The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/buick/ New Buick Engine Powering New Buick Encore Around It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-buick-engine-powering-new-buick-encore-around/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-buick-engine-powering-new-buick-encore-around/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1120065 General Motors announced Monday a new trim for the 2016 Buick Encore that will use a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four, which will be the first application of a new global-engine platform. The car will go on sale this fall. According to GM, the new mill produces 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque — an 11 percent gain in […]

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2016 Buick Encore

General Motors announced Monday a new trim for the 2016 Buick Encore that will use a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four, which will be the first application of a new global-engine platform. The car will go on sale this fall.

According to GM, the new mill produces 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque — an 11 percent gain in power and 20 percent gain in twist over the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine currently doing duty in the cute ute. The two engines share only similar displacements. The current mill is rated at 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.

There’s also a new Encore trim called Encore Sport Touring and it has a spoiler and 18-inch wheels and body-colored door handles and back to the engine.

The aluminum block has been specifically built to reduce friction and increase cooling, GM said in a statement announcing the Buick Encore Sport Touring.

In addition to its aluminum block and heads, GM said low-friction piston rings, camshaft drive and a low-friction oil pump will boost efficiency. A steel crankshaft was used to reduce engine vibration, and steel connecting rods used with aluminum-alloy pistons with low-tension rings will cut weight without sacrificing durability.

The small engine will also use a variable-flow oiling system that matches oil supply with engine load, removing excessive oil pumping. Oil jets will help cool pistons to increase efficiency.

At the other end, the cylinder head has a water-cooled exhaust manifold integrated with its aluminum casting to speed engine warm-up, and gasket seals around the exhaust ports have been removed. GM says both measures will help efficiency and durability, as well as offer “under-hood packaging advantages.”

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Buick Offering 24-Hour Test Drives To Build Brand, Not Sell Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buick-offering-24-hour-test-drives-to-build-brand-not-sell-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buick-offering-24-hour-test-drives-to-build-brand-not-sell-cars/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119745 Buick is tossing the keys to prospective customers for sleepovers in their driveways as part of a brand-building exercise the automaker says isn’t meant to sell cars immediately. According to Automotive News, the program — dubbed “24 Hours of Happiness” — gives customers the chance to live with a Buick vehicle for 24 hours starting […]

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2015-buick-encore

Buick is tossing the keys to prospective customers for sleepovers in their driveways as part of a brand-building exercise the automaker says isn’t meant to sell cars immediately.

According to Automotive News, the program — dubbed “24 Hours of Happiness” — gives customers the chance to live with a Buick vehicle for 24 hours starting this coming Wednesday.

“Customers thought it showed that we have a real confidence in our vehicles,” Duncan Aldred, Buick brand chief, told AN.

“It’s more of an image builder,” he continued. “Some people can’t believe that Buick has the confidence to send them out in a car without a salesperson sitting next to them to tell them how great the car is.”

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QOTD: What’s Wrong With Buick? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-whats-wrong-with-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-whats-wrong-with-buick/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 10:50:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077178 As Tim Cain alluded to earlier this month while speaking of Encore sales, Buick is in a bit of a rut. In a market that’s growing with many brands seeing best-ever sales periods, Buick is being propped up by a single model, its cute-ute Encore. That’s not enough to stave off the downward sales trend of its […]

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2015 Buick Regal GS red

As Tim Cain alluded to earlier this month while speaking of Encore sales, Buick is in a bit of a rut. In a market that’s growing with many brands seeing best-ever sales periods, Buick is being propped up by a single model, its cute-ute Encore. That’s not enough to stave off the downward sales trend of its other offerings as the brand as a whole is down 5 percent year-to-date.

Armchair analysts and pool chair pundits – this is your time to shine. Let’s fix Buick in 24 hours.

While the Encore continues to garner the attention of the buying public, other models – Verano, Regal and LaCrosse – aren’t keeping up in this SUV and truck driven automotive market. Even the Enclave, once lauded as the savior of Buick when dealers couldn’t keep them on the lots, has taken a hit versus newer competition and other models sharing the same platform, the Traverse and Acadia.

What about the Buicks actually finding homes? Even those seem to be problematic. The Regal wears its orphan status badge back to the dealer more so than any other vehicle on sale within the first year of ownership. Buick is continuing on with their “That’s a Buick?” campaign, one they say is a success yet isn’t backed up by its sales figures. Also, the brand exists in a no-man’s land previously occupied by Oldsmobile, Mercury, Plymouth and Saab. All of those are gone now.

Is it the market? Does Buick cut too thin a niche between volume and luxury? Or is it the product, and not the marketing or positioning, responsible for the brand’s lack of sales?

Personally, I think they should just call it Opel and get it over with.

What do you think, Best & Brightest? How would you fix Buick?

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NYT: GM’s Barra Declined Meeting with FCA’s Marchionne to Discuss Possible Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:21:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075162 Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra […]

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sergio-marchionne

Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra would hear of Marchionne’s merger desires.

That’s the story being told by the New York Times today, detailing the lengths to which Marchionne is going to trigger consolidation within the automotive industry.

During a routine analyst conference call on April 29, Marchionne brought his plea to other executives through the media with a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne’s overture of a merger with GM includes no less than 14 brands between North America and Europe, not including the many other brands each company markets in China and other emerging regions. But, to date, the overture has been played to an audience wearing earplugs.

Even with the vast number of brands, that isn’t what bothers Marchionne. Instead, it’s the amount of money poured into redundant R&D work that could be shared by multiple automakers.

“It’s fundamentally immoral to allow for that waste to continue unchecked,” he said.

[Source: New York Times]

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2015 Buick LaCrosse Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052529 My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries […]

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2015 Buick Lacrosse

My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries from In-N-Out picked up at midnight. My daily driver is a 2002 BMW 530i, one of the best BMWs ever made. My favorite movie is American Graffiti, a film which involves plenty of loud exhausts, racing on city streets, and a 30-year-old Harrison attempting to pass for a teenager. And I liked my Buick LaCrosse test car.

“He likes the Buick LaCrosse?!” you might think. “But he’s a millennial! He drives a BMW! He’s likely glued to his smartphone all day! He probably doesn’t know what DOS is! ” And I do have a few of those “millennial” characteristics. I don’t like wearing cardigans, playing golf nearly every afternoon, or eating dinner at 5:30 pm. I don’t drive 5-10 mph slower than everyone else. I don’t look forward to moving into a retirement community at any point in my life, though I am looking forward to the senior discounts at the movie theater, when renting a car, and at Ben and Jerry’s. (Those savings really add up. Like enough to buy another smartphone.)

2015 Buick Lacrosse

But I like the Buick LaCrosse. Yes. Really. I like it. I like the fact I don’t have to brace myself for upcoming bumps on California highways. [What? You have those? -Canada] I like that I’m not a target for any highway patrol officers. I like that the head-up display gives me all the necessary information without having to look at the screen in the center console. I like that it’s quiet enough on the highway so I can listen to “Unbelievers” on the 11-speaker Bose sound system without a pothole interrupting the high notes. I like that it has enough sensors to drastically minimize whatever chances I have of getting in a car accident. I like that OnStar can back me up if I get hopelessly lost and my phone can’t find a signal. I think it even looks good.

Now, the first thing I’ll discuss regarding my Buick LaCrosse test car is its price. It was more than you would expect. Try $45,955. Yes, it was about the same price as a Lincoln MKS, base-level Audi A6 2.0T, Lexus ES350, or a fairly loaded Hyundai Genesis V6. For that price, you would expect plenty of tech features crammed into the car, a powerful engine, large wheels, free maintenance, and a day of dunking lessons with Shaquille O’Neal. The LaCrosse had all of that, with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 304 horsepower, 20-inch wheels, two years of free scheduled maintenance, and so many tech features I’d need an entire paragraph to list them. Sadly, dunking lessons with Shaq aren’t on the Monroney sticker, likely because customers might ask for free throw lessons, too.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Engine

The options on my test car included a head-up display, a blind spot warning system, a lane departure warning system, HID lights, a rear cross traffic alert system (which works surprisingly well when backing out of a driveway), a sensor which indicates the distance between my car and the car in front, and a forward collision alert system. All of those features I just listed are part of the $2,125 “Driver Confidence Package #1.” There was also a “Driver Confidence Package #2” on my test car that provided adaptive cruise control and front automatic braking, the latter a perfect feature for the modern millennial distracted by his or her smartphone. Additionally, since my LaCrosse had the Premium II trim level, it came standard with a Bose sound system, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, a keyless entry and ignition system, XM radio, 6 months of full OnStar Coverage, and 5 years of the OnStar base coverage.

One feature that Buick and General Motors advertise heavily is OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi connectivity included with all 2015 LaCrosses. It can connect to up to seven devices as long as they are within 50 feet of the car, like phones, tablets, laptops, refrigerators, coffee makers, GoPro cameras, microwaves, etc. Buick offers a 3 month or 3 GB data trial of the OnStar 4G LTE service, after which customers must sign up for a data plan ranging from $5 to $50 a month for 200 MB to 5 GB, similar to those for phones. According to OnStar’s website, AT&T customers can add the car to their wireless share plan for an extra $10 a month. The Onstar 4G LTE ended up being one of the many features I didn’t sample, since I had a smartphone with a data plan and streaming American Graffiti perhaps would’ve used up the data allocation.

The LaCrosse drove surprisingly well. Since my prior experience with Buick involved a 1990s LeSabre that exhibited tire squeal and an extraordinary amount of body roll during “spirited” driving, I wasn’t prepared for how well the LaCrosse could stick to the road in corners and power out of them. If I needed power, the V6 provided enough pull and it was immediate. The car had a sport mode (I only used it once; it detracts from the driving experience) that adjusted the shift points and allowed the transmission to stay in a gear until it hit a higher rpm. Furthermore, the car had real-time damping and Hi-Per Strut suspension which I’m sure helped the ride and handling dramatically despite the 20-inch wheels. During my week with the car, I drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Big Sur and had no complaints.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Interior

Inside, the Buick was a very quiet and pleasant place. The controls were very easy to use, especially when operating the climate control or tuning the radio. I liked that I could rest my arm on the gear selector knob when reaching to tune the radio. The head-up display was very sharp, especially at night, but it wasn’t as good as BMW’s head-up display where one can easily scroll through radio stations and whose display is much more readable when facing directly into the sun. In the back, there was plenty of legroom and access to a 120 volt outlet, presumably for charging laptops to use the onboard 4G connection. An aspect of the interior I didn’t like were the thick A-pillars, which affect visibility and take some getting used to. Additionally, the LaCrosse was difficult to parallel park without the help of the rear camera, hearing the warning of the sensors, the feeling the vibration of the seats if you were getting too close. (The seats also vibrated if there were cars passing by when backing out of my driveway.)

When I had the Buick, thanks to a lot of highway driving, I managed to get around 24.5 miles per gallon during. However, fuel economy in the city, thanks to the 3.6-liter V6, wasn’t very good, especially once I hit stoplights where the indicated fuel economy would go down a few tenths. If fuel economy is a major concern for you, there is the option of a 2.4-liter inline-four with eAssist (a mild hybrid system fitted to the powertrain) which enables the LaCrosse to get an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Jack Baruth had the eAssist-ed LaCrosse last year and managed over 31 mpg with the car while describing the powertrain as “satisfactory.” (He drove it around New Jersey Motorsports Park too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

Buick has for a while been my favorite out of all of the General Motors brands. In the past, people drove Buicks rather than Cadillacs when they didn’t want to come across as having plenty of money or as being ostentatious. After a week with the LaCrosse, I feel the same. While your neighbors will be attempting to one up each other with the latest from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus, you can have the Buick LaCrosse in the driveway and feel absolutely satisfied. With the Buick, you’ll have something comfortable, simple to use, and much less expensive with the same toys as cars commanding $10,000 to $20,000 more. When your coworkers rave about the blind spot warning, head-up display, and active cruise control systems in their cars, you’ll be fine knowing your car has the same systems.

And above all, you won’t be a target for law enforcement, you won’t have to complain of discomfort after long trips, and you will get away with wearing the cardigan you’ve always wanted.

Buick provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for the road test.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s currently taking golf lessons in between attempting to qualify for GT Academy.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-buick-lacrosse-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-buick-lacrosse-awd/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:45:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027585 Full disclosure: this is not my kind of car. Buick sold 51,468 LaCrosses last year, a 10,000-unit decline compared with 2010, even though the overall car market was 33% stronger last year than it was in 2010. Reach a whole decade back to discover that Buick sold 170,213 LaCrosses, LeSabres, and Park Avenues in 2005. […]

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2015 Buick LaCrosseFull disclosure: this is not my kind of car.

Buick sold 51,468 LaCrosses last year, a 10,000-unit decline compared with 2010, even though the overall car market was 33% stronger last year than it was in 2010. Reach a whole decade back to discover that Buick sold 170,213 LaCrosses, LeSabres, and Park Avenues in 2005.


• USD Price As Tested: ≈ $48,485

• Horsepower: 304 @ 6800 rpm

• Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 18 mpg


It’s not just a Buick thing. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Lexus ES, Nissan Maxima, and Toyota Avalon combined to slide 9% in 2014, year-over-year. LaCrosse sales actually increased slightly in 2014, but 2015 is off to a rough start with sales down 17% through two months.

More disclosure: big Buick sedans are increasingly not your kind of car, either. And by “your”, I’m referring to the market as a whole.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be converted. Despite its terribly light steering, one week with the 2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ led me to tell my wife that we should pick up a used one in a couple years. She laughed at me. “We’re not your grandparents,” she said. I hope she felt really guilty about reminding me that all my grandparents are, you know, dead.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD in snowI enjoyed a week last summer with the latest all-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis, as well. Granted, its rear-wheel-drive-based architecture does offer a different vibe. The Ford Taurus is too small inside, but the Chrysler 300? Ever more cool to my eyes. The Dodge Charger is available with more than 700 horsepower, and that Hellcat rubs off nicely on all the lesser Chargers.

But the 2015 LaCrosse, a Lexus ES-fighting, 3.6L V6-powered, all-wheel-drive big car with a surprisingly tight 13.3-cubic-foot trunk and an as-tested Canadian price of nearly $52,000, is not my kind of car. True, it’s a nicely executed version of what it’s supposed to be. Alas, what it’s supposed to be is not for me, and the figures suggest, it’s not for you, either.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD PremiumLoaned to us for the week by GM Canada, the LaCrosse is supremely quiet, albeit let down by a set of noisy Hancook winter tires on our tester. The rear seat is expansive with plenty of width for three if need be. Buick’s Intellilink infotainment unit is sufficiently straightforward and simple, not the best but certainly not the worst interface in the automobile world. From most angles, the LaCrosse looks quite nice, as well, and certainly more premium than it did when this second-generation debuted half a decade ago. Interior material quality is quite posh, even on the rear doors.

Unfortunately, there’s more than a hint of old Americana in the way the LaCrosse makes its way down the road. The engine’s bounty is noticeable, but so is the car’s 4140-pound curb weight. While the LaCrosse is surprisingly composed when driven with a moderate level of increased urge down a twisty road, the level of surprise arrives in large part due to your own expectations. And the fact that the LaCrosse feels better at six-tenths than three-tenths is troublesome. Sure, it always manages to mask pavement imperfections, but it’s working so hard to do so that there’s a faint but constant sensation of up-and-down-side-to-side of body movement, like a waiter who consistently provides refills but always seems to be hovering over your table.

2015 Buick LaCrosse AWD Premium InteriorThe LaCrosse’s steering is sharper than the Impala’s, but its overall ride and handling balance lags behind the Chevy, which feels much smaller to drive than it actually is. All-wheel-drive availability is one key differentiating factor; a buyer’s locale determines the degree to which four driven wheels are essential.

Refreshed for MY2014, the second-gen LaCrosse is now in its sixth model year. Even in old age, it proves Buick can do luxury well. Combine that premium quotient with the Verano Turbo’s Euro-like balance, the Regal’s snappier exterior styling, and the Impala’s vast cargo area and perhaps the LaCrosse is transformed into my kind of car.

It’d help if they got rid of the capacitive touch climate controls, too. My grandparents wouldn’t have a clue what to do with those.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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General Motors Cutting Production To Relieve Inventory Glut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-cutting-production-relieve-inventory-glut/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008274 Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand. Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is […]

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Facing growing dealer inventories, General Motors is cutting back production at two of its plants to adjust supply and demand.

Automotive News reports Orion Assembly in Detroit and the Flex line at Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa, Canada will be idled in March and April, respectively, each plant to idle for four days. Orion is responsible for the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, while the Flex line handles the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS.

The reduction in production comes amid consumer demand for trucks and crossovers over said vehicles, of which the Sonic and Regal hold the highest inventory levels at 216 and 213 days as of February 1, 2015. The Sonic’s inventory level is the highest since the subcompact’s August 2011 debut, while the Regal jumped to its level from just 96 days back on January 1.

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Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008050 For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study. The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making […]

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Lexus RCF cliff, side

For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Buick Encore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-buick-encore/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-buick-encore/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989690 Against all odds, the Buick Encore has managed to sell in fairly decent numbers. Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate, Buick’s trucklet moved nearly 49,000 units in 2014, up from roughly 31,000 during its debut in 2013. Part of the Encore’s success must be attributed to the fact that it was the first to show […]

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Against all odds, the Buick Encore has managed to sell in fairly decent numbers. Despite looking like a four-wheeled rollerskate, Buick’s trucklet moved nearly 49,000 units in 2014, up from roughly 31,000 during its debut in 2013. Part of the Encore’s success must be attributed to the fact that it was the first to show up to the party. The small CUV craze is only just heating up now in America, and the Encore is arguably the premiere (in terms of chronology, not quality) premium entrant in the segment. Demand is strong enough that GM has expanded production to two plants (Mexico and Spain as well as the initial Korean location) and will import 50 percent more units versus last year.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why. The Encore is one of the worst cars I’ve driven in a long time.

Ok, to be fair, there is a case to made for an Encore – a flimsy one – but it does exist. According to Automotive News, the Encore is a hit with empty-nesters who are between the ages of 45 and 65 and looking to downsize. This is right in the sweet spot for Buick’s demographic, and the Encore lets buyers have the comfort of a CUV (the ride height, the ease of entry and exit) in a compact package that’s easy to park and maneuver. Seriously, it’s not half bad to steer around, owing to its Chevy Sonic roots.

The steering is light but responsive and the chassis seemed, dare I say it, agile, while providing a comfortable, utterly silent ride. The Buick version of MyLink isn’t bad either. Not as good as UConnect, but so much better than Cadillac’s CUE system, and right around the same level as the new MyFord Touch system. And that’s about it. And really, that’s probably all that the target buyer is looking for. From any other perspective. The rest of the car is an absolute mess.

The Encore could very well be GM’s ugliest car since the Aztek. It’s difficult to make a vehicle with the proportions of a roller skate look attractive, but the Buick-appropriate levels of chrome (including the wheels, grille and ventiports) make the car look like a four-wheeled approximation of an apple-shaped, post-rehab Liza Minelli sashaying in a sequined evening gown. Inside isn’t much better. The materials and surfaces deserve some credit, but GM’s approach to the center stack appears to be “stick all of the buttons, everywhere”.

In concept, this isn’t a bad idea. Older buyers are more likely to gravitate to tactile controls rather than complicated touch screens. In execution, it rarely works (Acura is also guilty of this on the last generation TL, for example), since there are so many functions on modern cars that a button-based user interface ends up looking cluttered and haphazard. In the Encore, they don’t feel very good either. For a $32,000 car, it’s not much better than what you’d find in a $14,000 Sonic, and no amount of faux-stitching on the dashboard panels can make up for that.

The Encore’s chassis and 1.4T engine are worthy of merit on their own, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. With a curb weight of 3200 lbs, 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft is simply not going to cut it – especially when the power is delivered by GM’s 6-speed automatic. This unit, which appears on a wide range of transverse-layout cars, is a wretched one. Shifts occur in what seem to be geological ages, and it only serves to exacerbate what should be “plain old underpowered” into a situation where 60 mph comes up in over 10 seconds. It’s not particularly smooth or conducive to outstanding fuel economy either. While the EPA rates the Encore AWD at 23/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined, you’ll end up hammering the gas to make any reasonable forward progress – about the worst thing you can do for a turbo engine. Replacing the transmission would be one of the best things GM can do for its entire lineup, and would go a long way to redeem the Encore. Not even a Trifecta Tune can solve this problem. It looks like GM is considering a larger engine as well.

As a crossover, the Encore doesn’t hold up particularly well either. At 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room (48.4 cubic feet with the seats down), it’s not particularly spacious. Honda’s HR-V has 24.3 feet of space for stuff with the seats up, and an additional 10 feet over the Encore when the seats are down. At best, the Encore is built for four. You can forget about stuffing an adult in the rear middle seat, and anybody over 6 feet is going to have a miserable time on anything approaching a long trip.

Our tester, a fully loaded AWD model, stickered at $32,000. That’s big money for a tiny crossover with a barely premium badge and equipment that is shared with lesser GM models. If I were to invoke the hyperbolic prose that journalists tend to fall back on, I’d question why anyone bought this car (particularly when there’s the Jetta Sportwagen blah blah blah). But I get it. Even though it’s not very good at doing anything particularly well, there’s a growing demographic of older, affluent buyers who want something with the ride height of a CUV and the footprint of a smaller car and the soft, quiet driving experience of a luxury car. The Encore fills that niche. When placed in the wider context of the automotive market, it starts to look silly.

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General Motors Undercuts Competition With Lower Starting Prices http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-undercuts-competition-lower-starting-prices/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-undercuts-competition-lower-starting-prices/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992402 Looking for a new Cruze, LaCrosse or Terrain? You might have a bit more money left thanks to some undercutting by General Motors. CarsDirect reports GM has dropped the base MSRP on a handful of models by as much as $2,750. As a result, some of those models are lower in price than their competitors. […]

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2015 Chevrolet Cruze

Looking for a new Cruze, LaCrosse or Terrain? You might have a bit more money left thanks to some undercutting by General Motors.

CarsDirect reports GM has dropped the base MSRP on a handful of models by as much as $2,750. As a result, some of those models are lower in price than their competitors. The aforementioned GMC Terrain gained the greatest undercut, falling $4,030 under the Ford Edge with the crossover’s new base of $24,070.

However, to be able to undercut the competition without removing key features, GM has sliced dealer margins on the cheapest trims, such as the Terrain SL, Buick LaCrosse 1SV, and the newly introduced Chevrolet Cruze L. Profit margins on such vehicles being as thin as they are already — the difference between MSRP and invoice on the Cruze LS is $600, but only $81 on the L — the economy models may see or are seeing now incentive inclusions.

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Aldred: 2018 Opel Adam Could Become A Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/aldred-2018-opel-adam-become-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/aldred-2018-opel-adam-become-buick/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989026 Buick may want to slap its badge on the face of the Opel Adam, but it will be a while before it has the opportunity to take on Fiat and MINI. According to Automotive News, Buick/GMC U.S. vice president Duncan Aldred believes the Adam “would make a great Buick,” despite the city car not being […]

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Opel_Adam_1.4_Glam_–_Frontansicht,_15._Januar_2014,_Düsseldorf

Buick may want to slap its badge on the face of the Opel Adam, but it will be a while before it has the opportunity to take on Fiat and MINI.

According to Automotive News, Buick/GMC U.S. vice president Duncan Aldred believes the Adam “would make a great Buick,” despite the city car not being engineered with the U.S. domestic market in mind. Bringing the Adam up to snuff for American consumers would be “cost-prohibitive” at present, he adds, though the next-gen Adam would be tailored for the market.

The next such opportunity for a Buick Adam would come as early as 2018, which Aldred believes would be another opportunity to change consumer expectations of a brand once associated with senior citizens going to Denny’s for the early-bird special. In the meantime, another Opel — the Cascada — is in the process of Americanization, and should hit U.S. showrooms early next year.

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NAIAS 2015: Buick Reveals Avenir Concept Ahead Of Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-buick-reveals-avenir-concept-ahead-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-buick-reveals-avenir-concept-ahead-show/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 01:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=976233 Buick unveiled another vehicle ahead of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, this time in the form of the Avenir Concept [Live photos now available – CA]. General Motors says the Avenir pays tribute to classic Buick production and concept models like the boattail Riviera and Wildcat II. Power to all corners comes from a direct-injection […]

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2015-Buick-Avenir-Concept-02

Buick unveiled another vehicle ahead of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, this time in the form of the Avenir Concept [Live photos now available – CA].

General Motors says the Avenir pays tribute to classic Buick production and concept models like the boattail Riviera and Wildcat II. Power to all corners comes from a direct-injection V6 via a nine-speed auto controlled with flappy paddles. The V6 uses Active Fuel Management and stop-start tech to maintain fuel economy.

Inside, the driver and three passengers are treated to nature- and sea-inspired surfaces, premium leather and LED lighting. Other features include: ionic cabin air filtration; OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi; Buick IntelliLink with access via 12-inch touchscreen; driver-selectable suspension dampening; and device synchronization.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Buick Cascada Marks Brand Return To Convertibles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-buick-cascada-marks-brand-return-convertibles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-buick-cascada-marks-brand-return-convertibles/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 18:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975697 Revealed ahead of its 2015 Detroit Auto Show debut, the 2016 Buick Cascada marks the brand’s return to the convertible game after a 25-year absence [Live photos now available – CA]. The 2+2 convertible — based on the Opel model of the same name — can seat four adults comfortably, with its top able to […]

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Revealed ahead of its 2015 Detroit Auto Show debut, the 2016 Buick Cascada marks the brand’s return to the convertible game after a 25-year absence [Live photos now available – CA].

The 2+2 convertible — based on the Opel model of the same name — can seat four adults comfortably, with its top able to provide more of the same when up, both in regards to warmth and noise. Said top can be taken down in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.

Speaking of speed, power for the Cascada comes via a 1.6-liter turbo-four with direct injection and variable valve timing, capable of 200 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, 221 lb-ft with overboost. A six-speed auto will direct that power to the front.

Heading back inside, those who take their Cascada to the beach house for a weekend getaway will have 13.4 cubic feet of cargo space to use with the top up, 9.8 cubic feet when the top is down. The electronically controlled rear seatbacks fold down to provide more storage space, as well.

Other features include: Buick IntelliLink connected-vehicle system with Apple iOS 6+ compatibility; pop-up rollover protection bars that activate upon detection of potential rollover accidents; OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi; standard safety features such as lane departure, rear park assist, rearview camera and Rainsense windshield wipers; HiPer Strut front suspension, derived from the Regal and LaCrosse; Watts Z-link rear suspension; and a rigid body structure composed of high-strength steel, reinforced side sills, and A-pillars made with press-hardened steel.

The 2016 Buick Cascada is set to go on sale next year.

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Opel Cascada May Become Buick Velite If Trademark Is Approved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/opel-cascada-may-become-buick-velite-trademark-approved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/opel-cascada-may-become-buick-velite-trademark-approved/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954513 When the Opel Cascada hits U.S. showrooms in 2015 as a Buick, it may leave its name at home, as well. GM Authority reports General Motors recently filed a fifth extension with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for the trademark Velite, with the intent to use it for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, […]

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When the Opel Cascada hits U.S. showrooms in 2015 as a Buick, it may leave its name at home, as well.

GM Authority reports General Motors recently filed a fifth extension with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for the trademark Velite, with the intent to use it for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans, engines therefor and structural parts thereof.”

The trademark had been in use as far back as 2004, when Buick unveiled its Velite convertible concept at that year’s New York Auto Show. Then, it was based upon GM’s Zeta platform, and had a 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 paired with a six-speed auto.

Presently, the original application — filed in 2011 — is still not fully approved by the agency, waiting for the automaker to submit its Statement of Use document confirming the trademark will be used on a real-world vehicle.

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GM To Lay Off 510 Employees In Two Separate Actions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-lay-510-employees-two-separate-actions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-lay-510-employees-two-separate-actions/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944513 A total of 510 employees will be laid-off beginning in January, the result of two separate actions linked to production and inventory concerns. According to Automotive News, the majority — 350 employees — come from the Lansing Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing, Mich., where the Cadillac ATS and CTS are assembled. The cut comes […]

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2015 Cadillac ATSs at Lansing Grand River Assembly

A total of 510 employees will be laid-off beginning in January, the result of two separate actions linked to production and inventory concerns.

According to Automotive News, the majority — 350 employees — come from the Lansing Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing, Mich., where the Cadillac ATS and CTS are assembled. The cut comes from the loss of a second shift at the plant, a planned cut in production as part of Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen’s promise to make his brand more exclusive, and to allow excess inventory to be sold off.

A second shift is expected to return when GM begins production of the next-gen Chevrolet Camaro — based upon the same platform underpinning the two Cadillacs — between the end of 2015 and the start of 2016. In the meantime, GM plans to relocate some of the 350 to one of its two nearby plants.

Closer to Detroit, Detroit Free Press says the remaining 160 employees at Lake Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Mich. will have their positions permanently phased-out starting in January. The plant is slowing down production of the Buick Verano and Chevrolet Sonic to meet projected sales. Representative Chris Bonelli says the process will conclude by the end of 2015, but the number of workers ultimately laid-off “could be reduced by planned retirements and general attrition.”

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Buick Envision Bound For US Market By Q3 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/buick-envision-bound-us-market-q3-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/buick-envision-bound-us-market-q3-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927361 While the Chinese have Buick’s latest crossover, the Envision, to themselves for now, a plan is in the works to bring it over to the United States by Q3 2015 at the earliest. Edmunds reports the Envision would be offered in FWD and AWD configurations, with power to come from a four-cylinder engine with stop-start […]

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2015 Buick Envision - China Domestic Market

While the Chinese have Buick’s latest crossover, the Envision, to themselves for now, a plan is in the works to bring it over to the United States by Q3 2015 at the earliest.

Edmunds reports the Envision would be offered in FWD and AWD configurations, with power to come from a four-cylinder engine with stop-start technology on-board. The five-passenger crossover would slot between the Encore and Enclave when added to the U.S. market lineup.

Though GM remains silent for now, Buick-GMC vice president of sales Duncan Aldred says the Envision would find itself in “a big segment in the U.S.”

Should it arrive here, the crossover would go up against the likes of the Mercedes GLA-Class, Lincoln MKC and GMC Terrain, among others.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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Review: 2015 Buick LaCrosse eAssist http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/review-2015-buick-lacrosse-eassist/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/review-2015-buick-lacrosse-eassist/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884097 Oh, GM, you so cray-cray. You’ve done it again. If the 2010 Buick LaCrosse was the ’84 Fiero 2M4 of entry luxury sedans — all the right ideas executed indifferently — this 2015 model is the ’89 GT V6 of entry luxury sedans. All the right ideas, executed well enough to get the attention of […]

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Oh, GM, you so cray-cray. You’ve done it again. If the 2010 Buick LaCrosse was the ’84 Fiero 2M4 of entry luxury sedans — all the right ideas executed indifferently — this 2015 model is the ’89 GT V6 of entry luxury sedans. All the right ideas, executed well enough to get the attention of the choosy. But how much longer does this aging horse have to run before the knacker comes calling?

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Five years ago, I went endurance racing in a 2010 LaCrosse and lost the race due to a fueling infraction penalty that was slightly longer than my margin of victory. This time I went endurance racing in a 2015 LaCrosse and won the whole effing thing. You can read Sam Miller’s coverage from the past weekend if you want the scoop. I assure you, however, I did not eat any BBQ chips during the actual race. That’s libel and if Sam weren’t recovering from her wall hit I’d be sending her a very strongly worded Snapchat right now. Or Kik, or whatever the kids are doing now. They might be the same thing. I am this close to becoming the guy I knew in my 8-bit days who griped about how using a video terminal had taken the challenge out of computing.

But I digress. This Buick’s pretty ancient too. Were it a Honda, it wouldn’t exist. Were it a BMW, it would be deep into its facelift. Instead, it’s just fourteen months or so into a new look and there are a few years left on the clock. Oh, well. It’s GM, what are you going to do? The annoying part is that the Lexus ES was a fairly weak product five years ago and this LaCrosse could have hit it harder than the pre-facelift car did. As with the ’89 Fiero, this is what they should have provided five years ago.

Styling: this is what it should have looked like before. The 2010 model looked unfocused, this looks predatory. The weird tall and thin proportions are smoothed out by this deep grille and revised taillamp treatment. It’s a confident look. This car as I drove it scales out at $36,650 and I don’t think you need to be embarrassed about the looks at that number. Any BMW or Audi you can get for this money looks either po’-mouthed or bite-sized by comparison. Now here’s the question that will really bake your cookies: is this better-looking or more upscale-looking than an MKZ? I’d have to fall on the “hell no” side of that argument. There’s something very bespoke-looking about the little Lincoln’s profile. This just looks GM parts-bin and the wacky character line, like Elvira’s eyebrows, isn’t improving with age.

Can’t be helped. It was styled for the Chinese market and one of the important things that our future imperial masters wish to have conveyed to the proles in traffic is this: long back seat. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s totally legit. There’s a ton of room in the back seat of this Buick. This is the kind of room that should be standard with every Cadillac, but other than the platform sibling XTS, Cadillac isn’t “coming with length” in the States. We had four people in this car for a 1,461-mile trip, two of them working on their laptops almost continually, and there were no problems. Bonus: the rear windows go all the way down. That’s a detail that somebody made sure to get right. If you carry people in the car a lot, this is a winner.

If you carry luggage, on the other hand, the LaCrosse sucks like Seka in her prime and if you pop for the eAssist your misery will be compounded further. The battery is, by my calculations, the size of a Cylon battlestation and it occupies a solid portion of a trunk that’s already pretty tiny. The only way we could make the trip work was to use one rollaway bag as a center armrest in the backseat and have Ms. Miller leave her helmet bag in her rear footwell. Each one of the four nights we spent away from home included at least two games of Tetris as I tried in vain to make the luggage fit. (Or, if you’re feeling properly geeky, this was backpack algorithm time.) How I cursed the eAssist system again and again. The 3.6 V6 is a no-charge option in this car. You might want to consider taking it.

Unless, that is, you want to save fuel. This full eAssist system, described by Motor Trend magazine in a Ritalin-overdose fit of sympathetic manu-fellatio as “the wildest of mild hybrids”, really works as advertised. The basics are simple. There’s a fifteen-horsepower motor belted on to the front side of the engine. When you’re slowing down under certain conditions, say, not on a racetrack, the motor will slow the car and charge the big battery. It then uses that power to run the accessories properly during an auto-stop and then it helps get the LaCrosse moving again.

Readers of my recent Malibu review will remember my distaste for the half-assed start-stop system it uses in place of eAssist. I’m pleased to report that the LaCrosse doesn’t do any of that stuff. Only the lack of engine noise and the drop of the tach to a 0-rpm point alerts you to auto-stop. The A/C keeps running, the stereo keeps blasting Chromeo, it’s all good in the hood. Lift your foot from the brake, or sit for more than a minute, and it starts immediately. It doesn’t feel like convention engine starting, more like the Ford/Toyota synergy drive. It just starts running with no drama whatsoever. I like it.

One gripe: why does putting the car in Park turn the engine on? If you’re in auto-stop and you slip the gearshift into “P”, it starts the engine. That’s silly. It should run the battery down then start. I don’t understand the reason for this behavior. In New Jersey, where there are signs outside convenience stores asking people to snitch on their fellow citizens for keeping the engine running, having it stay stopped in Park would be useful.

On the move, the eAssist is strong enough. It feels about as fast as a four-cylinder Accord or Camry, which is complimentary given the Buick’s extra heft and size. I never felt caught out by lack of power, even merging on the Capital Beltway or the GW Parkway. There’s no joy in this Mudville of a four-banger, but neither does it strike out when it’s time to accelerate in traffic. Overall, it’s a satisfactory drivetrain.

Normally, this is the point where I give fuel-economy numbers for the trip, but in this case I need a disclaimer. For two days this Buick was left running in the pitlane of a race while a few children and the occasional adult used it to warm up, dry off, change clothes, operate laptops, and simply avoid the massive fly infestation that has settled over NJMP like a Biblical plague. (One of two, actually; there were a lot of frogs around at night, I’m told.) It wouldn’t be fair to report the 26.7mpg average reported by the LaCrosse for the whole trip. Instead, I’ll tell you that for the first 600 miles, which included plenty of time using the auto-stop in traffic, the Buick showed a solid 31.6mpg, said number being roughly backed up by fuel fill data. I drove without much aggression, trying to let the car stretch its fuel-economy legs, but I didn’t do anything hyper-mile-ish.

During the trip, the LaCrosse was remarkably quiet, pleasant, comfortable, and enjoyable. The revised interior, featuring good-quality leather seats in the mid-grade trim I rented, is far better than it was five years back. I would stack the dynamic and NVH qualities against a Lexus ES any day of the week. It was much better than my Accord or any competitor I’ve driven, even the relatively placid Fusion. The LCD-screen instrumentation is configurable like a C7 Corvette’s and it’s very readable in all conditions. The center stack has been improved quite a bit in appearance and function, although the temperature controls look and feel cheap. There’s plenty of 12v power available and the center armrest has a rather amusing hinge that unfortunately comes apart when young people are tugging at it. This is a usable proposition for the long American road. It’s what my father expected his 1977 LeSabre Custom to be when he chose it as a company car. No excuses need be made. If I need to quibble, I’ll do it about the Bluetooth Audio function which is amazingly stupid and frequently “skips” songs as if there were a 33-rpm turntable hidden somewhere in the dashboard. Nor is the phone interface terribly competent.

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Since I happened to be at a racetrack, one where it was raining, it seemed reasonable to wring the 4,100-mile LaCrosse around it for a few laps. Thanks to the deep-treaded tires, I was able to put some space on the AER cars that were using the track to shake down their rain setups. Hitting pools of standing water at 100-plus miles per hour, the Buick was remarkably stable. Cornering at the limit of the tires, there was a progressive breakaway from the front end that was signaled well in advance through the steering. Left-footing the car did very little to move the long tail around. If you want a chuckable family sedan, get a Camry SE.

I was curious to see what would happen to the eAssist system when it was driven beyond its likely usable parameters. After four hard laps, I pulled into the pits. I could smell the brakes and feel the heat wafting into the cabin from the hood, but when I came to a halt, the tach fell to auto-stop. Releasing the brake resulted in a no-drama instant start. Okay, GM, you win this one.

At thirty-six grand, this is a much better value than the Malibu at two-thirds the MSRP. It’s priced fairly, equipped properly, executed competently. I wouldn’t buy it over an Accord Hybrid but then again if I needed the room in the back I might rethink that position. If you want to buy a good car from the General, and your budget doesn’t stretch to the Corvette, stop by your Buick dealer and give the LaCrosse a shot.

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GM China Drops More 2016 Buick Envision Photos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-china-drops-2016-buick-envision-photos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/gm-china-drops-2016-buick-envision-photos/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881058 You saw it before; now see it with more clarity: GM China dropped a few more photos of its upcoming 2016 Buick Envision. CarNewsChina reports the SUV will debut in September during the Chengdu Auto Show prior to going on sale sometime in Q4 2014. Pricing will range between ¥160,000 and ¥220,000 ($26,000 – $35,000 […]

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You saw it before; now see it with more clarity: GM China dropped a few more photos of its upcoming 2016 Buick Envision.

CarNewsChina reports the SUV will debut in September during the Chengdu Auto Show prior to going on sale sometime in Q4 2014. Pricing will range between ¥160,000 and ¥220,000 ($26,000 – $35,000 USD), and will be positioned between the Encore and Enclave.

Moving the SUV will be a pair of 2-liter four-pots giving either 200 horsepower/207 ft-lb torque or 260 horsepower/268 ft-lb torque to all four corners through a six-speed automatic. However, GM China is working on a turbo 1.5-liter with 170 horses, as well as a hybrid based upon said turbocharged engine, though no word on when either will turn up under the bonnet.

[WRITER’S NOTE: I originally reported the Envision as being front-wheel drive when I should have noted it was all-wheel drive. My apologies for the error.]

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General Motors Issues Six Recalls For 720,000 Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872770 Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years. Autoblog reports the following have been recalled: 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats […]

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2014 Chevrolet SS in Red

Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years.

Autoblog reports the following have been recalled:

  • 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats may loosen on its own, if not fall out, allowing the seat to move freely; 414,333 recalled.
  • 2013 – 14 Cadillac ATS, Buick Encore; 2014 Chevrolet Caprice/SS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac ELR; 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra: Incomplete weld of seat hook bracket assembly, may require track replacement; 124,008 recalled.
  • 2011 – 13 Buick Regal; 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Single-bulb burnout of turn signal failing to notify driver of issue, reprogramming needed; 120,426 recalled.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Bad electric ground on power steering module of belt-driven electric steering models — caused by misplaced paint — may lead to sudden loss or reduction of steering power; 57,242 recalled
  • 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Spark: Improperly fastened lower control arm of Korean-built models could lead to separation from the steering knuckle; 1,919 recalled.
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon Denali: Incorrect retaining nut in interior roof rail could puncture or tear roof-mounted airbags upon deployment; 22 recalled.

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General Motors Recalls 8.4 Million Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-recalls-8-4-million-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-recalls-8-4-million-vehicles/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:05:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856065 General Motors has issued a total of six recalls affecting some 8.4 million vehicles in North America, the majority of which have ignition-related issues. Autoblog reports the following group totals 7,610,862 — 6,805,679 in the United States — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation: 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

General Motors has issued a total of six recalls affecting some 8.4 million vehicles in North America, the majority of which have ignition-related issues.

Autoblog reports the following group totals 7,610,862 — 6,805,679 in the United States — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation:

  • 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
  • 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix

The second group totals 616,179 — 554,328 in the U.S. — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation due to bumping of key fob:

  • 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
  • 2013-2014 Cadillac CTS

The third group totals 20,134 — 2,990 in the U.S. — and are being recalled for potential damage to the engine block heater power cord’s insulation under extreme cold conditions:

  • 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2013-2014 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2013-2014 Buick Encore
  • 2013-2014 Buick Verano

The fourth group totals 117 — 104 in the U.S. — and are being recalled over the Superjoint fastner not being torqued to spec prior to leaving the assembly line:

  • 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2014 Buick Regal
  • 2014 Cadillac XTS

The fifth group totals 12,002 — 9,731 in the U.S. — and are being recalled due to the underhood fuseable link potentially melting through electrical overloading, leading to smoke and fire damage to other electric wiring components:

  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD (with auxiliary battery)
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra HD (with auxiliary battery)

The sixth and final group totals 188,705 — 181,984 in the U.S. — and are being recalled over the potential for an electrical short to the driver’s door module disabling the power lock and window switches, as well as overheating the module itself:

  • 2005-2007 Buick Rainier
  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
  • 2005-2007 GMC Envoy
  • 2005-2007 Isuzu Ascender
  • 2005-2007 Saab 9-7X
  • 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT
  • 2006 GMC Envoy XL

In the press release issued by the automaker, CEO Mary Barra said her company undertook what she believed “is the most comprehensive safety review in the history of [GM] because nothing is more important than the safety of [GM’s] customers.” She added later on that if any other issues come to the automaker’s attention, GM would “act appropriately and without hesitation” to recall and repair those vehicles. The automaker has recalled a total of 28 million vehicles since January of this year.

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General Motors Digest: June 30, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-30-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-30-2014/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855849 In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls over 700,000 units globally; Siemens VDO Automotive urged the automaker to look into airbag data in 2004; product chief Doug Parks was aware of the ignition problems in 2005; Feinberg compensation plan will have no payment cap; and Delphi is under the gun from both Congress and the […]

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GM Renaissance Center

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls over 700,000 units globally; Siemens VDO Automotive urged the automaker to look into airbag data in 2004; product chief Doug Parks was aware of the ignition problems in 2005; Feinberg compensation plan will have no payment cap; and Delphi is under the gun from both Congress and the IRS.

Autoblog and The Detroit News report the following vehicles are under recall:

  • 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruze: Takata airbag inflator defect; 29,019 (U.S.), 4,066 (Canada)
  • 2014 – 2015 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra; 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Surburban/GMC Yukon, Yukon XL: Transfer case electronically switching to neutral without driver input; 392,459 (U.S.), 53,607 (Canada), 20,874 (Other Markets)
  • 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Caprice, SS: Potential for windshield wiper motor gear teeth to become stripped; 4,794 (U.S.)
  • 2014 Chevrolet Corvette: Insufficient welding in rear shocks of FE1, FE3 suspension-equipped vehicles; 1,939 (U.S.), 33 (Canada), 82 (Other Markets)
  • 2009 – 2012 Buick Excelle GT: Potential for high-beams to remain on under extreme circumstances; 194,107 (China)

Automotive News says in 2004, Siemens VDO Automotive engineer Douglas McConnell wrote a report urging GM to look into a possible link between airbag sensors and the loss of power via the ignition cycle. The GM-commissioned report was penned a month before the first Chevrolet Cobalts left the assembly line, and shown to five engineers working for the automaker at the time, including Matthew Craig, who currently works for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as its chief of human injury research. Declining to elaborate on the report, representative Greg Martin stated “there were several missed opportunities for GM to properly identify the problem,” citing the Valukas report to back his statement.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Doug Parks, appointed to the post of vice president of global product programs by CEO Mary Barra, was a vehicle chief engineer for the Chevrolet Cobalt program in 2005. In that role, he was a part of the cost debate over whether or not to redesign the ignition switch that would be put into the compact, stating in a May 2005 email that changing the design “appears to be the only real, quick solution.” Parks had been invited to attend two meetings in the first half of 2005 over the issue, though nothing could be determined as far as attendance was concerned.

In the present, Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation program for those injured or killed as a result of the ignition switch will pay claims to all drivers, passengers and bystanders involved in an accident with an affected GM vehicle. Further, claimants will have few hurdles to go through in being paid, including alcohol use and lack of physical evidence. Finally, the program will have no cap on the amount of money paid in total, though no word has been given by Feinberg and his time about how much will be paid per victim and their families. Claims will be accepted beginning August 1.

Finally, Automotive News reports Delphi, already under investigation by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, is now under the gun from the Internal Revenue Service over whether or not the supplier can be taxed as a domestic corporation. Upon emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, Delphi set up its tax base in the United Kingdom, though it retained its headquarters and executive team in Troy, Mich. Should the supplier lose its appeal with the IRS, its tax rate could rise to 22 percent effective rate, up from the 17 percent Delphi pays currently. In 2013, it paid $256 million in taxes; under the new rate, an additional $75 million would need to be paid, bringing the total to approximately $331.3 million.

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JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846905 J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles. Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. […]

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2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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