General Motors has revitalized Cadillac, and it is pouring new products into Chevrolet. GMC, meanwhile, continues to ride the truck boom.
Now GM will try to revitalize its middle-market brands -- Pontiac, Buick and Saturn.
GM has stocked those brands' lineups with trucks and sport wagons. The main challenge remaining is to create exciting cars.
Robert Lutz, GM's product czar, has described the new focus of the brands: Pontiac will be a more European-oriented performance brand; Buick, a premium marque slotted below Cadillac; and Saturn, an import-fighter with distinctive styling.
Pontiac gets a new car this year, the G6. Also, Buick gets the LaCrosse. Saturn waits until the 2007 model year to get a mid-sized replacement for the discontinued L series.
Over the next several years, fresh entries will come as GM rolls out its Kappa and Zeta rear-wheel-drive architectures. Kappa will produce the Solstice roadster for Pontiac and an unnamed Saturn roadster. Zeta will spawn Buick, Chevrolet and Pontiac models.
Buick, GMC and Saturn will get models from the new Lambda sport wagon architecture.
Here are GM's vehicle plans for the 2005 to 2008 model years, compiled from supplier and company sources.
|LaCrosse sedan debuts||LeSabre replacement debuts||Flagship sedan debuts||Coupe, possible convertible based on Velite concept|
|Terraza minivan debuts||Rendezvous replacement debuts (or 2008)||Rainier restyled, re-engineered|
|STS debuts||DeVille restyled, re-engineered||Escalade, ESV, EXT restyled, re-engineered||CTS restyled, re-engineered|
|Cobalt sedan, coupe debut||Malibu, Maxx freshened (or 2007)||Tahoe, Suburban, Avalanche restyled, re-engineered||TrailBlazer, EXT restyled, re-engineered|
|Corvette restyled, re-engineered||Impala restyled, re-engineered||Silverado restyled, re-engineered|
|Equinox sport wagon debuts||Monte Carlo restyled, re-engineered|
|Uplander minivan debuts||HHR wagon debuts|
|Yukon, XL restyled, re-engineered||Envoy, XL, XUV restyled, re-engineered|
|Sierra restyled, re-engineered|
|Sport wagon debuts|
|H2 SUT debuts||H3 SUV debuts||H2 restyled, re-engineered (or 2008)|
|Possible H3 pickup|
|G6 sedan debuts||Solstice roadster debuts||GTO redesigned (or 2008)|
|Vibe freshened||G6 retractable hardtop, coupe debuts|
|Montana SV6 minivan debuts||Torrent sport wagon debuts|
|Ion freshened, re-engineered||Vue freshened||Mid-sized sedan debuts|
|Relay minivan debuts||Roadster debuts|
|Sport wagon debuts|
Century: The 2005 model year is the last for the Century.
Buick will launch the LaCrosse sedan this September.
GM extensively re-engineered the front-drive Regal platform to create the LaCrosse. GM says the sedan will showcase the new direction of Buick, which will emphasize quiet interiors and elegant designs.
The base price for the LaCrosse CX model is expected to be in the $22,000-to-$24,000 range. The CX and upscale CXL are powered by GM's 3.8-liter pushrod V-6, making 200 hp. The CXS performance version has GM's new 3.6-liter double overhead cam V-6 with variable valve timing, making 240 hp.
LeSabre: Buick will re-engineer the LeSabre's architecture and give it a new name for the 2006 model year. Lucerne is the likely choice, but some dealers object to dropping the LeSabre name.
Two versions of the car will be offered. One model will be priced to keep current LeSabre owners in the fold. The second, a high-end model, will have features and a sticker price aimed at Park Avenue owners after that car is phased out.
Park Avenue: The 2005 model year is the last for Buick's flagship sedan. Buick estimates that 8,400 cars will be produced for the model year.
Flagship sedan: A new sedan developed on GM's rwd Zeta vehicle architecture is expected to debut for the 2007 model year.
Engineered by Holden Ltd. in Australia, the Zeta architecture will be used for premium vehicles, such as the next-generation Pontiac GTO. Buick's sedan will have V-6 and V-8 versions.
The Buick Velite is more than a concept, say GM insiders. A coupe version is expected for the 2008 model year.
A coupe will come first, and an open-roof version may follow.
Vehicles developed on Zeta will have a long wheelbase. For example, the Velite's wheelbase is 0.9 inches longer than a Park Avenue's, although the overall length of the car is 20.8 inches shorter.
Rendezvous: Buick's sport wagon moves to the fwd/all-wheel-drive Lambda architecture for the 2007 or 2008 model year. Production starts in early 2007 at the new Delta Township plant in Lansing, Mich.
The vehicle will be sleeker and lower to the ground than the current model. A name change is likely.
Rainier: GM's mid-sized SUVs will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2008 model year.
Terraza: One of GM's "crossover sport vans" (minivans with SUV-like front ends), the Terraza debuts for the 2005 model year with fwd and awd. Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn have similar minivans. GM's minivan platform was re-engineered for the 2005 model year to create these vehicles.
The Terraza will be powered by GM's 200-hp, 3.5-liter V-6.
This rear-drive 2005 Cadillac STS replaces the front-drive Seville this fall.
It is scheduled to be restyled and re-engineered for the 2008 model year. GM is weighing whether the CTS should be smaller to appeal to overseas buyers.
DeVille: GM designers face a delicate task with the DeVille. Cadillac's sole remaining fwd vehicle -- also its biggest seller -- will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2006 model year. Powertrain, chassis and suspension improvements are planned.
The tricky part? While the DeVille stays on its fwd architecture, GM wants to make it resemble newer rwd Cadillac vehicles. But it cannot alienate DeVille's older owners.
Longer term, GM is weighing a move to rwd probably on the CTS's Sigma architecture for the 2010 model year, at which time the DeVille name may be dropped.
STS: The 2005 STS sedan is the third vehicle developed on Cadillac's rwd Sigma architecture. Awd is an option. It replaces the Seville.
To appeal to Cadillac's traditional buyers, the STS shows a subdued interpretation of the angular Cadillac styling seen on the CTS and XLR. The STS features keyless access, push-button starting, adaptive cruise control and a four-color head-up display.
Two engines are initially available: a 255-hp, dohc, 3.6-liter V-6 and a 320-hp, 4.6-liter V-8. A V-series performance model with a 400-plus V-8 will follow for the 2007 model year.
A V series XLR is coming for the 2007 model year.
Flagship sedan: GM is considering a $100,000-plus, rwd sedan for later in the decade. Inspiration is expected to be drawn from the Sixteen concept that debuted at the 2003 Detroit auto show.
SRX: No major changes are planned for the sport wagon before the 2009 model year. An interior freshening is planned for the 2007 model year.
Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT: GM's full-sized SUVs will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 model year. The next-generation Escalade's styling will be more differentiated from Chevrolet and GMC full-sized trucks.
Aveo: No changes through the 2008 model year.
Cavalier: The 2005 model year is Cavalier's last.
The 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt will replace the Cavalier in the fourth quarter.
GM is saying that Cobalt will have European ride and handling, and a solid, substantial feel. Expect a sticker price that is higher than the Cavalier's. GM is hoping the Korea-assembled Aveo will draw low-end buyers who in the past might have considered a Cavalier.
Several Cobalt models will be offered: base and LS with manual transmission and a 140-hp., 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. The pricier LT sedan is equipped with standard automatic transmission.
The supercharged SS coupe equipped with a 205-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine debuts as a 2006 model.
Malibu, Malibu Maxx: The mid-sized models will get an exterior and interior freshening for the 2006 or 2007 model year.
Classic: The past-generation Malibu, now named Classic, continues as a fleet vehicle into the 2006 model year.
Impala: The sedan will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2006 model year. But plans for a V-8 are on hold, reportedly because of concerns over corporate average fuel economy standards.
Monte Carlo: The Impala's sibling is on the same schedule; it will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2006 model year.
Rwd car: The timing is unclear, but a Chevrolet nameplate is expected on GM's rwd Zeta architecture.
The re-engineered and re-styled 2005 Corvette packs a 400-hp V-8.
HHR: This tall, small wagon -- which resembles the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban -- will begin production in summer 2005 on the fwd Delta architecture. Though its retro looks might suggest otherwise, the 2006 HHR isn't meant as a niche vehicle. GM wants to sell 100,000 annually.
Equinox: The compact sport wagon debuted for the 2005 model year. It will receive midcycle improvements for the 2007 model year, including possibly a third-row seat.
Blazer: 2005 is the last model year.
TrailBlazer, TrailBlazer EXT: GM's new 5.3-liter V-8 engine equipped with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation is available on the 2005 TrailBlazer EXT. The SS performance version debuts for the 2006 model year.
GM's mid-sized SUVs will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2008 model year.
Tahoe, Suburban: GM's full-sized SUVs will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 model year. A hybrid system will be available at that time.
S10: The 2005 model year is the last year for the small pickup.
Colorado: No changes are coming through the 2008 model year.
Avalanche: Avalanche will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 model year. A hybrid system will be offered.
Silverado: The Silverado 1500 Series Extended Cab is available with a flywheel alternator-starter for the 2005 model year. GM promises 13 percent fuel economy savings. GM's full-sized pickups will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2008 model year. A hybrid system will be available at that time.
SSR: Chevrolet answers criticism that the SSR lacks street-rod power by replacing the 5.3-liter V-8 in the 2004 model with a 6.0-liter V-8 for the 2005 model. Power is boosted to 390 hp, up 90 hp.
The SSR will offer an optional six-speed manual transmission; previously, only an automatic was offered.
The 2005 Uplander minivan replaces the Venture.
Uplander: The 2005 Uplander minivan replaces the Venture. GM's minivans will move to the Lambda architecture toward the end of the decade.
Astro: The 2005 model year is its last.
Express: No major changes are expected.
The Denali trim also is available for the first time on the Envoy and Envoy XL
A restyling and re-engineering are planned for the 2008 model year.
Yukon, Yukon XL: GM's full-sized SUVs will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 model year. Sales in the first quarter of 2006 are expected. A hybrid system will be available.
Canyon: No changes through the 2008 model year.
Sonoma: The 2005 model year is the last for GMC's compact pickup.
Sierra: An upscale Sierra 1500 Crew Cab Denali debuts this fall.
GM's full-sized pickups will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2008 model year. A hybrid system will be available.
Safari: The 2005 model year is the last for GMC's minivan.
Savana: No major changes expected.
Sport wagon: GMC will get its first sport wagon, slated for the 2008 model year. It will be based on GM's new fwd/awd Lambda architecture.
H1: Hummer will offer a 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel in the Alpha model for the 2006 model year.
The short-bed H2 SUT pickup went on sale last month as a 2005 model.
The H2 will be restyled and re-engineered for the 2007 or 2008 model year on GM's full-sized truck architecture. Better aerodynamics are expected to improve fuel economy. The H2's front end will be lengthened to house a diesel engine -- another fuel economy move.
H3: This H2 lookalike debuts on the Chevrolet Colorado mid-sized pickup architecture for the 2006 model year, powered by GM's 3.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine, with a manual transmission available.
The initial H3 will be a four-door SUV, not a pickup like the 2003 H3 concept, but otherwise it will resemble the concept closely. A pickup is likely for the 2007 model year.
H4: The proposed compact SUV is on the back burner; no date has been set.
Sunfire: GM plans to continue building the Sunfire into the 2006 model year rather than offer a Delta-architecture sibling to the Chevrolet Cobalt. But keep an eye on the 2005 Pontiac Pursuit, a Delta car that Pontiac will sell in Canada. If the Sunfire can't do the job, Pontiac easily could bring the Pursuit to the United States.
Grand Am: GM will keep building the Grand Am sedan indefinitely as a fleet car. Grand Am GT coupes will be produced for retail sales until the G6 coupe appears in early 2005.
Product czar Robert Lutz delayed the Pontiac G6, which replaces the Grand Am, to change the styling to his liking. The G6 goes on sale this fall.
The G6 will be powered by GM's new 200-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The sedan debuts this fall, followed by a coupe and a retractable hardtop next year. The high-performance G6 GXP is expected for the 2007 model year.
Grand Prix: A GXP high-performance model is due for the 2006 model year.
Bonneville: 2005 is the final model year. No replacement is planned. Pontiac will attempt to woo Bonneville owners with the up-level Grand Prix.
The 2006 Solstice is intended to lend European-style and refinement to Pontiac's lineup.
GM hopes to tap young enthusiasts with a base price of less than $20,000 and to introduce a classic, cladding-free design.
GTO: The GTO gets a new engine for the 2005 model year, the LS2 V-8 with 400 hp. The previous engine pumped out 350 hp. To the relief of traditionalists, an optional hood scoop will be among exterior design tweaks for 2005.
The next-generation GTO is slated to appear on the Zeta rwd architecture for the 2007 or 2008 model year.
Vibe: The Vibe is freshened for the 2005 model year. The restyled grille and front fascia reflect Pontiac's new design direction, as seen in the Solstice.
Aztek: 2005 is the final model year for the odd-looking sport wagon.
Torrent: Pontiac will expand its sport wagon line with the 2006 Torrent. The vehicle will be developed off GM's Theta platform, which is shared by the Saturn Vue and Chevrolet Equinox. Fwd and awd versions are planned.
Montana SV6: A minivan is a minivan, although GM has been calling the 2005 Montana SV6 a "crossover sport van." With the popularity of SUVs, GM has restyled the front end, giving it a long, flat hood line and tall fenders. The sloping hood is gone. The interior has been restyled extensively. It debuts this fall.
GM's minivans will move to GM's Lambda sport wagon architecture toward the end of the decade.
The Saturn roadster, due in the 2007 model year, will resemble the Vauxhall Lightning concept, above.
Ion: In an unusual move for a car that has been on the market only two years, the Ion is getting an extensive re-engineering for the 2005 model year; GM also is upgrading the interior and freshening the outside.
GM improved the ride, upgraded the interior and gave the 2005 Saturn Ion a chrome grille in an effort to jump-start sales.
Other Ion changes for the 2005 model year: reduced noise, vibration and harshness; higher grade interior materials; new seats in the Ion 2 and Ion 3; a new steering wheel, this time big enough for grown-ups. One topic of debate is unchanged: The gauges remain in the middle of the instrument panel.
A chrome-trimmed grille and restyled fascia liven up the front of the car.
Mid-sized sedan: An L series successor is scheduled for the 2007 model year based on the Epsilon fwd architecture. A Malibu Maxx-like vehicle is being considered.
The 2005 Relay will finally give Saturn a minivan.
Sport wagon: Saturn expands its sport wagon portfolio by offering a vehicle based on the new Lambda fwd/awd vehicle architecture. Sales begin for the 2007 model year.
Relay: Saturn gets its first minivan this fall.
Product Editor Rick Kranz contributed to this report