If GMC's four-door ute concept, the Denali XT, ever makes it into production it could be shipped here as a replacement for the now departed Holden Crewman.
The Crewman, a four-door version of Holden's last generation ute, seemed like a good idea on paper but its gargantuan length -- think Holden Statesman or Mercedes-Benz S-Class -- and its rather poor rear seat leg room were contributing factors in its demise. Never a big seller, it was quietly dropped when Holden released its latest ute.
But that may change if GMC's Denali XT concept ever sees the light of day as a production car. Revealed this week at the Chicago Auto Show, the four-door ute concept was designed and built in Australia. Indeed, under the skin it uses a platform, or set of components, derived from the latest VE Commodore.
This means that the Denali XT has a unibody architecture like most, if not all, sedans and hatches on sale here today. Traditional SUVs and utes -- like the Nissan Patrol and Toyota Hilux respectively -- consist of a body bolted onto a frame. This design is generally considered better for towing and off-road use, as well as being more flexible for work vehicles. Unibody cars, however, handle and crash better.
Although it shares lots of greasy bits with the Commodore, the Denali XT's drivetrain is unique: a 243kW 4.9-litre V8 coupled to a two-mode hybrid system. GM is a big proponent of ethanol fuel blends, so the Denali XT is flex fuel capable. It's the first example of an E85-capable engine paired with a hybrid system. GMC says the Denali XT gets 50 percent better fuel economy than other similarly sized trucks. The Denali XT rides on massive 23-inch wheels and has air suspension, so its ride height can be adjusted for different conditions. The interior shows similar design characteristics to the Chevrolet Camaro concept launched last year, including brushed aluminum accents and rectangular, rather than circular, openings.
If it ever gets put into production, it could be built in America and exported back to Australia -- the reverse of what happens now with the Holden Commodore being built in Australia and sold to the Yanks as the Pontiac G8.