• Jun 18, 2006

With midsize SUV sales down sharply so far this year, many automakers are left wondering what to do with the segment. Largely dominated by body-on-frame 4WD vehicles, the segment has morphed from pint-sized replicas of Blazers and Broncos into vehicles that are often only a few inches smaller and a few pounds lighter than full-sized SUVs. With little or no fuel-economy or price advantage, the buyers that need towing capabilities seem to be taking a step up in the market, while those that are looking mainly for people-hauling abilities are spreading their sales around other vehicles in the showroom, such as minivans, crossovers, and large sedans.

Those automakers that previously relied on strong sales in the segment to boost their bottom line are now faced with a difficult decision - dump billions of dollars into a segment that may be in a persistive vegetative state, or let those products wither on the vine with predictable results. Ford has coined a new term, stating that it won't "Crown Vic the Explorer" and will continue to refresh the former cash cow. The fate of GM's TrailBlazer is unclear, with the automaker dumping the ill-received long-wheelbase version (a truck that was substantially longer than the supposedly-larger Tahoe), trimming production capacity, and postponing or cancelling an upcoming redesign. The perilous financial positions of both companies means that they can ill-afford a mistake. Meanwhile, Chrysler is looking toward diesel power and the promise of improved fuel economy to pump up the sales of its Jeep Grand Cherokee, which are down 26% so far this year.

[Source: BusinessWeek]

 



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  • 18 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nate: Mercedes R-class? Not my cup of tea, but it fits your seating requirements.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why cant Ford "Crown vic the Explorer"? They certainly seem comfortable doing that with the Focus... Some species just cant evolve any further, so they must die.

      I am not sure who needs a body-on-frame truck that cant tackle a mountain trail. Explorer buyers, by-and-large just want a tall and handsome looking wagon that can manage snow and dirt without complaint. Im guessing thats what most of the segement wants.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's not necessarily 'bigger is better'. I think it's more like 'America is fatter so they need bigger cars and beefier engines to haul their jumbo selves around'.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Didn't DMC just announce they were cutting Diesel production for the Grand Cherokee and Liberty due to emmission controls?

      I agree with most posts that we need to go smaller vehicles, station wagons and the sort. I ignored the stigma and got a minivan (3 kids with lots of friends), it may not be pretty, but it sure fills the needs better than an SUV.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There are a lot of great cars in today's marketplace, but there's also more craptastic cars than ever.

      First: That Trailblazer is CRAP! Drive one sometime it feels like you're pushing a little red wagon through half dry concrete. That's the exact steering sensation. It's supposedly got a big V6 in there, feels less powerful than a 1.5 liter four banger.

      Even that Mercedes R class someone mentioned is a waste of $70,000. It looks like it was designed by aliens on speed. Why not just buy a fully specced Mazda 3 and use the extra fifty grand to go on a really sweet three month vacation? A Mazda 3 beats both by a mile, much more fun to drive too if you're, you know, not a walking stiff, and into that taking corners at speed thing. Plus the Mazda 6 gets two thumbs up, everyone seems to overlook that great car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What happened to GM's 6 speed automatic strategy?
      6L40,60,80,90.
      Are they going to only use newly named 6L50 and 6L90.

      So the soup'ed up 4.2 (GM did a major overhaul of the cylinder head, it wasn't the new SAE tests) coupled to the 6L50 and a choice of axle ratios 3.42 rear drive, SWB, 3.73 transfer case swb, rear drive lwb, 4.1 transfer case lwb
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just bring back a mid 60's to mid 70's real station wagon, like a Country Squire and get it over with. SUV's=glorified wagons and the f**king things never get off the road anyway.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The GMC Acadia should be a Chevrolet in the first place, a replacement for the Trailblazer. GM is making these good-looking new crossovers and limiting sales potential by not giving one to Chevrolet. Since it is car based; GMC shouldn't have a version. Let that replace the Trailblazer, and then bring back the old Blazer by building a real SUV (like the Xterra) off the Colorado platform. One true SUV for the people who really like and use them, and then one stylish and refined/efficient family carrier. The Trailblazer is a half-assed attempt at covering both markets and specializing in none...no ground clearence/off road package so no one in their right mind would ever really drive it through deep sand or on a rocky trail; yet the interior, having the worst design and parts/build quality of any vehicle on the market today, is sub-par for a family vehicle, and the heavy platform and 4wd lo gear (that will never be used) lowers fuel economy. Give GMC a version of the Colorado-based SUV. Oh yeah, and while they are at it, put the 4.2L I-6 from the Trailblazer in that truck, also--that engine was the only redeemable quality of the Trailblazer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Big surprise. The RAV4 is the exact same thing as the Highlander. If they make the Highlander bigger, it will be the same thing as the 4Runner. North American market planners have to stop this 'bigger is better' attitude.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Now that (#7, Bleed Red White and Blue) is humor, El Norte.

      BTW, White Castle is good as all hell, especially after a 40 (or three) of Old English. Warms the soul just thinking about it
      • 8 Years Ago

      Hey Kumar, go get your buddy Harold and go to WhiteCastle.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Maybe if GM put the Trailbalzer and the Colorado truck back on the same platform, like they did in the previous generation, they could afford to build both.
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