As a car salesman at a Chevy dealership, I often get asked about what I think about different cars in our lineup and, although I find this somewhat ironic, I figured I'd start a mini-series based on my encounters with the entire Chevy Lineup.
This first piece will be on the Chevy Lineup as a whole and what I think of their gaps and overflow.
When it comes to the Chevy line, you have everything from small, city commuter cars all the way up to heavy duty trucks capable of pulling just about anything imaginable. Now, that doesn't mean that the lineup is perfect, or even close to it. To be honest, I find a lot of it to be fundamentally flawed.
The lineup: Spark,
Spark EV (not officially released), Sonic (Hatchback/Sedan), Cruze, Volt, Malibu, Impala
The setup with cars is somewhat of a mess. This is probably what I find to be the biggest disaster for Chevy right now. The range of the lineup is not the problem, what is the problem is the overlap. You have so many cars in such a small space that, at times it can be difficult for the consumer to decide between vehicles that may be so similarly equipped with minimal difference in price (after rebates).
The first problem arises between the Sonic and the Cruze. Both of these vehicles are capable of having a 1.8L engine or the turbo-charged 1.4L. Both of these vehicles come in a four-door sedan, and both of these vehicles have fuel economy numbers capable of 35+ mpg. Both can be ordered with a Manual or Automatic transmission. And with only a couple thousand dollars of difference in price and with so many rebates for the Cruze, the benefits of buying a Sonic sedan are almost impossible to find. The Cruze gets better fuel economy over the entire range (2-3 mpg over the Sonic), it comes with more standard features (minus a color touchscreen that is optional), and has a more spacious feeling interior. I understand the merits of having a vehicle that is more intviting to younger generations, but I feel that you've ended the attractive qualities when making it a sedan. The hatchback has a place, the sedan is just a burden on the consumer and another decision to make (even though they typically end the same way, with a Cruze).
The next issue that I have would be the Malibu vs. Impala comparison. In my opinion, there is no comparison but the consumer wants to cross-shop these two. Both vehicles are about the same size and both are available with a 4-cylinder engine. That's where the similarities end. The Malibu is many thousands cheaper in starting price tag and when cross-shopping the two with similar pricing, it's a no-brainer. When comparing them at similar prices, the Malibu will be optioned to the hilt with gadgets and leather, whereas the Impala will likely be very basic at the price range and have close to no rebates. So the biggest problem that I have with this comparison is the lack of differentiation on Chevy's part. They try to advertise them both as luxury sedans, and with only a couple of inches of difference in overall length, they could both be called full-sized. I feel that Chevy has started to differentiate the Malibu a little bit with the 2014 refresh, making the front end look more sporty. But until they come out with a full refresh on the rear as well, I don't see it separating from the Impala just yet. Now, please don't get me wrong, the Impala is probably one of my favorite vehicles in the fleet. It has the nicest ride and is probably the most luxurious Chevy aside from the new Tahoe. They, unfortunately, need to get rid of the Impala LS to create better separation and embrace the luxury image for the Impala. The LS is just too basic of a vehicle for the price tag that comes along with it. Nobody wants to spend $29,000 on a car that could be easily compared to a Malibu with similar equipment at $22,000 (before incentives). If you're wanting a vehicle based on price, get the Malibu, if you're wanting copious amounts of luxury and price doesn't bother you, get the Impala.
When it comes down to the Spark EV...I don't know much about it. Haven't seen one in person and honestly, it likely won't do well in my market (we're about 25 miles from Indianapolis). We've sold one Volt since I've worked at my dealership and it was a used one. The Spark EV has only been available in Oregon and California to this date and I've heard that people really like it, a cheaper electric car with double the range of the Volt, what's not to like...but will that begin to atrophy the poor Volt or will it get a range boost in the future? Only time will tell.
The Lineup: Camaro, Chevy SS, Corvette
The sports car lineup is much better suited with the addition of the Chevy SS. I feel that it now has a better grasp on a performance market and is more similarly equipped to what I would've like to have seen out of Pontiac if it were here today. My biggest gripe though would be the starting price of the Chevy SS. I feel that if that vehicle were available at a lower price point, we'd sell them all day long. I have driven the car and this is probably my favorite vehicle that Chevy produces right now. I cannot wait to see what options are available for the '15 model year but I am excited.
My other littler gripe is the lack of a performance coupe along the size of the old Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice. I feel that with that vehicle GM had a really good place and with a little more tweaking could have had a sellout vehicle. I hope that they one day bring back a Sky/Solstice because it really fills a void that I'd love to own.
Trax (almost here), Equinox, Traverse, Tahoe, Suburban
The SUV lineup only has a couple of problem spots, one of which they are already trying to fix. The Equinox, great vehicle, great fuel economy, but currently fighting outside its weight class. The Equinox is being compared to the Rav4 but it has a distinct size and weight disadvantage. It is much larger and unfortunately, is priced that way as well. With the addition of the Trax, the Equinox can better be compared to vehicles in its own weight class and better show how it stands out but right now it is an awkward teen waiting to grow into its own. I think the Equinox will likely grow during its next redesign due to the Trax being able to take on the smaller competition.
When it comes to the Traverse, it's a van in SUV clothing trying to be an off-road vehicle. The Traverse has massive tires and ground clearance that no one really notices and yet it's a 3.6L SUV with standard FWD and optional AWD systems that aren't fully equipped to handle much off-roading. To be honest, I've never seen one off-road nor do I expect to ever see one off-road. The vehicle is meant to be capable in many terrains but it will likely only ever see the soccer field or the mall. I feel that GM needs to build a serious off-road capable vehicle, something to rival any of the Jeep competitors. Now I understand that the Tahoe and Suburban used to be in this grouping, but I feel they've started to phase them out of that and into the Escalade/luxury vehicle mix with the last generation and especially with the newest one. This means that they've opened the door for something capable off-road (I'd love to see a new Beefy K-5 Blazer). Keep in mind that the off-road vehicle following has a truly dedicated following. This is the only spot left to fill that is truly glaring in the Chevy SUV lineup.
The Lineup: Colorado, Silverado 1500, Silverado 2500, Silverado 3500
The truck lineup is probably the most complete right now. I feel that they've done this one the best. They now have the smaller truck market covered with the Medium-sized truck, the Colorado (which I love). They also have the heavy-duty trucks doing quite well with the addition of the new refresh and the "High Country" trim level that was just added. I feel that is now able to compete with the "King Ranch" trucks as well as the "Laramie Longhorn" trucks.
The only issue I have is with the starting price of the 1500s. Now, they are great trucks and get great fuel economy, but it is hard to show these people the significant price difference with less options than a Ram, for example. The 1500s are the quietest and nicest trucks I've driven, but when it comes to interior quality, they could step it up a bit. Overall, the truck lineup is great and it has the least complaints from me.
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you might have. I hope to make this an ongoing series, where the future pieces will focus on an individual car in the Chevy lineup. Suggestion on a specific car you'd want to see a write-up on? Let me know!
And if you got this far, thanks for reading!