One place where that difference might pay back for GMC ownership is when you return to trade in. In a quick check of used Chevrolet versus GMC models on Kelley Blue Book, we saw that GMC models do tend to sell for significantly more than Chevy models—perhaps due to their relative rarity.
For some of those who do pay more for new GMC vehicles, a big portion are repeat buyers, who for some reason or another (different trim or styling cues, their dealership, or the allure of the badge) prefer the brand. Despite that, they're generally assembled at the same place and have the same underlying structure and core components—so no, we can't say they're better.
There isn't a big difference in household income between Chevy trucks and GMC, across brands. But there are some differences between Chevrolet truck and GMC buyers demographically. Based on TrueCar data—using Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon owners as a comparison—we can say that GMC owners are more likely to be married, and significantly less likely to be single and with kids; more likely to be 'post-family' empty-nesters; more likely in families with two-wage earners; more likely to be managers, skilled tradesman; more likely to be women; less likely to be teachers or executives; and less likely to have a college degree. Tahoes (Chevy) are also more likely to be bought by those who identify as Black or Hispanic.
So why, at the time when GM was cutting brands like Saturn, did it decide to keep GMC around? Wouldn't most shoppers have just gone to Chevrolet? For Toprak, that's a puzzle. “I think GM would be much better off having one truck line that focuses on one brand,” he said. “I don't really see the case in keeping two brands that essentially sell the same vehicle.
Denali, Denali, Denali
2013 GMC Acadia Denali introduction, Chicago Auto Show, Feb 2012Enlarge Photo
“One strategy that would work long-term is that GMC becomes the luxury truck brand for GM.”
Under such a plan, the Denali name itself might hint either at the future of GMC—as a sort of luxury truck-and-utility counter to Cadillac cars, and perhaps even one that might only use the Denali name. GMC trucks would have things that Chevrolet trucks don't—and GMC's relative exclusivity on American roads, as it is, would already be set up to play to that.
In the meantime, what's our advice? Shop Chevy; shop GMC; and go with the best price.