The VE cars
are based on GM’s new global rear-wheel-drive Zeta
platform. It’s the same RWD platform underneath the upcoming Chevy
Camaro and Pontiac G8 sedan. We’re also expecting to see it underpinning
the Pontiac G8 ST (Sport Truck) when that’s introduced
at the New York Auto Show in March.
The XT also
uses the Zeta platform but this car, er, truck has a much tougher and
more commercial profile than the discontinued Crewman or new Holden
proportions are different and there’s no shared sheetmetal
with the (two-door) Ute. We didn’t want this to be another variation
of the (Holden) Commodore or Ute, even though it’s a variation
of the architecture,” says Warrack Leach, the XT’s lead designer.
Leach has been with GM for eight years. He was responsible for penning
the business end of the Holden VE Ute, from the B-pillar back, before
designing the XT. He's very modest, yet proud, when he speaks about the
XT in his native Aussie accent.
I call the
XT’s style and proportions New Age Gangster Pickup.
It looks like Al Capone’s 21st century getaway car with its low
roofline, high beltline, and gun slit windows. Pull up to a bank, toss
money bags in the back, and make a clean getaway in the direct injection
V8 powered two-mode hybrid.
not too hard to see Chrysler 300C swagger in its proportions and Audi
R8 DNA around the exterior lighting. 23-inch wheels, strong wheel arches,
a thick sweeping c-pillar and a massive Denali hole-punch grille have
turned this Crewman’s character from domesticated pack animal
into predatory beast (see
more than aggressive looks from the unibody architecture. It has lower
body mass versus traditional body-on-frame construction, helping save
fuel by cutting out weight. It’s stiffer, improving noise,
vibration, and harshness. And it serves as the mounting point for a four-wheel
independent suspension that gives the vehicle a performance feel on the
road, even when the cargo box is empty.
“The styling is truck-like. The functionality is truck-like. But
the ride and handling is what you’d expect from a car-based architecture,” Mr.
Leach proudly boasts.
See? I told
you the XT is segment-blurring.
for the on-road performance (and make no mistake, this is just an on-road
vehicle) and improved fuel economy with lower payload and towing figures
than a comparable GMC Canyon (see
comparison picture). The Denali XT
has an estimated payload capacity of 1,100 pounds and a towing capacity
of an estimated 3,500 pounds. But, again, this is a car, er, truck
for people who don’t need a true truck with high end
The design philosophy inside the Denali XT is similar to the exterior.
It has strong structures in the doors and dashboard with exposed metal
details, but that cockpit is warmed up with tan saddle leather and gray
suede that blankets many surfaces and the seats. It can comfortably seat
four people with a surprising amount of hip space.