By on January 2, 2011

When I attended the launch of the Buick Regal, Buick’s product reps were anxious to talk all about the forthcoming Buick Regal GS, the high-performance version of the Opel Insignia-based sedan. At the time, the Buick Boyz were anxious for input; what, they asked, would enthusiasts prefer: a manual transmission or all-wheel drive. My answer: all of the above. Surely, I thought,  Buick would be bringing a rebadged version of the Opel Insignia OPC, with AWD and the GM 2.8T V6 from the Cadillac SRX Turbo and Saab 9-5 Aero. No, came  the answer. The 2.8T was not approved for use in a Buick. Stung by past oversharing between divisions, GM had decided that the 260-325 HP, Australian-built LP9 engine would be limited to applications in Caddys and Saabs. But now, it seems that GM may have penned some kind of deal with Saab, as GMInsideNews reports that the LP9 has been discontinued from its last remaining Cadillac application, the SRX Turbo.

But GM is not yet admitting that its saving the 2.8T for Saab, as the GMI report cites a 90 percent take rate on the 3.0 version of the GM High-Feature V6 in the SRX. Which is interesting, given TTAC’s take on the 3.0 SRX was hardly enthusiastic, as Michael Karesh noted

The SRX’s standard 3.0-liter V6 kicks out 265 horsepower—at 6,950 RPM. The torque peak, where a much less impressive 223 foot-pounds reside, is a similarly lofty 5,100 RPM. Similar figures amazed the world two decades ago in the Acura NSX. And GM’s new 3.0 might have dazzled in a reworked Kappa sports car. But in a 4,200-pound SUV (4,400 with AWD) it’s out of its element. One gets the impression that GM had a much lower curb weight target for the new SRX (and a number of other recent vehicles), and then missed it by a few hundred pounds—not the sign of a well-functioning product development system.

But, the 2.8T had its own problems as well. Karesh’s assesment:

The 295-horsepower 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 accords itself fairly well in the SRX. Because of the mass it must propel this engine never feels especially strong, but unlike the 3.0 it never feels sluggish or strained, either. Only those paying very close attention will be aware that the engine is boosted. Throttle response isn’t as sharp as it is in the best naturally aspirated engines, and there’s some surging and lulling under light throttle, but boost lag isn’t readily evident. Neither is torque steer—the boosted engine is only available with all-wheel-drive. Fuel economy ranged from 16 MPG in moderately aggressive driving to nearly 20 in casual mixed driving.

The biggest problem with the turbocharged engine: it adds $3,820 to the SRX’s price yet provides only marginally competitive performance and fuel economy in return.

The lessons from GM’s decision to drop the 2.8T then, seem to be many. First, it seems that luxury CUV drivers would rather pay more for fuel economy than adequate performance. No huge surprise there. Second, offering two engines in the same model is a recipe for disaster unless the two engines are well differentiated in terms of either power or efficiency… otherwise, the more expensive engine will fall by the wayside. Third, now that Cadillac has dropped the 2.8T and GM doesn’t have to worry about cross-brand cannibalism,  the decision to bring a four-cylinder Regal GS to the US market confirms that Buick will never become a true performance brand. Fourth, and finally, Saab may have exclusive access to a high-performance, premium engine, that hasn’t been able to tempt buyers out of a “torqueless” 3.0 V6 that performance enthusiasts are prone to comparing to “a boat anchor.” That’s not a great sign for a brand that has been struggling to find mass acceptance.

But Saab isn’t the only party facing a tough decision now: Cadillac needs to figure out if it wants to keep its SRX saddled to an underwhelming engine, or if it wants to add its widely-lauded 3.6 direct injection V6 (or possibly a rumored turbocharged version of same) to the SRX lineup. In reality though, the Buick LaCrosse’s shift to standard hybrid power probably tips Cadillac’s way forward. AutoWeek reports that a plug-in version of the SRX is in development, and Cadillac could well make the SRX’s optinoal engine a high-efficiency model rather than a high-performance one. That, apparently, is what the market seems to bee asking for.

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40 Comments on “Wither The Cadillac 2.8T V6?...”


  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    GM is just afraid to put 2.8L V6′s in its products anymore-see Deadliest Sin Ever

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @zbnutcase: Wrong 2.8L V6. The one you’re thinking of is the 60 degree V6 from the 70′s, this is one of the new High Feature V6′s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_High_Feature_engine), developed in 2004.
       
      Regardless, I thought the big knock against this 2.8 turbo is that it doesn’t return good fuel mileage, at least in the cars we’ve seen here in the States. In another example of how CAFE screws things up, I can only imagine what an Opel Insignia equivalent Buick would do to the corporate average.
       
      I really think CAFE is the reason why the AWD Turbo V6 Regal got canceled and why there will be a start/stop system on the upcoming LaCrosse. Trying to meet an artificially created demand for cars people aren’t that interested in and keeping a car that people ARE interested in away from this market….

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    IIRC, GM had some problems with this engine blowing up on regular gas. That, combined with the very low take rate and lack of other applications, was likely enough to get it axed.

    I think the problem with putting the 3.6 in the SRX (and its platform buddies) is that the beefier transmission from the Traverse/etc. won’t fit.

  • avatar
    photog02

    GM is a continual source of disappointment with respect to their “performance” vehicles. You’ve hit on the prime example; the single Buick I was interested in was neutered before birth. Whether or not GM is remembering their past over-eagerness for sharing parts and platforms, or is just trying to take their various brands in much more divergent directions, isn’t clear. But what is is that the Buick Regal GS needed some things that it isn’t going to get.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    If lack of torque is the 3.0l engine’s problem then adding an electric motor would seem like a good idea. Though adding a few hundred pounds of battery to an already overweight vehicle is not…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    3.6V6 yes!  Less than that in Buick and Cadillac midsize or larger products, boooooooooooo.  High Performance versions that aren’t high performance?  Booooooooooooooooo hissssssssssssss!

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Yes.

      Ruining the drivability of high volume Chevys to satisfy CAFE isn’t something GM has any real choice about.  The same probably applies to the Regal.  But putting the wreath on two ton cars with that terrible 3.0 is unforgiveable.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah I know GM is chasing volume but seriously how many Cruzes or say 3.5 Impalas and 4cyl Malibus do you have to sell to make up for making the 3.6V6 the smallest engine in the Cadillac lineup?
       
      Let’s make the differences in the cars worth talking about.  And I’ve become aware that GM is selling a depressing number of 4cyl Malibus.  (Depressing for me cause I’m a used car buyer and I prefer the biggest engine avail.)

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Four cylinder engines are where the volume is in the Malibu’s segment. Look under the hood of your average Camry, Accord or Sonata some time.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That doesn’t stop me from being cheesed about it.  I hate the fact that so many Chrysler LX cars were built with the 2.7V6.  Forget any issues with the engine, that’s just not enough HP for me.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    An Australian built turbo V-6 sounds like a costly engine to make and import.
    As far as performance vehicles, GM should stick to the Chevrolet brand for whatever Impress the Car Mags/Blogs playing around it wants to do. Buick’s target market could care less. Ditto for Cadillac.
     

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    whither

  • avatar
    ajla-

    So to recap:
     
    1. GM created the high-revving, no torque 3.0L SIDI. They chose to put it into Buicks, Cadillacs, and 4000lb crossovers.  In these applications it manages either lower fuel economy than the more powerful 3.6L DI or worse NVH than the 2.4L DI.
     
    2. GM chose to put the 2.8T, a relatively high performance motor that blows up on regular gas, in the low thrill new SRX.
     
    3.We won’t get a version of the Insignia OPC here because it uses the 2.8T and that engine is reserved for Cadillac.  Because GM is all about Cadillac prestige.
     
    —-3a. The base motor on $23K Camaro LS is the same as the optional V6 on the Cadillac CTS.
     
    —-3b. The Northstar replacement program was canceled.
     
    —-3c. The Cadillac ULC Concept exists.
     
    —-3d. Now that the 2.8T SRX is dead, the SRX’s only engine is the same thing that one can get on a $25K Equinox V6.

    4. Because getting the Insignia OPC in North America would somehow hurt Cadillac’s image, we get the Regal GS with a 2.0L turbo that makes 255hp.  Which is 5 less hp than the Cobalt SS.  However, the Regal GS does at least turn in a torque improvement.
     
    5. The Malibu is available for about $26K with a 252hp 3.6L SFI V6. Currently, this is the 3.6L SFI’s only application in the GM portfolio.
     
    6. The Malibu doesn’t get the 2.4L DI even though it starts at just $770 less than the Equinox.
     
    7. The Cruze has two engines that make the same horsepower.
     
    8. The 3900 is still not the only engine offered on the Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yes and that’s why, though I was raised in a GM loving family, I think the General is full of crap.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s a scary thought: the General Motors that built the 1990 Century featured elsewhere on the site today, had more of a clue than today’s bailed out (albeit leaner) “New GM.”
       
      Think about it. The 90s GM made incremental improvements to (mostly awful) platforms, that amazingly more often than not created decent, durable, and popular lines of vehicles. How many A-bodies was GM selling in the early 90s? I’ll bet it was over 350,000, and I’m sure the tooling from 1982 was paid for by then.
       
      What is today’s GM doing? Spending millions to develop an essentially useless engine… haphazardly grabbing Opel-derived cars and/or rebadged Daewoos to throw into the product mix… and decontenting so-called “aspirational” vehicles to the point it makes no sense to buy an SRX because the Equinox down the street is exactly the same. The Caddy wreath doesn’t have the cachet to make it about the badge, either.
       
      Yeah, today’s vehicles may be better overall… but the thinking behind them is desperate and disjointed, and it’s showing more and more.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      How surprised should one be?  This is the same company that has had the best V8 in the world for 20 years yet consistently and completely failed at using them to sell any cars that weren’t Camaros and couldn’t do even that very well.  Even when gas was $2.00 and credit was free.
       
      Even Chrysler has the sense to put their one good motor in everything they build.  From the crapbox Avenger to $40,000 Durangos.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Even Chrysler has the sense to put their one good motor in everything they build.  From the crapbox Avenger to $40,000 Durangos.
       
      Pentastar V6 and Hemi would be two…if you are saying the HEMI doesn’t classify as a “good” engine, please give up TTAC and read CR instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Oh GM offers at least one good engine in everything they sell.  But have you ever tried to find a 3.9 Impala on the used car market?  Dang near EFFING impossible because they dumped so many 3.5s on the market, same with the old body style and the 3.4 vs the 3.8.  Have you tried to find Chargers with 3.5s instead of 2.7s?  Again, really tough.  Hell even a disturbing # of 300s were built with 2.7V6s which had NO business in a real luxury car.  Try to find an Saturn Aura with the 3.6 instead of the 3.5.  You know back in the day (60s and 70s) GM did have entry level engines, but they didn’t build 75% of the model with the smallest effing engine.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      You know perfectly well that the Hemi is the one interesting motor, I meant good as in mass market appeal.  Where the Hemi was 5 years ago but probably never will be again, sadly.
       

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Maybe the automakers should be concerned that there was no take rate on a turbo upgrade in a premium crossover. Fuel economy probably isn’t that big of a deal to the overpriced, inefficient stationwagon crowd. Maybe there is more than a little buyer resistance to turbocharging. Not everyone starts every day having learned nothing from experience.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem isn’t turbocharging–it’s too much money for too small a bump in performance.
      Offer a 355 horsepower engine with no fuel economy penalty like Ford and they’d have a larger take rate.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What is the take rate for the Ford Ecopower? I don’t recall hearing that there was much of one. Maybe potentail buyers noticed what sort of mileage the magazines testing the turbos were actually achieving.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/what-do-you-think-the-ecoboost-take-rate-is/
       
      30% on the MKS, 46% on the MKT.

      An engine upgrade should if anything be a more difficult sale for Ford in that their base 3.7 V6 is much better suited to a heavy vehicle than GM’s weak 3.0.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I asked about Ford, which sees 11.5% take on the Ecoboost for Flex and 14.2% for Taurus. How many MKT and MKS Lincolns do they even sell? I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    What are you talking about? Both the 3.0 and 2.8T are modern, excellent engines! Go to any Saab forum and that’s what they’ll tell you!
    (yes, I’m being sarcastic)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Is that the same 3.0V6 in the old Saturn L300?  I always heard positive things from the guys who had those, especially the end of the production run.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The old 3.0 V6 was a 54-degree Opel engine, while the current 3.0 is derived from the current 3.6L. I seem the recall that the Opel V6 was problematic, but that may have been GM techs who didn’t know what to do with Cateras and L300s.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I can’t believe Cadillac buyers will go for a plug-in hybrid, which is really nothing more than a halo vehicle designed for some eco-political agenda.

    Cadillac buyers want performance luxury, not something they have to babysit by plugging in every night so they can pinch a few pennies on gas.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The biggest issue with the 2.8 is that your engine can blow up if you put regular fuel into it.  Offering an engine that requires premium (instead of recommends premium) in a mainstream vehicle, even a luxury vehicle, is a stupendously stupid thing to do.  How hard would it have been to put a few lines of code into the ECU to detect lower grade fuel and to adjust compression/boost accordingly to prevent engine damage?
     
    No one expects an engine to actually require premium to prevent damage in anything outside of a purpose built high performance sports car.

  • avatar
    Serj

    I’ve test-driven a Saab Sportcombi with the 2.8T, and I loved it. If that car wasn’t riddled with cheap plastics in strange places (down along the center console for starters) that were already rattling on a year-old car, and there was some way to get the apparently broke stereo working during the test drive, I may have actually bothered to go inside and try and wheel n deal for it. The chassis was excellent and that engine had this fantastically smooth surge from about 3500rpms to the limiter. I think if nothing else they had this version (LP9) in the first-gen CTS, I’d be hunting for one. Such a WASTE GM, this AND your Atlas engine (the LL8 not the wussy L52 from the canyon/colorado) are brilliant powertrains built for NOTHING.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I’m at a loss for words. Why on earth would they a hot little kettle like this, in a whale like that Caddy?

  • avatar
    shaker

    There is a minimum size that an engine should be (turbo or not) to match the vehicle weight – and that minimum size should put the torque peak at a reasonably low RPM. Then you can sacrifice some high-RPM horsepower and tune the engine for better MPG in that application. That 2.8 would probably be sweet in a 3300 lb car.

    Oh, yeah – the 2.4 from the Equinox should be offered as the 4cyl. Malibu LTZ…

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    30 40 years ago auto insurance companies used the words Turbo Charging to raise rates. Do the insurance companies still do that?

  • avatar
    Steven02

    This engine was recalled last June to fix the regular gas problem, so that isn’t the reason it is being canceled.  The 3.0L TT is likely the answer.  It is supposed to have better MPG and HP/TQ numbers.  Keeping the 2.8L around makes no sense when you have something better coming out.
     
    I would love to see the 3.0L TT go into the new Regal, but I bet it will be finding its home in the Lambdas and Caddy XTS and next gen Impala.

  • avatar
    carguy

    No surpsises here:
    1. This engine can’t compete wuith newer DI turbo engines and thus delivers marginal performance with a significant MPG penalty.
    2. GM has a new turbo 3.0 six in the works that will most likely deliver more power for less fuel.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    Buick’s target market could care less.
     
    What you mean is  Buick’s target market COULDN’T care less……..

  • avatar
    Ion

    I can’t believe that a Boosted GM motor has less power than a NA Ford. Granted the Ford has more displacement but even that seems backwards.


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