems to finally be on the right track towards building a district personality independent of The Bow Tie. From what we hear, the next-generation of all-new full-sized trucks will bring the first true dose of differentiation to Big Red, with the vehicles not being badged-up clones of the Silverado, Tahoe, or Suburban. Some of this differentiation is even seen in the recently-freshened full-sized crossovers: the 2013 GMC Acadia looks very different from its platform mate, the 2013 Chevy Traverse. Now if it only drove distinctively like a GMC…
In the next few years, GMC may end up moving upmarket and cease competing/overlapping with Chevy altogether. That would surely be nice.
Buick, Opel Remain Question Marks
Whereas the future General Motors directly hinges on the sales and related financial performance of Chevrolet and Cadillac, the futures of Buick and Opel/Vauxhall aren’t entirely clear. It’s widely known that Opel/Vauxhall is losing money, to the tune of $700 million in 2011, while Buick seems to be at odds in deciding whether it’s a luxury brand… or not. The uncertainty should get straightened out sooner rather than later, as Buick and Opel will reportedly begin to share an increased amount of vehicles, starting with the Regal/Insignia and Encore/Mokka.
Corporate Redundancies Somewhat Eliminated
It’s no secret that “Old GM” had layers upon layers of management — resulting in painfully long times to finalize decisions; the “New GM” is leaner, and more efficient, but according to some insiders, the company is still not as agile as some prominent competitors — or hasn’t changed as much internally as some previously thought. Will the transitionary period result in the removal of the “non-value-adding” layers? We’ve yet to see.
Brands Are Still The Focus
In the past, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, etc. were divisions within General Motors. Each had its own set of product planners, engineers and designers. And each division was responsible for its own market share and financial performance. Today, Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Caddy are brands — not divisions — and engineering, design, and product planning is centrally carried out by GM. Whether the overarching approach to the organizational structure will change over time is anyone’s guess at this point, but following in the shoes of today’s most successful mainstream and luxury players — namely VW-Audi and Toyota-Lexus — it’s apparent that a hybrid system incorporating divisions and brands seems to work best — retaining brand values and identity while avoiding unnecessary duplicate costs.
So there you have it — the biggest aspects of General Motors undergoing a transformation, whether initiated by GM at will, or forced upon the company by industry and market pressures. Upon completing these major transformational revamps, The General common sense would dictate that The General will come out stronger and more competitive than ever. Until then, all we can do is wait and enjoy the range of currently-available products.
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It is hard to fathom a Chevy crossover that is a “size too small” not coming to North America while the Equinox remains its smallest offering. This while the government still owns part of GM? Didn’t GM go down, in part, because it made cars that were too big and too inefficient at a time when gas prices spiked high? What will happen to GM if the situation repeats itself? Will taxpayers oblige? I doubt it.
The next generation of Americans will need cars just like the previous generations. Most won’t be confined to buses, which generally don’t make stops at WalMart, and they won’t be buying Suburbans. They’ll need practical cars that are less expensive but that offer considerable utility. So what would that be in the Chevy lineup?
good artilcle Alex
I think Buick screams affordable luxury. More advertising and attractive lease offers should get the ball rolling with the Verano. (They seem to be taking up space and floorplan expense at this point..)
Caddy will get there with the ATS, new CTS and Coupe. I think they will get their sizing down perfectly to match the 3, 5 and 7 series, respectively. The XTS would be the closest thing to a 7, but I don’t think we need a $70k+ vehicle to compete. People are counting on that model to be better but still similar to the STS and DTS in terms of ride quality. I can’t even imagine a better riding car than the Touring LaCrosse, but it’s coming.
Excited for GMC as well. But, buyers of the Terrain and Equinox decide upon looks. It’s so funny how people don’t realize they’re the same car. I hope they get it and still apply more differentiation to the vehicles that share platforms with Chevy.
Lots to absorb – great article!
Great article Alex, but you completely left out hybrids, PHEVs and EVs. When I read “flux” and “GM forced into transition”…. I read –
“price of gas and government mandates force GM and all automakers to evolve”.
To me, the success of Toyota over the last 20+ years from a company that first sent over thin metal crap ( ’60s-’70s ) but quickly adjusted to selling Americans solid products that stood the test of time – should be a lesson to the “new GM” , Ford and Fiat-Chrysler. American car companies basically lived off of legacy customer profit until they milked that cash cow to death. GM has a subsidized second chance at life. They still have too many divisions and too fine a filter between models. Today, upwardly-mobile buyers don’t need “eco-luxury”, when they think luxe they go with Cadillac or Lexus – performance upmarket buyers look to BMW or Mercedes. It took Audi ten years to put their shoddy past into the rear view mirror and today be known as a rival to those brands and today they’ve achieved parity. Cadillac has yet to achieve this parity and they’re making progress.
Car companies are being drug into the future by government regulation. If not for C.A.F.E. or C.A.R.B., we’d have no eco Cruze or light hybrid Buick. This kind of transition is happening two notches faster than watching paint dry, but it’s happening. Just filled up the Prius yesterday to the tune of $4.19/gal for unleaded regular. Over the gas pump, I noticed an older gentleman filling up his Buick light hybrid. My car is five years older than his, I paid less for it and I have leather and more electronic gadgets onboard. I’ve been averaging about 41 mpg COMBINED for those five years ( 4 seasons in WA ). His car may achieve 36 mpg on the highway with a tailwind ( in mild weather ), but his combined mileage is about 24-25. To me, freedom from Arab sheiks and subsidized oil fatcats is true luxe, not some chrome plastic, fake wood and leather that looks shiney and brittle after three years.
GM created Voltec and it’s a real accomplishment. One Volt drop in the world bucket aint much in the big scope of things. Line-wise, GM hasn’t progressed far. In the world of fuel efficiency, they’re lagging behind rather poorly. I think true evolution looks more like Ford. Ford is leaner, meaner and poised better for electrification of it’s affordable models. GM still gets a C for oozing along top-heavy with gas gulping cars of the past.
It will be painful if we’re forced to watch a second decline of GM because, while holding superior technology in Volt – they watched the world pass them by in affordable hybrids. Look what Toyo is doing with it’s Prius line: Last I checked – every single Prius C and Prius V is flying off the lots and the Plug-In Prius is out soon…
Wouldn’t it be nice if GM wasn’t forced into advancing, and just decided to compete with cars like the Prius line head-to-head?
GM is still micro-slicing betwixt Buick and Chevy and I think they’re not ushering in conquest buyers but just hair-splitting amongst existing clientele. Opel is dead – the writing is on the wall. Buick won’t need Opel’s fleet to steal from any longer as Malibus and Chevy crossovers will just become glitzed up and sold as Buicks – just as in days of yore. Cruze-to-Verano anyone?
People want innovation, efficiency and performance. BS walks. It’s a tough economy – people have to think and shop a bit more today when they spend those hard-earned dollars. To me, all the brand-shaping around different features is just BS.
James — a few points if I may:
– I didn’t mention the EV/MPG thing because it pretty much applies to the entire industry, not just GM. But good point.
– Its a known and undebatebale fact that GM is behind Toyota when it comes to hybrids thanks to Toyota’s first-mover advantage in the early 2000s. Over time, the first-mover advantage will become negligible, as Voltec comes down in price and complexity. Remember, the very first Prius sold for upwards of $35,000 (based on exchange rates of the day). So while Toyota may have the upper hand now, I predict this will cease to be the case in the near future.
– additionally, the hybrid stuff won’t matter in the long run, as it will be all about pure EVs. I that regard, GM is a leader thanks to Voltec and the upcoming battery-powered Cruzes.
– In regards to your comparison of the Prius and what I assume to be the Buick LaCrosse… The gentleman diving the Buick has abundantly more style, room, class, refinement, technology, and overall luxury than a Prius could ever hope for. Not sure what’s cheap and “shiny” about a modern-day Buick. Those vehicles are built to very high standards and longetivity measures.
– As for “splitting hairs” with Buick, have you considered the tremendous opportunity that exists with two lux brands? You see, the luxury auto market is becoming increasingly split between two types of consumers who prefer completely different kinds/approaches to luxury:
1. Those who want performance luxury (BMW, Audi, Infiniti)
2. Those who don’t care about performance, but want to be isolated from the road/environment — call it pure luxury. Lexus and Lincoln are the only ones doing this well today.
Interestingly, Lexus and BMW consistently trade for first place in the U.S. when it comes to sales volume. So if GM positions Buick to compete with Lexus and Cadillac to take on BMW, it can have the entire luxury segment (and market) cornered. At that point, Buick should become a global brand, although I’ve not yet thought of the “how” as it relates to this.
In any event, Buick needs to move a bit more upmarket and charge higher prices for vehicles with more content (standard leather, HIDs, etc.) But even at its current pricing level, it’s far for splitting hairs with Chevy… And even further from being “warmed-over” Chevys.
Ford seems to get it. Ford is canning it’s E-series vans in lieu of building it’s more efficient European Transit vans here to compete with Sprinter and Nissan. Both Ranger and Colorado trucks will be big sellers to those who previously would have purchased fullsized. The first on the market with a hybrid pickup ( real hybrid ) will succeed. Ford’s global program is resulting in a Fusion/Mondeo today that will duke it out with Camry, Accord and Altima TODAY while Malibu is looking rather half-assed and not a brand conquest machine.
Super efficient clean diesel and diesel hybrids are popping up in Europe where the gas crunch hits much harder. GM’s focus should be in a world-brand Chevrolet that makes gas/diesel world versions that are stingy on fuel.
Pony cars are not GM’s bread and butter. Full sized trucks, midsized family movers are. GM seems to be excelling in legacy machines and halo products. Corvette and NSX are necessary today for brand image – but GM puts so much emphasis on the past, and not enough on the future. Sure, nostalgia and burning rubber on weekends is great – but a guy’s gotta get to work, and his wife has to shop for food and that’s just life. Going to grandma’s house in a gas pig is a thing of the past. The sooner GM focuses on THAT instead of hair-splitting Buick-Cadillac buyers, the better.
Good summary of GM direction. I think the biggest disappointment I have is how “new” GM has largely “turned their back” on the enthusiast? A lot of folks (including myself) want something with a bit more performance, something more fun to drive, but at the same time it’s still got to be functional and affordable. Those who bought GXP Pontiacs, SS Chevrolets or even Red Line Saturns have only a few limited options to pick from these days? Camaro, Corvette, GS Regal and V series Cadillacs? As good as they are Camaro & Corvette are limted as functional cars, Regal GS is too expensive, same for CTS-V. Even a nice used CTS-V is $50K! Do I want SS stickers all over every Cruze, Malibu and Equinox?? Certainly not, but the reality of the day is other car companies are embracing this audience with at least a few choices and GM is not. By the time they “wake-up” and put one or more of these concepts into production will it be too late??
Precisely. I don’t think it will be too late, but it’s certainly not helping sales or to capture the hearts and minds of enthusiasts who don’t want a Camaro or Corvette. Here’s an Opinion Desk piece I wrote about just this topic:
Good commentary. The other thing about this segment is you really don’t have to have mega power. The 220HP 2.0L from the Regal turbo would be plenty to put the Cruze “in the game”.
@ Alex. Point taken.
I still see GM as being confused as to where to position it’s vehicles.
In my opinion, GM still spends too much time at the Detroit Auto Show looking for it’s American buyer. The auto industry doesn’t sell the lion’s share of it’s cars and trucks in Michigan. I remember the eighties, reading GM execs quoted as saying they didn’t see a whole lot of imports on the highways…When a West Coaster like me saw nothing but Hondas and Toyotas on the roads!
While GM’s vision isn’t so narrow today, and Buick definately as a strong foothold in China – they still seem to struggle as they strive towards catching the eye of tomorrow’s buyer. Look at Hyundai – they didn’t start a whole new division to sell Azera or Genesis – yet they sold tons. Humans don’t need to go to another store to buy a model with a bit quieter ride or a better infotainment system. We can understand that you pay a bit more for the model with higher performance parameters and a bit better materials inside.
To the Buick/Prius comparison – how does a Buick LaCrosse have ” abundant more refinement and technology” than a 5 year old Prius? Refinement and technology I refer to are in the mechanicals, and GM hasn’t even approached Toyota/Ford’s Hybrid Synergy Drive with NiMH batterys, let alone the new generations of those company’s products. I’m a Volt fan – Volt brought me back to GM and this website too. Volt represents what GM CAN DO, but it isn’t transitioning to their affordable models.
As I said before, true “class and refinement” isn’t a look or a feel – but how a vehicle performs in the real world. 0-60 may make a mid-life crisis boy or a young buyer who really hasn’t grown up feel good. But you’ll pay to play for 2-3 seconds faster from light to light. When we grow up a bit we understand that’s great for a toy on weekends ( Camaro, Mustang… so we can feel young and scratch ourselves amongst the boys at the watercooler ) – but when the gas gauge plummets with every mile traveled and the pocketbook shrinks exponentially, we have to grow up to realities. I’ll agree with you that a Prius’ handling dynamics are that of a hot dog cart, but one really has to define what luxe means to the future buyer – the one who may be mid-thirties plus in a few years’ time.
As Manoli pointed out in another article, today’s youth often look to a new cellphone as an aspiration before they look for a car to excite them. A car has to have the tech to impress these days, and Buick’s Opel powertrains do not impress – even the GNX is nearly a slug. MyLink/Intellilink really isn’t ahead of the crowd in infotainment compared to MyFordTouch or Entune, and seriously, Ford’s EcoBoosts and hybrids are on the verge of shaming GM’s offerings in efficiency. My Prius is five years old but when the Volt Unplugged Tour came to my town in 2010, a GM Hamtramck line foreman and a GM rep sat in my Prius next to a Volt and it floored me that they said they had never sat in a Prius!!!! HELLO FOLKS – THIS IS YOUR COMPETITION – know it. Perhaps you never have sat in a top-line Prius. Mine is loaded with the top tech package and it has features at 5 years old that the LaCrosse doesn’t such as full controls on the steering wheel ( A/C HVAC, Defrost, f/r and Voice Nav and HVAC + Audio ). That’s luxe! Not having to remove eyes from the wheel to change screens on my touchscreen for vehicle function, HVAC or phone… Sure Buick and Volt have some of these on-wheel features, but not all – 5 years later and higher cost! My Prius has leather and rides very smooth on the freeway and here’s the kicker : Electric is quiet. No ICE can match an electric no matter how much sound insulation. So electric is luxe to the max – hear your jammin’ stereo in utter silence. No ICE Lexus or Buick can match that without having the ability to travel down the road ALL ELECTRIC – which the LaCrosse ( or any GM other than Volt ) cannot.
So these are my points. That man paid more for his car than I — and for what? A few inches of legroom in back and a bit more grip on a corner? Techwise my 5 year old Prius is a couple generations of motor transport ahead of that GM effort.
What are you talking about?
I dont think its fair to compare one of the worst products GM made with the best product Toyota made.
Lets compare the 2010 prius with the 2010 lacrosse.
Disclaimer: My family was one of the first people in the U.S to buy the first gen prius(few people can say that), i have owned the second gen prius for some time, i have driven the third gen prius, i have driven the 2010 lacrosse.
Driving Dynamics: Lacrosse wins, dont need to explain
Refinement: Lacrosse wins, the prius is only quiter in electric mode
Quality of materials/ Interior: Lacrosse wins , my prius interior parts would fall of left and right, not to mention the interior is ugly
Design / Looks : Lacrosse wins, dont need to explain
Room in all dimensions : Lacrosse wins
Power: Lacrosse wins
Brand Prestige: Lacrosse wins
Warranty and Dealer Service: Lacrosse wins, though this point is debatable
Standard Features: Lacrosse wins
Fuel Economy: About 10-15 mpg better in the prius: Prius Wins
Price: It gets all of the above features for only 9k more. Lacrosse wins
Overall Winner: Lacrosse wins, by a huge margin
I realize that some of the points are debatable but most arent, and really and depends on your priorities and its not really fair to compare two cars in two completely different segments. But Thats how I see it.
Ford impresses. Not just that they took a big finanacial gamble that resulted in them not having to be bailed out – yes that was impressive, but- .
Ford seems to have zeroed in better upon Toyota’s success when they boomed and American manufacturers were failing. Ford saw the genius of HSD and used it, and learned from it. GM partnered with some of it’s competitors and ended up with a belt-driven two-mode system that fell flat on it’s face. I’m being objective here – not a GM fanboy. In targeting it’s prime market, Ford is offering affordable ICE models in high volume small crossover and midsize segments that outperform GM light hybrid models.
GM has the tech in Voltec to make me eat my words, but what we’ve gotten is: “We’ll have something to show you in 2015”. I can’t wait to see if/what GM will roll out in ’15 but until then they’re going to take big hits from Toyota, Ford and Hyundai. It took Toyota five years to recover it’s R & D losses from HSD and turn them into sizable profits, and that with the political/technological limitations of Nickel Metal batteries. Five years after that, they’ve timed their hybrid assault perfectly. The perfect transition from 2nd gen hybrid tech are hybrids that are larger and small ones that are sporty and more affordable. When a Prius C gets 53 mpg and a Honda Fit gets 35 at nearly the same money – you can see what I mean.
James, I think that’s an excellent point… GM, for better or worse, exists in a bit of a bubble, assuming that the market for buying cars is the US is still best represented by baby boomers that live within a 200-mile radius of the city of Detroit. Leaving the metro Detroit area, where imports aside from the occasional VW are an oddity and moving to an area where even Subaru and Mazda probably have larger market share over GM was eye-opening.
I actually think where GM stumbles most is in the mid-price range. GM is making some genuinely impressive entry-level cars now. They clearly have always had a handle on how to make trucks and larger SUVs, the Cadillac offerings are exceptional, and Buick is finally beginning to make vehicles that diverge from their reputation as a purveyor of landyachts for the elderly. What is lacking is vehicles for a thirtysomething who can afford something a step above the Cruze/Sonic pricepoint but are priced out of most Buicks and all Cadillacs and don’t want a full-size SUV (in other words, the hole that got blown in the lineup with the demise of Pontiac and Saturn). This niche is Mazda’s bread and butter, and is one that Ford is sadly better at reaching than GM. Instead, the choices for this niche are the Malibu (which does seem improved for 2013, I will admit), the Equinox (GM’s one-size-fits-all SUV that is more in tune with baby boomers’ wants than millennials and is truly too big and thirsty to compete with the true compact SUVs that appeal to young buyers) and maybe the Verano if it can overcome the stereotype that Buicks are for AARP members. The Volt is an interesting idea but is priced out of the range of most younger buyers who might consider purchasing one. As it is, I think Ford is the domestic automaker that seems to have the best handle on how to make vehicles that will have cross-generational appeal.
JB, I think you’re spot on. GM thinks someone who wants more than a Cruze simply wants a larger vehicle — maybe a Malibu. Alex thinks that person wants to spend another 15 or 20 K on a Lexus.
FixEncoreArmrest: bingo. “GM thinks someone who wants more than a Cruze simply wants a larger vehicle — maybe a Malibu. Alex thinks that person wants to spend another 15 or 20 K on a Lexus.” GM seems to think that entry-level car buyers are either destined to stay in that pricepoint for life or are magically going to double their budget when they buy their next vehicle. This is the problem they had with Saturn: they built brand loyalty in the 90s at the entry-level and then it took a decade for them to come up with the Vue, and then the Aura.
I also think that GM assumes that once you get past the entry-level car stage, you’re going to want a full-sized kidhauler (in the form of a midsized-or-larger sedan or SUV.) Living in Colorado, I see what types of vehicles are desired by my peers in that coveted 25-35 year old demographic: beyond the entry-level sedans the Cruze is fighting they are buying Mazdas, small SUVs, hatchbacks, and all-wheel-drive station wagons. Those are decidedly NOT the categories in which GM is competitive, and in some cases are categories in which they don’t even choose to compete. Yeah, the Cruze and Sonic are good steps at creating competitive entry-level vehicles again (which, in my opinion, aside from their Toyota-collaboration Vibe, they haven’t had since the heyday of Saturn.) They need to work on fixing the middle of their line-up if they want to win the hearts and loyalty of younger buyers, because the mentality of “buy the largest vehicle you can comfortably afford” is the mentality of buyers over 50, not the younger buyers.
Ford does seem to have a better handle on this younger market and are probably in the best shape of the big 3, particularly if they can sort out Lincoln and figure out how to build competitive luxury vehicles. Chrysler’s problem is that they are a hodgepodge of interesting niche vehicles and unremarkable rental fleet fodder.
A couple of things here, gents:
1. Let’s keep in mind that we can’t really have an “accurate” conversation about this without the facts and figures (i.e. marketing data and research). We can create theoretical personas, with age groups, price points, needs/benefits, etc… but without knowing if there is a) a big enough market for a product and b) a market that’s “ready to buy” (i.e. able, willing, ready), we’re just pontificating. Having said that…
2. Mazda keeps creeping up in the comments. Why? What does Mazda have that Chevy can’t match (outside of the new CX-5 and a 3 hatch, which will eventually face competition from the Cruze hatch)? In fact, Chevy offers significantly more luxury at the top end (leather, cabin technology) than Mazda. What am I missing?
3. “JB, I think you’re spot on. GM thinks someone who wants more than a Cruze simply wants a larger vehicle — maybe a Malibu. Alex thinks that person wants to spend another 15 or 20 K on a Lexus.”
Again, this would be much clearer if we had access to some data. But since we don’t, we can only do our best. First, let’s keep in mind that for the last 10 years or so, the “tweener” segment — the one in between mainstream (Chevy, Toyota, etc.) and luxury (Lexus, Audi, BMW, etc.) has been shrinking. For instance, Saab and Mercury are now gone and the only real players remaining are Volvo, Buick, and Acura. And even so, Lexus — with its higher prices and higher-contended vehicles — outsells all three consistently.
So there doesn’t seem to be a real need to fill this “tweener” space — at least not profitably — at the moment.
And who knows — the market we’re talking about may have severely different needs than what we’re assuming here. Heck, these 30-year-olds may be on the up-and-up in their career, have paid off student/student-time loans, started a family, and have more disposable income. A $35,000 Cadillac ATS seems to hit just the spot… and if not, a Buick Verano, at $30,000, does the trick.
Alex, the Cruze Hatch isn’t here. It’s not even confirmed to be coming here. It isn’t even really a hatch. It’s more like a sedan with a lift gate. The roof doesn’t appear to be useable.
Does the Cruze have Direct Injection? Rear disc brakes? How about an automatic transmission that doesn’t impose a 2 MPG penalty. Or steering with superb feel? Mazda has all of these in the 3, including two types of roof racks, which can be fitted to any of their vehicles. I can even get a light-colored interior to beat the Houston heat. The only “advantage” I can see in the Cruze would be it’s suspension, and that’s only because the Mazda 3 was designed to be firm. The seat in the Mazda offers copious amounts of thigh support. Even the armrest is much better than the one in the Cruze. The rear seats fold nicely in the Mazda. My guess is that, because of the roof line, the 3 could haul larger pieces of furniture when compared to the Cruze Hatch. (Now if they gave us the Cruze Wagon, that could be a sensible choice over the 3, but we know GM won’t do that.)
When you read about what they’ve done with SkyActive, and read professional reviews, it’s just impressive. They’re delivering better fuel economy with comparable performance to the Cruze (if not better) without a turbocharger. Alex, you cite what (may be) coming in the future from GM, but by then Mazda (and others) will be that much further ahead in the game … again.
Look, I’m not here to bash GM. I bought GM (Saturn) for many years. I want to buy GM again, but they need to get better. And by the way, in addition to luxury, Lexus and BMW etc. offer much nicer body styles, so for now they are popular. But I think the American public is financially over extended, as is the American government. Unless there is some kind of huge, unforeseen innovation (like aliens showing us how to have free energy), American buying power will decline. The bill is coming due. These brands will need to adapt if they are to continue being profitable here.