Over the past few months I’ve had the privilege to see, first hand, how General Motors has taken steps to improve the overall vehicle quality across every line they offered. But let’s take just a half-step back from that thought and start with my own personal initial skepticism.

I’m a German car kinda guy – I have been for years. I’ve owned more Deutscher autos than I can count and have always had great luck with them over the years. Want to know what kept me going back to German manufacturers? Very simple – quality. Their fit and finish from the exterior body panels right down to the knobs on the radio SCREAMED quality to me. I like the way the vehicle felt. It gave me peace of mind from owning one. I was a complete American auto manufacturer skeptic. My memories of American-made cars stemmed from the 80’s and early 90’s mostly when my family didn’t own a single American-made vehicle for nearly 20 years.

Fast-forward a few decades, a major recession and the mult-billion dollar bail-out of two of the “Big 3” domestic auto companies and where do those companies stand now? I think GM heard the call. They saw the writing on the wall before it was too late and KNEW they had to change something or they were going out of business. Period. End of story. They knew that if they didn’t start competing on a global scale, they weren’t going to sell any cars. American auto consumers are simply too savvy and have too many choices to settle for something less than what they deserved. GM had to make some big changes, and fast – and not just to one vehicle or even one line of vehicles but to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Like, yesterday.

GMC Technology Stands Out in 2012 Lineup

Last month I drove the 2012 GMC Terrain during the GMC Winter Driving Event in Colorado. It was a total blast, but I also learned a lot about that vehicle. Truth be told, I had already driven a 2011 model because I was actually considering purchasing one myself last year. I learned that GMC has made great strides in the quality of their vehicles in just a few short years. One of those strides comes in the form of revolutionary technology improvements – especially in safety. GMC has introduced a system that they call their “Collision Alert” system. Here’s a little blurb from their press release on the technology (but this isn’t even the best part):

The 2012 GMC Terrain smaller SUV features the industry’s first crash avoidance system that exclusively uses a single camera to help drivers avoid front-end and unsignalled lane departure crashes.

Terrain’s new active safety system uses a high-resolution digital camera mounted on the windshield ahead of the rearview mirror that looks for shapes of vehicles and lane markings. The system uses audible warnings and a high-mounted visual display to warn the driver if he or she is following another vehicle too closely, when a collision is imminent, or when departing a lane without signaling first.

The camera is mounted, facing forward, right above the rear view mirror. Other automakers offer similar technology that attempts to prevent collisions and lane ‘drift’, usually in the THOUSANDS of dollars range. GMC is offering their Crash Avoidance Camera system on Terrain models for $299. No, that’s not a typo. Under $300. The feature is available in the top-end models until the end of Q1, 2012, but will be available on all models after Q1. A $299 crash avoidance system is almost a no-brainer option if you ask me.


GMC Quality – Global Quality Fit and Finish

I was surprised by one thing during my recent test drive of the 2012 GMC Terrain – the fit and finish reminded me of my favorite German cars. The styling also appeared to have ‘borrowed’ queues from some of the manufacturers as well, which I was very pleased to see. Gone appear to be the days of big, bulky, plastic-key (is that a word?), cheap interiors of GM vehicles that present only a few short years ago. Today’s GMC Terrain has a brilliant finish, wonderful layout and the aesthetics to match the perceived quality it exudes. Basically, everything you’d EXPECT to see in a vehicle meant to compete in the global automotive market today.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I also recommend you check out the article I wrote about my visit to the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan where I saw with my own eyes some of the rigorous test that are done to ensure GM vehicle meet or beat quality standards.

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