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. Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/buick/ 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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GM Recalls 3.36M Vehicles Over Ignition Problem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-recalls-3-36m-vehicles-over-ignition-problem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-recalls-3-36m-vehicles-over-ignition-problem/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845449 In today’s digest: General Motors issues another ignition-related recall; has fixed a handful of those affected by the original ignition recall; and unveils plans for three new compacts to be sold in emerging markets. Autoblog reports GM has issued six total recalls of some 3.41 million North American vehicles built between the start of the […]

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GM-building-US-Flag

In today’s digest: General Motors issues another ignition-related recall; has fixed a handful of those affected by the original ignition recall; and unveils plans for three new compacts to be sold in emerging markets.

Autoblog reports GM has issued six total recalls of some 3.41 million North American vehicles built between the start of the new century and the present:

  • 2000 – 2005 Cadillac Deville; 2004 – 2005 Buick Regal LS, GS; 2004 – 2011 Cadillac DTS; 2005 – 2009 Buick Lacrosse; 2006 – 2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo; 2006 – 2011 Buick Lucerne; 2006 – 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Ignition switch; 3.36 million recalled
  • 2013 – 2014 Cadillac ATS; 2014 Cadillac CTS: Shift cable/bracket separation in automatic transmissions; 68,887 recalled
  • 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 HD; 2015 GMC Sierra 2500/3500 HD: Potential poor connection of power steering hose clamp connection to power steering pump; 57,192 recalled
  • 2011 Cadillac CTS AWD: Premature rollover airbag deployment linked to gasket leak between constant velocity joint and rear propeller shaft; 16,932 recalled
  • 2014 Chevrolet Corvette: Premature passenger seat side airbag deployment linked to unbelted child and door trim in models with the Competition Sport Seat option; 712 recalled
  • 2014 – 2015 Chevrolet Silverado; 2014 – 2015 GMC Sierra: Movement of driver-side all-weather floor mats due to missing attachments in vinyl-floor models; 184 recalled

The automaker expects to take a $700 million charge in addition to the $400 million already forecast for Q2 2014.

Regarding the original ignition-related recall of 2.6 million vehicles back in February of 2014, Bloomberg reports 154,731 of the affected models have been fixed thus far. GM has also shipped 396,253 repair kits around the world to help dealer service bays repair the problem. Production of the parts has been non-stop for its supplier Delphi, where the line has been going strong through multiple shifts seven days a week.

Finally, Just-Auto says the automaker plans to unveil three new compact vehicles under the Amber project. The new compact sedan, SUV and hatchback will be designed in Europe and assembled in Brazil, with the finished products heading for emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico et al. Potential global production is expected to reach between 1 million and 1.2 million units annually beginning around 2018 at the earliest.

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Reader Review: Buick Verano Turbo 6-Speed Manual, Part 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-2/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:18:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=837033 Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to own one of the rarest unicorns in the automotive world: the Buick Verano Turbo with a 6-speed manual. Part 1 discussed the buying process, while Part 2 takes you through the day-to-day ownership of the car. When ordering a Verano T, there are not many decisions to make. […]

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IMG_4567

Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to own one of the rarest unicorns in the automotive world: the Buick Verano Turbo with a 6-speed manual. Part 1 discussed the buying process, while Part 2 takes you through the day-to-day ownership of the car.

When ordering a Verano T, there are not many decisions to make. The 1ST package brings most of the goodies to the table including keyless start, Buick’s “IntelliLink” infotainment system, 18” rims and leather seating surfaces. The only remaining options are transmission type, exterior and interior color, rim style, navigation, sunroof, and the typical additional options such as the cargo net, block heater and protection package. GM charges a few hundred dollars for metallic black or red, and $995 for “diamond white tricoat”. Happily, the metallic blue was a no charge option. As well, there are three no cost options for interior color; black, white and tan/brown. I selected the 6MT, sunroof, navigation, upgraded rims, Carbon Blue Metallic paint, ”ebony” black interior, as well as the engine block heater and protection package. The window sticker for this particular car was $37,000 Canadian Dollars including freight and PDI. I gave them a $3000 deposit which was refunded upon delivery, and delivery took a shade over two months

As I alluded to previously, I have mixed feelings on the look of the Verano. At first I wasn’t sure about the chrome “eyebrows” at the rear, but in the grand scheme of things they really don’t bother me. I find the Verano’s rear to be squared off and solid in design, which is excellent given my presence for a more conservative (some say boring) shape. The vestigial spoiler neither adds nor subtracts from the look. It was included in the 1ST package, so that is neither here nor there. I find the rear and rear quarter to be the Verano’s best exterior angles.

IMG_4569 no plate

Moving around to the side, Buick has taken care to ensure that the Verano has no black plastic triangles at the front and back of the greenhouse like the Cruze. Buick has accomplished this by including triangular glass “portholes”. While they are thickly framed and don’t add a lot to visibility, the overall shape of the greenhouse glass is pleasant and the chrome trim sets it off well. While the beltline does gently slope upwards towards the rear, I am a big fan of how the thickness of the C-Pillar is roughly constant along its length, accented by a slight lift of the back glass. I find the Verano to be a tad short in length for the height of its hood and trunk lid, but the hood length to cabin length to trunk lid length all seem to work. The car will never be described as sleek, but the proportions come off as inoffensive at the end of the day. It is not a handsome car but it is honest.

IMG_4568

The worst feature of the side profile happens to coincide with the worst feature of the front, namely the grill. When viewed head on, the grill is only slightly odd looking, but it’s not so bad. But, move around to the side and you can see that the leading edge of the hood, rather than forming the top of the grill, runs through the grill. The Verano and Enclave are the only two vehicles I can think of that are styled like this, and in my opinion it looks pretty poor. I would have rather see them move the Buick shield down, and coordinate the grill shape with the hood line, ala Regal. However, I am quite pleased that the hood opens along the grill line, so there are no unpleasant straight body gaps cutting across the hood, as we have seen on other modern cars.

Other than that, like the rest of the car, the front end is generic and unassuming, though not ugly. However, I will say that the traditional Buick portholes on the top of the hood have got to go. I am not a fan of non-functional aero. I am also extremely disappointed by Buick’s placement of blue glass rings around the low beam projectors. The blue visible from legal OEM HID lamps is simply an artifact produced by the cutoff shield, but illegal HID drop-in kits play up this “cool” look, all while blinding those around them. The headlights on the Verano are halogen, and even if they were HID, I don’t believe any of the OEMs should be even tacitly giving illegal blue headlights any sort of positive endorsement.

IMG_4575

I ticked the “Protection Package” on the build sheet because it promised color matched molded splash guards, dealer installed. I did this for three reasons: one, I don’t like following vehicles without them in the rain, two, I don’t like the six foot long chunk of ice on the sills that forms in winter, and three, installing mudflaps on ones own can be difficult, if they are the kind that do not have any alignment tabs. In this case, the molded guards are specific to the car and I am happy with the way they look. The protection package also includes a thick rubber trunk mat and some floor mats, which I don’t need because I bought WeatherTech floor mats. For the record, they provide excellent coverage and don’t slide around, so I give them a thumbs up.

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Opening the hood shows an engine bay with a decent amount of room; understandable given the small displacement inline four. Thankfully, the entire bay isn’t covered by plastic shrouds, like the Lexus IS250. I will say though that the plastic engine cover is maddening, and borderline insulting. It is shaped to look like intake runners for a longitudinal engine, and for whatever reason that just makes me mad. Who do they think they are fooling? Also, it really makes me mad that a car stickering $37,000 is equipped with a prop rod.

The up level split 10-spoke alloys are a $525 upgrade. The standard rim is a twin 5-spoke, and normally I am a die hard 5-spoke fan, but something about the 10 spoke rims on this car just look more upscale, especially since they are slightly greyed out. Overall, I am still glad that I picked the Carbon Blue Paint and upgraded alloys. The car has a confident stance.

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As I mentioned in Part 1, if you can fit in it, the Verano is a nice place to be. The aspect of its interior design that I most appreciate is the simple, symmetrical and most of all, functional design. Starting between the front seats there is a comfortable yet slightly small padded armrest concealing a storage bin, which contains the USB and 3.5mm jacks. Forward of this sits two cup holders large enough for travel mugs but which are also able to secure regular 355mL pop cans. Forward of the cup holders yet behind the stick lies a deep cell phone sized pocket, and the switch for the electronically actuated parking brake. This switch is a pull up to engage and push down to release item. The stickshift itself is a classy little affair, featuring an elongated shape that fits my hand well, and a trigger for defeating the reverse lockout. First and reverse sit abeam one another and I believe this and the trigger should make it easy to rock in the snow without losing momentum. The shifter boot is black with the same white contrasting stitching as the seats. Ahead of the stick shift is a slightly larger deep pocket below the center stack which also houses a 12V outlet.

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The shifter and the center stack are both trimmed with a medium grey glossy trim that I imagine is supposed to emulate metal. Inlaid into this is a dark species of fake wood. All of it has a glossy coating. This trim also accents the door pulls. While it is obvious that the trim is neither genuine metal nor wood, it isn’t in your face fake. This is one of those items that I have decided works in the car, but others might find it cheap or not to their liking. One of the main reasons I am giving it a pass is that it seems reasonably scratch resistant. Other “metal look” plastics in my experience have proved for less robust right off the bat (one example is my former 2004 Mazda 6), and this piece seems like it will hold up. Sadly, my gut instinct is that the rest of the interior will not have this durability. The dash and door panels, where not trimmed with leather are covered in a soft rubber with a fine grained pattern. The switch gear, buttons and other areas of hard plastic are a “matte” black plastic. Both the rubber and the plastics have this quality where if you have sweat or gotten any dirt on your hands at any part of the day, they leave finger prints and smudges and basically look like hell. A gloss plastic and a more vinyl-like substance like in the Alero would be far more durable. Ask me how I know, as the interior of the Alero held up exceedingly well after 12 years and 300k kms. The material selection is definitely the low point of the interior.

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Luckily, the instrument and infotainment layout, to my eye, is excellent. The touch screen is clear, with simple graphics, and displays time, exterior temperature, HVAC info when you change settings, and all available media info. I should note that you don’t need to refer to the touch screen to use the HVAC, it is redundant info. The unit is equipped with RDS for terrestrial radio info and displays track info from MP3 CDs as well as full track info when streaming over Bluetooth or plugged into USB. Of course it also displays data for the SiriusXM system. The nav screen is relatively uncomplicated, and also can send directions to the drivers info screen in the instrument cluster. I should note that the 2014 Verano is equipped with HomeLink.

The infotainment system can be controlled almost entirely using the plethora of buttons below the screen, as well as the push to select rotary knob. The only time you are compelled to use the screen is to bring up certain menus when the nav is in full screen. Of course, you can use the touchscreen for the bulk of the radio operation, if that suits you better. However, I like buttons, and I have already gotten to the point where I can perform basic functions without looking. GM has a few other ‘Link branded systems with fewer to no buttons, but I believe the Verano’s setup is superior. The steering wheel controls are also convenient to use. The push button start is located above the media controls under the screen. Many people have had trouble finding it, but a few have commented (and I agree) that once you know it is there it is a good place for it.

Bluetooth integration works well. Pairing a new device is child’s play. Music quality over Bluetooth is good and call quality is excellent. Voice dialing also has yet to misunderstand me. The system is also capable of displaying your incoming texts (when stopped only), or reading your texts out loud when you are in motion, and surprisingly enough I find it works pretty well.

The HVAC is an automatic type, though it is clearly designed to use the same switchgear for lower spec cars. Because of this, the mix control is a knob with satisfying feedback, the fan speed is a rocker switch and the vent setting is handled by individual buttons for each setting, which can be combined. I find that manual mode works best for commuting, and my feeling is that the auto function will work best for prolonged trips where one click of the temperature knob will adjust multiple settings.

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The instrument cluster rates highly except for the use of blue backlighting. The gauges are large, clear, and easy to read, and Buick gets points for including the temperature gauge. My ideal car would have a full instrument cluster, but alas. I really like the detailing in the speedometer and tach, as the outside bezel has markings for intermediate numerals, and I feel it is styled to resemble a watch bezel. The numerals are backlit but the cluster is also globally lit from inside the pods. Blue backlighting can often be hard to read, which is why I say it lowers the rating, but the extra background lighting actually seems to help in this regard. The driver info screen has the usual items such as average economy, instant economy, trip odometer, tire pressure, voltage, and the Verano has the extra trick of displaying upcoming turns there as well. It is easily controlled from the turn signal stalk. I would like to point out that I dislike the use of a toggle switch rather than a dial for adjusting instrument lighting rheostat. It is so much easier to just scroll the wheel than repeatedly click a toggle.

Were I a buff book author, I would at this point make note that the seats are comfortable and well-trimmed but lack side bolstering. All of this is true, but I don’t drive aggressively enough that I really miss the extra support. The driver seat is power, and while the passenger seat isn’t it goes one extra step by adding manual height adjustment. The only glaring omission of the seating is lumbar support, manual or otherwise. I think this is the source of people not being able to acclimate to the Verano’s chairs. But the contrast stitching certainly looks good, although I am not well versed enough in material quality to know if the leather itself is of decent quality.

At hand storage is decent, with a reasonably sized glove box, the aforementioned center console, and large pockets in each door capable of holding a thick water bottle and then some. The back seat is specious enough for two adults, with a flip down arm rest and cup holders, and a second 12V outlet for the back seat. I mentioned in Part 1 that a 6’-2” gent could sit behind me. This is due to the scallop in the headliner where the sunroof ends. So, the top of his head is kind of stuck up in that space but it is certainly usable.

Overall, the Verano’s interior presents itself well, to this hard luck old GM driver. I do wish I had more basis for comparison to offer, but all I can say at this point is that I think, despite a few quirks, the Verano is a nice place to spend time.

Approach the Verano, and with the key in your pocket you just push one of the door handle buttons and all four doors unlock. However, I am incredibly annoyed that GM did not see fit to include a similar button on the trunk, necessitating you remove the key from your pocket. This is a first world problem to be sure, but it just screams lazy, unfinished execution. One nice feature I appreciate on newer cars is that the door hinges have three detents, handy for those tight parking lots.

Closing the door in a loud area, and the attention to quiet that Buick paid is readily obvious. Firing up the engine produces little noticeable noise from the inside, but do this with the door open and you notice DI clatter as well as the odd rattle before the revs drop down from the fast idle. That being said, it is no worse than any other DI car I have been around of late, such as my colleague’s CX-5.

One feature I really wanted was auto up and auto down windows. The Verano obliges, as the sunroof and windows are fully automatic with the exception of auto up in the rear, which seems cheap but I don’t use the back windows that much. The sunroof isn’t the largest, but it redeems itself by sliding farther into the roof than any other I have seen. Venting the sunroof and cracking the back rear window creates a pleasant and useful cross breeze. The A/C blows cold, and the heat, heated seats and heated steering wheel worked well the few early April mornings they were necessary.

I won’t harp any more on the Bose sound system, as I covered that in Part 1. The infotainment is functional though, and I think GM should get more credit for its ease of use. I wouldn’t say it is the best in the industry, (Derek mentioned to me that uConnect really is that good), but I would say that this is perfectly acceptable. Certainly head and shoulders above CUE and certain irritating features of MyFordTouch.

Releasing the electronic park brake and pulling onto the road (or, if you forget, the car will release the break when it detects you trying to get going), the Verano pulls strongly, while letting very little noise into the cabin. However, despite the claimed peak 260 ft-lbs at 2000rpm, I find it very easy to catch the car flat footed. Turbo lag is present, and I have taken to leaving the car one gear lower than I would normally feel necessary just in case I need to scoot into a gap. It really does not like being asked to accelerate after it has been loping along below 2000 rpm. However, if you are at or slightly above 2500 rpm and you put your foot into it, the car pulls eagerly. This is where I often find myself thinking “this car isn’t THAT fast”, but it is extremely disconcerting because the sensation of speed is muted.

Now I am not saying that this car is all that, but I have found that to really appreciate the amount of power you do have available, you almost have to keep the corner of your eye on the instruments, to put a frame of reference to the feel of what the car is doing. The car is capable of attaining extralegal speeds effortlessly. Despite having a non-independent Watts Link rear suspension, the car handles well, and is very easy to place. Steering is light but direct. However, the handling is really let down by excessive body roll. I found that the Alero on 15” winter tires actually cornered much flatter. 12” disks upfront and 11” disks out back stop the car with extreme prejudice, and I am hopeful that they will not suffer the same sort of warping issues that has plagued small to midsize GM cars in the past.

One feature that I have used but not yet fully come to appreciate is Hill Start Assist. When stopped on an incline, the computer will engage the parking brake to stop you from rolling back when you set off. It works well but I find it is not consistent about which grades on which it engages. I am hoping the owner’s manual will shed more light on the topic, though I keep forgetting to look it up when I am stationary.

With my observations regarding how it drives, please bear in mind that I drive in a fairly relaxed fashion, and full throttle runs to expressway speed limits represent the majority of my hoonage. The good news here is that, this car shows its Buick roots. The ride is comfortable, the car is quiet, and if you don’t feel like driving like a yob, the extra power makes it very easy to drive the car easy and relaxed. I find the stickshift to be precise and easy to use, and the only issue with the clutch is that it is a bit heavy for how high the friction point is, but I quickly got used to it.

The biggest let down in the drive is the 18” rims. I do not know how much they contribute to the cars direct handling, but being P235/45/18, there is not a lot of meat on them. The car does a good job of isolating me from harsh bumps, but the car seems to crash a bit over railway tracks and pot holes. I cannot help but think that a 17” or even a 16” rim would provide a softer ride over rough roads. I will be purchasing a set of 16” alloys and Nokian Hakkapelitta R2 winter tires in fall, and I suspect they will improve the cars composure over harsh bumps.

I gave my impressions of driving the car on an expressway in Part 1, and they haven’t really changed. Despite the gently rising beltline and small rear window, visibility is good and the blind spot warning actually works really well. The car also has forward collision detection, which I have turned off because it seems rather useless. When a car is in range of the system ahead, it illuminates a car shaped icon in the dash. Am I not supposed to be looking forward?

A lane departure warning system is also included, which I also keep disabled. Driving through construction zones causes the system to flip out and convince the car that we are not long for this world. I find being unable to disable the auto dimming rearview mirror extremely detrimental at night. I typically use the high beam setting on manual rear view mirrors sparingly, so I dislike that this is imposed upon me. When dim, you can really make out very little. I really find I appreciate the lane change flash function, I think every modern car should have this. The wipers are the kind that open from the center to the A-pillars. This isn’t a functional problem (yet) but every time I see an early 00’s GM minivan with the wipers stuck “open” I cringe. However, I would like to think that GM has moved past that kind of issue. I would also like to note that, while I don’t find I need and thus don’t ever look at the backup camera screen, I find the rear cross traffic alert to be exceptionally good at helping me back out when parked between two long, tall SUVs or pickup trucks.

I have done a few short highway stints. The car hums along very quietly, While I haven’t yet crossed the vast divide of the Canadian prairies, I feel I am going to be let down by the headlights. Halogen lamps aren’t automatically inferior any more than projectors are inherently superior, but these just don’t seem to have the throw I want on low beam, though the high beams seem adequate.

Fuel economy to date is a lifetime average of 10.5L/100kms (22.4 mpg US). This includes almost no highway. Normally I use the highways around and through Calgary quite a bit, but I have been something of a home body for the last few months. My commute is 12 kms (7.5 miles) one way, and includes two onramps and about half being expressway travel. My driving style since I took delivery has been consistently booting it onto the expressway, but driving normally the rest of the time. My assumptions are that on a strictly highway trip, I should get about 7L/100 kms (33.6 mpg US) highway, and that my traditional 50/50 highway/town should yield about 9.5 L/100 kms (24.75 mpg US). This guess is based on my first tank, which was about half commuting and half looping Calgary’s expressways in my shiny new car. Essentially, the Verano is returning almost identical economy to the Alero, with 100 more hp and 100 more torques on tap.

I have no problem stating that I am happy with my purchase, and that I think this is a well-executed small wanna-be luxury car, despite its quirks. The car has what I categorize as stupid head scratching oversights, such as the prop rod, fake aero, gaudy blue headlight bling, missing trunk lid button, etc., which irk me but I that I can totally live with, at the end of the day. The more major long term questions to me are whether the interior materials will hold up long term, and whether I will find myself hugely at odds with the headlight performance. I am reasonably confident with the running gear, since the 2.0T and F40-6 transmission have been around since 2007 in various iterations.

I really enjoy driving the car, and the one aspect that sold me initially, as well as make it a joy to drive is that the car feels familiar, and felt that way since I first sat in one. The gearing and manual transmission felt similar to the Alero, which is a good thing because I enjoyed wringing that car out. The engine even makes similar noises at the high end of the tach as the 2.2 ECOTEC. Operating the switch gear and infotainment feels second nature, even though it is a few models removed from my previous ride. My new car feels like an old friend, and I think that is a good measure of overall satisfaction. IMG_4565 IMG_4567 IMG_4568 IMG_4569 no plate IMG_4575 IMG_4580 IMG_4585 IMG_4587 IMG_4589 IMG_4590 IMG_4592 IMG_4593 edited

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Reader Review: Buick Verano Turbo 6-Speed Manual, Part 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-buick-verano-turbo-6-speed-manual-part-1/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829257 Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to buy the car that everybody asks for, but nobody ever seems to actually purchase: the manual variant of a mainstream sedan. As the calendar turned from 2013 to 2014, my trusty 2002 Oldsmobile Alero with 296,000 kms (or roughly 184,000 miles) on the clock, took what would turn […]

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Reader Davefromcalgary discusses what it’s like to buy the car that everybody asks for, but nobody ever seems to actually purchase: the manual variant of a mainstream sedan.

As the calendar turned from 2013 to 2014, my trusty 2002 Oldsmobile Alero with 296,000 kms (or roughly 184,000 miles) on the clock, took what would turn out to be its last cross country trip. Returning to Calgary on a day where the average air temperature across 1350 kms (840 miles) averaged about -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit), the hydraulic clutch system gradually ceased to function. I managed to get it home, but the third gear synchro soon failed, and the first gear synchro progressively became louder until I finally delivered my trusty Olds to the local Pick n’ Pull.

In the summer of 2012, I had to have that very same hydraulic system serviced at a local shop in Calgary. It is my understanding that prolonged exposure to extreme cold was a known problem for that system, and that previous to this service, which required replacement of the slave cylinder, it had been cold proofed. This same procedure was unfortunately not carried out this time around.

At this point, my Alero was pretty much worth scrap value, having a bad transmission, typical Alero rust, and a rebuilt title. So I made the decision to buy something reasonably new. Up to that point, only one out of the six vehicles I had owned had come into my possession with less than 150,000 kms, or just under 100,000 miles. I generally wrench on my own, up to complex engine or transmission repairs, so I decided to treat myself with a vehicle that hopefully would require only regular maintenance for a while.

As I have mentioned to the likes of CoreyDL, bball40dtw and 28-cars-later, I had a pretty strict set of non-negotiables that my new car had to adhere to; the rest would sort itself out.

My “must have” list is short, but boy does it narrow the field in a hurry.

• Dual Exhaust – Pretty much everyone whom I spoke to about my pending decision told me this is a stupid non-negotiable. However, every vehicle I have ever owned has left my care with dual exhaust, whether it had it prior or not. I simply cannot bear the lopsided look of a lonely single exhaust poking out one side of the car. Furthermore, if I ended up buying or leasing new or on warranty, I know this kind of aftermarket modification wouldn’t fly. Finally, it is really hard to get an aftermarket system that looks like it belongs there, doesn’t ruin the look, and doesn’t introduce annoying tones or resonance.

• V6 or Turbo 4 power – the majority of my past vehicles have been the base engine. While it can be fun to zing a car to redline and enjoy every bit of the tach, I also think it is nice to have effortless power to merge and cruise when you want it. This is the main reason why the Mazda6 never entered consideration. I know the SkyActiv 2.5 is a good engine for what it is, but I was really looking for 240+ hp.

• 6 speed manual – Self-explanatory. However, I also wanted something with a nice ratio spread. It always boggles my mind when the top gear in a decently powerful manual transmission car screams along at highway speeds. I guess the passing power is there, but I can downshift, thanks.

• Convenient audio integration – I pretty much spend all day streaming radio from all over North America on my iPhone using the Tune-In Radio app. At the very least an aux-in jack was required, for cars around the 2008 range.

• Sunroof.

• HVAC must have the floor/defrost split. My mom’s Audi A4 and my dad’s LSS and LeSabre don’t have this setting, and in winter I consider it absolutely non-negotiable.

Some other important questions, such as driven wheels and body style came down as follows:
• Driven wheels was a consideration, but not a decision maker. Sadly, the majority of cars for sale are FWD, and I really wasn’t interested in slip and grip transverse AWD.

• Body style was pretty much destined to be a sedan or coupe. Hatchbacks and CUVs were not really in the running, due to a quirk of mine that really dislikes not having a separate, lockable trunk area. Stuff in the rear of a hatch is accessible via the main doors and I really can’t stand that. (Sorry, Forester XT, GTI, and Legacy GT Wagon.) For Pch101, sadly no small to midsize trucks were on my list. The Tacoma and Frontier simply do not interest me now, and never have, as my primary vehicle anyways. I would definitely consider a Tacoma X-Runner as a secondary vehicle.

So, at this point my two front runners were an 05-09 Legacy GT Sedan, or a 2008+ Accord Coupe V6. I always loved what I call the “hawk-eye” Legacy, as the 2.5 Turbo is a treat, and the Subaru AWD would have been a great companion for my many winter highway trips.  However, the only way to have 6 forward gears and Subaru’s best standard audio was the rare as hen’s teeth Spec-B, which basically proved impossible to find for a reasonable price, and anywhere near to my location. As well, 05lgt and others cast some doubt upon the robustness of the rear suspension and diff of five to ten year old Legacy GTs.

My parents visited in mid-January for an event, and it was suddenly and clearly illuminated that coupes suck for bringing friends along. Combining this with how sick I was of having to do gymnastics just to get out of a tight parking spot, this pretty much eliminated the Accord, despite how sweet the pull of that 3.5L V6 is. I will state categorically that had the Accord sedan been available with the V6/6MT combination, I would have bought it.

A 2009 Lexus IS250 briefly entered the competition, and I even took it for a test drive. My reading of owner’s reviews assured me that with a good set of winter rubber, the Lexus’s excellent RWD driving dynamics would prove quite a treat when the white stuff flew. Sadly, the 2.5 V6 could hardly be described as effortless, though I cast no aspersions on the vehicles smoothness or comfort.

So, at this point, within my maximum of CAD 35,000 or so, the Verano Turbo and Jetta GLI were the only two vehicles left on the list. I test drove both, and found the VW 2.0T/6MT combination subjectively superior to the GM combo. It seemed more responsive across the rev range, in fact feeling as strong at it’s peak as the GM, despite advertising 45 less horsepower. However, the Verano T had better feature content at the price, and the Jetta has single exhaust. Dual tips on one side doesn’t count. I was willing to settle for the slightly smaller Verano. As well, a combination of my general GM bias, and my family’s experience with VW products really swayed me over to the old man brand. All that was left was to book a test drive and see if I actually liked driving the damn thing.

This proved harder than you might suspect. My chosen dealer didn’t have one (not surprising, being that they are western Canada’s volume leader in pickups) and the closest one they had access to was in Edmonton, 3 hours away. However, they did show a 2013 Verano T 6MT locally, but it wasn’t available to them. So, I took matters into my own hands and tracked the vehicle down myself and went to the dealer to whom it belonged. I booked an appointment for a Tuesday evening.

When I showed up, it was a black on black Verano T, fully loaded including nav and the 10 split spoke premium rims. The young salesman, who had given me a pretty thorough walk through in the well-lit service drive through, tossed me the keys, and told me to be back by close. I immediately paired up my iPhone, (remarkably easy) and pulled out on to AB- Hwy 2, heading south towards the outskirts of town so I could evaluate the car’s highway ride, and headlights. I was immediately able to ascertain that the car was indeed effortless to accelerate to highway speeds, enhanced by the fact that the Verano is a very quiet car! Buick advertises their quiet tuning, and, while my reference is a clapped out Alero, it became pretty obvious that this was a very solid feeling automobile.

Any and all reviews I had read of the Verano T praised its power and smooth quiet ride, but universally panned its 6MT as clunky, vague, and a blight on an otherwise well put together car. Now, maybe I have never driven a good MT, or perhaps my standards are a lot lower, but I found the car easy to drive. I had no trouble finding gears, and the clutch action felt fine, though the friction point is pretty high in the pedal travel. I will say that one of the things that sold me on the car was just how familiar it felt to drive. The gear ratios, to me, are well matched to the engines output and I had no trouble operating the mechanism. I was also extremely pleased to find that at 110 kph, the little turbo mill has yet to breach 2000 rpm in 6th gear. This led me to believe that the car would be an effortless highway cruiser.

I used the voice command to dial my dad. We had a quick chat, and his opinion was that the sound quality was slightly better than the Bluetooth headset I usually use, which satisfied that curiosity. I found the infotainment system easy to use. I was able to stream music with little trouble, and the system was even able to display song information in Ukrainian.

The Bose sound system was actually better than the Bose system in my 04 Mazda 6, but was typically underwhelming. I don’t know why, but Bose in cars just doesn’t work. I preferred the “Monsoon” systems in my previous GM vehicles, for sound. Bear in mind though, I am not what you would consider an audiophile; I just know what I like a stereo to sound like. That being said, the connectivity was straightforward, and while it does feature a touch screen, the majority of features can be controlled by the large array of buttons and the large, central push-to-select rotary dial. The HVAC system, though being an auto climate control system, features rotary knobs and toggle switches, and is extremely user friendly. All in all, I would give the Verano top marks for its control interfaces.

I found it reasonably easy to find a driving position that suited me. A colleague of mine who is 6’4” rented a Verano and said he couldn’t get comfortable behind the wheel, but at a stocky 5’6” I was able to get comfortable. The 6’2” salesman sat behind me, and he fit, so I figured I would generally be able to haul my friends around. Though the Verano is sort of short in length, and awkwardly tall, the beltline stays low enough that shoulder check visibility isn’t hampered. This was a serious concern, but taking the car onto Calgary’s expressways assured me that it was easy enough to navigate through traffic. I would like to give special props to the blind spot monitoring system in the side view mirrors, and the cross traffic alert in the backup camera, but also decry the auto dimming rearview mirror with no option to disable the function.

At the end of my 90 minute test drive, I was comfortable that this was the car for me. I still have a list as long as my arm of things that irk me about the car. Basically, the Verano was the car that annoyed me the least while fulfilling my must haves. At this point, I had two dealerships vying for my business. The dealership that had the car, and my chosen dealership. I paid $40 to www.carcostcanada.com, a website which spit out the vehicle’s dealer invoice price. At this point, I dealt over email, and was promised in writing a 2014 Verano T, factory ordered, at invoice +4% profit and my choice of lease incentives, either the current ones or the ones available on delivery. I took that email to my preferred dealership, and we ran the credit check and I gave them a deposit to secure the order. This was at the end of January, and I took delivery of the car on April 5 2014.

As of this writing, I have owned the car for 1.5 months. Part 2 will discuss how the car functions in day-to-day situations.

 

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Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto […]

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Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

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GM Issues ECM Recall, Bids Farewell To Federico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-issues-ecm-recall-bids-farewell-to-federico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-issues-ecm-recall-bids-farewell-to-federico/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 10:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815930 Autoblog reports another recall has been issued by General Motors, this time concerning 51,640 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers screwed together between March 26 and August 15 of last year. The affected vehicles possess an engine control module whose software may provide an inaccurate fuel gauge reading, forcing the driver to […]

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2014 Buick Enclave Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Autoblog reports another recall has been issued by General Motors, this time concerning 51,640 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers screwed together between March 26 and August 15 of last year. The affected vehicles possess an engine control module whose software may provide an inaccurate fuel gauge reading, forcing the driver to pull to the side of the road should the tank prove empty instead of a quarter to empty. Owners have been asked to bring their affected crossover for a reflashing of the ECM to correct the issue.

As for the original recall, Automotive News reports GM engineering executive Jim Federico has retired from the company. Federico led a team of engineers in a 2012 investigation of the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall, specifically on whether an increase in the switch’s torque would prevent it from slipping out of the “on” position, as well as why the switch prevented sensors in affected vehicles from deploying during a crash. The engineer, who reported directly to current CEO Mary Barra in 2011 when she was global product development chief, had a hand in the development of a handful of vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Adam and Buick Regal. A GM spokesman said Federico’s immediate retirement is not related to the ongoing recall crisis.

Meanwhile, the publication put forth a timeline involving engineer Ray DeGiorgio’s original decision to make no changes to the switch, and his subsequent about-face months later that ultimately led to the introduction of the redesigned switch in late April 2006. In short, the atmosphere tied to the company’s “cost culture,” when paired with the financial downward spiral that led to both GM and supplier Delphi seeking emergency funding from the federal government in 2008, gave rise to DeGiorgio — responsible for the switch’s design since 1999 — originally seeing the upgrade as impossible due to the design’s fragility possibly leading to more problems in a redesign. Other proposed solutions were deemed as an unacceptable business case by Chevrolet Cobalt engineering manager Gary Altman, who discovered the problem by accidentally bumping his knee against the switch in testing. Later on, DeGiorgio sought more data into the problem despite his original verdict, working with Delphi to create the upgraded part.

The Detroit News reports the law firms of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles P.C. in Montgomery, Ala. and the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga. are joining forces to handle 200 product liability lawsuits against GM in addition to the lawsuits already filed by the firms separately. Founding shareholder of Beasley Allen et al, Jere Beasley, proclaimed the unification necessary in order to “help GM’s victims take on the powerful automaker.” Cooper’s namesake Lance Cooper added that not only will the joint venture benefit their clients, but it will also “allow us to continue in our efforts to get at the truth of what GM knew and when they knew it, so that the American public gets answers to their questions.”

Over in Korea, Automotive News reports GM Korea is devising strategies in the wake of Chevrolet’s 2016 European and Holden’s 2017 manufacturing exits. Aside from its newly expanded design studio, the subsidiary has reduced total daily work hours from 20 to 16, which would cut annual production by 100,000 units while offsetting 150,000 lost annual sales from Europe. Other cuts include early retirement for salaried employees — 200 of 6,000 eligible having accepted thus far — and 60,000 units at GM Korea’s Gunsan plant, where the Cruze and Orlando are assembled. In return, more vehicles could be sent to Australia and other markets from Korea in place of those once manufactured in Australia come 2017 and beyond.

Finally, GM has opted to simplify its customer satisfaction survey in order to gain knowledge from its base faster. The new survey, currently in the pilot phase, is comprised of less than 10 questions, and will ask consumers to rate their dealership experience on a scale of one to five stars, as well as write an online review. If successful, the original 22-question survey would be replaced by the shorter version, both of which are used to award quarterly payouts for dealers under the GM Standards for Excellence program.

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Cadillac Flagship, Redesigned LaCrosse To Be Made In Detroit By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798938 In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt. Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — […]

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2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.

Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — currently assembled in Fairfax, Kan. — joining the flagship in 2016 for the latter’s next redesign.

Though GM hasn’t said much about the flagship, industry insiders claim the vehicle will be aimed at the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, and may be priced as much as $100,000.

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GM Seeks Aid From NASA, Issues New Ignition-Related Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-seeks-aid-from-nasa-issues-new-ignition-related-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-seeks-aid-from-nasa-issues-new-ignition-related-recall/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793690 Autoblog reports 2.19 million of the same vehicles under the current General Motors ignition recall are under a new ignition-related recall, as well. The new recall warns of a problem where the key can be removed without the switch moved to the “off” position. According to GM, the automaker is aware of “several hundred” complaints […]

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Autoblog reports 2.19 million of the same vehicles under the current General Motors ignition recall are under a new ignition-related recall, as well. The new recall warns of a problem where the key can be removed without the switch moved to the “off” position. According to GM, the automaker is aware of “several hundred” complaints and at least one roll-away accident resulting in injury, and is instructing affected consumers to place their vehicles in park or, in manuals, engage the emergency brake before removing the key from the ignition until repairs are made.

Regarding the original recall, The Detroit News reports has called upon NASA’s Engineering & Safety Center to review whether or not the 2.6 million affected Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Saturns are safe to drive with just the ignition key in position. The agency, which has performed similar reviews in the past, will look over the work performed by the automaker in the latter’s effort to make the affected vehicles safe to drive, as well as review its overall approach to safety concerns.

On the financial front, Automotive News says GM will take a $1.3 billion charge in Q1 2014 for the original recall, 40 percent greater than the $750 million charge originally estimated at the end of last month. The charge — which includes repair costs and loaners for affected owners — comes on the heels of a $400 million charge tied to currency challenges in Venezuela, the total sum of which threatens to knock out most if not all of the automaker’s Q1 2014 earnings set to be announced toward of end of this month.

Meanwhile, The Detroit News reports Michael Carpenter, the CEO of former GM financial arm Ally Financial, says his company will complete its exit from government ownership by Election Day of this year:

The U.S. Treasury is quite happy today. My own view is they will definitely be out before the election and we are close to having Treasury and U.S. government ownership in the rearview mirror.

By the end of trading Thursday, Ally’s IPO netted taxpayers $17.7 billion with a profit of $500 million on the $17.2 billion bailout of the consumer finance company, while the Treasury currently holds 17 percent of its remaining shares after selling 95 million for $25 per share at the opening bell; share price fell 4.4 percent to $23.50 at the closing bell.

In lawsuit news, Automotive News reports GM settled with the families of two Saturn Ion drivers who lost their lives in 2004 when their respective cars’ airbags failed to deploy. The two fatalities were identified by the publication as the earliest of 13 linked to the out-of-spec ignition switch at the root of the current recall crisis. In addition, while one case was settled out-of-court in September of 2007, the second case drew its settlement terms after the automaker filed for bankruptcy in June of 2009, placing the plaintiffs and their lawyer with other unsecured creditors.

The Detroit News reports Cadillac and Buick are at the top of their respective lists for dealer service satisfaction as determined by the J.D. Power & Associates U.S. Customer Service Index Study. Cadillac’s dominance over the luxury brand category comes as former No. 1 Lexus — who held the top spot for five consecutive years — falls to third behind Audi, while Buick leads Volkswagen, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet in the mass-market brand category.

Finally, Autoblog reports the last of eight Corvettes swallowed by the sinkhole that formed inside the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. back in February has been recovered. The 2001 Corvette Mallett Hammer Z06 will need extensive work performed to bring it back to its original state, but not before it joins its brethren in a new exhibit entitled “Great 8″ beginning next week. The exhibit will last until the museum’s 20th anniversary in late August, at which point GM will begin restoration work on the eight Corvettes.

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GM Invests $449M Into Next-Gen Volt Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-invests-449m-into-next-gen-volt-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-invests-449m-into-next-gen-volt-production/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:10:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791273 General Motors announced Tuesday that it would invest $449 million into the two plants responsible for assembling the Chevrolet Volt in preparation for the next generation of the plug-in hybrid’s arrival in 2016. The Detroit News reports $384 million will immediately go into the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for body shop tooling, equipment and other plant […]

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2013 Chevrolet Volt Exterior-001

General Motors announced Tuesday that it would invest $449 million into the two plants responsible for assembling the Chevrolet Volt in preparation for the next generation of the plug-in hybrid’s arrival in 2016.

The Detroit News reports $384 million will immediately go into the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for body shop tooling, equipment and other plant upgrades, while the remaining $65 million heads for the Brownstown Township battery assembly plant for expanded production of GM’s advanced lithium-ion batteries, as well as any future technologies that come down the road. The investments are expected to last for the next two years, and would add 1,400 new jobs to both facilities.

As for what fruit the investment will bear, GM vice president of North American manufacturing Gerald Johnson announced the next generation of the Volt will roll into showrooms in 2016 as a 2016 model, with production slated to begin in the autumn of 2015. Though he didn’t go further into what the new Volt would bring to the table, a number of analysts said the PHEV would likely gain an improvement in range over the 38 miles currently provided in electric-only travel.

Further, two new vehicles will accompany the new Volt within the next couple of years, including the Buick LaCrosse — expected in mid-2016 — and an all-new large Cadillac sedan set to be the brand’s flagship that would begin production around the same time as the next-gen PHEV.

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GM Rallies Rentals, Braces For Further Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-rallies-rentals-braces-for-further-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-rallies-rentals-braces-for-further-investigation/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:35:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779185 General Motors has issued a new recall for 355 vehicles, while also facing a possible lawsuit by an investor over “immorality”. GM may also face a new probe involving the automaker’s bankruptcy and its relation to the original recall that thrust GM into the headlines, just as the agency responsible for investigating the problem at […]

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Saturn-Ion-RedLine

General Motors has issued a new recall for 355 vehicles, while also facing a possible lawsuit by an investor over “immorality”. GM may also face a new probe involving the automaker’s bankruptcy and its relation to the original recall that thrust GM into the headlines, just as the agency responsible for investigating the problem at GM faces an audit from the Department of Transportation.

The New York Times reports the Justice Department has added an additional probe into their ongoing investigation of the 2014 recall of 1.76 million vehicles over a defective ignition switch linked to 31 crashes and 12 deaths.

The probe questions whether GM knew everything about the problem going into the 2009 bankruptcy — the automaker said they were alerted as early as 2001 — and failed to disclose the defect in full to both the federal government and the public during bankruptcy proceedings. This separate probe is being handled by the same group of FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York who also brought forth the fraud case against Toyota that ended in a $1.2 billion settlement last week.

Meanwhile, Automotive News reports Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has asked the Department of Transportation’s inspector general Calvin Scovel to conduct an audit of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as to whether or not the agency properly looked into the issues leading up to the February 2014 recall, in light of the aformentioned crashes and deaths. The audit, according to Foxx, is to ensure “that DOT and NHTSA have a full understanding of the facts regarding the GM recall and can take corrective actions to enhance NHTSA’s safety function to the extent necessary and appropriate.”

On the investor front, Bloomberg reports a GM investor has filed a lawsuit against both the automaker and current CEO Mary Barra over every recall issued since late February this year.

In filing his complaint with the U.S. District Court in Detroit, George Pio called the automaker’s lack of immediate action “illegal and immoral,” and that news of the recalls, investigations et al surrounding GM as of late “triggered a sharp decline in the company’s share price, wiping out billions in shareholder value.”

The suit is filed on behalf of any individual who purchased stock between November 17, 2010 and March 10, 2014; no money damages have been specified.

Adding fuel to the fire are two stories from Edmunds, with the first related to the original recall regarding free loaner vehicles to those affected while their own vehicles are serviced beginning next month.

GM has called upon Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and other rental companies to help the automaker assemble a fleet for affected owners to use until the ignition switch is replaced. Though the original policy states GM owners are placed into GM vehicles, the scope of the original recall means if no related loaners are available, owners will be placed into vehicles from Ford, Honda, Chrysler et al. Underinsured owners will see a temporary boost in coverage from the automaker, as well. One source in the rental world tells us that this has been a massive undertaking for GM – with so many owners of the affected cars being under 25 (the minimum rental age at many companies) arranging coverage for these owners has been an extraordinary task.

As for the second report, Edmunds says 355 vehicles will be recalled within the week due to a transmission shift cable adjuster defect that could lead to a handful of 2014 models rolling away from where they were parked. Affected models include the Buick Regal, LaCrosse, Verano and Enclave; Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu and Traverse; and the GMC Acadia. All affected have the issue in their automatic transmissions.

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Review: 2014 Opel Astra Manual Diesel Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/review-2014-opel-astra-manual-diesel-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/review-2014-opel-astra-manual-diesel-wagon/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=761313 Recently, Mark Reuss told media that he would like GM to have an American wagon. If this happens, the prime candidate is the Chevy Cruze Wagon, which already exists – and is also offered with diesel engine and manual transmission. But what if GM wanted something more upscale? What if Reuss’ dream wagon is meant […]

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Astra_11-450x300

Recently, Mark Reuss told media that he would like GM to have an American wagon. If this happens, the prime candidate is the Chevy Cruze Wagon, which already exists – and is also offered with diesel engine and manual transmission. But what if GM wanted something more upscale? What if Reuss’ dream wagon is meant to be a Buick?

Several cars in the Buick line are siblings to European Opels (or Vauxhalls, in Great Britain). Two of them are also available as wagons – the Insignia Sports Tourer is basically Buick Regal Estate Wagon, and the Opel Astra Sports Tourer would make, with some re-badging, a nice Buick Verano Estate Wagon. The Astra/Verano is probably the better candidate for the American wagon, since it’s almost as roomy inside as Regal/Insignia (with seats folded flat, it actually has more cargo space), and is significantly cheaper.

Why not go all the way, and make it a sporty diesel, manual wagon. Last year, the Astra’s engine line-up was enhanced by addition of the 190hp 2.0 CDTI Biturbo version. Actually, it’s more than just an engine option – Biturbo comes as  a separate equipment level, somewhere half-way between ordinary Astras and the full-on sporty OPC version. It doesn’t have the same clever Hi-Per strut front suspension the OPC and GTC (that’s the three door hatch coupe version), but it’s been lowered, fitted with stylish 18” wheels and dual exhaust tips, special seats and a trick front spoiler.

The core of the Biturbo package is the engine. Two-liter diesel plant with common-rail direct injection offers some 190 horsepower and 235 lb-ft (320 Nm) sent to the front wheels through the six-speed manual gearbox. That puts the Astra Biturbo right on the border of the diesel hot hatch/hot wagon territory – but the Biturbo is not nearly so ostentatious. In fact, seeing that it’s not called the “OPC diesel”, it seems that Opel really wanted it to be more of a fast GT than a realy sports wagon.

The Biturbo’s exterior is quite restrained – no wings or flares or vivid paint to tell everyone you bought “the fast one”. Thanks to the slightly different front bumper, large (and really pretty) wheels and lowered ride height, the Biturbo looks more handsome than “ordinary” Astras, but unless parked beside one, most people will never notice why it even looks different. They’ll just like it a bit more than they usually like Astras. It makes for a wonderful sleeper.

Once you open the door, things change. The seats with red highlights and a silly “tire tread” motif seem incongruous with the discreet exterior. And I suspect that older people will have slight problem getting out of the front ones, since they’re really heavily sculpted.

But as the driver, you will probably love them. They offer lots of support, and even the base version is widely adjustable (you can add more adjustment as an option). I would really like to have an adjustable headrest, as it was too much forward, but overall, the seats are nice. And it gets even better once you reach for the wheel. The fact that it’s adjustable both in rake and reach is pretty much normal these days, but most cars are lacking in the range of adjustment. If you like to sit in the “proper” position, with the steering wheel high and close to your chest, and the backrest as vertical as you can bear, you run into all sorts of problems – usually with not enough range. In the Astra, it took me just a few moments to find a nearly perfect driving position. And the steering wheel’s thickness and diameter was spot-on as well, although the shape was not. I have never understood what was wrong about steering wheels being round… this ain’t no racecar, dudes!

Astra_03

Remember everything you heard about the modern diesels being so refined you hardly even know that you’re not running on gas? This is not the case, even though the Astra uses a very sophisticated common-rail system. The Biturbo two-liter may sound more refined than the old N/A plants from W123 or W124 Benzes, but it isn’t that much quieter.

Shifting into first brings much more positive thoughts. The shifter action is light and quite precise. Maybe not the best in the business, but certainly pleasant to use. Leaving the parking lot, you notice the first difference between the Biturbo and ordinary Astra, in the form of loud scratching sound when the front splitter hits the ground for the first of many times. In the beginning, you drive slow and carefully to prevent this from happening. Then, you realize it’s pointless exercise and just wonder when you’ll rip it off (as I found out later, Opel employees bolted the splitter to the bumper to prevent journos from losing it somewhere).

From a European perspective, the Astra feels massive inside. Compared competitors like the Ford Focus or Renault Mégane, it seems to be just so much bigger – which gives you a feeling of safety, but also makes parking quite tricky. If you’re buying one, don’t forget to add both front and rear parking sensors, or, better yet, a back-up camera.

Astra_04

I may have criticized the Tesla Model S for having no tactile controls, but the Astra is at the other end of the spectrum. There’s incomprehensible sea of buttons, captioned with confusing acronyms. If you’re new to the car, you will be hopelessly lost. I did find myself acclimating to this layout as I drove it, but I’d be worried if that didn’t happen.

Quibbles aside, the Astra is a nice car to drive. Even with the Biturbo’s stiffer suspension and on large 18” wheels, it’s reasonably supple. Hit the sport button and you’re treated to less steering assistance, quicker accelerator response and the red glow of the instruments – of, and the adjustable dampers firm up, making the ride a bit more brittle. Luckily, you can disable any of these. I really hated the red instruments.

While most of the diesel hot hatches seem stuck on getting the best Nurburgring lap time – and suffering for it in the real world- the Astra feels more grown-up, more comfortable . On our drive into the twisties, with sport mode on and the radio turned down, the Astra delivered a competent, but not exactly exhilirating performance. Handling was fairly neutral, even with the heavy diesel engine up front. Like most modern racks, the steering has a bit of a dead-zone on-center, but it’s well weighted. The clutch and gear change are all nicely done.

But American wagon enthusiasts need to temper their expectations. This is not a fiesty hot hatch like the Focus ST. It feels much more like a GT, at home on highways rather than back roads, and all its heft – perceived or real (it weighs about 3700 lbs) makes it feel like it was meant to be a Buick from the beginning.

The only trouble is that once you get to cruising speed and the engine noise fades into background, it’s replaced by even more unpleasant road and aerodynamic noise. At typical A-road speed of 50-70mph, it’s a bit annoying, but not terrible. At highway speeds of 80 or 90mph, it starts to bother you. And if you’re in the hurry and try to keep the Astra at 110-120mph, it’s hard to even listen to the radio.

Fuel economy is one area that doesn’t disappoint. At a typical relaxed pace (55-60mph on major roads), the Astra can get over 40 mpg. And only when driven really hard in the twisties, with the pedal to the metal on each and every straight and the speedo needle sometimes nudging 100mph, it barely gets under 20mpg. High-speed, cruising with speeds in the triple digits brought similar numbers.

Astra_05

 But, would the diesel Verano (GSD, maybe?) be a good car for America? I’m not sure. First of all, the economics for a diesel passenger car rare make sense with fuel prices so low (yes, I know, resale and all that matters too). And as much as North Americans may fetishize the idea of a diesel performance wagon, I’m not sold on the tradeoffs in refinement that the Biturbo Astra requires. In Europe, this car costs as much as a Ford Focus ST wagon, which is much faster, much more fun and not much worse on fuel when cruising on the highway.

But if you’re really hell bent on getting a diesel, manual wagon, this would be a nice choice.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Barclays: GM Suffering From Worst Large Pickup Launch In 15 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757225 Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson. Automotive News reports the truck twins […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson.

Automotive News reports the truck twins “faced a full-court press” from the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, though winter weather also played a role in lower sales across the board. General Motors executives have come to the defense of their products, proclaiming average transaction prices of $4,000 to $5,000 more than the previous generation pickups and a combined market share hovering around 33 percent over the past few months, though the latter point held between 35 and 40 percent of the market in years past.

With dealers begging for stronger promotion and better incentives for the pickups, Chevrolet will host its Chevy Truck Month promotion. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing (dealer invoice plus destination charges and a $150 fee) on light- and heavy-duty Silverados, and will be heavily pushed during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with television advertising beginning March 18.

In addition, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC will all hold Open House events throughout the month of March. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing on nearly every 2014 vehicle sold under each brand, with the exception of the SS and Corvette Stingray for Chevrolet.

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Opel Adam Entering Chinese Market As A Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/opel-adam-entering-chinese-market-as-a-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/opel-adam-entering-chinese-market-as-a-buick/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756345 When the Opel Adam enters the Chinese auto market in 2015, it will do so with a Buick badge as General Motors’ first high-end city car. CarNewsChina reports the Adam will sell for somewhere between 169,800 yuan and 268,800 yuan, the same price range as that of the city car’s main competitor, the Fiat 500. […]

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2013-Opel-ADAM-Models

When the Opel Adam enters the Chinese auto market in 2015, it will do so with a Buick badge as General Motors’ first high-end city car.

CarNewsChina reports the Adam will sell for somewhere between 169,800 yuan and 268,800 yuan, the same price range as that of the city car’s main competitor, the Fiat 500. Buick will import the Adam at first, though local production could come to fruition further down the road.

Under the hood, two engines will be available to future Adam owners, including a 1.2-liter engine driving 69 horses through the front wheels, and a larger 1.4-liter with 100 horsepower. Both engines are gasoline-powered.

The customer base for the Adam are those seeking a trendsetting lifestyle machine that has little to do with their parents’ Regal or other sedans.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Buick Regal Turbo AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-buick-regal-turbo-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-buick-regal-turbo-awd/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=729570 Time: 2332, Eastern. Outside temperature: six degrees. Speed: 83 mph, climbing.  One needs to remind himself of following distance when letting the dogs run. Thoughts appear as bullet points in the frontal cortex. Led Zep II makes me hammer down The left lane is clear, but there are some right lane travellers that could become […]

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2014 buick regal

Time: 2332, Eastern. Outside temperature: six degrees. Speed: 83 mph, climbing.

 One needs to remind himself of following distance when letting the dogs run.

Thoughts appear as bullet points in the frontal cortex.

  • Led Zep II makes me hammer down
  • The left lane is clear, but there are some right lane travellers that could become obstacles.

One thousand one…

One thousand two…

“I should have quit you, baby, long time ago…”

One thousand three…

“down on this killing floor, break it down for me now…”

One thousand four…

  • Prius just oozed into the left lane to pace, not pass, the fuel tanker putting up considerable spray.
  • Headlights are dirty. Need to slow down anyway.
  • Too bad.

Wait a second, I’m lamenting having to back off while driving a Buick!

“People worry I can’t keep you satisfied…”

This 2014 Regal Turbo AWD is a parts-bin car. A re-badge, and yet, it’s one hell of a highway flyer. The Regal is also surprisingly adroit in kinkier situations. It’s kind of a damn shame that this car is an automotive Palestinian. It’s sold as a Buick, but it started off as an Opel with a side of Saab, and was supposed to be a Saturn. For many, the Regal does nothing to recommend itself. That changes when you drive it, but if you think about it too much, it’ll piss you off.

The Regal Turbo AWD makes me angry with General Motors. Where the hell were cars like this in the ’80s and ’90s? GM passed those decades playing Program Objective Bingo. Does the under-engineered, over-budget, late-to-market shitbox du jour tick all the boxes for the Vehicle Line Director? If yes, proceed directly to market. Lather, rinse, bankrupt.

Regals then were GM-10 (later W) platform garbage. Nostalgia has already kicked in. The myth goes that a vicious public bought in to so much “hype” over the Camry and Accord and didn’t give the all-around-solid GM front-drivers a fair chance. Fiction. In reality, now is the only time in a generation that General Motors has built a modern midsize sedan that isn’t lashed together from pig iron and offal.

2014 buick regal

General Motors is making complete-package cars that compete. Why did it take so long? Did it really require kicking the blue-collar backbone in the jewels and a quick-rinse bankruptcy for GM to get it? It didn’t have to. It shouldn’t have had to, and that’s why I’m upset by the Regal.

The last time a Regal wasn’t a total shitbox was…gosh, was it ever not a shitbox? Maybe the first Colonnade Regal, or the last-gasp G-body? It’s been at least thirty years since the Regal was anything but woefully assembled with dull orange-peel paint covering slap-dash bodywork with chintz horror chamber interiors.

Now we have this 2014 Regal, which wasn’t even supposed to be a Buick. Inside left me more impressed than a Lexus ES. On the road, you can feel the benefit of the Russelsheim engineering. Punch it and will fly. The structure feels brick-outhouse solid. This is the kind of car we used to wish GM could make. What the hell took so long?

2014 buick regal

There’s a whole bunch of cousins built off the Epsilon II architecture the Regal is based upon. Among the Malibus, LaCrosses and XTSes, the Regal Turbo with AWD is the most compelling.  Yup, it’s not that roomy, but neither is the Audi A4, the revered BMW 3 Series or even the Infiniti G37. The reality is that the back seat space, while snug, is actually better than those other cars, and the Regal has a 14.2 cubic foot trunk, also actually pretty good.

The Regal draws an inevitable comparison to the Cadillac ATS. It’s only natural, the cars are priced closely together, and they appear a close match size-wise. You can’t knock the Regal on space and then turn around and say “king me” to an ATS. It’s got a teensy 10.2 cubic foot trunk, and there is no interior dimension that is larger than the Regal. It’s no surprise, then, that the ATS interior is just 90.9 cubic feet, noticeably tighter than the Regal’s 96.8 cubic feet.

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Ah, but the Regal is also too expensive to play in this sandbox, even if the ATS and its weaker value are on your automotive fantasy team. The Regal definitely isn’t as special as the ATS, the 3 Series, or heck, even a milquetoast-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But if the Regal with turbo engine, AWD, leather, Driver Confidence Package #2, Premium II Package, and Power Moonroof is too pricey at $40,000, then what does that make the ATS equipped roughly the same way at about $47,000? Remember, there’s less space all around and the maddening burden of CUE, so clearly the differentiator is the driving experience. The ATS is indeed better to drive, but is it $7,000 better?

That’s a question best answered on your own, but most would say no. If you’re the practical sort, wait a year or two and take advantage of the Buick’s more prodigious depreciation for a great pre-owned deal. The Regal is great to drive. It’s precise, responsive and powerful. The ride is on the stiff side of compliant. The exhaust is on the drone-y side of throaty. Switch the traction control off, though, and you will be shocked to find that you can rotate this thing with the throttle. It may be FWD-based, but that tail will wag. The HiPer Strut front end, with its tuned-up geometry does its thing like a grown up. All the smooth wheel control would be better served by more feedback at the steering wheel rim, though.

The Regal gets a cleaned-up dashboard for 2014. There’s fewer buttons on the center stack, and the layout is logical. Ergonomics for the hard controls are good, though a knob for fan speed control would be more elegant than the up/down buttons. The touch panels for temperature and seat heater control look great, but are dismal to use. They’re unresponsive and distracting. The latest version of Intellilink drives the larger in-dash LCD, but it suffers from organization problems and too many sub-menus. The system also has a speed issue, sometimes hanging up for a few seconds while tuning through radio stations or calling up functions. I’d be especially upset to be making monthly payments for that kind of underachievement.

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The Driver Confidence Package, by the way, is something you can completely live without. Skip it and drop the price of this weaponized midsizer back into the $30,000s. The dynamic cruise control is pretty well-tuned, but everything else is just unnecessary for an attentive driver. Of course, the flip side of that is that it may be more than necessary to offer the blinking lights, beeping warnings and last-ditch interventions. Those features give Buick some safety talking points, and when buyers opt for it, the profit margin puffs up.

The Regal Turbo AWD is a good car in a tough spot. From behind the wheel, it’s surprisingly good. But it’s between a rock and a hard place. Even within the GM family, it’s not as good as the ATS, but it’s a lot better than the ho-hum Malibu. The Regal does have the chops to keep a reasonable enthusiast entertained, but it falls short in the cars-by-the-pound measures of space and stuff for the lowest price.

The 2014 Regal Turbo AWD is a charmer of sorts, but its like trying to get someone’s attention in a room full of Kennedys. There’s pressure on all sides, and even though the Regal has done yeoman’s work to drop the average age of Buick buyers and driven a bunch of conquest sales for Buick, it will probably finish its life as it started: a carpet-bagger Opel that’s mostly irrelevant, nice enough, and surprisingly frisky.

Regal_Ext_11 Regal_Ext_5 Regal_Ext_6 Regal_Ext_4 Regal_Ext_3 Regal_Ext_10 Regal_Ext_9 Regal_Ext_8 Regal_Ext_7 Regal_Ext_2 Regal_Int_12 Regal_Int_11 Regal_Int_10 Regal_Int_9 Regal_Ext_1 Regal_Int_8 Regal_Int_7 Regal_Int_6 Regal_Int_5 Regal_Int_4 Regal_Int_3 Regal_Int_2 Regal_Int_1

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