Testing the waters for a possible expansion of its lineup, GMC showed the Granite, a contemporary five passenger crossover that it teased last week as an "urban utility vehicle." According to Lisa Hutchinson, product marketing director for the division, this innovative people mover was intended to redefine what GMC could mean to a new generation of potential customers who demand a solid measure of functionality intermixed with bold design. About two feet shorter than GMC's Terrain, the Granite would be the GMC's smallest vehicle ever, should it ultimately make the leap from concept to production status.

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Spun from GM's global compact platform that also underpins the upcoming Chevy Cruze and Orlando, the Granite Concept is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec four mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It has a 103.6 inch wheelbase and is 163.1 inches long, but 70.3-inches wide and 60.5 inches tall, uniquely distinct proportions compared to other compact multipurpose offerings.

The Granite's exterior design embodies an intentionally "industrial" character, precisely mixing angles and contours in a way that emphasizes style and solidity. Its signature GMC grille and sweeping headlamp treatment lead back into forward-angling side character lines and a high beltline that resolves in a rear that sees its generously proportioned liftgate framed by prominent LED taillamps, a tasteful roof spoiler and center exhaust outlet. Finished in metallic gray for which it's named, the Granite has no exterior chrome, with all trim, including its 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone tires, rendered in a satin or brushed-metal finish. Functionally, the Granite's front-hinge/rear-hinge side doors and the absence of a B-pillar facilitate easy access to its open and exceptionally flexible passenger compartment.

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Inside, the Granite carries on the precision theme, but complements it with a warmer and more inviting personality. The instrumentation features red backlit gauges modeled after classic timepieces and next-gen organic LED screens illuminate its multifunction center stack display. Instead of a conventional transmission lever, the Granite has a rotating knob that clicks like a torque wrench and uses LED indicators to confirm the gear selection. Perhaps the coolest bit of interior packaging lies in its reconfigurable seating. The front passenger and right-side rear seat can fold up and in towards the center console, creating an unobstructed stow area that can accommodate something the size of a mountain bike and still permit the rear liftgate to fully close. In addition to numerous covered cubbies, the Granite also has dedicated cargo hold-downs in its rear area and on the seatbacks.

While cost issues would likely force some detail changes in any future production version, a good bit of the basic Granite Concept package does appear to have rear volume-build possibilities. Whether GMC finds that public response merits further development remains to be seen.

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