It’s great to have posh comforts and high-tech features in your vehicle. But which vehicles and which brands count as luxury vehicles and luxury brands? Looking specifically at GMC, does this company count as a luxury SUV brand? We take a look to figure it out.
Luxury in the GMC SUVs
GMC offers SUVs across the size spectrum. The Terrain is a compact SUV. The Acadia is a midsize SUV, and the Yukon is a full-size SUV. All three SUVs come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Their touchscreens range from 7.0 inches to 10.2 inches. They all have six to eight speakers, some with the option to upgrade to Bose. The Yukon and Acadia come standard with satellite radio, and the Yukon has standard HD Radio and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Many of the features are available on all three SUVs along with wireless device charging and a rear-seat entertainment system. Acadia and Yukon also offer navigation, a rear camera mirror, and a surround-view parking camera system. The Yukon adds an available head-up display.
The three SUVs offer power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a sunroof. The Acadia offers a dual-panel sunroof, while the Yukon offers a panoramic sunroof, a power-sliding center console, and power-retractable assist steps.
The 2021 Terrain starts at $25,000 and the Terrain Denali comes in around $38,300. The 2021 Acadia starts at $29,800, and prices rise to $46,300. U.S. News finds the Acadia’s interior to be less luxurious than some of its competitors. In contrast to the Acadia, U.S. News says the 2021 Yukon is more luxurious than its competitors. The Yukon starts at $50,700, and the Denali trim starts at $68,400.
Luxury SUVs from luxury brands
SUVs from traditional luxury brands like Cadillac and Lincoln tend to have higher prices, but they do also include more standard features and have more features available. Cadillac’s SUVs range from a starting price of $35,795 for the XT4 to $75,195 for the Escalade. The Escalade with options can rise to more than $116,000. The Lincoln SUVs have starting prices ranging from $36,105 for the Corsair to $76,185 for the Navigator. The Navigator’s top trim starts at just over $98,125.
The Escalade comes standard with three screens: a 16.9-inch touchscreen, a 7.2-inch digital control panel, and a 14.2-inch instrument cluster. It also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 19-speaker AKG Studio stereo system, wireless device charging, satellite radio, HD Radio, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Available tech features include a 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference surround-sound stereo and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Other standard features are proximity keyless entry and remote start plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a universal garage door opener. A panoramic sunroof is available as are cabin ionization and a central console with refrigerator and freezer. The interior comes standard with 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats, driver’s seat memory settings, power-folding, and heated second-row seats, and a power-folding third row. Other available features include leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a head-up display.
The Navigator has similar standard tech features, although it has a 10-inch touch screen and a 14-speaker audio system. It has an available 20-speaker audio system and a rear-seat entertainment system. Remote start is standard and a panoramic sunroof is available, according to U.S. News.
In the interior, all trims come standard with leather upholstery plus heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats. Other available features include 24-way power-adjustable front seats, a surround-view parking camera system, and a head-up display.
So, what does this mean for GMC?
Is GMC a true luxury brand?
GMC, which only manufactures trucks and SUVs, has made a transition. Road & Track says that GMC’s “working-class truck brand is now a serious luxury-class competitor.” The top “Denali and AT4 trims now outsell all of Cadillac,” according to Road & Track. The average cost of Denali and AT4 GMC vehicles is more than an Audi or a BMW.
GMC has focused on providing premium features through both technology and unique features. In addition to the SUVs, GMC trucks also offer more luxury than their Chevrolet siblings. However, a luxury brand isn’t necessarily defined by the cost of its vehicles. Cars.com points out that a fully loaded Jeep Grand Wagoneer could cost $100,000, although Jeep is not considered to be a luxury brand.
A luxury brand is determined by its reputation, marketing, features, and prices, says Cars.com. Luxury features are offered standard, rather than on higher trims only, and most models have high prices. Luxury vehicles have better quality powertrains, technology, safety features, and finishes.
They also have less visible upgrades, like sound dampening insulation and parts made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Luxury vehicles may offer handmade components or special services for owners. A premium brand provides value for the expense, but a luxury brand provides status as well.
While GMC’s SUVs offer a premium experience with plenty of luxury features, especially in the Denali trim, the brand hasn’t quite crossed over into becoming a luxury brand. Maybe things would change if a fridge/freezer console were included in the Yukon.