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5 Cars Put GM in Driver's Seat

GMC Terrain/Chevrolet Equinox
Creating a car on the same platform for different brands not only forced GM to compete against itself and pave its way to bankruptcy in the years before the IPO, but also exposed one of its key weaknesses. The company's not only turned it into a strength with its GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox; it's done such a good job that it's hard for the consumer to tell it's the same car.

"Even though they are sister vehicles, if you looked at them back-to-back you wouldn't know," Edmunds' Drury says.

While the body types are strangely disparate, their skeletons reveal efficient twins whose sales have increased by a combined 49% since April of last year. Each starts at roughly $24,000, each is remarkably spacious for a small SUV and each features a sliding middle-row seat that gives passengers in the back more legroom while giving passengers in the front better access to children in car seats. They're also incredibly tough to track down, as Drury says GM offers few incentives for the vehicles and dealers tend to keep them around for only two weeks or less.

"Both of those vehicles were among the fastest-selling vehicles that GM had last year," Drury says. "They were selling in the low teens in terms of days to turn over for almost all of 2010 and their incentives beyond customer loyalty cash-back were near nothing compared to anything else GM sold."

More importantly, however, the Terrain and Equinox distanced themselves from competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape Hybrid not only with fuel economy, but with improved interior fabric and color palates similar to those originally offered in the Chevy Malibu and, later, in the Cruze.

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