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. Fri, 22 May 2015 20:00:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/buick/ 2015 Buick LaCrosse Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052529 My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries […]

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2015 Buick Lacrosse

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

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

2015 Buick Lacrosse

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

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

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Engine

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

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

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

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Interior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


• USD Price As Tested: ≈ $48,485

• Horsepower: 304 @ 6800 rpm

• Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 18 mpg


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lexus RCF cliff, side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Chevrolet Cruze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Cadillac ATSs at Lansing Grand River Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Buick Envision - China Domestic Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014 Chevrolet SS in Red

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

Autoblog reports the following have been recalled:

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

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

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GM Renaissance Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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GM Next

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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