By on January 10, 2012

Jamie LaReau is the journalist about whom everyone is talking nowadays. It all started when international taste-maker and notorious recluse Michael Banovsky alerted his following to a fascinating August, 2011 article entitled A Porsche From The Passenger Seat Is Still A Porsche. Banovsky is a known talent-spotter, and this time he had spotted someone whose Hemingway-esque economy of words genuinely stood out:

The Porsche I rode in was a 1999 model. I don’t recall which style, but let’s just say it was one of the good ones. (As if there are any bad ones.)

Indeed. I happened to see Ms. LaReau examining the new Buick Encore with considerable interest after the press conference, but before I could untether my Droid from my laptop and talk to her, she disappeared. Now, it appears that she has applied her unique style to a strong defense of the Encore. Let’s check it out.

Jamie’s new article is entitled Buick’s mini crossover enters a white space that could be red hot. Here at TTAC, we’re as click-sensitive as anyone else, so definitely go pay the lady a visit so Automotive News can cover their bills and Crain Communications can continue to promote the most qualified individuals to positions of leadership, no matter who they are. However, we will excerpt the relevant sections here.

Jamie starts out like so:

At auto shows I often eye vehicles and ask myself if they might one day be my next ride.

Sometimes the answer is: definitely, maybe.

General Motors introduced the Buick Encore compact crossover at the Detroit auto show today and I had that definitely, maybe feeling.

I’m not the typical Buick customer — I’m under age 65. But there is currently no mid-luxury, subcompact crossover in the United States. So the Encore is competing in “white space,” Buick marketing chief Tony DiSalle says.

So it could be red hot.

Who’s the most likely demographic for Encore purchases? Here at TTAC, we believe the Encore will appeal to the critical consumer segments commonly described as

  • People who live in China
  • Drooling morons who don’t

Ms. LaReau has a different idea:

But knowing my peer group, the Encore might be the one Buick we’d be eager to own. And that would take Buick into a customer space the brand desperately wants to tap into — a younger, likely single, urban professional, DiSalle says.

Initially, I thought “DiSalle” might be a sassy urban friend of Jamie’s, but then I read the article a second time and realized that “DiSalle” Buick marketing chief Tony DiSalle. This depressed me. I imagined Ms. LaReau, who has a certain statuesque beauty, rolling through downtown Detroit in a Sebring convertible with “DiSalle” and perhaps having amusing, sassy conversations.

“So… I was in a Porsche the other day.”

“OOOH GIRL! NO YOU DIN’T! Which one was it?”

“One of the good ones.”

“There ain’t no bad ones.”

“You said it, sister.”

“Girl, you need to back up off that ‘sister’ business. It’s insensitive, and when I completed my doctorate at Howard University, my thesis, ‘The Tides that Bind: Morphemetic Flow In Post-TCP/IP-Era Linguistic Diasporan Evolution Among Disadvantaged Segments Of Non-Diverse Populations’ specifically identified the use of ‘sister’ by white girls as one of the many ways in which people like you conspire to define womyn of color in a reductionist, disrespectful manner which is tantamount to parody.”

“I feel sad now. We need to start communicating on a more respectful level.”

“You said it, sister.”

Obviously I was wrong about the whole “DiSalle” thing. Let’s find out what Jamie thought about the Encore’s engine:

Another plus for me is the Encore’s 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. It will deliver 140 hp and 148 pounds-feet of torque. That’s 41 hp less than the Countryman’s turbocharged 1.6-liter engine earns.

I should point out that, earlier in the review, Ms. LaReau had noted her fondness for the Countryman, which earns its horsepower the old-fashioned way: by earning it. After some notes on lead-footed driving not unreminiscent of that Angus fellow’s bellowing nonsense in The Monthly Journal Of Free Cadillacs, the review barrels to its conclusion:

But I sure can’t wait until early next year when it goes on sale to find out.

Hmm. Waiting until a vehicle is available to render a final verdict? This sounds like journalism. Somebody had better warn Jamie that unless she can either muster unthinking enthusiasm for the pig in the poke or rain cynical distaste upon a turntable-bound new car like a third-rate literary Krakatoa, she may not go as far as Mr. Banovsky believes she will.

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65 Comments on “A Rising Star In Journalism Stands Up To Applaud The Encore...”


  • avatar
    acuraandy

    By the way, how the hell did GM get away with using ‘Encore’ for the name of this model? Doesn’t Renault/(Nissan) still own the rights to the name in the US (China notwithstanding)?

    • 0 avatar
      ppxhbqt

      GM filed for this in ’09. Apparently, Renault let it expire. Or perhaps AMC filed in the first place and Chrysler let it expire. Either way, GM owns it now.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        Ah, the ‘statute of limitations’ clause. I’m sure the former Renault/AMC lawyer in Kenosha and/or Detroit is long retired and/or passed away now and thus, didn’t care.

        At least someone knew what I meant by that post. And even if GM cared, they would simply make up some new name (for USDM) or conjure one up from it’s pre-bailout past (Skylark comes to mind) if a challenge to ‘Encore’ did ensue.

  • avatar
    Eddie_515

    What’s that, an 11? Or fuego already?

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Love the look of the Alliance/Encore. The American market could really stand to benefit from some unique-looking and softly sprung French cars again.

  • avatar
    Rob Finfrock

    “Drooling morons who don’t…”

    More Baruth, please. [Carefully measured doses of] Kreindler.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I appreciate the compliment, but without Derek, our NAIAS coverage would have looked like fumble-fingered garbage. I was literally kneeling on a floor, banging away on a $349 Toshiba netbook while tethered to a phone, and Derek was fixing tags, finding images, and squaring things away with ferocity. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Yeah, that was a bit harsh. And seriously, TTAC’s coverage of NAIAS has been amazing this year. Kudos to all involved.

        I liked Derek’s earlier articles and reviews for TTAC, but the fawning 2013 Fusion piece reminded me a bit too strongly of some of the “journalism” written by my former boss, a known (aviation) industry sycophant and diagnosed NPD case.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        We are educating Derek in the TTAC way. The next time he uses “game-changing”, he’d better be talking about Tim Tebow.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        Yeah, really. This Kreindler guy seems to know ‘what’s up’, with a good eye for automotive photography and journalism.

        Excellent, objective, non-‘bought’ coverage of the NAIAS, guys.

        P.S. Jack, I think you must have the same type of Toshiba netbook I consistently hack on every night on this very website; albeit as a rank amateur in a hall of seasoned professionals :)

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Original snarky comment respectfully edited… slightly.

    • 0 avatar

      I promise you if I wrote that about the Encore I’d be accused of being too snarky or an anti-GM cretin. Also, I am here to stay.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Rob. I am largely the man behind the curtain now that Ed is gone…but you will have to get used to the roster change, and I will have to get used to being held to the highest standard.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        An anti-GM cretin? Why didn’t ya say that sooner? I’d actually be OK with that!

        It’s good, Derek, and welcome to TTAC. Given the choice between articles written with clear enthusiasm versus bitter cynicism, I’ll take the occasional “game-changer” piece any day. I say that as someone who clearly lets his opinions occasionally get the better of him on forums like this one. (My own writing gig requires that I keep firm restraint from expressing them on the job.)

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        Actually, I find pretty much all of the TTAC NAIAS coverage to be pretty cynical so far. I’m not asking you to shill for the industry – I’m just saying that the chip on your shoulders is visible from quite a distance!

      • 0 avatar

        cognoscenti,

        As part of that coverage, I have to take issue with you. I’m as cynical as they come but I don’t think you’ll find any cynicism in the pieces that I contributed. My piece about the Cadillac ATS reveal was pretty positive and my Acura piece was by-the-numbers reporting.

        Derek got slammed for saying nice things about the Fusion.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Jack and Jamie sitting in a tree…

  • avatar
    rentonben

    I’m still can’t see what’s so horrid about the Encore that is making everyone act like it kicked their dog and impregnated their wife, and then pooped in their Wheaties.

    As far as I know, the world needs more passable compact cars with dignified interiors – things like the Yaris, Juke, and Sonic deserve more scorn for their styled-by-5-year-old-boys interiors.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      Tall, thin and top heavy works well on women. Less so for subcompact crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        Its tall, thin and top heavy for a reason. Buick didn’t want it to end up looking like a wagon or hatch or Boxy and have to knock 5 grand off the price to sell. Whether this works or makes it look attractive or pulls in younger buyers is debatable, but it looks the way it does on purpose.

        Also the reason why it has 18″ wheels standard. They figured they may save 50 bucks by using smaller wheels, but have to charge $5000 less if it looks like a wagon/hatch.

        http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120110/OEM04/120109812/1115

        Plus, SUV like vehicles sell far more than any wagons, and hatchbacks.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I think some of the criticism isn’t about the vehicle itself, but that some of us felt it should have been a Chevy. Part of the fear of Buick encroaching on Chevrolet territory is that it could lead to scenarios where Chevys are deliberately cheapened if they are deemed too nice in order to protect Buick sales.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I have to say that I would totally consider one…if they couldn’t sell any and it ended up getting $13,000 in incentives thrown on it.
      But yeah, barring that, there’s essentially no market for this car in the US. Could their possibly be a market for a subcompact luxury car? Yeah, but it’s not gonna be this oddly proportioned Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      As a proudly drooling moron, I personally like Buick’s moxie in rolling out this car, not just as a Chinese-exclusive model. It isn’t as if Buick is swimming in model choices here (the Encore brings their line up to dizzying five models with the Lucerne dead). What do they have to lose by giving it a chance here? Well, besides Jamie LaReau giving it her vapid stamp of approval…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I personally like Buick’s moxie in rolling out this car

        It’s a modern day Geo Tracker with an upscale interior. Forgive me if I don’t see much courage going on here.

        What I do see is an effort to amortize development costs over a larger quantity of sales, combined with the attempt to use Buick’s alleged near-luxury positioning in order to squeeze more margin out of it by selling it at a higher price.

        Theoretically, that can make sense. But the real world results of such world car efforts are often disappointing, because vehicles with regional appeal don’t do well in places where they are not wanted.

        I could see it as an upmarket rival to the CR-V if it had another 12 inches of space welded to the back of it. But since it doesn’t, it won’t. As for the MINI, let’s just say that I don’t think that BMW corporate has much to worry about here…

  • avatar
    Twitter: phauser

    I know Jack Baruth is a lot of things, but I wasn’t expecting a working knowledge of feminist theory. Forgetting “mid-luxury”, what other vehicles exist in the subcompact crossover space? The Soul, Juke, and xB come to mind, but they all, with the possible exception of the Soul, have styling that gives them something less than mass appeal. I could see the Ford EcoSport (with a new name) doing well at a better price point than the Buick or Mini if this class is to take off.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    I don’t see this as being exactly a white space. This car lines up very closely with the Kia Soul, Scion xB, and Nissan Cube. While the latter two haven’t exactly been blazing sales records, all have seen their fair share of geezers snapping them up, despite their supposed intended demographic group. Who’s to say these older folks weren’t really looking for something quieter and softer in the same size, but until now couldn’t find it. I’m thinking this might be just the ticket for that group, mainly those looking for a car they can step into rather than fall into yet can still park easily and carry their dog in it.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    “General Motors introduced the Buick Encore compact crossover at the Detroit auto show today and I had that definitely, maybe feeling.”- You GO, Girl !

  • avatar

    Really wanted to give Jack some hell, but the engine paragraph quashed that desire.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Looks like Buick has woken up to the idea that some people want a smaller car but don’t want to give up all the nice stuff they get with a big car. Jamie LaReau may have noticed this to. There are other cars (not many) like it but they lack the luxury appeal so yes this car is filling a gap. Good luck to Buick with it.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Personally, I’d love to grab a semi-luxury compact car. However, there’s a dearth of options.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      +1. I’m watching this one closely for my mother in-law in her 60’s. She has so far absolutely refused to “downsize” from her 4-door sedan, even though she NEEDS a smaller car (the big parking lot dents and scratches tell the story on her Accord) because she sees that as a reduction in her quality of life. Why should she have to give up the luxuries of a larger car at all? I couldn’t get her to drive a Honda Fit if I gave her one.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Quote from the comments section of the Porsche ‘article’ Jack linked to:

    “I paid $150 for a subscription to this?!”

    “This is why Automotive News is such a rag. You employ someone in a senior reporting/writing position who (a) had never before even sampled one of the most famous and revered automotive brands and (b) thinks this story is worth taking up space.”

    I think there’s only one thing for it Jack, you’ve got to hunt her down and seduce her.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    On one hand, you have a 20-year old rich kid who drops one of the most in-depth, delightful car reviews I’ve seen lately (a review of the 2012 BMW M5 cuz his dad bought one and let him drive it, on 5post, linked to from other automotive blogs), and then on the other hand, you have professionals writing garbage like what Mr. Kriendler referenced above.

    What a weird, weird world it is.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    Although her writing is terrible, at least it lacks insight.

    I can’t help but think that are very good reasons why a “white space” exists in the first place.

  • avatar
    jeanpierresarti

    I guess I will be captain obvious here.

    She says that a plus for the Buick is the 1.4L turbo which “earns” 40 odd less HP than the Mini. But then in the next sentence she derides the Mini for not accommodating her lead foot.

    This is journalism? She actually gets paid for this?

  • avatar
    spyked

    Two things:

    1. Does anyone else think the Buick Encore looks like a Suzuki SX4 hatchback, at least in shadow? Or a 3/4 scale version of the second gen Saturn Vue (which I rented and didn’t actually hate, BTW)?

    2. Was I the only one that thought I was getting to read an awesome review of the proper (Renault) Encore? I feel cheated.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I hate this car because it shows the near anaphylactic aversion of Americans and the automotive industry to wagons. A proper boxy wagon based on any of the midsized cars on the market can totally stomp this little car in terms of utility and driveability, not even mentoning fuel efficiency. It also wouldn’t sell if it was bundled with every incentive GM used to push its cars for the last few decades.

    Instead of having a wide assortment of wagons for the millions of sheeple that buy crossovers every year, we keep trying to pass these tall, ill-handling, poorly packaged, fuel wasting monstrosities as SUVs so some active lifestyle premium crossover shopper demographic suburban technologically connected independent voting mother out there won’t have to tell anyone she drives a… wagon… or worse yet a minivan.

    • 0 avatar

      The one constant theme of wagon argument is always knowing what car is best for other people who are simply too dumb and ignorant, and must be enlightened.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        I just think that in a rational world there is absolutely no justification for owning a crossover. I see them as a twisted remnant of the SUV days where everyone thought… er was convinced they “needed” a 3 ton V8 4×4, then pondered why it didn’t have car-like handling or fuel economy (or why the cheaper 4×2 variants were so scary in the snow and rain), so we built car-like SUVs that strangely resemble wagons, just taller, bad handling, fuel wasting versions of wagons… because most people probably need a wagon for their crap, just don’t want to admit it. So we take a perfectly good car, ruin the handling, and desperately try to make it look “aggressive” to resemble the SUV days of old. Most of our vehicle marketing is based on the fact that a lot of people need a roomy, boring, slow, safe car (wagon or minivan) but would rather jump in front of a train than be seen in one. What everyone calls a crossover, I just call a crappy wagon.

        The car-based ‘ute craze in Australia is the closest thing that serves as a direct comparison to this phenomenon.

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        @FJ60LandCruiser You are missing a key point. The wagons almost never have 3rd row seating. Regularly having a wife, two kids and a mother in-law in the same car == crossover. I can’t cram all of those people and their gear (vacation, anyone?) into any BMW Estate or Audi Avant variant. We’re already using a Thule box on the roof as it is!

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I thought crossovers were for people too cool for minivans?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If it wasn’t called a “Buick”, it would sell better than it will.

    But I still like it.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Ms. LaReau, who has a certain statuesque beauty

    Huh. Who’d you say she writes for?

  • avatar

    where’s the beef?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I was hoping for an article about the Renault Encore, which I probably could have completed without narcolepsy setting in. I guess I should be grateful that the photo was of an old Renault instead of a new Buick. Little favors.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I don’t have anything intelligent to add here, but wanted to say that this kind of looks like the original US Escort.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    So, this ‘automotive news’ thing, is like a car news site for people who know nothing at all about cars? And they explain the press releases carefully in ‘laymans terms’ so that prospective car buyers gets to know what looks good, and what has the most horsepower etc? Makes sense…
    ( I browsed through a few of the so-called articles, and tbh I’ve seen ‘bots’ use more flamboyant language…)

  • avatar
    BTEFan

    The Buick Encore is at least something different. China is its primary market but it will give Buick buyers some sort of variety when they walk in the showroom.


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