Thursday, July 20, 2006

GM Introduces New Crossovers to Lineup

GM Introduces New Crossovers to Lineup
Associated Press Writer
07/13/2006 00:17:45 EST

GMC, the General Motors brand known for rugged work trucks, introduced a crossover to its lineup, adding to a fast-growing market segment that aims to mix passenger capacity with a sleeker look and better gas mileage.

The 2007 GMC Acadia, which was introduced Wednesday, is the brand's first front-wheel-drive vehicle. It and the similar Saturn Outlook are General Motors Corp.'s newest mainstream car-based vehicles with three rows of seats.

Both can hold up to eight people and get 17 miles per gallon of gasoline in the city and 25 on the highway, according to GM's estimates. They are equipped with a new six-speed automatic transmission.

The Acadia will hit showrooms in late August or early September, but the Outlook, introduced in April, won't arrive until later this year, company officials said. A Buick version likely will be in showrooms by May 2007. Pricing was not released.

The vehicles are important to GM, which previously had few crossovers that could carry a large number of people and appeal to owners of large SUVs looking for better gas mileage, said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power and Associates.

"Frankly, it's a huge step for them. The area right in midsize crossovers and at the upper end of small crossovers is really a sweet spot in the market," Libby said.

The new models have the functionality of larger SUVs with a car-like ride and a lot of features from minivans, Libby said.

They will help GM take on competitors' models such as the Ford Edge, Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Murano, he said.

While the new models should help the GMC, Buick and Saturn brands, they probably won't have a huge impact on GM's overall market share, Libby said.

GM officials said they will not introduce a similar model for the larger Chevrolet brand because of the company's strategy to differentiate between brands.

But still, the new models can't come soon enough as the SUV segment shrinks, Libby said.

"People are going to crossovers. They're also moving to cars," he said.


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