By on March 28, 2010

Buick’s LaCrosse is dropping its little-loved 3.0 V6 base engine in favor GM’s direct-injected 2.4 liter four-banger, probably so it can use the magic term “3o MPG highway” in forthcoming marketing. The downsides? You mean, besides having to move over 4,000 lbs with a 182 hp, 172 lb-ft engine (compared to the 3.0′s 255 hp, 217 lb-ft)? How about the fact that it brings the LaCrosse even closer to the forthcoming Regal? Buicks have long suffered from the fact that consumers see them as “Buicks,” rather than distinctive models, and cramped positioning like this is the reason why. But hey, someone’s got to make up for lost Pontiac volume at the Buick-GMC dealerships, so why not sell two cars on the same platform, starting at the same price point? Meanwhile, the Regal Turbo will not be available until the fourth quarter, and Regals with navigation won’t start to be built until the end of April. Buick’s sales are improving, but it’s still suffering from a number of very familiar Old GM symptoms.

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32 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other Edition...”


  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Much more expensive, thirstier, and 18 fewer horses than the new Hyundai Sonata. Way to go, Buick!

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The LaCrosse is almost 10 inches longer than the Sonata, and is aimed at the premium (or near-premium) segment. I really don’t think the two cars are direct competitors.

    • 0 avatar

      STUPID, STUPID, STUPID move.

      The Lacrosse should have no less than a 300hp V6 and an optional Twin Turbo V6 – like the Lincoln MKS.

      http://www1.epinions.com/review/2010_Buick_LaCrosse_epi/content_483387018884

      If a 4 cylinder is all they are offering, I am no longer in love with that car.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      A top-of-the-line all-leather Sonata Limited costs thousands less than the base LaCrosse, with comparable features and much better warranty. The 4-banger LaCrossse is as uncompetitive as the Chrysler Sebring.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Flashpoint,
      This is only the base engine. They still offer the 3.6L.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Let’s see. Buick introduces two cars that are similar in dimension, but different in mission, execution and style. Price points are similar, too. So that must be what’s wrong. There’s something got to be wrong, right? After all, it’s Buick. Of GM. So sales success, increased profits per vehicle, increased conquest sales notwithstanding, Buick must be a failure. Sounds like “praising with faint damn” but, Edward, you just can’t admit it.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      Just because profits are up (hey, that will happen when you get to stick all your debt on some suckers who don’t have a choice) doesn’t mean that there’s nothing left to criticize. That said I don’t think that it’s overlap which is the problem here. The DI 2.4 NA hasn’t gotten stunningly positive reviews in the new Terraininox, and all reviewers have noted that the EPA economy numbers are basically impossible to achieve. So the 30MPG advantage may be illusory at best.

      Add to that the tendency of the LaCrosse to get very expensive, very quickly once basic options are added, and it’s easy to see that this mismatched powertrain will be a flop – except perhaps in the rental market, but I thought fleet sales was one of those legacies that were supposed to be left behind with Old GM.

  • avatar
    hapless

    The Regal is so close to the LaCrosse as to be its twin in all ways: size, price, styling. They will compete for the same buyer. That’s normally OK: more options are better, right ?

    In this case, they’ll be cannibalizing sales of a locally produced car with the intrinsically less-profitable sales of a captive import. The LaCrosse can be discounted by dealers; the Regal will have to sell at MSRP to not be a dead loss.

    Imagine if the Saturn Astra had been an exact clone of the Cobalt, and sold inside Chevy dealers. That’s the kind of situation they’re blundering into. The Astra didn’t sell alone. How bad would it have been in face-to-face competition from a locally-produced twin?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Uh, dealer discounting has no impact on GM’s (or any other manufacturer’s) profitability — only incentives do.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @hapless: I don’t know, this has been a Buick trait since what, the 1930′s? Remember the Special/Century from the 30′s to the 50′s, and more recently, the Special/Skyhawk in the 60′s the Century/Regal from the 70′s through the ’90′s.

      It seems like there has always been an entry level Buick and the near luxury Buick. I guess the challenge in this era is to make the distinctions clear between the Regal and the LaCrosse.

      Personally, I have never understood the idea of two cars that physically resemble each other so closely being sold as two different lines.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Alfred Sloan must be doing barrel rolls in his grave. Check out the Buick website list of vehicles and you will find these gems:

    “2011 Regal: Starting at $29,245. Lacrosse: Starting at $29,245″

    And really, are they kidding themselves with a 182hp, 172 lb-ft. engine in a > 4,000 lb. so called Premium Car? The Cimarron lives.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The 3.0L was/is so useless that I doubt the use of the 2.4L will matter much.

    At least with the 2.4L, you expect the car to be slow.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    So starting at $27000 for a 4 cyl Buick? Who the hell is going to buy that? And isn’t it going to be so slow it is dangerous? With 4 people and tank of gas, what 5000+ pounds? This should have only been available with the 3.6. In normal and turbo forms.

  • avatar

    I finally saw a new-bod Lacrosse on the road last week. I was expecting to be much more impressed than I was; while I have no love lost for Government Motors, I have to admit the new Lacrosse and upcoming Regal look pretty snazzy (and, ah, similar) in pics.

    I hated — HATED — this thing “in the metal.” Bloated beyond belief, and the surface details shown in the pics wash out in person — at least on the silver example I saw. Oh, and it was a rental (a CXL), so Gov’t Motors likely made next to nothing on the fleet sale to boot.

    This car is in no way special. I personally think the new Sonata screams “classy excitement” in a way totally foreign (pun?) to Buick.

    Seriously, if Whitless and Co. knew what they were doing (HA!) they’d promptly slap a bowtie on this mess and sell it as the 2011 Impala — it would probably make a decent Chevy.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.

      GM in NA should be Chevy and Cadillac. Period. Save $$ by only marketing two brands. Use the ideas currently going into GMC and Buick to build better Chevies. Adjust the dealer network as necessary.

      Let Buick become a China-only marque.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Chinese are not that stupid. You thought they would still buy Buicks after the brand is killed in its own country? Talking about faces … if you know what I mean.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    While I’m not in love with it, I find the Lacrosse handsome.

    Unfortunately, it was parked in front of a new Chevy Malibu. OMG, they’re virtually identical in profile from certain angles.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I just don’t get what GM is trying to do with Buick. The loss of Pontiac just makes this brand all the more of an anomaly. Whats the market, GM faithful who want more chrome than a Chevy but a Cadillac isn’t banal enough?
    “Buicks have long suffered from the fact that consumers see them as “Buicks.” Translation; consumers see them as old people cars. Thats not the image Pontiac had, but that brand is gone. I think GM can’t tell a swan from an Albatross.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    I thought they kept Buick around because it was GM’s best selling brand in China.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      It’s a weird way to market for sure.
      Using the same logic as Buick=China, why not have kept Pontiac? I understand Canadians loved Pontiacs. Opels are in Germany, Vauxhall in the UK, Holden in Australia…

      Now we have an allegedly worldwide Chevy, Buicks for China, Caddies for Europe (or not, depends on who you ask) and a whole bunch of people who want their old marques back.

      At first glance, the idea of a GM store sounded kind of dumb, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It would be a way for GM to sell all of it’s brands in the US (or North America, even), comply with CAFE and quell down the internecine warfare between it’s old divisions. At least if you could figure out a way to pare down the number of dealers…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Does Buick need to sell in the US in order to be a best-selling brand in China? Opel is GM’s best-seller in Europe, but it doesn’t need to exist in North America.

      The “but it sells well in China!” always struck me as 80% thinking, where the remaining 20% is “but it doesn’t sell well here, nor has much of a future.”

      It’s similar thinking to that which is keeping GMC around: “GMC is profitable and sells in volumes!”. True, but it would also sell in volumes if you were moving Chevrolets under the same badge and just sold an optional GMC front clip for fifty bucks. Do you really think that most, or even some, of those customers who dropped the cash on a new GMT900 truck or SUV would go to Ford, Dodge—sorry, Ram—or Toyota instead of Chevrolet?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @psar: My suspicion is Buick was left intact to give former BPG dealers some kind of car to sell after the P was removed. I can understand the logic of the decision, as Buicks were popular with some wealthy Chinese before the Communists took over. If you don’t sell them in the states, then how do you sell them as an “American” car in China?

      Opel, Vauxhall or Holden have little history here in the States, at least nowhere near as much as Buick. Or GMC. Which has always been running alongside Chevy for the light truck market. Why not truly go “professional grade” and leave the light stuff for Chevy, and get back to making Class 5 tractors, chassis cabs, and the heavy duty stuff instead? That would be logical to me. No Chevy versions of the heavy duty trucks, either. A clear delineation.

      Hey, maybe I should apply for their marketing…

      No not really. I dislike that kind of work.

  • avatar
    Z72_Silvy

    It’s great marketing for GM and Buick. They need to go directly against their competition. Show the world that GM can move a 3500 lb car with a 4 cylinder and get 30+ mpg. Then they need to show that GM’s 2.4 is far superior to Ford’s weak, NVH poster child 2.3.

    In fact, they ought to show a Buick commercial of the LaCrosse moving just fine then have Howie Long ask “What happens when Ford tries a 4 cylinder in a car of this weight?” Have the Ford move about 2 feet, then show the crankshaft on the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      Don’t forget to make sure to mention that the 4 cylinder Buick costs many thousands more than the 4 cylinder Ford. And BTW, how does Ford get mentioned in a thread that’s really about GM screwing Buick’s line up branding again?

      And since you like your GM trucks, you should be complaining about GM’s decision to keep two truck brands. Thus allowing Ford to keep claiming that they have the best selling truck line.

    • 0 avatar
      Z72_Silvy

      It’s the fact that GM can offer an adequate performing 4 cylinder in a vehicle that large and Ford can’t. The Buick may be a touch slower than TTAC members will like, but the buyers won’t be taking the LaCrosse to a drag strip. They won’t care about 0 – 60 mph times (or for you drag racers, 0 – 60 ft times).

  • avatar
    nutbags

    Maybe they’ll offer a stick with the 4-cylinder model. Nah, this is GM, right?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’ll play devil’s advocate here. I suspect a 4-cylinder LaCrosse will weigh closer to 3800 lbs than 4000. GM currently sells a 3800-4000 lb car with the same 2.4 liter 4 cylinder, the Chevrolet Equinox, and Chevrolet sells a lot of them. In fact, they just added a third shift. Until just a few years ago, Buick sold the Rendezvous crossover with a 180 hp. 3.0 liter 6 cylinder, and it was characterized as having “adequate” power by most buyers. Granted, it had less torque, but it also had a 4-speed transmission rather than the Lacrosse’s 6-speed.

    The “underpowered” 4-cylinder LaCrosse will probably still have a ungoverned top speed north of 120 MPH. It’s a whole lot faster than the early 1980s V-8 Chevrolet Camaro with 5.0 liter V-8. How fast do you really need to go to make the early-bird special at MCL?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Correction to my own previous post: The Rendezvous had a 5-speed transmission.

  • avatar
    wsn

    th009 “The LaCrosse is almost 10 inches longer than the Sonata, and is aimed at the premium (or near-premium) segment. I really don’t think the two cars are direct competitors.”

    1) Oh, I didn’t realize GM’s packaging ability is that poor.
    2) You are right in that they are not direct competitors. GM would lose face in a direct comparison and thus it chose to give the Buick a higher MSRP and dump them to fleets.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    We also have to remember Buicks target market here. Older folks don;t care how quick their cars are. They care if the seats are cushy, the ride is pillow soft and the trunk holds a foursomes worth of golf clubs.

    The Rendezvous had a very problematic 5 speed btw.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Buick sales are a fraction of what they were just a decade ago (just like Government Motors market share, but I digress) so the only direction they can go is up.

    I suspect Government Motors sales of Buicks to go up a bit whether it be by doubling the model lineup and sending more to rental fleets.

  • avatar
    srogers

    Isn’t the LaCrosse a more spacious, luxurious (American style) car than the Regal?

    I think that Buick’s buyers will have no trouble making a distinction between the tight Euro-style Regal and the bloated cruiser LaCrosse. And I’m sure that the 4 cylinder has enough power for buyers of either one, but if they have any doubts, the LaCrosse has the option 3.6 “Cadillac” engine – which should be good for bragging rights.


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