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GMC Models Cost More Than Chevy: Why, And Which Is Better?

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2013 GMC Terrain Denali

2013 GMC Terrain Denali

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If you're out cross-shopping full-size SUVs or pickups—or if you've done so in recent years—you might be familiar with an interesting showroom discrepancy: You can go to a Chevrolet dealership, then into a GMC dealership, and see two virtually identical trucks—same engine, same equipment, even same sheetmetal—only the one at the GMC dealership has a sticker price that's up to several thousand dollars more than that of the Chevy.

For instance, a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD 1500 LS comes with a bottom-line sticker price of $43,010, while a 2012 GMC Yukon 4WD 1500 SLE—virtually identical in equipment and features—bottom-lines at $45,090.

To those who aren't all that familiar with SUV or pickup shopping, it can be a strange market situation. General Motors [NYSE: GM] supports both truck brands, and both separate dealership networks, that essentially sell differently badged versions of the same vehicle.

U.S. Chevrolet dealerships outnumber GMC dealerships by nearly two to one (3,079 vs 1,590), according to Automotive News, as of January 1, 2012.

You'll surely see far more Chevy trucks out on the streets and highways than GMC models, too. GM sells between two and three times as many Chevrolet-badged trucks each year than it does GMC vehicles. In calendar-year 2011, Chevy sold 852,889 trucks, according to Automotive News, while GMC sold 333,204 vehicles.

So what's the difference?

“GMC traditionally has been targeted to professionals while Chevy goes for the mass market,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for the car-pricing site TrueCar. Beyond that, Toprak says that there's a clear overlap in the marketing message between the two. The only other difference, perhaps, is that GMC is aimed at “not being one of the herd,” and “more exclusive” than Chevrolet.

2013 GMC Yukon Denali

2013 GMC Yukon Denali

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Is the difference in image worth the additional money GM is charging? There are some indications the market doesn't think so. For instance, that Tahoe 4WD 1500 LS has a national-average transaction price of $41,176, according to TrueCar's vast pricing database, while the 2012 GMC Yukon 4WD 1500 SLE sells for $42,721 on average. So from those figures, which are fairly representative, the Chevrolet typically sells for 4.3 percent below sticker, while the discount for the GMC is 5.3 percent.

In other words, GM attempts to charge more for GMC, but the market in part evens out the difference.

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Comments (13)
  1. Certainly the value to GM is that the GMC brand of trucks are sold at Buick and/or Cadillac identity stores. Whether the buy gets any benefit? Yes, I recall that many years ago, I had a Corvair 500 that I bought from a Chevy/Olds dealership. Parked next to an Olds 98, my car with a tiny bug, that was worked on last.

  2. General Motors should have merge GMC into Chevrolet dealership. I do not see any advantage of buying a GMC.
    Heck, Saturn would have been a better deal for GM than keeping GMC as a separate dealership.
    Saturn had a loads of brand loyalty....and GM threw them to the foreign brands.

  3. Is this nothing more than buying a store brand vs name brand?
    You can decide yourself which is the store brand vs brand name ..GMC or Chevy :-)

  4. I bought a GMC Sierra in 2008 because it had a good looking front end and I found one equipped the way I wanted it. Chevy was not so good looking in fact the big bumper was ugly. I never compared cost because at the time it was hard to find Diesel engines.

  5. Typical GM logic....Have 2 essentially overlapping product lines. GM should have killed GMC years ago as it's line of vehicles are basically fancier Chevy's. This reminds me of the Buick, Cadillac and Pontiac senerio. Kill Pontiac (which) I feel should have been kept as their performance division and keep Buick which is WAY too close to Cadillac in terms of luxury but Buick was kept because it's a big seller in China.

  6. They're not going to kill off GMC. It makes too much money. Buick should've gotten whacked, though.

  7. It is interesting how some folks wouldn't consider buying a Chevrolet PU, but do buy GMC's and vise versa. Some believe the GMC is a better built truck. My opinion is there is no difference, just depends on if you want one or the other. As a kid I had the misconception that GMC's were more heavy duty than Chevy's, but now know that wasn't true. My opinion was that while it was common to find Chevrolet and Pontiac dealers (same dealer handling both brands), typically the GMC vehicles were found in dual brands with Oldsmobile, Pontiac or in some cases, Cadillac. Especially in farming area's it gave those dealers, excluding Chevrolet, a brand of pickups to carry in addition to the brands of cars they sold.

  8. The appealing appearance of GMCs alone got me interested in GMCs. I grew up in a big Chevy Family, and ever since I became fascinated and interested in GMCs, I began having a strong desire to get a GMC Envoy and Sierra(because they look so cool!) Personally, I think GMC should make performance differences in some of their GMCs: Ex: Sierra vs Silverado(although the latter is stronger than the former, based on what I've read and saw on a GMC Sierra vs Silverado truck video :D) Both great companies, both make neat vehicles.

  9. my grandfather used to drive car delivery trucks for his job prior to working for mobil. he said the difference between the lower cost chevy and for instance buick was the amount of inspections given the product during assembly . Take it for what you want, he bought buick until his death in 2006.

  10. my grandfather used to deliver cars by truck to the dealers. he said the difference in say, a Chevrolet and a Buick of the same frame type was the number of quality inspections during assembly. he drove Buicks until he died in 2006.

  11. I was always a GMC buyer because I din not want the name of Chevrolet all over the tail gate. They just feel better. I did buy Chevy work trucks.

  12. GMC has managed to provide more modern, classy styling...while keeping a more rugged appearance than Chevy. Chevy looks Wal-Mart, GMC looks Target. Chevy looks Microsoft, GMC looks Apple. I bought a 2013 GMC Terrain...didn't even bother looking at the Chevy dealership, because I wanted something with a more distinctive character.

  13. old school GMC = pressure lubed engine.

    old school chevy = splash (oil slinger) engine.

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