By on November 13, 2011

Take Buick’s LaCrosse, load it up with a fancier interior materials, wheels and trim, and what do you get? No, not a Cadillac XTS. The XTS, you see, is a fancier Buick LaCrosse for a different kind of buyer. The XTS is for people who might want a fancier LaCrosse, but with some “red blooded luxury” flair. This LaCrosse “GL” concept is for those who want a fancier LaCrosse which retains Buick’s “inviting luxury” vibe. See the difference?  GM’s decision to keep Buick in its brand portfolio has worked out fairly well thus far, bracketing the luxury market with very different brand images and products… thus far. But with Cadillac dipping into Buick territory with its midsized XTS, now does not seem to be the time for Buick to move upwards by showing an ultra-luxury version of its midsized LaCrosse. Luckily this LaCrosse GL is just a concept, but it should remind The General that a two-brand approach to the luxury market has to be especially careful: swallow too much of the “different brands for different buyers” Kool-Aid and overlap becomes unavoidable. Appealing though it may be, this LaCrosse GL sounds a warning…

 

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52 Comments on “Buick Goes Upscale, Bumps Into New Cadillac XTS (In Concept)...”


  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Why is this so hard? Buick = front drive, Cadillac = rear drive. The XTS shouldn’t exist. Stop building cars just to satisfy dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Most Buick/Cadillac buyers wouldn’t know the difference …

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think there is room for both of them in the pecking order. Buick will always have its followers and fans, and so will Cadillac.

      But GM and the Buick fans would be better served in GM divested itself of Buick USA and sold it off to Buick China, and then position Buick as a high-end ‘import’ brand just like Lexus does, even though many Lexi are actually made in North America. Buick can do the same – be foreign-owned and still make them in the US for the US market. It works for Chrysler/Dodge/RAM/Jeep.

      For that matter, anything made in Mexico or Canada is an import when marketed and sold in the US of A. So it is just a matter of semantics. Buick can make them in China, Mexico, Canada, the USA, or any combination thereof. As long as Buick is owned by GM of China it is foreign owned and can claim to be an import.

      There will always be a (small) market for both Buick and Cadillac, and neither brand will ever make money or be profitable in North America.

      If GM wants to become a profitable player in the global auto manufacturing game and achieve some semblance of viability, GM needs to get rid of GMC and Buick and focus squarely on Chevrolet and Cadillac as its core business.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        …..dcat…some revolutionary, but not impossible scenarios there. Can’t say I’d like to see them happen, but if you get wind of a Buick sale to China, tip us off…….I. personally, will “back up the truck” for GM shares, as I’m sure the various Chinese players will pay a fat premium.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I don’t think calling a car an “import” matters to the people who buy imports.

        As a guy who’s owned a few imports and a few American vehicles, I’m not thinking “gee, if only this car were made a long way from home, I’d like it more!”. The times we’ve bought foreign cars, we were looking for a reliable/affordable car that met our needs — and Ford & GM neglected the small/medium sedan market for a long time. So, if you wanted a decent small/medium sedan, you had to get a Honda or a Toyota (and my Tempo was a piece of junk). Things have been changing over the last few years (and now that I’m a dad I’m less interested in sedans), but I still care a lot more about the car then where it’s made.

        The people who seem to care are the “Made in the USA” crowd. But, a lot of them don’t check beyond the nameplate to see where the vehicle was actually made. For instance, the VIN on my mom’s F-150 (an excellent vehicle for her purposes, a poor fit for mine) was made in Canada. But it’s a Ford, so it must be domestic, right? LOL.

        P.S. GM has a lot of work to do on the Buick and Cadillac brands before they mean anything other than “expensive Chevy” to those of us raised in the early 80s…

      • 0 avatar

        Luke, Canada has always been a special case. GM, Ford and Chrysler’s Canadian operations date to the early part of the 20th century and cars and trucks have been moving across the US/Canada border in both directions. Ford was building cars in Canada 4 years before the Model T – Buicks were built in Canada in 1907 and GM of Canada was established in 1918. Chrysler’s operations in Canada date to the Maxwell-Chalmers days and Dodge was assembling cars in Windsor in 1920. Heck, Ford even named one of their V8 engines the Windsor engine because that’s where it was made.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Guys, of course the variable factors are infinite, but the bottom line remains…. the bottom line. GM simply has to make a lot more money than it is making now in order just to keep the lights on and I’m not even talking about paying back the tax payers. I figure that money is shot all to hell in a handbag. We’ll never see that money again. At least the UAW was employed, right?

        Canada’s special relationship with the US does not take away the fact that anything made in Canada is……. foreign if it is imported and sold in the US.

        And, yes, I do believe that if push comes to shove the Chinese will indeed be willing to pay a premium for ready-made market access for their cars. And why shouldn’t they? The Chinese are sitting on more than 1.3 Trillion of our dollars. Buying GM doesn’t take anything away from their coffers but it sure gives them ready access to the North American market.

        Look at the success of Fiatsler. Fiat is gasping for air while Chrysler is making easy money with the 200 and the Grand Cherokee.

        Luke is right. GM has to do more to both Buick and Cadillac to get the American public interested in buying them. Just saying Buick is better than Lexus isn’t going to hack it. The people who chose to buy Lexus do so out of conviction, not because of a catchy ad slogan.

        And Cadillac? GM needs to make Caddy a stand out, stand-alone brand that showcases the latest and the greatest tech. Hell, Ford’s interactive electronics has them beat even in the most humble Fiesta and Focus.

        Ronnie, you know your automotive history! Good show!

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      The name is wrong.
      It is a Buick dressed like a Cadillac.
      It should be called the Buick LaCross Dresser.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I thought the XTS is being built to replace the DTS which was full sized and competed with the Lucerne, a model Buick has dropped. The LaCrosse is closer in size to the CTS, but front wheel drive….Don’t see the conflict

  • avatar
    mjz

    The XTS would have made a better Buick flagship.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I agree with bufguy here – the XTS looks like it’s going to be rather larger than the LaCrosse, so I don’t think there will be a conflict. Also, even in the bad old pre-downsized days, the Cadillac DeVille shared a platform and roofline with the Buick Electra.

  • avatar
    photog02

    It took me until halfway through the comments to put together why I was so confused with this post: I was thinking of the Cadillac ATS. This is why the American companies shouldn’t jump on the alphanumeric three-letter naming bandwagon. ATS means nothing. XTS means nothing. TS used to mean something in Cadillac naming conventions, but now only signifies you have looked past the one letter that holds any distinction for the model name.

    I don’t want Cadillac/GM to fail. Competition does good things to all vehicles. But sticking with this ridiculous (even if they are not alone in trying to adopt it) naming scheme only sets them up for lower brand awareness and failure.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..photog…..I just twigged to this XTS/ATS confusion myself, and I think you’re right…..enough of this alphanumeric anonymity, call Caddys by real names….de Ville, Eldorado, Calais, Fleetwood, Seville, Cimmaron (maybe scratch that one, but it was a great model name).
      Thanks for clarifying the issue, I couldn’t figure out how the “?”TS I saw attacking the Nurburgring with vigor was a LaCrosse in disguise……no amount of prototype camouflage can cover up a 4,000 pound front wheel drive’s built-in understeer.

  • avatar
    ixim

    What’s the problem? To me, the Buick is better looking – sportier, less conservative; flashier. If GM is lucky/right, the Caddy may appeal to the few DeVille buyers still out there. Both are full of gadgets ‘n’ goodies. The Buick is for people who want luxe, looks and the appearance of sport. In the real world, I’ll bet the prices will be far enough apart to justify both cars, even in the kind of all-GM stores like we have here.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Buick conservative/Caddy Flashy would work as long as they can stick to that. I don’t see the XTS as anything more that conservative. Heck, making Caddy V8 only would at least give a small reason for me to consider one.

      FYI if they sell this Lacrosse concept in China they’ll freaking love it. Still not holding my breath for a Chinese Park Avenue though.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        It’s not my pet rock, but the CEO of any domestic car company that doesn’t sell an RWD V8 CAR in both 2 and 4 door models should be fired for incompetence.

        Meeting the demands of a significant, highly partisan chunk of your core market willing to pay premium prices is a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The Buick here looks GOOD. Probably means it’ll never get built or if it does the most appealing parts of it’s style will get left out.

  • avatar

    GM management’s analogous duplicity manifests within their product planning and marketing, characterized by inconsistency, incompetence, idiocy, and insanity.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Bring back the deuce and a quarter!

  • avatar
    areader

    GM’s culling of Cadillac dealers has changed the situation somewhat. Having to drive farther, in some cases much farther, now to get to a Caddy dealer will help Buick to some extent for buyers who might be satisfied with an upscale Buick. Of course they might also drive by a Toyota or Nissan dealer and be satisfied by one of their offerings.

  • avatar
    ixim

    What is it with Buick that usually draws lots of comments? Malaise Era models aside, Buicks have usually been the epitome of value for money; i.e. spend a little more than for a Chevy/Olds/Pontiac but less than for a Caddy and get a “better” car.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Because for a long while Buick had the reputation as the ‘senior citizen’s car’. And there seems to be a lot of readers here who absolutely do not want to let that image go. Even if the product doesn’t fit that image anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      Right now Buick has a strong lineup. While it remains to be seen how the Verano will do for GM, if there’s room underneath the Regal and above the Cruze, but so far the LaCrosse and Regal have been selling well.

      I’m not a fanboy of any of the Detroit automakers, though I want them to be financially healthy – I live near Detroit. Still, it surprises me how much hostility some folks have towards one or more of the domestic automakers. People just don’t want to let go of old resentments, they have new resentments over the bailouts, and they’re not willing to recognize that just about all car companies selling product in North America make a pretty good product. My guess is that if you removed all identifying logos and badges and let some of those critics drive an all-new domestic branded car, they’d probably like it.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Somebody did exactly that. A new model Buick – I belive it was a Lucerne – was stripped of it badges. The first test was putting Lexus badges on it and it was evaluated by a varied group of people. This was done in a shopping mall. The second test was a badgeless car. The third test was badged the Buick that it was. The first test the car scored highly. The second test not quite as well. The third test was worst of all. Telling, indeed.

  • avatar

    Seeing space for only a single brand at a given price point reflects a lack of imagination. Does this mean that there’s really only a need for a single brand industry-wide at a given price point? Why are there so many different brands of suits, shoes, and so forth?

    If two brands have substantially different aesthetics, they can coexist. And I don’t foresee anyone thinking that the LaCrosse is a Cadillac or the XTS a Buick. If we can overlook the Regal, both brands have more coherent and distinctive design languages than you’ll find at Acura, Hyundai, or Lexus.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The people that are attracted by either vehicle are very different, given the fact that (Cadillac especially) has done a very good job with interpreting its design philosophy into every car in their lineup. They have different driving characteristics, and focus on different preferences. The Regal is a pleasing exception, but even in comparison to potential Cadillac equivalents like the ATS and CTS it still differs quite significantly.

      And besides, I like both the Regal and the CTS for their reasons. That makes two GM cars in two brands that I had previously had absolutely no interest in. Is this a huge problem?

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      Seeing ad budget for 2 luxury brands in a certain price, size, feature and driving dynamics but targeted to two different psychographics reflects a lack of auto marketing common sense. Want to bet that the LaCrosse gets or doesn’t get cross-shopped in the top 5 competition with the XTS at retail? “design language” alone does not differentiate a brand in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Make Buick the VW smooth cruiser with an occasional barn burner. Make the Caddy a Audi-like no compromises car. Buick is always a FWD derivative of Opels (less derivative, more Opel please) and the Caddy is always RWD.

      I don’t see how these are that similar if the formula is worked this way.

      They need to figure out some styling cues that Gm can stick with for a decade or so that are found only on Caddies or only on Buicks.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    LaCrosses don’t look bad when viewed on the printed page (or the internet). But man, they are ugly in person.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Funny, my first impression was that the pic showed a car so bland an devoid of character (part I like best is the stubby hood) that it must be a Mitsubishi…

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      I was behind one yesterday and I found my eyes drawn to the exhaust “outlets” in the bumper. You could see the regular old 1.5 inch circular pipes popping out behind the stylized bumper outlets. It looked really cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Seems alot of manufacturers do this nowdays. In noticed it on Lexus LS 600HL I was driving behind the other day; seemed absolutely pathetic for something at that price point.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      They really are nice on the inside. Personally I like the way the LaCrosse is much taller than it looks.

      To each his own.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        Much taller than it looks? In person it looks like they tried to put a car body on an SUV. Or more specifically, it looks like they took a Lexus GS, screwed it up with some disharmonic lines, and then stretched the entire thing 4 inches upward.

        I actually was intrigued by the car when it first came out, and like the exterior and interior shots. It was tentatively on my list of “next car” until I saw one in person. Blech.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Buick has no place in today’s US market. Near-luxury brands no longer work here, and GM’s three channel strategy includes one channel too many.

    But this is what basically amounts to a trim level. To the extent that Buick is going to exist at all, I don’t see the problem with trying to add some appeal to the cars that it is selling.

    • 0 avatar

      Near luxury no longer works here? Based on what? Why are Acuras selling at all then? Why is Volvo having its best year in many? Lordy, talk about a totally unfounded statement.

      Just because there are lots of luxury trimmings in family sedans, doesn’t meant the entry-lux market is gone.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Why are Acuras selling at all then?

        Acura sold fewer cars last year than it did in 1990. What’s even worse about that is that the 2010 lineup had four more models than it had in 1990, so more resources are being committed in order to make fewer sales. Not exactly a resounding success story.

        Why is Volvo having its best year in many?

        Last year, Volvo’s US market share was a whopping 0.46%. That’s the lowest it has been since 1979. Volvo’s market share has fallen every year since 2004. When Ford dumped it, there wasn’t exactly a line out of the door by any other established automaker to acquire it.

        So you’re zero for two. And I do hope that I don’t have to detail the failures of Mercury and Saab in order for you to know about those.

        Lordy, talk about a totally unfounded statement.

        Lordy, it’s clear that you don’t know what you’re talking about. God helps those who help themselves, so go get some help.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Buick has been increasing volume since the new models have been introduced. I think that they maybe be able to do near luxury. I don’t think the days of having many near luxury brands work. I think Buick does work.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Maybe if they just kill Cadillac?

    I like this Buick. I want at least a V6 — a turbo four just isn’t the same. Since I find the Cadillac styling repulsive, the options from the General are going to be the Impala last hurrah edition on the W-body or the Buick LaCrosse. Having owned a W-body Impala – I’ve been there, done that, will not again; the Epsilon children are so much better. The LaCrosse doesn’t seal you into the Ford launch-tube shape, either, which is another bonus.

    Of course, Buicking up the Caprice police car would be the real winner for my tastes, but more people remember the Park Avenue and LeSabre than remember the Roadmaster anymore, and a Park Avenue FWD was just as nice with a huge fuel economy gain over the Grand Marquis.

  • avatar
    George B

    I understand buying Chevrolet or other basic cars for value or BMW for name cachet and but I don’t understand paying good money for something in between.

  • avatar
    faygo

    I’m with others here, XTS is full-sized, not mid-sized, competes with nothing currently sold by Buick. ATS is small like little Buick (Regal, right ?), (next) CTS is bigger than current, probably also like Lacrosse. for the time being, the Buick and Cadillac customers are distinct enough (and there are enough dealers which still need them to be unique brands) that I think they can keep them both w/o too much risk to either.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    GM should have killed Buick, not Oldsmobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      When rumors of Oldsmobile’s demise were swirling (back in the dark days of Car mags being my primary news source) I remember Car and Driver saying “If Oldsmobile’s dead, then Buick’s deader than a doornail a week from Thursday, and Mercury doesn’t look too good.” My teenage self would have punched you in the mouth if you’d have told me in 20 years that Oldsmobile, Mercury, and Pontiac would be dead while Buick still walked among us. (Not that I hated Buick but I liked the other three better.)

  • avatar

    People say that Cadillac and Lincoln need flagships. Well, part of Buick’s place in Alfred Sloan’s hierarchy was giving folks who could afford a Cadillac a less outwardly ostentatious alternative. Buick’s didn’t become known as doctors’ cars because doctors couldn’t afford Cadillacs, it was just that it wasn’t quite so socially acceptable then, when people paid most medical bills, not insurance companies.

    So I think there’s a spot for a very well appointed Buick without necessarily cannibalizing sales from Cadillac.

    One aspect of Sloan’s hierarchy was that the brands indeed competed, but only at the margins. Should you buy a loaded Chevy or a lower end Pontiac? A nicely appointed Olds, or a Buick? A nice Buick, or a cheaper Cadillac, like a Calais.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Color me confused, what makes this an ultra-luxury model. 2-tone interior??

    I’m sorry I just don’t see what makes this special. Two colors of leather on the seats just doesn’t impress me regardless of the other electronic doodads they put in it.

    I don’t see how this intrudes on Cadillac. It’s still a boring buick, barely anymore personality than a lexus. Which is the point I thought.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      I’m with you here… I don’t understand why this is a ‘concept.’ It’s just a damn LaCrosse with different color leather and some slightly different (possibly larger, possibly not) wheels. Snoooooore. And then it became a post on TTAC. And then it became a hot topic that brought people out of the woodwork to discuss how this “new Buick model” (???) overlaps with the Cadillac. IT’S A LACROSSE WITH NEW WHEELS. It’s not a new model. If the LaCrosse sitting at dealers right now doesn’t overlap with the XTS, then neither does this thing.

      Why is this worthy of our attention at an auto show, or wherever they showed this? Does anybody else announce with a special concept when they change the wheel design on a midsize sedan or offer a new leather color on their seats? Hell, I’d say neither option even makes it to the production LaCrosse.

      Also, what the heck does “GL” mean? It used to be the basic trim level for VWs and some Oldsmobiles… GL doesn’t scream upmarket luxury any more than DL does for me. Why couldn’t this be the LaCrosse Ultra? Oh, that would make too much sense… Not to mention at least the old Park Ave Ultra had a special engine, unlike this alloys-and-leather option package.

      /rant


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